Simplicity Sew Simple 2017
I made Simplicity Sew Simple 2017 Misses’ Dress recently. This dress is comfy and cute, and very casual. Regular readers know that I need garments with some sort of waist definition/structure if I am going to look my best. This dress doesn’t have much of that, but since I am a beginner sewist, I am happy to work my way up to making more form-fitting garments. Plus, I wanted a comfortable dress to wear around the apartment in hot weather. I used a blue and white linen/rayon blend, which I washed and dried in the washing machine and dryer, instead of dry cleaning it before cutting. I knew this would be a casual dress, and I do not want to be bothered with dry cleaning it. I’ll probably end up just hand washing it.
Changes I made: I shortened it quite a bit- maybe a little too much, but this is mostly a housedress, so I don’t want to be too dowdy! It would be very easy for me to lengthen it if the length starts to bother me. I left off all of the trim- all I could find in the proper size was rickrack, which looks a little too homemade prairie dress for me. Dollar Dress Friday also left off the trim, and wears her dress with a red belt to make it more form fitting. Cute!
Simple Life Simple Home made two versions of Simplicity 2017- the first was too small. She made the second one according to her measurements. It was on the big side, especially under the arms. She fixed this problem by adding a dart under each arm. She also left the trim off of the second dress- it seems like a trend!
The ties were difficult to turn, even with a loop turner, because of the fabric. So, some parts of the ties are a little frayed and tired looking.
I did not attach the tie straps evenly- I did my best to attach them correctly, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me that I should compare them before sewing, then move one up or down. Opps!
The far, far larger problem is a fold of fabric that developed when I sewed the one side of the bodice to one of the side front sections.
It’s very small on the front side, but quite large on the backside:
I’m not sure what caused it the fold- I think it’s possible that I should have had the bodice/front piece on top of the front/side piece when I was sewing (step 15- or did I mess up on step 19?), instead of the other way around, because the bodice piece is more curved than the other piece- but I’m not sure. To my credit, the first time it happened I ripped out the stitches and re-did the seam, so it’s not like I’m wantonly ignoring mistakes. Unfortunately, my rose-colored glasses must have kicked in the second time I sewed it, because I didn’t notice the extra fold then. If it was just the tiny extra fold on the the front of the dress, I really wouldn’t mind. But, the fold makes the two sides of the bodice slightly uneven. The collar sits higher, and there’s a bit more of my near-breast on the side and the front exposed then I would like. It’s not a fatal flaw, just a little annoying. Since I won’t be wearing this anywhere fancier than the local convenience store, I’m OK with it.
I’ve already gotten a chance to wear the dress! We had some warm weather last week, and the dress was fabulously comfortable. The directions were mostly clear. I ignored the directions for gathering, which are not be sufficient to teach someone how to gather, and just used my gathering foot. If you don’t know how to gather and don’t have a gathering foot, sew4home.com has a nice tutorial.
Sewing success at last!
I am basically overjoyed to say that my most ambitious sewing project to date was not an abject failure! My Simplicity Sew Simple 1989 dress pattern took many long hours, and yes I did bleed at one point, but I now have a piece of clothing that I made myself! Instead of a shift dress, I shortened the pattern to a long top. I saw this dress on Sew My and since it looked great and featured a simple design I wanted to try to make it. I decided to make a shirt instead of a dress because I don’t wear dresses too often. For a top, I needed 2 yards of fabric. I used my new brown floral Lisette cotton sateen fabric. I had just enough… If you are tall or are making a larger size, buy more fabric.
I did make a practice version/ muslin before making this shift dress using better fabric. I used some quilting cotton fabric I had to test out the construction process and the new techniques. Because this dress pattern features an extremely simple skirt and waist (with nothing to do but straightforward sewing and hemming), I only used the muslin to practice on the top half of the dress. My muslin sewing practice was to try out three different sewing techniques I had never tried before. I learned how to sew bias tape for the neckline, how to make bust darts, and how to sew sleeves. I am super glad I made the muslin, because it helped me work out the kinks on the difficult parts (especially attaching the sleeves) and let me see that my chosen size would fit just fine. I did not slipstich anything because I don’t know how to do that and I was feeling overwhelmed.
