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It’s ALL about the details! This is so true when you are aiming for a professional result in your sewing. We’re happy to welcome Karina from Lifting Pins and Needles to the blog today to walk us through a few ways to upgrade your woven Melody dolman button-up shirt by adding in those professional details: button sleeve tabs, pocket flaps, dress length and more! 

Melody Dolman hacks


Pocket Flaps, Button Sleeve Tabs, Patch Pockets, Shirt Dress


Hi sewing friends! I’m Karina and you might have met me on my sewing YouTube channel Lifting Pins and Needles and more recently on my blog too.  I have been an ambassador for Love Notions since last year and have been enjoying sharing my Love Notions garments with you a great deal. Today I’m sharing with you a new version of one of my all-time favorite patterns! 

Melody Dolman Pattern Details

The Melody Dolman is a woven button up shirt with a camp style collar, cute cuffs on the dolman sleeve hems. The shirt tail hem can also be tied on the front for even more versatility.  It’s just a classic that is not so complex to sew and with the full bust option, you´ll be ready to sew without doing a FBA (if you typically need it). The pattern also comes with links to some of the sewing techniques. Super helpful right?  YOU CAN SEW THIS COLLAR. 

Melody Dolman hacks

My Melody Dolmans

Last year during pattern testing, I made two versions.  I loved them both and the stripy one was also loved by my mother, who ended up keeping it.  It’s a great style for any age. I also got carried away and used the Melody Dolman as a base to create a crazy stripe play asymmetrical dress.  The sky is the limit with this pattern, and I notice I have really been enjoying the stipe craze lately.

The Melody Dolman is the Feature Friday pattern today (3/13/20) and that means that you can purchase it 50% OFF, at only $5.  A real steal.  For this occasion, I bring you some more inspiration and some little details that you can add to this style. 

My Fabric for Melody Dolman

I have chosen a solid fabric.  Solids tend to be left tucked away in our fabric collections, but they truly are versatile and useful in our wardrobes.  I had dreamed of a shirt dress that looked like denim but wasn’t denim. In comes a beautiful blue Tencel twill! A light to medium weight woven fabric that will look like denim but will have a lovely drape and be softer on the skin.  Another aesthetic goal was to do tan color top stitching were appropriate to highlight the little details I was planning to add.

A Melody Dolman with All the Details:

I have experimented and drafted extra little pattern pieces that will give the Melody Dolman a few extra details:

  1. Flaps with a buttonhole for the bust pockets.
  2. Sleeve tabs with a buttonhole for the cuffs
  3. Patch pockets on the front of the dress…. And yes….
  4. It will be a shirt dress! 


If shirt dresses are not your interest, you can add the bust pocket flaps and sleeve tabs to the original shirt version too.


Professional Detail 1: Pocket Flaps with a Buttonhole 

The Melody Dolman has a bust pocket available on one side.  I am utilizing this same pattern piece and will have patch pockets on both sides.  I drafted a pocket flap appropriate for the size of the bust pocket and you can see the dimensions next.  Seam allowance is included in all these extra pattern pieces.

melody dolman details

In the following photos below, you can see the simple steps it takes to create the pocket flaps.  A few straight seams and a little fiddle time to turn them right sides out. The opening will be left unsewn for now.

melody dolman details

Below you can see my seam ripper showing the open area that can stay put.  I am using top stitching tan color thread only on the top. The bobbin has regular navy thread.  After top stitching the short and bottom edges, leave the threads loose. To avoid bulky visible top stitching on the dress, I am not back tacking anywhere.  I use a larger needle to thread the top stitching thread to the back and knot there where it won’t be seen.  

melody dolman details

Shown below, make a mark in the center of the flap.  This is where the buttonholes will be made on each flap.  I practiced on scraps to have the correct size to match my chosen buttons. 

melody dolman details


Professional Detail 2: Sleeve Tabs for the Cuffs

I think sleeve tabs are an interesting visual feature PLUS they are functional because they hold the folded sleeve cuff in place.    I set out to experiment to come up with an appropriate pattern piece you can easily draw. It is only a rectangle. Cut two and interface them.

melody dolman details

In the photos below, you can see the interfaced sleeve tabs and the process to give them shape.  They are small pieces. Patience is required to turn them right side out. Luckily, only two of these are needed (whew).

melody dolman details

I did back tack here on the bottom edge while I was top stitching.  The area marked with an arrow will not be seen. Trust me, there can be a little back tacking there.

Mark the buttonholes in the center of the top and sew them.  See the images below.

melody dolman details


Professional Detail 3: Patch Pockets on the Skirt

I enjoy a good patch pocket because it adds visual interest without adding bulk and to be honest, they are decorative only.  I never ever put things in them. But they are pretty, so let’s add some on to the dress. I also experimented with the size of these and think this is an appropriate size and in proportion to the style of the garment.  See the dimensions below.

melody dolman details

I’d love to stabilize the top of the pockets, hence the strip of fusible interfacing as seen below.  I am also a fan of doing a long length straight “guide stich” to facilitate pressing in the seam allowances.  These stitches can be easily removed after pressing.

melody dolman details


Professional Detail 4: Dress Length Melody Dolman

The easiest way to determine how much to lengthen the shirt is by trying on one you have already made and measuring from the hem down to the desired length. In my case, I needed to add 10” at the center front and back.  To compensate for the original shirt tail hem shape, I added 13” from the sides down. See the image below. I suggest blending to the next size up at the hips to allow more ease. I used an XL at the hips for this dress version.  I continued the lines on the side seams. 

melody dolman details


More Professional Sewing Details: My Tips and Tricks



Show next are a few steps taken with both the bust and the skirt patch pockets.  I like finishing the top of the pockets like shown below. There will be no raw edges there and it’s a neat finish.

melody dolman details

It’s no secret that I am a fan of the long-lost art of hand basting.  This fabric is drapey and does not want to stay where you want it to. I did huge stitches to hold the folded edges in place for all the pockets.  See below. 

