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.
It took me two months, but I finished Simplicity It’s So Easy 2117!
It’s not that the pattern is difficult, its just that I was busy and not home a lot. I was afraid that this was going to become a UFO. But, I am determined to keep the UFOs to a minimum. How will I ever learn if I never finish anything? What would be the point of buying fabric and patterns if I never completed a project?
I am against UFOS, but not wadders- at this point, I expect a certain number of projects to be unwearable, am and fine with it- as long as I make harder fabrics in cheap fabric the first time, it’s OK to learn through failure. I got sale fabric for this project for that very reason. It’s a wadder, which is what I was expecting because I am so inexperienced.
I was either optimistic or foolhardy and bought striped fabric. I think this was a smart move I my part- I wasn’t expecting this to come out perfectly, and a striped fabric forced me to practice lining things up carefully, and made my mistakes in the finished project more obvious, showing me where I need improvement.
I made a size 12- I would like to learn how to alter sewing patterns to fit my body, but since I have never made a skirt from a pattern before, I figured it would be better to learn how a non-altered pattern would fit my body. I thought I could have possibly gone down a size- based on the measurements on the envelope, it should be snug at the waist, probably too snug, but isn’t. If I made this again, I would make a muslin in a smaller size to see if it fit better.
Neeno at Sew Me Love also made Simplicity 2117, also without the chains or buttons- she originally made a size 12, but feels that the pattern runs a little large, so a 10 is really a better fit- I think I agree with her.
I did have some problems with this pattern, but most of the directions were clear and easy to follow. This was my first time using interfacing or making a waistband or pockets, so it was a good experience for me to start learning these techniques.
My first problem was the zipper: I accidentally positioned it a bit too high,so i didn’t have room for the closure above it. Despite my best efforts to be careful and follow the directions, the zipper did not turn out right- once I get to the thicker area near the zipper pull, the line of stitches goes outward towards the less thick area.
My other problem was connecting the body of the skirt to the waistband. The skirt has small pleats at the front, as well as darts. I think I made my darts too small, because I had to add two extra pleats to make the skirt fit into the waistband without bunching. This spoiled the proper lining up of the lines on the skirt and the lines of the waistband:
One thing I did not like about the skirt was that the waistband bows out towards the top. This could be because of some mistake I made, or maybe using a sturdier
interfacing could help with this, or it might be the pattern itself. In any case, this is my least favorite feature of the skirt.
I’ll probably find a skirt without pleating the next time I make a pencil skirt- pleats just make a little puff under my belly button, which is not exactly the look I’m going for. I need something that will make the back of me look more curvy, not the other way around!
I think someone with a longer waist would be able to make the pleats look good, though. This was a good learning project, but is not flattering enough for me to actually wear. I think it might be good in a thicker fabric, if I could figure out how to skip the pleats and hug my backside a bit more.
Ok, so far sewing has been a challenge. But I am still excited to learn how to make my own handmade clothes. I know that I will have to learn a lot in order to make anything successfully, and I continuously struggle to understand pattern instructions (which seem to be written in code). My latest project, (Its so Easy) Simplicity 2418 has been my most difficult project so far. I used a smooth polyester fabric that is supposed to resemble silk.
I made the slit front version (View B), not the cowl neck version. I don’t do cowl necks, although Katiekadiddlehopper made a gorgeous version that suits her perfectly. Two specific parts of this pattern were difficult for me to make: the front of the shirt (the v-shaped part: step 7) and the yoke (step 12).
Step 7 (the front of the shirt) includes lots of stitches that must meet at the correct point for the shirt front to lie smooth and flat.
The yoke was a particular challenge because I had no idea what a yoke was. When I hear yoke, I think ‘oxen’. The pattern instructions for how to attach the yoke are on Step 12. Unfortunately the illustration for step 12 was created by a blind drunkard. Here I have reproduced it:
Thankfully, the pattern instructions explain what is going on in step 12. These instructions were very helpful. Here they are:
12. Aliquam lorem ante, dapibus in, viverra quis, feugiat a, tellus. Phasellus viverra nulla ut metus varius laoreet. Quisque rutrum. Aenean imperdiet. Etiam ultricies nisi vel augue.Curabitur ullamcorper ultricies nisi. Nam eget dui. Etiam rhoncus. Maecenas tempus, tellus eget condimentum rhoncus, sem quam semper libero, sit amet adipiscing sem neque sed ipsum
Is that clear?
It was at this point that I realized that the pattern authors must have decided to start condensing the pattern instructions to an unreasonable degree so they did not have to include a third piece of paper in the pattern instructions. Another piece of paper would have cut into the profits.
It took 3 full muslins for me to figure out this pattern, and it still looked terrible. Here are my tips for help on Simplicity 2418 if you are a novice:
1. Make a muslin. Use large baste stitches so you can try again if/when you mess up. Don’t backstitch so it is easier to pick out the stitches. You don’t need to make a full length version of the shirt, just work on the neck, yoke and top of the back.
