Monday, 3 July 2017

A Real Dress at last! Simplicity 1873

When I took part in Me Made May a month or so ago it gave me the opportunity to review my wardrobe and also to look at what other people were making. One thing I realised was that I had a nice collection of dresses but nothing with a waist and a full skirt. One reason for this, I think, is that I often make my clothes from remnants, so I can't always choose how much fabric I buy. I find myself drawn in by a nice pattern not worrying about how much there is to work with.  I have become an expert at squeezing a dress out of not-quite-enough material. I vowed this time to make myself a "proper dress" and looked out for a larger piece of fabric and the right pattern. I made a list of my requirements

1. I wanted a full skirt, perhaps even pleats
2. I planned to make the dress out of jersey so that it had a bit of stretch and would be nice and comfortable to wear.
3. I did not want any pleats or gathers around the neck. 

I was very tempted by the Moneta Dress in all of its versions made for the recent Moneta party. I even went to my local dressmaking shop to treat myself, but they had sold out!

I had this pattern in my stash already, but I had never liked it. I was affected by the photograph on the pattern envelope of a young girl in an ill-fitting party dress which was much too short for me.

But I was looking for a dress pattern so I had a second look and, learning from my experience with the wiggle skirt, I also searched the blogosphere to see whether any one else had made this dress before. 

Although the pattern photograph was discouraging the line drawings seemed to be just want I was looking for. 

A quick search of other people's blogs brought up more versions than any other pattern I have made before, which was very encouraging because there were lots of lovely dresses out there and several people used this pattern more than once, which is always a good recommendation. 

I found a 4 metre length of daisy print jersey with 4 way stretch that I liked. As usual it cost me £1 a metre. It is so soft on the inside and so summery with a really good drape. I also bought a small piece of navy blue jersey lining. This pattern isn't designed for a jersey fabric but I like to experiment and I thought that this fabric would look and feel great made up into a dress.  I decided to make view C but with the longer skirt length. 

Since the pattern wasn't designed for jersey I had to use my initiative and techniques that I had learnt for other jersey projects. I used stay tape to stabilise the armholes and  neck to prevent them from stretching out and this seemed to work well. I decided against overlocked the bodice seams because it is quite closely fitted so flat seams pressed open and were less bulky. I sewed the bodice pieces together with a narrow zigzag stitch then used an over-lock stitch for the skirt seams. The fabric doesn't fray so I didn't need to neaten the seams. 

The lining was stitched to the bodice around the neck and armholes and then pulled right side out through the shoulder seams. This is my preferred was of attaching lining because it gives such a neat finish and avoids fiddly bits of hand sewing. Jersey is always more bulky and doesn't press so sharply. With my choice of fabric I ended up with bulky seams that I trimmed with my pinking shears. I had never tried this before and found that it was a very good technique for trimming and snipping curved seams. What I also discovered was that my family had used my pinking shears for craft work and they were completely blunt. I will need to get a new pair!

In order to get a good finish around the neck and armholes I top-stitched near to the edge. 

The feature of this pattern that I really like is the pleated full skirt. By using pleats instead of gathers the fullness of the skirt lies nice and smooth around the waist. I didn't have any trouble lining up the pleats using the markings and instructions on the tissue paper pattern. 

I inserted an invisible zip down the centre back seam. The instructions tell you to trim the zipper tape level with the neck seam. I am a bit worried about this. I would usually fold the excess zipper tape in to the seam but in this dress there isn't room and it wouldn't lie flat, so I took  deep breath and cut it off. I will have to see whether the zip lasts or whether it unravels, it looks OK so far.  I like the way that the lining is machine stitched right sides together down the centre back along the zip stitching and then turned out. It gives such a neat finish. 

The inside of this dress looks as neat as the right side. The really soft jersey feels lovely against your skin and this dress is very comfortable because of the stretch. 

If I was asked to review this pattern I would say:

Pattern Description
Summer dress in two lengths with or without sleeves. I made view C in the longer length.

Pattern sizing
I made size 14

Does it look like the photographs on the pattern envelope?
No. Absolutely not, but that is a good thing as far as I am concerned. 

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes. And there were some really good techniques to learn.
- the pleated skirt
- a lined bodice with invisible zip

Did you like or dislike this pattern
I like this pattern in the view that I made. I am not sure whether I would make View A with the higher neckline.
I love the smooth lines of the pleated skirt. 
I like the high waist but have read other reviewers who say they lengthened the bodice. I think it feels very comfortable and gives more swing to the skirt, but it is down to personal preference. 

I don't like the instruction to cut off the top of the zipper tape and will think about how to fit the zip differently if I make this again.

Pattern alterations
I made my dress in a jersey fabric which is not one of the recommended fabrics. I needed experience using jersey to adapt some of the instructions but I figured that this pattern was not so different from lots of patterns made for stretch fabrics and it I should be OK. I was prepared to put in a waist stay but in the end I don't seem to need it. 

So now for a photograph of me posing in my new dress. 

If you have made this pattern let me know how you found it and if you have any tips to share. 

Happy sewing...


  1. Such a pretty summer dress. What a great adaptation using jersey fabric instead!

  2. Thank you Caroline. I am pleased with how this turned out and the jersey is very comfortable, but I would like to try a version in a woven fabric as well. I think it could be quite smart in a cotton sateen or cool in summery poplin.

  3. It's stunning! It looks very pretty and summery,

    1. Thank you. I have worn my dress a few times now and it is lovely and soft. Really comfy in the warm weather we are having at the moment