I determined the placement of all the pockets with the dress on my body and pinning and repining until I was happy.  I marked my preference on the fabric for both bust and skirt pockets. 

melody dolman details



Below you can see that I hand basted the bust pockets into position before top stitching them on to the dress.  The flap is placed above the pocket and top stitched. The opening left on the top edge of the flap previously is dealt with, finally.

No back tacking here either.  As mentioned, I am trying to avoid bulky top stitching thread being visible.

melody dolman details



The top folded edge is top stitched and again I’ve hand basted it onto the dress.  Nothing beats the precision and comfort of sewing without pins everywhere. 

melody dolman details



Sleeve tab time! This is my favorite feature for this dress.  As seen below, the tab is placed inside 1” further than the seam that unites the sleeve and the cuff.  See below. The little rectangle seam that will hold the tab in place will be invisible to others because the folded cuff will hide it.  

Once in place, the tab comes over the cuff and when the button is in place, the cuff won’t be able to unfold.  Practical AND pretty. 

melody dolman details



I opted to use tan top stitching thread to highlight the extra features I was adding. All this effort won’t be too visible if a printed fabric is used.  I would recommend a solid fabric for this reason.

Experience has taught me that my machine does not appreciate top stitching thread when I attempt buttonholes.  Previous failures have me now using normal thread in a matching color.

I decided to top stitch the shoulder seams, collar, and cuffs with one row at the edge.  

All the top stitching was aided by my trusty edge foot that makes sewing super straight and neat.


The Final Melody Dolman with all the Professional Details

Have a look at my dreamed shirt dress! 

The collar with one row of top stitching on the edge.

melody dolman details


Closer look at the collar and pockets with the functioning flaps.

melody dolman details


Cute and functional sleeve tabs keeping the cuff in place.

melody dolman details


The large patch pockets on the skirt of the dress.

melody dolman details


 And a general look of the entire dress.  I used 15 buttons. 11 on the front, 2 for the flaps and 2 for the sleeve tabs.  They are all functional. I paired the dress with a tan belt and shoes and love this classic color combination. The belt does make the dress a little shorter and it’s important to take that into account if a belt will come into the mix.  I personally love a nice thin belt for waist definition. 

melody dolman details melody dolman details melody dolman details melody dolman details melody dolman details


This is a project to plan and dedicate some time to, but the efforts will be compensated because this is a classic style you can enjoy for years to come.  I highly recommend this pattern and these little “extras” can add a little more fun into the mix! 

melody dolman details

Don’t miss out on this amazing pattern that has so many possibilities.  I am sure to make more in the future. I’ve used the Melody Dolman Pattern four times already! Who is to say I won’t use it 4 more times?  Thank you for reading and I’ll see you again very soon.


Purchase the pattern HERE.

*This link is an affiliate link and I earn a percentage of the sale, as commission, at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for your purchase. 

Pin this for later! 

Melody Dolman hacks

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Mary C says:

    I think I like the dress even better than the shirt! It is all the little details that make it work. The details make it look like a safari dress without the collar stand.

  • Sandra says:

    I love this dress! I am so impressed with the topstitching detail. I do have a question though, when I’m using the edgestitch foot on corners, the garment gets stuck and I end up with a bunch of stitches at the corners (i.e. collars). Don’t know if it’s my machine that’s the problem but it seems like either the seams are too bunchy or the presser feet are not doing their job?!?!
    I just finished a Dolman top but decided to use the 1/4″ foot for the collar and it worked fine. I’m inspired to make a dress after seeing this lovely version.

  • Robin E. says:

    Oh, Karina, this is fabulous and so timely for me! I have a wide, asymmetrical striped Melody dress planned already, and now I KNOW I’ll be adding the cuff tabs and lots of topstitching. I’m not sure about pockets though.

    I was thinking of extending the top to a dress as you showed, so I’m glad to know I’m on the right track.

    Thank you for this!

  • Marilynn says:

    I now have the courage to try this pattern. Yours look amazing.

  • Beck says:

    I really love this! Thanks for all the details, so helpful!

  • Terri Chevalier says:

    Very nice Karina! Very consise instructions as usual. I’ll have to give this a try at some point!
    I just started on my 1st Melody muslin today!
    Almost finished.
    Thanks again for your tips!

  • Cheryl says:

    Fantastic result! Looks great on you. I am keen to try this dress version as well as making at least one melody top. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sheila OMarah says:

    Love this. I have been debating purchasing this pattern for a long time. Will definitely do so now. Just one question would it be easy to make the sleeves into 3/4 or full length sleeves. Many thanks.

  • Kathryn Yuile says:

    Do you think that the melody would work using knit fabric-a cotton jersey for instance?

  • Elizabeth says:

    I have wondered that also!

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