2. For STEP 7: Remember what our friends the Ghostbusters taught us: DON’T CROSS THE SEAMS. You will sew 3 different stitches to meet at the center low point for the shirt slit.
Have the exact point in mind where you need to stop sewing so each one of the three stitching sequences do not cross each other. Otherwise the front of the shirt won’t lie flat.
3. For STEP 12, you will be enclosing the raw edge of the back of the shirt inside of the raw edge of the yoke. The aforementioned Step 12 illustration fails to make this clear. If you are a complete yoke novice like me, remember that the yoke is not spread open in the shirt. It is folded wrong sides together, so you have the right side of the fabric both facing outward and also against your back (just in the yoke portion) in the final completed version of the shirt. I noticed that Miss P mentioned that the yoke instructions were confusing, so if an experienced seamstress feels that way then I don’t feel too bad about being a bit lost.
Here are some details on how to attach the yoke, in case anyone else needs help with step 12. There is probably a better way to do this, but at least this will get the shirt made.
Start by opening up the two pieces of fabric that make up the yoke. Place it wrong side up. You should have already folded up and pressed 5/8 of an inch of the yoke’s raw edges. Place the back of the shirt so that the raw edge of the back of the shirt is aligned with the right side of the yoke flap. Pin and sew, as the directions state.
- The directions state to attach the font of the shirt to the shoulder of the yoke. I think you can finish attaching the back of the shirt to the yoke (my step 3) first, but in the end it doesn’t seem to matter as either way will work.
The Yoke is now partially attached to the back of the shirt. Fold the yoke closed so that the wrong sides of the two pieces of the fabric are together. Align the pressed folded edge of the yoke so that it aligns with the back of the shirt, covering up the raw edge and creating a neat line. Pin and sew as in the directions.
After you have completed Step 12 and attached the front of the shirt to the shoulder portion of the yoke, you will have a nice even neck hole, pleats at the front of the shoulders, and gathering at the center of the back. You are ready to complete the arm holes and sew up the sides of the shirt next.
Ultimately, the sleeves on this shirt don’t suit me, and the shirt looks a bit shapeless even though I made a size smaller. The sleeves stick out too far as the edges are stiff, when they should drape down my shoulders and my arms. This makes the shirt unwearable.
I thin I might have a bit more luck with this pattern after I have a bit more sewing experience.
Since I started sewing, I had a couple of requests for aprons as Christmas presents. I will again be using the Sew Simple Simplicity 1971 Reversible Apron Pattern. Since I have made this pattern before, I feel comfortable giving it as a gift. I have managed to successfully sew the neck ties, side ties and pockets, so I have definitely made some progress in sewing. But to my horror, one of these requests was for a black and white checkered apron, which means… GEOMETRIC FABRIC! Thus far, my entire sewing repertoire has revolved around abstract, non-directional fabrics which don’t show errors in cutting and placement. Cutting accuracy is not one of my strong points. I can’t seem to fold selvage to selvage properly, which puts me at a frustrating disadvantage.
Since I am an extremely slow sewer, I had to get started on these aprons right away! For my first apron, I started straightaway with the only checkered fabric I could find. Its a basic quilting cotton. I am a little worried about the stark black and white showing every little bit of cooking mess, but oh well. I tried to stay true to the checkered fabric request on the front side of the reversible apron. I bought plenty of fabric so I had enough fabric to recut the contrast sections to help get a better alignment.
I rotated the fabric 90 degrees for the contrast trim on the pocket and the contrast trim on the apron band. I tried to align the pocket print with the main fabric,and I am pretty pleased with the result. Yes, if you are looking for errors in the fabric alignment you will find plenty. I am hoping that the hypnotic quality of the checkered print will lull viewers into a state of mute compliance, so they won’t criticize the quality of the construction.
My second apron was also intended as a gift… unfortunately I was not happy with how it turned out so I will be keeping it. I accidentally twisted the neck strap, so it does not lie flat. The fabric is a fun bright pink, but I think that other people might prefer a more traditional apron. The size is a bit big for me, but I am happy to keep it and wear it to clean and do dishes.
I was still determined to make one more apron as a gift. After what seemed like hours of wandering the fabric store, I finally found some apron-appropriate fabric that coordinates. If the fabric store stocks mainly quilting cotton, then why does none of it coordinate?
A major benefit to my checkered apron was that it introduced me to geometric fabric. Although that apron didn’t turn out perfect, it wasn’t the huge disaster that I had been expecting. This gave me the confidence to consider buying another linear fabric pattern for the next apron, thus expanding my fabric choices by a lot! I settled on a blue/red/orange fruit pattern with a coordinating blue rectangle pattern. I am happy to say that though going slow and careful measurements, this apron turned out to be acceptable for a gift!
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.