Two Roscoe Dresses, a Tried and true Pattern from True Bias

Roscoe corduroy

My first version of the Roscoe, I made from a piece of baby wale corduroy that I bought when my daughter was a baby. I loved the way the bright cornflower,  plum and leaf green floral pattern contrasted with the black ground, almost like velvet, but not quite. It reminded me of a Liberty print (which it's not) and at the time seemed like the perfect fabric for a little girl's holiday dress up dress or jumper (like velvet, but not too "fancy"). Fast forward almost 17 years and I finally found the right pattern.


This dress has a simple gathered "peasant" neckline with ties that can be worn open, and a bracelet-length raglan sleeves that gather gently into narrow band. It can be made up as a top, tunic, or even a maxi dress, with or without a gentle ruffle at the bottom. Soft but not to "frilly" or "fancy" (kind of like the corduroy). Perfect with tights and boots for my now- grown-up high school girl at holiday time this winter.


Roscoe dress number 2 was a "selfish make" for me. I've taken to wearing flannel as often as possible during our Minnesota winters. My "uniform" has become 3 flannel Wiksten Tovas, and a Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt dress with tights/leggings/or long underwear , and boots or clogs (weather permitting).


I had also fallen in love with the Jolie-laid ("pretty ugly") mustard and grey checked Mammoth flannel in the shop. It got to the point where I was jealous every time I sold a piece, so I knew I had to save some for myself. Enter Roscoe. I made mine longer, and perhaps a size too big (big enough to layer over a cozy turtleneck). Almost, but not quite as cozy as pajamas. Perfect with a cup of coffee by the fire on a chilly


Now that the days are longer and the snow is almost melted (it is Spring after all), I'm waiting for the new lawns and double guazes to arrive. And I'm dreaming up my next round of Roscoes, after all the pattern is at traced, marked, ready and waiting. Another TNT* pattern...Don't you love it when that happens?

*Tried and True

Melange: Bridgetown Backless Dress + McCalls M0525

Several months have gone by, but I finally promised myself I would get this posted today. It's snowy outside, but not as cold as when we took these pictures. If you scroll down you'll see that is was leafy and green in early fall when this garment was actually finished. This was my daughter's choice for her high school homecoming dance. I thought is was a bold one...first of all long flowy pants in a sea of short dresses, and then the bright red, super-saturated color of the Rifle Paper Co Les Fleurs rayon for Cotton and Steel. The look was topped off with vintage Kork-Ease platforms (not the snow boots she's wearing in these pictures) which gave it a seventies, comme Halston vibe, without being costumey.

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We used a combination of patterns, starting with the Sew House Seven Bridgetown backless dress with its dramatic draped back (perfect for the substantial, yet drapey Cotton and Steel rayon that I love to sew with). We then looked to McCalls M0525 for the flowy pants part. We has this pattern in in the stash having sewn the short, off the shoulder romper variation earlier in the summer).

We choose a size 6 for the top and a size 8 for the bottom, figuring it would be an easy adjustment to fit them together, as both patterns have elasticated waists. Then miracle of miracles!....They fit together perfectly, so we skipped the muslin part and forged ahead. or course this was also necessary because the garment was completed the day before the dance. (In my defense Homecoming was the very first week of school this year.)


The only adjustments we made for her petite 5'3" frame were 1) shortening the bodice and 2) shortening leg length for a 5'3" frame, though less than usual to account for 3" platforms. We added a drawstring to the elastic, softly tied to add a little detail to the front. Add big dangly earrings, a bracelet, and platform shoes and you can go straight from your volleyball match to the dance (which is why we didn't get any pictures taken last fall).

Would I sew this again? In a heart beat! The fit was so easy given the drawstring/elastic waist and lots of ease in the silhouette.  It was really easy to sew, and I think it looked quite elegant. (It would be beautiful in velvet)  I also think it would be flattering on lots of body types.


What would I do differently? I stabilized the seams that wrap at the back with thin strips of very light weight interfacing. Because these were cut in the bias, I was afraid they might stretch and become distorted and "baggy". This turned out to be overkill with this fabric, which would have been stable enough to omit this step. In the end, I think the stabilizer inhibited the drape a little. Despite this unnecessary step, we were both happy with the way it turned out.

Do you have examples of melange or Franked-Pattern sewing from your experience

Pattern Review Simplicity 8124 by Cynthia Rowley

I find myself sewing a lot less from big 4 patterns lately, but I think I've purchased almost every pattern by Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity (and even sewn up several of them). I bought this pattern last Spring, in part because it reminded me of a white eyelet floor length dress I had (and loved) back in the late 70's. I held onto it but was a little skeptical. First of all, at the time, my daughter wasn't interested in it and second of all...well, I had some concerns.

As you can see from the pattern envelope cover, and from the shots in the pattern catalog, the dress is extremely full and a little stiff looking, sort of like a very short tent. While I'm usually not too put off by the styling of the pattern cover photos, this one was a little extreme (and what is the deal on those shoes?). I love the color of the dress, the model is adorable and she looks like she's having fun, but what will happen if she has to bend over, or, heaven forbid, she gets caught in a gust of wind? I just wasn't quite sure the pattern was going to work. Nevertheless,  when Lucie's request came in for an off-the-shoulder dress this Spring, I remembered this pattern.

I looked at other reviews on the web and all makers lengthened the dress, several chose to make a size or two smaller than their usual, and to cut down the width of the front and back pieces to reduce the volume. I decided to use a different tactic, and used a softer fabric with more drape hoping to reduce the volume that way. I choose the Ranchero Rayon Chambray that we have over in the shop. It's a beautiful indigo color with obvious twill weave and a little sheen. Rayon is also cool to wear in the summer which is another plus. After reviewing the desired length (my daughter is 5'3" and I figured the model is probably 6') and the length of the pattern pieces, I eventually dove in and cut the pattern out in a size extra small with no adjustments! ! ! 

It's a super easy pattern to make, taking less than an hour to serge together once I got started. I used 1 1/4" elastic instead of the recommended 1" because that's what I had handy. I think it looks ok, but I'd use 1" elastic if you have it. I shortened the sleeves a little for my petite client. We also hemmed it up with the deep (4" hem) as pictured, but then decided it was too short. I had to let it down by an inch and a half. All of the hemming took longer than any other part. I also added little rouleaux straps that fall over the shoulders. These button to the inside of the dress where the sleeve meets the front/back. I think they add a nice detail to the "simplicity" and a real bonus is that they make it possible to hang the dress on a hanger, as you can see below. Here is a shot of the dress posing with our Purple Clematis which is blooming beautifully this year.

Once again on a mannequin as my real life model (#24) is unavailable for a photo shoot, because Volleyball! They are playing their last tournament of the year in the Wisconsin Dells this weekend.

Here is another photo (below), taken at the Artrageous Adventures Studio (2121 W 21st St, Minneapolis), where I have a pop-up shop and a place to teach classes for the summer. I'm there lots of mornings, evenings, and also by appointment. If you're in the "downtown Kenwood" (Minneapolis) neighborhood, give a call or stop by and say "Hi." 


Here is a close up of the button-in rouleaux ties that can be removed or tucked in and also serve as hanging loops.

I also put a label in the back as this definitely one of those garments where it's difficult to tell the front from the back when you put it on.

Overall, I recommend this pattern. I think it would also make a cute top or romper. Next time, I will add a little length to allow for a deeper hem. If I use a crisper fabric I will definitely size down again and cut it narrower. As usual, if I can get some pictures of the dress on a living breathing person, I will let you know.

Have a great weekend,