At some point I got the idea in my head that I really needed to wear Simplicity 1609 at my bachelorette party. Simply had to do it.
At the outset, I was clear on the pattern but not details of what the dress would look like.
Because the pattern is designed to be close-fitting, I really wanted a fabric with some give, so movement in the dress would be easy. I also wanted some flow to the dress, so adding in side ease was something I wanted to do as well.
Snooping at SR Harris, I found what I was looking for: a one-directional stretch knit in a fall color pallet.
I just love SR Harris. I think about not living near a discount fabric store at any point in my life and it sounds like such a downer. I never forget how lucky I am to have so many garment fabric options.
They also have huge tubs of leather scrap, buckles, straps, and decorative cowl pieces, things I look at but don’t usually buy.
For this project though, I thought one of the cowl piece (lace applique) would be fun to use instead of making the scalloped Peter Pan collar, so I stocked up on a few possibilities and hoped one would work out.
Very happy with my pick! I think it pairs nicely. Unfortunately, since I’d never bought one before, I learned after reading the receipt that they are $3 apiece. Probably buying 3 in one go with no plan was a mistake.
For this dress, I did make a muslin — two muslins.
I know, basically, that Simplicity is not sized like Vogue, since my earlier failed attempt at making a shirt for myself based on my commercial sizing. So, instead of cutting a size 14, which seems to be my commercial and Vogue size, I cut a size 20, going on bust measurements alone and hoping for the best. I think I will be better served next time by finding my shoulder measurement on the pattern and grading to the bust, but for now my wonky fixes seem to work.I know a lot of people hate that front seam, but I really found it useful for adjusting the fit. I took in about 2″ at the front center seam at the neck and graded it down to the bust, then let out the dress gradually from the waist to the hem for more ease. I took in the pattern from the top of the bust dart to the arm hole on both the front and back, and in back I took in the zip a little at the top and graded it out from “rear end” to hem. A lot of adjustments, but I’m very happy with the results. This could be my go-to shift dress pattern from now on.
I couldn’t find any “how to” guides online for applying the cowl, no matter how I looked.
Basically, I decided to approach it like lace. Which I’ve never done, but have read a lot about.I placed the detail over the dress front, pinned, sewed the shoulders with a zig-zag, and straight stitched the cowl along its U shape, closest to the neck. Then I cut away the underpart and left about 1/3″ — which I then edge serged, folded and pinned down, then straight stitched over through the cowl along its U shape farthest from the neck.
I used pre-made bias tape along the armholes beforehand, and used the same bias tape along the back of the neck hole after I applied the cowl.
At first I thought I would attach the applique with clear thread — but that was a mondo bust. It kept breaking and bunching and it’s very difficult to handle. In the end I machine sewed it to the fabric with matched Dual Duty XP Heavy thread I had in my stash. I thought it would be too visible, but it actually looks pretty nice. In the process, my machine did skip some stitches — some of which I ripped out and re-did — but what imperfections remain are a-okay with me.
Total cost: $13 fabric + $3 cowl + $2 pattern + $3 thread + $1 bias tape + $1 zipper + 14 hours
And how was the bachelorette party?
I had a good time.
They made me a sushi penis at Masu! AMAZEBALLZ.
I will absolutely be making this dress again, in a few different styles. I’m satisfied with this first make, but I’d like to revisit the pattern and use it to help me understand which shoulder size I should grade to in my next attempt at a Simplicity pattern.
I’d also like to make a few other shift style dresses to compare fit.