|Pattern Description: "Style Made Easy". That's it for what the envelope says, but this is a sheath dress with French darts on the front and waist darts on the back, a scoop neck, long or no sleeves, and slit on the left side seam. I made view B, which has long sleeves and is the shorter length.|
This pattern is OOP and is copyrighted 1997. It looks like Style was already associated with Simplicity by then, maybe if only for distribution in the U.S., but I don't know if the pattern was ever issued directly under the Simplicity name. It's probably very difficult to search for since "Style" is such a generic term.
I rated this pattern "Recommended, with Modifications," but you may need a LOT of modifications, which may or may not be worth it to you....
Pattern Sizing: Misses' 8-18
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Sort of, but I think the model must be wearing a couple sizes too small for her measurements -- either that or she's got a row of binder clips marching down her back. It isn't nearly as fitted, especially in the waist and ribcage area. This was sort of a mixed blessing because my waist area is not nearly as concave as the model's, but I don't think the result is as flattering as it could be. (My crisp fabric is no help either.)
I also think if you made the sleeveless version, the armholes wouldn't be cut so far into the shoulder line. The same pattern pieces are used for both sleeved and sleeveless versions, and the armholes are cut appropriately to take sleeves, so they will be further out on the shoulders than that.
Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn't really follow them. They looked basically OK, but keep in mind that this pattern is designed to be lined edge-to-edge, and only the body of the dress is lined. On some of the recommended fabrics, velvet in particular, this may be the best option, but on others it is probably not ideal because it may be hard to avoid the lining ever showing, particularly around the armholes on a sleeveless version.
If you do want to use facings, which I did, the "interfacing" pieces can be used for the sleeved version. For the sleeveless one you may want to draft a combined neck/armhole facing.
What did you particularly like... I liked the neckline, the French darts, the straight cut of the skirt, and the fact that this is a very simple design. It doesn't take much fabric either, and it's easy to wear with jackets without looking too weird, bulky or unflattering (unlike some flared skirts IMO).
or dislike about the pattern? As already mentioned, the looser fit, the fact that there are no separate armhole drafts for sleeves vs. sleeveless, and the assumption that you will line this edge to edge. I don't particularly like the fact that the sleeves don't have an elbow dart; they don't fall nicely below the elbow in my crisp fabric.
Fabric Used: Silk shantung, with organza to interface the neckline. These both came from fabric.com years ago. In retrospect I think this fabric is a bit too crisp for my liking, AND I'm not as fond of black as a wardrobe color as I used to be -- I think dark brown is much better on me. But, hey, it was stash and I got it all used up! How's that for a ringing endorsement? :/
Pattern Alterations... This pattern had some of the idiosyncracies I tend to find in New Look patterns: broad, fairly square shoulders and possibly somewhat odd grading. In this case, the most striking thing about the grading was the front dart: there's just one line for all sizes, and because of the way the sizes are nested, there's a good chance it's going to end up having the points too far apart in the large sizes, and maybe too close together for the small ones. Also, the back armhole looked unusually shallow, especially for the large sizes (not depth-wise but widthwise, i.e. the side seam doesn't look like it comes that far out, in comparison to the width across the upper back).
Anyway, here's what I did to the flat pattern before cutting:
After I sewed the dress, I found that it had extra fabric and too sharp a curve on the hips. So I took out 1/2" on each side seam tapering to nothing at the notch the pattern has a couple inches below the underarm. This meant the dress was effectively a size "15" in the waist and hips, even though my actual measurements there are more like 16 or 18.
- 1/2" FBA, which I rotated into the French dart.
- Sliced off the upper parts of the pattern, used size 12 in those areas, and slid them over until the size 12 CB line on the top part matched the size 16 CB line below. This made the shoulders narrower and got rid of the armhole shallowness issue on the back.
- Made the front shoulder line just a touch more sloped.
- Shortened above the waist by 5/8".
- Used size 12 in the sleeve cap, extending to size 16 at the underarm, to match my modified armholes.
- Added 7/8" to the sleeve bicep.
- Shortened the sleeve length by 3/8".
Also, I found that the dress was way longer on me than the envelope showed. By taking a 6" hem, I could use the hem allowance to face the entire length of the side slit. This ended up a somewhat shorter length than on the envelope drawings.
Third, the back neckline was loose. Although a pattern with a higher back neckline probably would have needed back neck darts (which this one doesn't have), it seems that I got away with taking in the shoulder seams at the neck end in this case.
Finally, there might be some strangeness with the armhole notches. I first tried setting in the sleeves such that all of the notches matched, but this made the underarm seam off by 1/2" and the wrists pitch too far backward. Making the underarm seams match, and allowing all of the notches to be off by 1/2", resulted in a much better pitch to the sleeves. I did have to let out the sleeve cap too, because there were drag lines indicating it was too short.
or any design changes you made: Nothing major aside from doing the facings as mentioned above, and leaving out the lining. I did also use hem lace in the hems and an invisible zipper instead of a regular one.
Would you sew it again? I don't know. I think it would be more interesting, and maybe give a better result, to try drafting something like this from my fitting shell (which probably could use updating itself).
Would you recommend it to others? Probably not, especially given how hard it likely is to find. There must be other sheath dress patterns with French darts, right?
If someone reading this happens to have the pattern, be careful about the fit and sizing particularly if you are not broad-shouldered. That said, I think it can be a nice basic design.