If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you will know that Simplicity 1873 is probably my favourite pattern. In fact, I first made it before I even started blogging. I made it later, as the failed green plaid dress. I succeeded later, in making another white and fuchsia dress for a wedding/graduation (I know what I like!). Most recently, I made myself a pink sequined version for my champagne birthday.
When I happened upon this fabric when shopping in Germany two summers ago, I asked for everything they had left on the bolt (which I think was about 3 and a half metres). And then I got pregnant and knew I wanted to wait until I was a more stable size and shape before I cut into this gorge border print. I knew when I bought it that this fabric was destined to be a fit and flare with a basic gathered skirt so I could show off the flamingos uninterrupted. Knowing I had a graduation and wedding coming up, I reached for my trusty Simplicity 1873.
Even though I have made this pattern five times, I still manage to make many massive mistakes and am beginning to worry it’s cursed. I used the newly-discovered second bodice pattern pieces so I could start from scratch. I’d changed in size and made so many alterations that I’m pretty sure my sequined dress doesn’t fit well because I’ve screwed up the grading irreparably. When I first made the pattern, I didn’t know about grading between sizes (or about ease), so getting the fit right was a lot of trial and error. But I’m not convinced it was me. I think this pattern has a weird amount of ease in the bust and is not consistent through the waist.
I could only find the finished measurements for the bust, which was one smaller than the size the pattern recommended. I got lazy and just graded out one size to the waist like I normally do. and figured I would just use the seam allowance if I really needed to go out. Well, it turns out that I not only needed every bit of seam allowance, but I also had to take out the darts, meaning I had to add about five extra inches to the waist. That does not seem normal.
I muslin-ed this all on my lining, so I was able to keep my fashion fabric pristine. I took some time playing with the volume of the skirt to make sure that the fabric wasn’t so folded it obscured the flamingos. This took time, but wasn’t too difficult. Everything went well (barring a spitting iron) until I had to turn out the dress and lining to the right sides, when I realized I had a complete brain-fart and realized I had forgotten that the side seams are done last, after turning the dress right-side out. So I had to take everything apart. The upside is that I learned how to remove serger stitches?
I re-did everything and got back to where I was pretty quickly. I got my zipper in, tried the dress on, and was really disappointed with the fit. The neckline gaped and it was suddenly too big at the waist. I think I stretched things out pretty badly when trying to pull the entire dress through the narrow shoulder when first attempting to turn my dress right side out. I noticed other things I wasn’t super happy about (some pattern matching and the waist seam dipped down at the back due to my removing the dart – this is one I knew about but totally forgot to fix in advance). So I decided I would rip it all apart and do it again. It was wearable like it was, but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it as much as those flamingos deserved. And I still had something like five days until the graduation. Pleeeeeenty of time.
So I ripped everything out and fixed it. I used my own homemade version of stay tape (woven fusible interfacing cut on the bias) to pull in the gaping neckline. I re-cut the skirt pieces so that the flamingos at the side seams didn’t look like weird mutants with two beaks. I took in and up the bodice so it is nicely fitted all the way through.
I was significantly happier with it the second time. This will definitely be a dress I keep for a long time and will absolutely go to the trouble of altering if I change sizes. I feel like it is the perfect, classic shape that works for any semi-formal occasion and the crisp white makes it super sharp, but the brushstroke-flamingos are whimsical and colourful without being quirky. I can’t wait to show my kids!