Sewing the Penny Dress by Sew Over It

Sewing the Penny Dress by Sew Over It

I've been talking about sewing a shirt dress since time began and the Penny dress by Sew Over It was always on the shortlist. A super simple sew it was a great way to test the water in the shirt dress world and I'm pleased to report I love it!

Sewing Pattern and Fabric

Penny Dress and Fabric

The Penny dress is a simple to sew shirt dress with a vintage vibe.

A sleeveless design with a dropped shoulder means you almost feel like you're wearing a very short sleeve without any of the hassle of sewing one. Plus it is easy to fit, which is especially attractive for someone like me who has a lot of fit issues in the shoulder/back area.

The elasticated waist makes for easy fitting there too and the flat collar means there's no collar stand to contend with.

Penny Dress View 3

The shoulder gathers add shape and negate the need for darts whilst the full circle skirt means there are only three buttonholes to sew on the bodice plus oodles of swishy femininity to boot.

I decided to make it in our floral print cotton lawn. I love the bold design- a plethora of brightly coloured flowers against a dark midnight blue background. There are even daffodils on it, I mean you never get daffs on a fabric do you?

I'm not going to lie I was a little bit nervous about just how jazzy the fabric was when I started cutting it out, but when the dress was finished and I tried it on immediately loved it. I have worn it every week since I made it. The love runs deep.

Penny Dress View 2

Adjustment and Sizing

I cut a straight size 10 made my usual forward shoulder and high round back adjustments to the pattern pieces. The Sew Over It body measurements and dress sizes do seem to correlate well with today's ready to wear sizes in my opinion and I usually sit comfortably in one size.

I also made a very rough toile to check the dropped shoulder came out far enough on my arms/shoulder. From experience Sew Over It designs can be too scant in this area for me, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the Penny, it was more than adequate.

he Sew Over It Penny Dress

No need to check anything else or mess around with adjustments I could just sew away.


The construction is lovely and easy and straightforward apart from one step, which had me scratching my head.

When you sew the facing to the neckline to create the button placket, the facing doesn't match up to the neckline all the way along the raw edges.

At first I thought I'd made a big mistake when cutting out the pieces because it seemed the facing was just too small.

Penny Dress Facing

Then I looked carefully at the diagram in the instructions and realised there was supposed to be a little gap between the edge of the facing and the edge of the neckline close to the opening. This is because the facing then folds back on itself to create the button placket at which point the raw edges match up perfectly.

Once I worked it out I spent far more time marvelling at what a clever construction method it was than I did scratching my head!

Final Thoughts

A lovely easy sew, no fitting dramas and simply brilliant to wear Penny is the shirt dress of dreams. I love the way it feels casual enough to wear every day despite the full circle skirt, perhaps this is thanks to the simple and casual design of the bodice.

Penny Dress View 1

Also Mom says it is her favourite thing I've ever made. If that isn't a stamp of approval I don't know what is. She also asked me to make her one to which I declared a resounding 'no!' and she laughed. I'm so mean aren't I?!

Shopping List

Have fun sewing!


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