|I first reviewed this pattern in 2002. I am rewriting the review to cover my second version of the dress and to use the template, which I didn't do last time (maybe it didn't exist yet?)|
At any rate, this pattern is copyrighted 1998 and is, unsurprisingly, out of print.
Pattern Description: "Dress with full skirt pleated to fitted bodice at waistline seam has back zipper, scoop neckline and back ties. A and B are long length; C is short length. A has self faced cap sleeves; B and C are sleeveless."
I would add: separate neck and armhole facings; front French darts* and back waist darts; single-layer hemmed tie ends (wrong side shows) that IMO can be tied either in back or in front.
*Like many pattern companies, when faced with the long diagonal French dart, Simplicity gives up on providing lengthen-shorten lines above the waist on this pattern. You can still do this, but you'll be on your own as far as redrawing the darts.
Pattern Sizing: I had the Misses' 10/12/14 envelope, and judging from the total size range on the envelope back, I would guess there were also 4/6/8 and 16/18/20 envelopes. For both versions I used size 14, which corresponds pretty well to my measurements. The sizing worked out well.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Pretty much, although the dress is (as usual) longer on me than the designer intended. (I think on the red version I may have cut it even slightly longer, but I'm not sure.)
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, for the most part. I would change two things, though.
First, you are supposed to self-face the sleeves, which means you end up with two layers of fabric that you have to ease into the armhole. I can't remember if I changed this on the red version. On the blue version, I gamely tried the sleeves as written, but it wasn't going to work out well, so I took them out, cut the inner layer off 1 1/2" from the lower edge, finished it with Hug-Snug seam binding, and hemmed it. This way, from the outside it looks the same as the skirt hem.
Second, the tie ends are supposed to be single-layer with 3/8" hem allowance. Neither of my fabrics had good wrong sides, and besides, I think hemming at 3/8" can be fiddly. So in both cases, I cut an extra pair of tie ends and made them self-faced.
Overall, the instructions use pretty standard Big 4 techniques. These are not always the most current-RTW-looking, but I think they work fine for the types of fabrics you'd want for this dress (which are, to be honest, not the sorts of fabrics I'm finding much of in RTW at the moment).
I did notice that overlocking is mentioned as one possible finishing method, which seems pretty up-to-date for a 1998 Big 4; on the other hand, it is assumed (as usual even now?) that you will use a regular, not an invisible, zipper.
What did you particularly like... This is not exactly a trendy dress, but it is practical: you can make it in cool and easy-to-sew fabrics (cotton wovens); the neckline is neither too high for a summer dress nor awkwardly low; there aren't any bra strap problems; it is fitted enough not to look like a sack, but loose enough to be comfortable; and you can adjust the waist fit with the ties. Also, the French darts are my favorite type of dart for a bodice front: there is some waist fit, but not too much right over my not-so-concave front waist.
or dislike about the pattern? Pockets seem obvious for this design, but it doesn't have them. Fortunately, these are easily added in the side seams.
Fabric Used: The first version was a faded-red cotton print with a small whitish surface print that eventually wore off, so it became a subtle lighter-on-darker print. As I recall, it was a medium to light weight compared to most cotton prints, but it did get worn a lot, and it may have started out less lightweight than I remember.
The second version is also a cotton print, with large white flowers on a blue ground. The white is again a surface print, and it's a bit stiff and rubbery, making the overall feel of this print heavier (but not a whole lot heavier than most cotton prints).
The pattern recommends "cotton and cotton blends, batiks, broadcloth, calico, damask, lightweight denim, madras, seersucker". If you choose something stiff I think it could quickly get very hippy with those pleats, not to mention impossible to sew the sleeves if you follow the directions and make them self-lined. So I'd avoid the denim, unless they meant something more like chambray, and I might skip the damask too unless it's very thin.
Fit Alterations... None except that on the second version, I sewed the sleeve underarm seam a teeny bit narrower to get more sleeve ease. I could've stood to do so on the first version too. Other than that, I'm a bit unsure about my current fit issues, so I let the pattern be. If I made this again, I'd consider fiddling with the sleeve shape (they feel a bit restrictive if I reach forward, although maybe I'm just too used to knits), and taking a slight bit of waist length and roundness/upper back width out of the bodice back.
or any design changes you made: On the first version, I turned the pleats in the other direction on the supposition they'd be more flattering that way (I'm undecided and don't have the first dress anymore to compare). Specifically, the pattern intends the "shadows" of all the pleats to be toward CB on the back and CF on the front (resulting in an inverted pleat at CF). I did this on the blue version; on the red one I did the opposite to all the pleats, so the CF pleat is a box pleat.
On both versions, I added pockets. They were all self-fabric on the first one; on the second, I didn't have quite enough, so the interior parts of the front pocket bags are white cotton broadcloth -- I overlaid a strip of the print on the part nearest the opening, so the white wouldn't show. In both cases I took the pocket patterns from other patterns (for the red one I don't know which, and for the blue one Revisions 311, but any side-seam pocket pattern should work).
Would you sew it again? I think I would if the right fabric came along.
In general I have a beef with patterns that have sleeveless and sleeved versions with no difference in the depth of the armhole between them -- and this is one of those -- but I did try the dress on sleeveless and found it wasn't THAT bad. So I could see sewing view B or C with just minor tweaks to the armhole coverage.
Would you recommend it to others? Yes, if you have or find it. I would guess there are many other late 90s-early 2000s patterns with similar lines out there too.
Conclusion: RTW doesn't seem to be making much in the way of woven natural-fiber maxidresses these days, so I was glad I still had this pattern.