This right here is the reason I started sewing. So I can own party dresses that have hunky topless festive dudes all over them. I am so obscenely pleased with it. Please excuse the quality of the photos, I don’t know why they’re so grainy and it’s too dark for me to bother retaking them now. I took one outside and it’s just as bad so it’s probably camera settings rather than lighting. I will fiddle before the next time.
The pattern is Simplicity 1418, one of the Project Runway line. I saw someone Instagram their version ages ago when stalking the #sewing hashtag (I can’t remember who sorry) and immediately knew I had to own the pattern. I haven’t seen that many versions of it online but the ones I have I really like and I love my own and can see myself making more, even if it’s not the most wearable of styles for daily life.
I made this for my work Christmas do on Friday and left it far too last minute due to completing on my own house in the beginning of November and spending every waking moment since being harried, painting things, moving things, assembling things and generally being stressed out and busy. I made my toile on Sunday, cut out my bits on Monday and then sewed the dress up Tuesday and Wednesday, and hemmed it (by machine rather than my hand as I’d hoped) on Thursday – nothing like cutting it fine.
For my toile I sewed up a size 14 and it fit nicely on the bust but was too tight at the waist, the sleeves were massive and the neckline gaped front and back. So I:
- Pinched 1.5cm out of front centre bodice piece
- Took 2cm out of the back and then pivoted it into the waist dart, trying to be all fancy
- Added 0.5cm to the side seams
- Took 3cm out of the centre of the sleeve pieces
- Cut the elastic and the elastic casing 3cm smaller too
- I also took an inch and a half off the length to make the dress work better with my petticoat
Fit wise I think it’s okay but before making it again I will probably take a smidge more out at the front, it’s just a tad gapey still and the arms still feel a bit big but I think if the chest fit better that would help the sleeves too, without the risk of me taking more out and ending up not being able to lift my arms properly.
I lined the bodice instead of using the facings for a tidier finish inside and because I didn’t really like the idea of finishing princess seams. This was my first go at sewing them and it went okay but not brilliantly. I am not very good at easing things in, just don’t understand it and can’t do it properly. The instructions with this pattern were really helpful for me as they get you to stay stitch the curve and then snip into it to release the tension and then the bodice pieces go together a lot more easily. And I know it’s a lot easier because on my lining I staystitched the wrong bit, which was no help at all. (I’d staystitched the wrong bit on the shell too, but quickly stitched the centre too before pinning them after discovering what a pain the lining was without the staystitching.)
I took lots of care with pattern placement but you wouldn’t be able to tell at all from looking at the finished dress. I cut out my lining pieces first so I had full versions of the bits that needed to be cut on the fold and then I used them as my pattern pieces on my main fabric so I could cut it out on one layer. I really wanted this handsome dude with the reindeer front and foremost on the bodice.
I then tried to pattern match the bodice seams but failed miserably as I completely forgot to account for the seam allowances. I was quite annoyed with myself for that when it dawned on me but now it’s sewn up I still love the dress so I’m less cross with myself. I’m more cross with myself for chopping flasher hunk’s head off. When I did the skirt pieces I was starting to panic that I didn’t have enough fabric left and just cut them out without thinking about placement at all, which is really irritating as he only needed to be about an inch or two lower. Oh well, I shan’t be losing sleep over it.
The dress has a side zip so I got to have a whole hunk on the back of the bodice without having to faff with (no doubt failed) attempts to pattern match. I particularly like his defined thighs, I like a muscular thigh. (This is why I don’t whinge when the manfriend watches the rugby.)
It was my first side zip and it went okay, I got awfully confused at a couple of points but it went in okay and matches at the waist. I put in one side, did the zip up and then cut a little snip into the zip tape at the waist seam on the other side – having seen the tip on the Sew Over It Instagram account – and then used that snip to match it to the waist seam of the dress, which worked loads better for me than trying to use a pin to mark the waist seam as I’ve done previously. It’s not really very concealed though.
I got loads of compliments on the dress when I wore it and one woman even ran after me to ask me where I got it from and excitedly asked me if I was a dressmaker when I said I’d made it. She actually seemed really disappointed when I said no. I wore it with a petticoat, which always makes me feel extra glamorous and awesome. Manfriend picked me up from the train station and I was feeling silly so I ran to meet him and kicked a leg back when kissing him hello to pretend I was in an old movie.
Oh I just realised that I mentioned altering the elastic and casing but didn’t really mention them and they’re quite an interesting feature so I probably should talk about them. A piece of 3/4 inch wide elastic gets its own little casing and then gets basted to the underside of the sleeves, I think to keep the off the shoulder sleeves a bit more secure.
I love this dress so much. I love that it was a bit more challenging and I love the outcome. I’m going to wear it for prancing round the house on Christmas Day and manfriend is possibly going to wear a bow tie so he matches my fanciness.