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,