How to Sew Bias Tape
Using bias tape for the dress neckline definitely had me confused. The purpose of the bias tape on the neckline is to create a simple neckline hem that is not bulky or awkward. The single-fold bias tape also gives the neckline substance and structure so it stays up and in place when you are wearing it. This would be especially important for slippery or flimsy fabrics such as satin or polyester. As it is, the neck is quite wide so I am glad for this extra structure.
The tutorial on how to sew bias tape (single fold) by craftstylish.com really helped me. I basically had no idea what bias tape was or how to sew it, and the Simplicity pattern instructions do not say. Thanks to this sewing project, I now feel pretty comfortable sewing on single-fold bias tape. I even added extra bias tape to the project, as I sewed it on the sleeves too.
Easing in the Shirt Sleeves
I can’t lie. Attaching the sleeves to the shirt was a horrible horrible process. Because the sleeves on this shirt have a wider circumference than the armhole opening (apparently those in the know call this the armscye) you have to slide the fabric of the arm along baste stitching in order to evenly distribute the extra length along the shoulder portion of the arm fabric. In this way you are supposed to shorten the circumference of the sleeve where it attaches to the body (especially the shoulder), without creating puckers and tucks. Once you have created evenly distributed tension, and you can’t see any weird tucks, you are ready to sew. This is called easing in sleeves. It is not easy at all. It should be called difficulting in the sleeves. (Ok, yes I know what ease means).
My sleeves didn’t turn out perfect, despite my best efforts. Oh well. At least I jumped right in to a project that has sleeves, so I don’t have to be afraid to try it again. I wish I had seen this tutorial on setting in sleeves on Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing… next time I have to try easing in sleeves I will check here for tips.
Sewing Bust Darts
The bust seems didn’t come out perfectly even, but they are fine. I don’t look misshapen or anything. I think the large scale print of the fabric will hide a slight imperfection in this case.
And of course this dress (shirt) is quite loose fitting, so the bust darts aren’t on display. They do give the dress some much needed shape though. Sewing a straight dart is straightforward, though my accuracy can’t be counted on at this point. Coletterie.com has a dart tutorial that was clear and helpful.
And in conclusion…
I would definitely make this pattern again. I like the Simplicity Sew Simple pattern line, and I am going to look for an actual blouse pattern. Using this pattern to make a casual summer shirt would be perfect. I would love to sew the actual 1989 shift dress some time, but for now I will concentrate on shirts. I saw this dress on Sew Much Style, and I love the idea of using this dress pattern to make a little black dress– always a good standby.
I am happy to report that my first experience with using a sewing pattern was… eventually… successful. I used Simplicty Sew Simple 1971 Misses Apron to make a straightforward, no-frills apron. And, I definitely learned some new skills along the way!
As I was determined to make the most of this pattern, I actually made three aprons, making adjustments along the way. The first apron was made to the specifications of the pattern. The second apron was adjusted a little for a better fit. The third apron was made using the better fit and also with nicer fabric. Thankfully the third apron looked much more presentable and was better constructed than my first! So here is some proof that I can make progress!
I have two main critiques of this pattern:
- The pattern instructions state to turn the apron right side out at the top of the apron, and to stitch the top closed. Of course for a novice sewer this will look horrible. I turned the apron right side out on the side, where the stitching is not too noticeable.
The apron waist ties hang too low, unless you are seven feet tall. Add height to the apron wrap around area to bring the waist ties up around your waist. I am short, and this adjustment made the apron much more comfortable.
Working with this pattern 3 times also helped me understand some details on the pattern instructions which improved the construction of the apron. As a novice, I did not sew the neck strap correctly on my first try.
I put it on the outside rather than on the inside, leading to a pretty sloppy look. Additionally, the pattern instructions said to turn the apron out at the top, which is not such a great idea when I can’t even sew a straight line. Invisible seams are definitely the way to go for now!
By my last try, I had improved a lot. I placed the neck straps close to the edge of the fabric to sew them on, so the ends would be entirely inside of the apron once it was turned right side out after the two sides of the reversible apron were sewn together. I think that and experience (and common sense, which I apparently lack) helped me understand this.
Additionally, I turned the apron out on one of the sides. I don’t see why a beginning sewing project would purposefully have exposed stitching. They should know I suck at sewing and adjust the instructions accordingly. The adjustment made for a much better looking apron.
Maybe this whole sewing thing isn’t completely hopeless…