Denim dresses – the unsung wardrobe hero?

I just finished making the denim dress of dreams. It’s another Named Lempi Button Down Dress, this time with bright yellow topstitching on a gorgeous indigo denim from Ray Stitch. I’ve been eyeing up similar dresses for years (literally, I have screenshots from & Other Stories on my phone from August 2020!), so this dress has been a long time coming. The glory of this denim dress got me thinking, without the risk of sounding all Carrie Bradshaw…are they deeply underrated? As sewists it’s so easy to get lured by bold prints, but a good denim, that isn’t destined for jeans, is a thing of beauty. Not too sure? Read on for some denim inspiration.

Can you be-sleeve it?

If you’re knee deep in the statement sleeve trend, there’s no reason you can’t apply it to denim. Whether it’s a short, puffy sleeve like this grey dress from All Saints, all-round volume at Jigsaw, or volume at the cuff like this from Whistles, those statement sleeve sewing patterns can definitely be used with a lightweight denim.

Sewing pattern ideas

Liberty Thea Boho Sleeve Shirt, I AM Irma, Simplicity Button Down Dress S9641, Anna Allen Anthea Blouse and Dress.

Up the volume

A loose-fit voluminous dress is a style pretty much all of us have come round to over the last few years. If you want to keep the comfort levels high, a loose fit shirt dress is just the ticket. Cos, H&M, and Kin at John Lewis (left to right below) have gorgeous loose-fit denim dresses, with wide short sleeves keeping the style effortless.

Sewing pattern ideas

Style Arc Anais, Pauline Alice Calvari Dress, Fibre Mood Franca, I AM Lucienne.

Give it to me straight

A more ‘standard’ shirtdress is perfect in denim. We all have at least one shirt/shirt dress sewing pattern, and chances are, it’ll look great in denim like these from & Other Stories, Boden and H&M. A key detail that can make these styles seem more traditional and denim-y is the topstitching, so grab a contrast colour, take it slow, and let that topstitching speak volumes.

Sewing pattern ideas

Tilly and the Buttons Rosa, McCall’s M7996, Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress, Fibre Mood Ivory.

& Other Ideas

Once you start looking, there really is no limit to what you could sew with denim (other than the weight of course, don’t expect to create delicate gathers with a heavyweight fabric intended for jeans!). While scrolling for inspiration I came across so many different styles; pintucks, gathers, statement collars, pinafores, it’s all for the making. 

Sewing pattern ideas

Papercut Ashling Blouse and Dress, Nina Lee Bakerloo, Seamwork Dani Pinafore, Fieldwork Katy Pinafore, By Hand London Marie Shirt and Dress, Maison Fauve Atlas Shirt Dress.

Hopefully that’s given you some ideas for sewing with denim in different ways. It’s so easy to overlook, but next time you’re fabric shopping, a little trip to the denim section will be time well spent.

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