I decided to make this dress for mum rather than myself, because I needed to say a big thank you to her for looking after me while I’ve not been so well recently! We went down to our local fabric shop and I said that she could pick any five fabrics, and that I’d tell her which one would be best for the pattern. In the end, we went for a lovely drapey viscose, which is quite a lot lighter than all of the fabrics recommended for the dress. I was hoping that even though it wasn’t technically the right weight, the floatiness would lend itself nicely to the fitted bodice and full circle skirt – thankfully, I was right! The fabric means that it can work great as both a day dress or paired with heels for the evening, as a nice floaty summer dress or with tights in the winter – definitely a pattern that I’m going to be using again and again!
This is one of Simple Sew’s earliest patterns and it has been changed a lot since the copy I have but unfortunately for me, I found that the instructions weren’t really the best – a lot of the pictures don’t match the steps that are being talked about, and some bits aren’t mentioned at all! It didn’t matter too much though, because if you’ve made a few similar dresses, it’s easy to figure out what needs to be done when. If this is one of your first dresses though, I think you’d definitely struggle a little bit as there is a lack of notches too which can get a little confusing at times, especially when it comes to the sleeves, which have no notches at all so you can’t tell which is the front and the back of each sleeve and need to do a little bit of guesswork.
Mum’s going to wear this as an everyday dress as well as to work, so asked me to heighten the back neckline rather than sewing it as the deep v which is the design of the pattern (a feature that I’ll definitely keep for the version that I make for myself!). This was really simple to change, and all I needed to do was extend the centre back seam of the bodice and draw in a new curve for the back neck – easy peasy! This change does mean that you need to use a different back neck facing, which was something that I actually forgot about until after I’d cut out all of my pieces. I didn’t have much fabric left so couldn’t cut it out again, and instead used a pretty bit of ribbon I had in my stash to bind it, which is something that actually ended up being one of mum’s favourite features! It’s funny how the unintended bits of a garment end up as some of the best parts, isn’t it?
I used French seams for the majority of the dress, just to add a nice little touch and to avoid the bulkiness that would come with overlocking. I knew that I couldn’t just leave the edges raw though, the fabric seemed to really enjoy fraying! I’m glad that I opted for French seams; the nice tucked-in look really adds to the overall look – plus, I love sewing French seams anyway!
The finished product is one that both mum and I are really pleased with – it fits her wonderfully, and I didn’t have to adjust the pattern at all. She’s going to take it away on holiday to the New Forest!
Harriet blogs at https://hobblinghandmades.com/