Style 2708: My Moby Dick Of A Dress

The dress represents for me my overall madness for sewing. Madness in a good way and sometimes in a “black heart I stab at thee” madness. That kind of craziness that comes over you and you drive yourself mad trying to figure it out and you’re just stuck in this endless insanity. Usually I have the good sense to bail, but this one, ah, she was different….

2708 Jill caseI bought this pattern back in the 90’s and have always been a big fan of the shirt waist dress. Very popular in the 40’s and 50’s and every other year or so we see it back in various styles. Michael Kors had something along these lines for Spring 2015. All very lady like and really, hands down my favorite look. I think the style of dress is dress at it’s best.

If you like to look through vintage sewing patterns from the 40’s you’ll see this style in many incarnations, some housework casual others lunch with the ladies chic. There are hundreds of patterns new and old that have a similar look. But, for whatever reason, I HAD to have this one work. There are a few I have worked on with varying results but always longed for my white whale of a dress: Style 2708. Pattern envelope 2708 Jill case

The dress is easy to make, but looking good, not so easy.  I made the dress straight out of the package at a size 12. I, being naive and new to the murky waters of fit I thought that the dress would fit because the measurements on the package told me such. And, you guessed it, the fit was horrible . So, I put the dress and pattern away and revisited it every so often when I would hear its siren call to me: “Try one more time”. All in all, I made 9 alterations to the pattern and at least four dresses in various fabrics. At some point a year or two ago when I was going through my patterns I almost got rid of it. I hadn’t tried to make the dress in quite some time and was really ready to just harpoon it in the face and be done with it. I tried every pattern company as substitutes, but they just didn’t do it for me. I tried one more time and this is the result. Near perfect (except those damn sleeves).

2708 Jill case

Changes I made 

  • SBA
  • Went down a size (helpful)
  • Narrow chest adjustment
  • Raised the bodice 2″


  • Lengthened the front/back and side skirt pieces
  • Added 1″ to the underarm
  • Added 1″ to the sleeve pieces

Sleeve 2708

  • Took the side seams in (then took them out when I gained some weight)
  • Moved the buttons holes over about 3/8″ and decreased width between buttons
  • Took 4″ off the sleeve
Style 2708
Purple dress the armscye has been raised. Cream dress is the original. Still could do more.
Dress 2708 Style
Original, first attempt.

What I learned 

  • If you love a pattern buy 2. I bought 2 and I’m so glad I did. After practically destroying one I luckily found another uncut version in my stash. I now have a copy on Swedish tracing paper.
  • Save your muslins. All of them. I only saved the first one, so after not working on the dress for quite some time I wasn’t sure where I left off.  I had to basically start all over. Or at the least take notes.
  • Sometimes it’s the pattern. The dress is kind of weird.
  • The gathers at the bust and where they hit at the bodice if they aren’t perfect you look like you have saggy boobs.
  • The 3 piece sleeves are wack and there is way too much ease on the front and back of the sleeve. You can see it even in the line drawing. I think the ease is there to accommodate for the shoulder pad but it’s just way too much.
  • The armholes are gigantic even with a small shoulder pad.

What the future holds

  • I have another one cut out in a rayon crepe. I think I’ll like the drape much more.
  • I now am using this dress as a sloper/block sort of thing
  • Experiment with cap sleeves
  • Sleeveless version with facings/lining
  • Converting gathers to darts
  • Want to take a great fitting sleeve/armscye from another pattern and transfer it over to the sloper and see if I can’t make traditional, better fitting sleeves/armcyes etc.
  • I want to make 5 and wear them every day of the work week!
  • Make different collars
  • Maybe take the neck in or whatever that would be. The neck area looks a little big but it could be the stiff fabric.
  • Double gauze for another version

Any other ideas? 

I’m so glad I rode this one out and didn’t abandon the whole thing. Most of the issues are in the bodice area and then those blasted sleeves, all of which my limited fitting skills early on just could not handle.

And, that is my Moby Dick of a dress. Very happy I ‘stuck’ with it.

Do you have any white whales in your sewing archive, projects that keep calling you back? Success, failures, madness? Do tell!


  1. Sorry it’s 15 months since this post, but I have been dithering over this pattern for the past 20 years! The 3 yards of fabric I originally bought since has gone out of fashion, the shop
    out of business, and I still haven’t summoned the courage to make the blessed frock. Just yesterday I was looking for some navy polka dot jersey knit fabric to make a last ditch attempt at it while I have the advice of a sewing instructor. Yes, I know it’s for wovens, so I’m probably destined to failure, but I too have long been seduced by this pattern.

    You have done a fantastic job – I am so impressed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so you. You wear it, as it should be worn, perfect fit, looks comfortable on you. Great style, so happy to see it is “back”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post made me laugh, and also made me realize what I need to do to conquer my fit issues! Thoroughly impressed with your determination. A lot of work, but the dress looks great. I would love to see it in a contemporary pattern or solid, too. Now, don’t you dare lose or gain any weight or you will have to start over! Must feel great to slay the white whale.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great look on you! glad you did not give up. Brought back Style pattern memories from the 90s. I, too, made a similar shirtdress from a Style pattern in navy, floral rayon crepe, except it did not have the empire seam under the bust. It was a button front and flared out from the waist down. I wore this dress to it’s death.
    Can’t wait to see what more you make with this pattern!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kudos to you for your persistence Jill! Unfortunately it seems the only way to end up with a perfect fitting garment is to make countless versions of the same pattern. If only I could stick with it! I’m still living in the fantasy world of “maybe this pattern will fit me right” and so I continue to buy new patterns with my fingers crossed, hoping for a good fit. Instead should be perfecting the fit on the patterns I already own. The dress looks beautiful on you, and I look forward to seeing future versions. Congratulations on this winner!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, if only the closet walls could talk. The ones that got away are many.
    And, what’s with those armholes. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that big of an opening. Glad you kept with it. I think each project is just part of our learning. Now you have your sloper, too. I love the finished dress.

    Liked by 2 people

We love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s