Make Way for Polka Dots!

Polka dots: do you wear them or avoid them?

I have generally avoided them, though whenever I’m exploring the cotton shirting aisles of Mood Fabrics in NYC I often find myself drawn to them. But then I worry they’ll be hard on the eyes or overwhelming to my short-ish frame (I’m 5’7″), so I move on.

On my last visit, however, I found what I think is the perfect polka-dotted cotton voile.  The dots are somewhat random, so easier to look at, while the mixed color palette — the black dots in particular — give the eyes a place to rest.

I thought my polka-dotted fabric would be perfect for a retro-style men’s convertible collar shirt. Even though it’s winter, I’m always up for sewing myself something summery, especially because I’ll be heading to a warm-weather destination later this month.

In case you’re wondering, a convertible collar shirt is one without a separate collar stand.  Also known as a camp collar shirt, it’s a style generally associated with bowling shirts and Hawaiian shirts, as well as many women’s blouses.

I used a favorite vintage Fifties men’s shirt pattern, McCall’s 3995.  (I used this pattern to make this Liberty of London shirt.)  I love the comfortable, slightly oversized fit as well as the extra button on the back of the shaped collar, the kind of detail you don’t see much anymore.

Another special detail is the cuff on the short sleeve: again, not necessary, but it makes for a more interesting shirt.

It was below freezing during our photoshoot, hence the leggings, but wearing cheerful polka dots in fun retro colors really warms my heart, if not my extremities. A few minutes in the freezing cold was all I could handle!


If you, like me, have generally avoided polka dots, perhaps this project will make you reconsider.  It’s all about the scale of the dots, the color palette, and the pattern itself.  (You can explore Mood Fabrics’ many online cotton polka dot options here.)

Thanks for reading and see you next month!



  • June W Lovell
    January 18, 2018

    Perfect for resort wear: have a great time!

  • Irene
    January 19, 2018

    Polka dots are always perfect. Wonderful shirt! And you are brave taking pics outside.