Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Simplicity 1880 Shirt Dress in Rayon Challis

When I worked in a fabric store, the other seamstresses all looked down their noses at Simplicity patterns and declared them inferior to Vogue, Burda, Butterick, McCall, New Look--in short, nearly every other mainstream pattern company (independents they had nothing to say about at all). As the voice of youth (at the tender age of 42), my protests that Simplicity's styles and drafting were now the best of the bunch went unheeded.

My fabric store days are no more, but my love for Simplicity continues to grow. The 1880 dress had so many elements that I had been looking for: yoke, front placket, waist seam, cap and pleated short sleeves and a full, but not gathered or pleated skirt. 

This is my third rendition (I hope to show the first two and future additional versions soon), and I am feeling as though I'm getting it down pat. I appreciate that Simplicity provides small sizes for most of its patterns, in this case starting at size 4 (which is microscopic). I used the size 8 at the shoulder and neck, tapering to size 10 in the waist and hips and making a 3/4" full bust adjustment on both sides (for a total of 1 1/2"). The waist length is good but nearly too short for 5'2" me, non-petites be warned.

 Here is a photo of my FBA. First I held the pattern up to my body and marked the bust point. Then I drew a line midway down the armscye to that point, and three lines through the middle of each of the three waist pleats. The pleats gained about 1/4" each. I contemplated adding to the gathers at the shoulder level but concluded that I needed the fullness lower. The extra room seems just right. 
Two things are less than perfect about this pattern for me: first, I wish the yoke were a true yoke that continues from the front to the back, rather than being two separate pieces, a front and a back with a shoulder seam. I need to look at a true yoked pattern to explore whether I could redraft this in that manner. Second, and easier to remedy, no pockets are provided. With the fullness in this skirt, inseam pockets are a good choice. I seem to always need instructions on how to add them. For the non-zipper side, I used Sigrid's very clear how to sew topstitched side seam pockets tutorial. For the left side, where an invisible zipper is installed in the seam, I used Summerset's excellent inseam pocket with invisible zipper tutorial.

The Maggie London rayon challis is a very nice quality, and as of today still available at FabricMart Fabrics.

Hurray for pockets!

Back view:

My dear partner took these pictures as we were headed out for an evening of swing dancing. Is it too sticky sweet to say that he is awesome, my husband of fourteen years?


  1. What a lovely shirt dress! Hope you had a lovely time dancing.

    1. Thank you, Irene! We did have a wonderful time dancing, although those tights are not appropriate for hot weather, as it turns out. Now I know!

  2. So lovely!! The pockets were an inspired addition. Now I wish I had put some on mine! Oh well, I guess I'll have to make another. :)

    I'm glad you stopped by and commented on my blog, so that I could come over and get to know you. I can see that I'm going to enjoy following along with your adventures!

  3. No, it's not too sticky sweet!! May you have another awesome fourteen years... and another, and another!