This dress came about as a result of seeing the fabulous made by me makes in May, and realising that I need to start creating more everyday items in my wardrobe. I’m lucky that I can wear what I like to work. It’s very informal and I spend most of my time at a desk in a cosy office. I usually opt for a dresses, as I find them the most comfortable and cute looking, plus there is lots of room for a big lunch which we have the luxury of getting for free in our works vegetarian canteen
So the criteria for this dress had to be comfy, wearable, ok for work, and something that would be good for summer.
I chose Simplicity 1652 after seeing Laura’s make, from behind the hedgerow, and really liking the shape of the sleeves and cut out back. I didn’t have any dresses like it in my collection so it was a goer. Laura has since made another version in liberty which is a right stunner. Well done Laura, you did that fabric proud!
About the Amazing fit patterns
Simplicity 1652 is in their amazing fit collection which is a collection of patterns which lets you mix and match sizes according to your bust and dress size and get a fit that’s tailored to your body shape. This would take a lot of the hassle out of doing an FBA for people who regularly have to make this adjustment. I went ahead and traced my pieces in a size 14 with a C cup, and used this for my muslin.
The pattern comes in 3 styles, and I opted for view B as I liked the cut out back and sleeves. I didn’t want to go for any of the waist embellishments, the tabs are ok but the chains aren’t really my style, and remind me of some of the horrible clothes I wore when I was 14, prime spice girls era. Luckily there are no photos to hand! but I know they came from Fordham market and I thought I looked the bees knees. I’m one to learn from my mistakes, so no to chintzy chains!
Dressed in Denim
I picked this fabric based on some cute ribbon I found in the 50p bargain box at Leeds market. I wanted something simple that would match the ribbon, and I could use it to provide interest as a trim on the garment.
I opted for some mid-blue denim I found at B&M Fabrics in Leeds Market. I don’t own any denim dresses, so again a bit of gap I was hoping to fill with this garment. The fabric was a little heavier than I liked, but I decided to go with it anyway, and if it was too warm for summer it would be great with tights for the cooler months.
Making the Muslin
I made the bodice and skirt with pockets from some old duvet fabric I’d picked up at a carboot. Straight away when I tried it on I took an instant dislike to the pocket placement, where they had been included at the front of the skirt. The result was a puffy skirt (yes it looked like I had a front bum), and that was with nothing in the pockets, plus it just felt like an odd place to rest my hands, so a move to the side seams was the first change I wanted to make.
There is a whole section included with the instructions that explains how to get the perfect fit, and how to make adjustments. Although the bodice fitted me fairly well, I wanted quite a snug fit, and decided on removing some of the excess fabric. The bodice was a little baggy under the chest area around the torso, and the instructions said to crease the bodice side front seam to remove the fullness under-bust and pin, so that was straightforward.
The second adjustment however was that I had a whole load of extra fabric I could pinch in the middle of the neckline, big gaping front issues. There were no details in the instructions for how to do this, (surely it’s a common adjustment?) so I had to muddle through myself. I couldn’t decide if it was best to remove the excess from the centre fold seam, or to take in along the princess seams? I decided that removing from the centre front would distort the neckline area and pull the shoulders in, so to try and remove from each side of the princess seam instead. Again I pinched this out and pinned, and copied my adjustments to my pattern pieces. Because this is still quite new to me, I feel like I am constantly keeping my fingers crossed that my adjustments will work, and don’t yet have the faith in my abilities that what I am doing is going to work. I’m sure this comes with time, and many, many garments.
I realised when after doing this that all I probably needed to do was to go down a dress size or trace a B cup instead, so maybe i’ll try that next time.
With my adjusted bodice pieces I got to work cutting out the pieces for my main garment.
As other bloggers have mentioned the construction method is really odd in that it asks you to baste the dress together, try it on, make adjustments, and then take apart and restitch up with adjustments. As I’d already made a muslin (as suggested in the pattern as well) I was happy enough to skip this step and construct it fully as I went along. Seems like an unnecessary step to me.
Skirt and Pockets
Once sewn up I was really happy with the fit of the bodice. My adjustments had worked and given me the snug fit I was looking for, not a wrinkle in sight. I still needed to insert the zip though to get a true feel of the fit, and the pattern called for a simple lapped zip. Stupidly I’d bought the wrong size zip, so it was back to the market again to get the right size where I came back with a zip, and yet more fabric for my stash. My attempt to walk past B&M Fabrics with my eyes closed had failed. Addict much?
