Honestly, the number of things that went wrong whilst making this dress, urgh! Originally I was going to write about them all in detail, but who wants to read about problems? Instead, have some piccies of a happy girl in an (eventually) successful creation (thanks to my handsome husband for the photos):
The pattern is the rather cute, summery, Simplicity’s Cynthia Rowley 1873, in View C. I bought the pattern on sale for $1.50 (score!) where it promptly sat in my stash for about a year. Then a few weeks ago, Natalie from Threads and Bobbins suggested here that a few of us “get together” and sew our versions of the dress and blog about it, so here I am! Thanks Natalie – nothing like a bit of encouragement to get stuck into a new project. After the wedding dress I was at a bit of a loose end as to what to sew next, what with no more wedding coming up, so this was really a great way to get back into it.
As summery as the pattern is (especially View C, which I just adore), I eventually decided I really wanted to create a winter dress. Shout out to my fellow Aussie sewers while everyone else is sewing hot-weather clothes (London’s hottest day of the year or something the other day?)! I scoured the net for other people’s versions of this dress, and they were pretty much all summery until I came across this one on Doing It Abroad and realised yes, this dress CAN look wintery! I just couldn’t picture it before. Thanks for the inspiration, if you’re reading this!
I chose to use this dark blue and white fabric I picked up at an op shop for $5 last year – a steal, amirite? It’s a thin poly-cotton – not exactly the warmest of fabrics – but the colour is nice and wintery and it’s just a matter of layering up for the season. I always pictured pairing this with tights, boots, a cardy and a scarf.
Things I like:
- The buttons! They are such a fun little feature of this dress.
- The pattern was really easy to follow and clearly explains the purpose of each stitch or step. I guess that’s standard for Simplicity patterns?
- The pleats, although kind of annoying to press properly, are a lovely feature so different from a normal gathered skirt.
- The versatility – I can easily picture wearing this in summer, too.
Things I did differently:
- Added an inch to the bodice length as per usual (yay for being long-torsoed…).
- The waist was too small after I’d already cut the bodice, so I very much minimised all the darts. Once I’d cut the bodice front, I also molded it to my dress form to make it a better fit overall. “Nipped and tucked”, as they say.
- I “stitched-in-the-ditch” to attach the lining to the waistline, purely to save time. I did handstitch the zip to the lining though, because I prefer the look.
- I added a hem facing rather than just folding up and hemming, as I wanted to a) keep the length and b) provide some more weight and structure to the lightweight fabric.
Things I learnt:
- How to do hem facings, for the first time! Actually surprisingly easy!
- That I should avoid using shiny bemsilk lining underneath a thin poly-cotton – it will show through and look silly! I decided to recut the lining out of a thick black cotton drill. It shows the colour of the dress better and it’s a bit warmer, too.
- How to properly use the invisible zipper foot to stitch the seam below the zipper. That was a real “aha” moment!
For next time:
- Make a freakin’ mock-up! To be fair, I originally bought a floral fabric for this dress, so the blue dress here can act as the mock-up for the floral one (when I get around to it in spring or summer!)
- Don’t forget to finish the back seam allowances before attaching the zip! I feel like I do this all the time!
- Work on pattern-matching. I’ve never really attempted it before, but I feel like it probably could have been achieved with this fabric.
- Sew the buttons down before attaching the lining at the waist, so that the stitches don’t show through the lining.
- Add an inch around the waist so I can eat comfortably.
- Somehow nip in the top back so it’s less gapey around the neck.
- Add an inch or so to the length – I think it might be a teensy bit more flattering.
Despite my silly errors and the frustration when I failed at the zip three times in a row, it turned out okay! And for a total cost of $10 (fabric, pattern, zip and buttons), I’d say it’s a win. I’ll finish with a few more construction shots for those interested!