Jolene Shirt/Dress tutorial

Are you Ready to Sew? I certainly have become a BIG FAN of Ready to Sew patterns to include this beautiful shirt/dress they named JOLENE.

The Jolene shirt/dress has two different types of collars, hem lines, and sleeve designs too choose from. You can choose a very statement piece collar that is super pointed or a more demure rounded collar. You can choose a straight hem or a more rounded hemline. Naturally you can choose to make a shirt with a peplum or a dress of various lengths, but the sleeves are what makes this design POP! They are show stoppers. Nicely inset gathered side fronts and backs of the bodice that flow into a beautifully designed sleeve, choose a short sleeve or three quarter length sleeve with button tabs. I just love the design. So unique and feminine.

So many design decisions, so little time to sew them all… so I chose to make a cute curved peplum shirt with a demure rounded collar and short sleeves.

Sew Here We GO!

I bought some lyocell linen look fabric that is quite wide so it only took about 1 1/2 yard for this make. This pattern works best with a nice lightweight woven because there are a lot of gathers, both down the bodice/sleeves but also around the waist. A definite plus to make my life simple are great pattern weights and a rotary cutter! The right tools certainly make cutting out a pattern effortless and so exact. I also use a marking pen that washes out with water, so ensure you mark all your dots and notches. In addition to the markings on the pattern, I also mark centers of back pieces and the skirt that are placed on the fold.

Let’s sew... Remember, seam allowances are 1cm for all seams unless otherwise stated.

Sew two rows of long gather stitches down the curved edges of the side bodice/sleeve pieces, both front and back. With right sides together attach your back bodice to your back side gathered pieces and ensure the gathers are pretty much equally distributed throughout the entire seam length with maybe a bit more up by the sleeve and less so down by the waist.

Gather stitches

Finish your seams with an overlock stitch or zigzag stitch and press towards the center. I topstitched my seams which is optional but I think it just gives is a great look!

Top stitch your seams.

Now do the same thing for your front pieces. Gather, sew, finish, topstitch. Below is a wrong side of fabric picture of what my seams look like after they are finished and topstitched.

Finish seams with top stitching

Now with right sides together, match up the front and back sleeve seams and side seams and sew in place. Finish the seams. I didn’t top stitch these but you can if you like.

Reenforce stitch the curve of the armscye then clip into the sleeve armscye curve.

Clip armscye curve

Sew the bottom peplum front and back pieces at the side seams. Finish the seam and topstitch if you like. Remember I suggested you mark the center back of your folded pieces. This is where that center of bodice marking comes in handy. Sew two rows of gather stitches down the long edge of the peplum. Gather and attach to the main bodice matching your seams, and the center. Try to make your gathers as even as possible and pin in place. Sew peplum to the bodice. Finish seam, press and topstitch. Looking like a blouse now!

Before we attach the front plackets, finish your bottom hem. I did this to give the front placket a folded finish at the hemline. ( see the below pics) If you haven’t already, I suggest you go ahead and fuse some interfacing into the placket, but only on one half of each piece. This will give you some extra strength for the buttons without adding a bunch of bulk. Now press both long raw edges over about 3/8 inch all the way down the plackets, then fold in half and give it a good press.

This is where I deviate a bit from the designer’s instructions. I prefer to attach the placket on the wrong side of the bodice first, then fold it over and sew the placket down using a nice even top stitch. It just seemed easier to me to control that topstitch look.

Next, if you are making a three quarter length sleeve, this is where you will continue on finishing your sleeve insets and tabs. I am only doing the short sleeve version, so I’m going to do a simple double rolled hem for my short sleeves the same as I did for the bottom hem.

Let’s make up the collar. Fuse one piece of your collar and collar stand. Sew the collar around the outside edge using a 1cm seam allowance. Trim and grade the seam and clip those curves. Turn it right side out and press. If you chose to do the pointed collar, use something to get those pointy ends out nice and sharp. I have a couple different point turners made of wood that help in that process without poking through the fabric like something sharp would. But if all you have is the pointy ends of a pair of scissors or kabab skewers, then use what you have but be careful not to put too much pressure where you poke through your beautiful work.

Point turners

Once you have turned the upper collar right side out, used your point turner to get those edges and points nice and sharp, pressed, then top stitch if you like to keep that topstitch theme going.

Take the NON FUSED collar stand piece and press over 1/4 inch on the long side. Sandwich your collar in-between the two pieces of the collar stand ensuring your fused pieces are touching and the non-fused pieces are touching. Align your collar and stand pieces matching those markings. Sew your collar pieces together along the curved edge. Trim and grade that seam, clip the curves, turn out and give it a good press being careful not to un-press that one long edge you already pressed so nicely.

Sandwich collar in-between the collar stand pieces. Pin in place and stitch 1cm seam.

We are going to attach the collar to the bodice neck edge, but first to make it easier, make some small clips along the collar stand raw edge to help ease it into the neck edge.

Top stitch the collar stand to the bodice following as closely as you can the seam line.

top stitch collar stand to bodice

Choose how you want to place your buttons. I chose a double tap of small buttons 1 1/4 inch apart and then another pair of buttons about 2 1/4 inch away from the first pair and on down the front of the placket. Once you sew the button holes, a really neat and easy way to cut them open without mishaps is by using a tool that is specifically made for button holes! It’s a super sharp chisel type tool that cuts right through by pressing on it or you can use a hammer to smack it to release all that anger. LOL!!

Sew your button holes and buttons and you are DONE! WAAA LAAA! You’re done!

Jolene Top
Jolene top
Jolene Top

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