I inserted the zip, and low and behold I had gaping back problems too and lots of extra space that could be pinched out at the spine, about 4cm in total! I didn’t install a zip in to the muslin, so I suppose this is why I had failed to notice this issue until now. I was starting to thing the amazing fit pattern perhaps was more a substandard fit pattern.
I did a lot of reading about other bloggers versions of this make here, here and here. One thing that they all mentioned was the need to remove excess at the back and one blogger advised to use smaller pattern pieces for the cut out. I decided to go with this advice and cut out a size 6 for the back yoke pattern pieces only, but I think I should have done this for the main bodice back also. You also get the benefit of having a larger cut out, which looks more striking.
So I was surprised to find that with the above adjustments I still needed to remove 2 inches from each side of the zip, tapering to 1 inch at the waist. I decided to remove all of this from the centre seam, and continue to loose an inch each side of the centre seam at the back of the skirt, as there was lots of fabric to play with. I made the adjustment, reinserted the zip and it fitted much more snuggly, perhaps a little too snuggly, but I’ll wear it a few times and adjust later on if I need to.
I continued to add the facings, the back yoke and moved on to the sleeves. Unfortunately I had missed to mark the pattern markings on to the sleeves of where to include the ease, so I had a few late night failed attempts of setting in the sleeves until I tried again the next day, (with newly added pattern markings) and did a much better job. I always seem to miss one pattern marking despite my best efforts. I think this is part and parcel of doing all my sewing at night, once Evan is asleep, and feeling tired often means I make mistakes. Maybe I need to start on the nighttime coffee? I’ve not done many set in sleeves, and need a little more practice. One of the sleeves has the teeny weeniest tuck in it, but I’m not going to sweat it. Another problem with is that it is a little tight around the arm area, and I have no idea why this is. Perhaps the sleeve pattern was too small? I have fairly toned arms from all the yoga I do, but I don’t think I’ve earned beefcake status yet. Perhaps it’s a result of modifying the front bodice to get a snug fit and not leaving enough ease, or maybe I just removed to much from the seam at the back. Probably a combination of all, and perhaps even the fabric type?
What came apparent to me is that this dress is very similar to the Deer and Doe Belladone dress. Making this dress has really intrigued as to how the two patterns differ, and to make both and compare the construction process. I think I’d like to make the Belladone before giving 1652 another shot.
I’m not totally enamoured with the pattern. I like my dress and the final result, but it took a lot of faffing with and adjustments making, plus the instructions were a little weird. Perhaps this is down to my experience but I don’t think it’s as easy to get an amazing fit as the pattern makes out, so don’t be fooled. With many other sewing bloggers experiencing extra fabric at the back and gaping cut out problems make me think there are issues with the pattern. I do like the look of the dress though, and I’d not be put off giving it another shot. Also I’ve totally forgot to say already that I think the neckline is a little high for my personal tastes.At least I’m making up for a conservative neckline with a cheeky shorter skirt Doesn’t look too bad here but when I bend over or sit down, wa hey!
So does my dress meet it’s requirements? Comfy? Well it feels a little tight around the bodice and shoulders, so I think i’ll need to go back and do some adjustments but feel confident this can be fixed. Wearable? Definitely! I’m going to wear it today to meet Simona from Sewing Adventures in the Attick, we are visiting the Abakhan sale in Bolton together this evening for some 70% off fabric shopping. I’ll let you know how that trip goes later! As for being a good summer dress, it’s a hot day, and as I’ve got an hours drive from Leeds to Bolton with no air conditioning, it will be a good test if I can keep cool in the heat. Fingers crossed no sweaty pit problems! I think I could have improved this dress by choosing a more lightweight denim. It feels a little stiff and not as floaty as I wanted, but that’s ok cause I can wear it in the cooler months too. Ok for work? Well I think so, I’m looking forward to wearing it to work and seeing if I get any nice comments. I can also give it the big lunch test, so all in I think it’s been a successful make, and hopefully one I will wear lots.
Bye for now, I’m off to grab fabric bargains and get to know Simona. Abakkhans online sale starts on Friday 4th July, so do check them out if you don’t live near a store. Amy xx