I've had my eyes on this dress by Tif, aka Dottie Angel, ever since she announced that it would be available as a pattern. It's just so dang cute! And truly, everything that lady puts her hands to is adorable, but this is the one thing I just had to make. I am so glad I did because the dress is adorable and flattering and super easy to wear! Well done, Tif!
Once the release date was announced, I started popping by my JoAnn's every few days to see if they had added the new patterns to those huge metal drawers. On the fourth try, it was there – Simplicity 1080! I decided to use a lightweight navy and white remnant that I picked up at Imogene and Willie while in Nashville a couple of weekends ago. At first I thought it was cotton, but now I am convinced it is linen or a cotton-linen blend. Regardless, at $25 for 5 yards, I figured I could jump in and skip the muslin. (Foreshadowing!)
For the pockets, it had to be Liberty. I am a card carrying member (ok, there is no card, but there should be!) of the Westwood Acres Liberty of London club and receive 10 (!) fat eighths of Liberty of London Tana Lawn in my mailbox each and every month. A quick consult of the pocket pattern pieces and my suspicions were confirmed: I could get two pockets out of one fat eighth. (NOTE: These are larger than quilting cotton fat eighths as Liberty is 55" wide. If you use quilting cotton, you will need more yardage.) To determine my size, I used the finished measurements listed on the pattern envelope, in particular the bust measurement. With my body measurements, I am just between M and L. With all the ease in the pattern, I knew a M would fit. I cut 2 1/2 yards + 4 inches (for shrinkage) off of my remnant and washed it. After everything was cut, there was 4" left. If you are buying fabric, I'd recommend an extra quarter yard for good measure.
The cutting was straightforward. I used my rotary cutter and ruler for the pocket tops and ties instead of the pattern pieces. For me, this is just a more accurate method. Do what works for you! Take time to transfer all the marking accurately. So, so important! I had to go back and mark a few things I missed on the first go.
The sewing starts with stay-stitching the neck edges 1/2" from the raw edge. Ok…standard operating procedure except that 1/2" sounded like a lot to me. Still I did it. Fast forward many steps to when the neckline is finished with bias that you stitch 3/8" from the edge and then press an additional 1/8" towards the wrong side. While I am a pretty decent seamstress, this just proved to be a problem for me. I have never stay-stitched outside a seam allowance before even on the ones finished with bias tape! I had to take out small amounts (1/2" or so) of visible stitching from the right side of the dress when all was said and done. Next time, I will stay-stitch at 1/4" from the raw edge so the stay stitching is covered by the bias.
The pocket construction went without a hitch. It is super important to press the bias in the shape of the pocket as instructed. I went even further and pressed it with the pockets' raw edges in the bias before basting. It made the actually application of the pockets seamless.
The tucks were easy to sew once I wrapped my head around exactly what I was supposed to do and exactly how the ties worked into them! The illustrations are not that comprehensive so it took some instagram searching to see what the actual finished dressed looks like. Once I had that figured out, they came together easily. BUT! BUT! This is the part where I wish I would have made a MUSLIN. I am long in the torso and almost always have to lengthen dresses. There are no notes in the pattern instructions or lengthening/shortening lines on the pattern pieces so I just went with the pintucks as marked. MISTAKE!!! While I think that the final dress fits fine, I KNOW it would fit a whole lot better if those tucks were about 1" lower on my torso. In retrospect, it would have been good to baste the side seams at this point to check the tuck placement. Live and learn.
The shoulder seams are sewn at 3/8", then trimmed to 1/8" and covered with bias tape. Actually, all the interior raw edges, neck line, armholes, hem, etc. are all covered with bias or have French seams. I am sure that this makes a beautiful garment. Seems like a lot of extra steps to me for something only I will see. Just my preference, though. Next time, I'm going to sew the shoulders at 3/8" and then serge or overlock the seams and call it a day.
The way the sleeves are sewn is just weird. There, I said it. I wish the pattern pieces were cut so you could line up the bias and the raw edge OR that the pattern pieces were marked with a sewing line and a folding line. Alas, they are not. It just seems overly difficult for something that should be straightforward. Oh well. It could be me – I did make my own bias instead of buying it. Regardless, I fully admit to winging it a bit and I think it worked ok. I do wish the sleeves didn't wing out so much at the tips of the shoulders, but then I looked at the pattern envelope and some of the samples do that a little, too.
The side seams are French seams so straightforward, or at least they should be… There is no consistent seam allowance in the pattern. I sewed the 1/4" as indicated, pressed the seam open (not indicated), flipped the garment, pressed the seam flat, and sewed to enclose the seam. I sewed a scant 3/8" to make sure I got everything enclosed and this was a total GUESS on my part as the pattern instructions do not tell you an exact measurement. When I do it again, I would trim the 1/4" seam to 1/8" and then sew the second seam at 1/4" for a very pretty French seam.
The hem…. By this point, I'd just about had it with bias tape. It's a lovely finish, but I just folded and pressed 1/2" and then folded again by 3/4" and sewed the hem down. Done and so so happy with the finished product!
Final thoughts: I think it is a great dress, one that I will wear again and again. I just wish that it was more straightforward in the sewing department. There is just too much bias tape for my taste. I came away knowing that I can make some subtle changes in the construction without taking anything away from the style of the dress. And this is my experience – I am not an expert by any means. I'm sharing my thoughts in the event that they may be helpful to someone else. I'll answer questions in the comments, so if you have any, fire away!