For her Simple Sew debut, Lena King shares her gorgeous version of the Babydoll dress. Find out how she created this A-line, 60s inspired garment below!
I love a new dress and this dress with its simple shape, lovely puffed half sleeves and interesting detail of buttons down the back is a winner! Babydoll conjures up for me images of loose fitting empire line dresses, but this is a shift dress with a nod to the sixties. I wanted to give mine more of a sixties vibe, so I raised the hemline by two inches and made it in this gorgeous retro look fabric. It is a Lady McElroy lawn in an amazing large floral print. The colours are so lovely. I bought the fabric from Sew Me Sunshine a while ago and have been waiting for the right pattern.
The dress was a straightforward make. The bodice is shaped with bust darts and there is gentle shaping through the waist and hips. I took some time to decide which size to make as I am not yet familiar with Simple sew patterns. Looking at the finished garment measurements, I went for the size 12 through to the waist and then graded out to a 14 at the hips. I wanted to make a fitted garment.
I decided to line the dress rather than use facing. I’m not a big fan of facings as I can never get them to lie flat. Also I know that fabric like lawn has a tendency to ride up, lining stops this. It really isn’t very much more work to line a dress than to use facing and the results can be so much more professional looking. The lining can also act as a toile, which is helpful.
The sleeves are really lovely, they have just the right amount of puff for me. I found the written instructions for making the sleeve a little confusing but just following the pictures was enough to create the pretty sleeve. Although I cut a size 12 sleeve, I cut a size 14 cuff because I don’t like tight cuffs. I’m really happy with how the sleeves turned out.
The thing I was nervous about with this pattern was the back buttoning – would there be gaping? When I followed the pattern guidance for the buttons, there certainly was gaping! I fixed this by adding more buttonholes. My dress has 13 buttons instead of the recommended nine – nobody needs to see me flashing! I do think though that when I make another I would insert a zip. Or maybe hide a zip under a faux button placket. The thing is, whilst the buttons look cute unless you’re a contortionist you need someone to help you in and out of this dress!
When I finished the dress, lovely as it was, I felt it needed more. The neckline needed adorning, that was it! I spent an evening on Pinterest looking at 60s and 70s dresses and looking for tutorials on how to draft various collars. Eventually I settled on this Peter Pan collar. It gives the make even more cuteness I think.
Several other hacks went through my mind while making this: sheer sleeves, long bishop sleeves, straight ¾ sleeves, sleeveless for layering, patch pockets- Mary Quant style, tiered maxi perhaps.
I really love this dress, I’m hoping to be able to wear this all year round. Do give this pattern a try, I should point out that the size range is 8 -20, UK. The suggested fabrics are light to mid-weight cotton viscose or satin. Those of you who know me won’t be surprised to hear that an Ankara one is already on my summer make list!
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