A little while ago now, I bought the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1873 dress pattern by mistake. I say by mistake – obviously I did, in fact, purposefully hand over money in exchange for the pattern, but I had a bit of a brain-fart and thought I was actually buying Simplicity 2444. C’est la vie.
This pattern is a shining example of Simplicity’s terrible styling choices – the pouffy brocade fabric does absolutely nothing to sell this dress to me. However, since I bought it, I thought I may as well use it! And what’s more, I decided to do things properly. I’ll let you in on a little secret here – I’m lazy. I enjoy sewing, and I love making pretty clothes for myself – but my reluctance to unpick seams or make multiple muslins often comes back to bite me in the arse when I finish a dress and it doesn’t fit properly, or a skirt unravels in the wash. I’ve made a promise to myself to make well-made garments, even if it means unpicking a hundred seams.
This was the result. I was going to make View B, but the button tabs caught my eye at the last moment and I added them in to make it View C. I made three muslins of the bodice – I worked my way down from size 20 to size 16, and then moved the bust side darts down by 1 inch, and lowered the other bust darts by 2 inches. I left the back darts as they were.
I went back and forth on the pleated skirt – the pleats were a bitch to do, and I spent ages basting, unpicking, folding, basting some more and I still couldn’t get them right. I kept ending up with an inch on either side of the skirt spare and 1 in the middle, after lining up all the seams, so in the end I added an extra pleat on either side, and one in the middle. I seriously considered just gathering the skirt, but I ultimately decided not to because I didn’t want to look like a puffball from the waist down. However, if I made it again, I’d take that chance, because I don’t think the pleats are worth the effort. I hemmed the skirt as little as possible, because even though I’m short, it was a good length on me before I touched it!
The skirt is deceptively full (excuse the cheeky bra strap trying to peek through)! After all my careful muslin planning, the waist ended up being a little large on me. Stupidly, I didn’t try it on until after I’d inserted the zipper (lapped and handpicked, thank you very much), and I nearly threw the whole thing in the bin when I finally slipped it on and discovered it was baggy. But then I thought a bit, and although the button tabs are meant to be decorative (no buttonholes required), I thought I would move them closer to the centre of the dress and actually button them up to cinch in the waist. I was a bit worried about how it would look, but figured I had nothing to lose, so I tried it and I love the way it turned out. I think the gathering effect under the bust is flattering, and the tabs are so cute!
The only pair of matching buttons I had – and how lucky they matched my hot pink zipper! It was meant to be. And look at that buttonhole! A dear friend recently gave me some advice re: buttonholes – stick a pin on either side before wielding the seam ripper, and you’re far less likely to rip right through it. It works like a charm!
I used a teal broadcloth that I had 5 yards of in my stash – I honestly can’t remember where I bought it. I’m glad I had so much of it, though, because I somehow managed to stuff up cutting out 2 of the big skirt pieces and had to recut them. I used a bright pink zipper (also from the stash) that I got from Urban Ore, and the two buttons that were leftover from a previous project. Yay for stashbusting!
The inside of the dress, back and front respectively. I just typed bacon instead of back and had to change it – can you tell I haven’t had breakfast yet? Anyway, I lined the bodice with more of the broadcloth – I did buy some “lining fabric” from the local fabric store, but it was plastic-y and I thought it would make me sweat (tmi, yes?) so I didn’t bother using it. I didn’t line the skirt to make it lighter. I am so proud of my zipper, you guys. My first lapped, handpicked zipper! Can I make a confession? I had no idea what “handpicked” meant before now. I saw it mentioned on other blogs, and I thought perhaps they were hand-selecting couture zippers or something. I don’t know. But now I know the pick stitch, and I’m in love. Such a wonderful little sneaky stitch!
Despite being less-than-enthusiastic about the pattern before beginning, I actually really like the finished dress, and I may even make another one with a gathered skirt and sleeves! I’ll leave you with this fabulous photo of me flicking my hair like a supermodel. You’re welcome.