The shirt dress to end all shirt dresses | Ralph Pink Sahara review

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

It really is about time I shared my version of the Ralph Pink Sahara shirt dress with you! It only took me a few years, but she is finally hitting the blog. I have been wearing it loads lately, so it’s only fair that I do a write up of the pattern as well, in case anyone feels like giving it a go.

To me, this is the mother of all shirt dresses, and not just because any other shirt dress you can think of could probably fit into it a few times. If you are into this kind of style, this is an incredibly versatile garment. I wore it as a shirt over jeans (like in this shoot), as a dress in the summer with bare legs, as a dress in the winter layered over thick tights, layered over a turtleneck, with wide culottes and many other ways. It just works for my aesthetic so well. And I’m half convinced that olive is the new neutral!

Disclaimer:  I made or bought all the items included in this post, but it may contain affiliate links. Please read my Reader Disclosure Policy for what that means exactly.

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt – The pattern

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress
Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress
Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

This pattern has been out for a few years now and I feel it definitely did not get the buzz it deserved. I admit it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you are into Scandi minimalism like me, it’s a must have to recreate a Cos or Kin garment that you can’t live without.

I have to thank my twin style, Shauni from The Magnificent Thread, for bringing it to my attention. She made a few awesome versions of her own (see the end of the post for links).

This is the official pattern description:

When stylish over-sized shirts are hard to come by, the simple yet stunning Sahara shirt is undoubtedly the only cover-up you’ll ever need. Whether you are lounging by the pool or setting off on safari, the drop shoulder design teamed with open-tab cuffs and a belted waist will suit absolutely any holiday destination. To create a classic look for a sultrier day out or more seductive evening occasion, using a luxury fabric such as satin or silk will really add a touch of elegance.


  • A classic styled shirt collar, with a collar stand and 2cm placket
  • A double layer shoulder yoke, complete with faux pocket flap on the front
  • Tab cuffs that open at the underarm
  • A rolled, scalloped hem featuring French seams

So it has all the elements of a classic shirt, but also a great oversized shape.

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It comes in sizes: XS – L / UK 4-18 / US 0 -14 / EUR 32-46

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

I had initially cut a size M, but went back and reduced it to XS, as it’s massive and there are mad amounts of ease to play with. Also, bear that in mind if you think your size is not included, I’m sure it can actually work for a few sizes up.

For the record, my measurements are:

  • Hips: 98 cm (38.5in)
  • Waist: 72 cm (28,5in)
  • Bust 88cm (34.5in)
  • Cup B/C
  • Height: 1.72m/5.6in

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt – my fabric choice

This is Tencel medium/heavy twill and it’s such an awesome fabric to work with. It was a gift for helping organise a sewing event at work and as soon as I got it, all I could think of was that it needed to be a Sahara! It has great drape and it’s also very heavy, so it just hangs perfectly. I really think this pattern needs that kind of fabric to fully shine, it does need a bit of body. Having said that, the sample on the Ralph Pink website is made in cotton gauze and it look very nice too.

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

Problem with viscoses (even sustainable ones like Tencel) is that they do wrinkle quite badly. They iron well, but you have to kinda learn to live with them. I only end up ironing it if it’s really bad, it tends to loosen up a bit if when hung in the closet. However, because of the volume, it does tend to get vertical lines as the width is compresses on the hanger.


The other thing to say is that this pattern is a fabric guzzler. They say 2.35m but I think you might be able to get it out of a little less. I can’t remember how much I ended up using as I had a massive piece and I was not too worried.

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress
Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt – alterations & construction

Ralph Pink say that this shirt looks more complicated than it is. And I agree. There are some great construction elements, like the yoke on the back, the collar stand, the curved hem. If you have made shirts before, it will be a piece of cake. Even as a beginner it will not be too hard.

I only glanced at the instructions, as I find my attention span is very short lately. I only check to make sure I am following the order of construction, in case the pattern decides to throw a curve ball.

I did not make any changes other than cutting down to the smallest size and taking in 1” from the side seam, as it came out a bit too oversized even for me.

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

All the finishing of the seams was done with the overlocker.

I added interfacing strips to the yoke edges, as I was worried the seams will stretch out too much. I have yet figured out a way to do that neatly so that the interfacing is not showing, but it really doesn’t bother me that much. I’d rather have that than a wavy seam.

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

There are a lot of buttonholes to make, but I figured out how to use the automated buttonholler and I also sewed the buttons by machine. But it still took ages. I used Fray Check from Prym to make sure all the pesky little threads won’t come away after I cut them off and they have behaved so far after many many washes.

MY TOP TIPS FOR SEWING the Ralph Pink Sahara shirt PATTERN

  • Size down!! It’s massively oversized and even at the smallest size, I took a lot from the side seams
  • Use a Simflex gauge for perfect button placement. Align with the button that goes between the breasts and the top button as points of reference and then everything will be evenly spaced.
  • Use some strips of iron on interfacing (you can make your own or get ready mad one from Prym) or stay tape for the curved seams to avoid stretching
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Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt dress

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt – Verdict

I have been waxing lyrical enough about this pattern, so you might have guessed that it was a winner. I have been wearing it over 10 times just this year, so clearly it’s become a wardrobe staple.

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt Dress

I have been thinking for ages of making a new version, maybe reduce the front volume a tiny little bit. I think I might have some fabric in mind, so watch this space. I can only hope it’s not going to take me two years to post it after I complete it.

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt – Styling ideas

Before I sign off, I wanted to share a few styling ideas from my recent 10×10 Green Capsule collection exercise, so you can get an idea about just how versatile this pattern is.

Aa a dress for colder weather:

Green-based 10 items capsule collection for winter, early spring and transitional

OVER WIDE-legged TROUSERS or culottes:

Green-based 10 items capsule collection for winter, early spring and transitional

CASUAL button up

Green-based 10 items capsule collection for winter, early spring and transitional

Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt – REVIEW RECAP

Pattern: Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt size XS, PDF version

Fabric: Tencel twill, medium to heavy weight; I used 2 and a bit m

Alterations: Removed 1” from the side seams

Notions: fusible interface; buttons (from the stash).

Next time: take out a bit more volume from front and back

Other versions: Shauni from Magnificent Thread version 1 and version 2; Emily from Self-assembly Required; Delphine from Sewing Tidbits (also doubled up as maternity clothes); Katie from What Katie Sews






  1. 31 May 2019 / 1:33 AM

    Amazing! I love oversized shirts and this is a winner. Love your choice of fabric, and it looks great over denim. going on my must have pattern list.

    • sewrendipityalex
      6 June 2019 / 2:20 PM

      Thank you, it really is such an awesome pattern. But make sure to size down, it really comes out huge!!

  2. 31 May 2019 / 7:32 PM

    I love Ralph Pink patterns and this one is no exception. It would swamp me but looks amazing on you Alex! I love the colour – so versatile.

    • sewrendipityalex
      6 June 2019 / 2:19 PM

      Thank you, Sue! I love other of his patterns in theory, but only this one made me push the ‘Buy’ button. I guess there are always too many patterns and not enough time :).

  3. 31 May 2019 / 9:44 PM

    This is gorgeous! And I love the different ways you styled it. Loving your new hairstyle, too. Gorgeousness all around!

    • sewrendipityalex
      6 June 2019 / 2:18 PM

      Thank you, Lori, on all accounts. It’s such an awesome pattern, I can’t wait to make it again. In grey, to go with the hair :).

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