A lovely relaxed fit shirt dress with unusual construction

A review of Paper Theory Patterns Olya Shirt and Dress

Reviewed by thefoldline on 3rd October, 2022

The Olya shirtdress from Paper Theory has been on my make list for years. I’ve been saving this striped crepe fabric from my stash to make it and over the summer I finally set aside the time to sew it up. I really enjoyed the challenge of this project with unusual seam lines and construction methods for a shirt. Using striped fabric meant I could play with the design and use both horizontal and vertical stripes. There was a lot of time spent pattern matching because of this but it was worth it, especially the pockets! Although there are many traditional shirt elements to this pattern, the pockets and seam line across the bodice and down the sleeve are genius. I also liked some of the smaller details, like the double pleated sleeve at the cuff and box pleat at the centre back.


I followed Tara’s advice and sized down so the shirtdress wasn’t too ‘oversized’. You can read more about this in the instructions for the pattern. I made a size 10 (rather than my normal size 12) and it was still a generous size. I think next time I would reduce the length of the sleeves.


The instructions are detailed with plenty of text and illustrations but I found some of the steps hard to follow when constructing the pockets/bodice/sleeve section. I would really recommend following Tara’s full sew along video for this section as it is really clear on what to do at each stage: https://papertheorypatterns.com/pages/oyla-shirt-sew-along

At the shoulder point (pictured above) I found it tricky to sew this with a machine so I stopped stitching either side of the corner point and then hand finished the seam, which meant I could give it a slight curve and a less harsh point (this made pressing a lot easier).

For the hem I overlocked the edge and folded it over once with a 2cm hem as I wanted it to be a bit heavier and hang better as the fabric is drapey.

I used white rayon interfacing for one half of the collar and cuffs and also interfaced the button stand. I didn’t interface the pockets or waist tie as I wanted them to have the same drapey finish as the rest of the dress.


I used a blue and white striped crepe blend fabric for the dress from my stash with mottled recycled paper buttons from Merchant and Mills. I did French seams throughout where possible for a nicer finish.