ethical fashion · pattern review · studio projects

Pattern Review: Simplicity 8231

Overview

From the picture on the pattern envelope, this dress looks like everything I want in a summery frock: breezy, light, and with good options for sleeves (or lack thereof) and length. I made this version out of a bedsheet I had in my workroom (and apparently channeled my inner cheesy-grinned four-year-old when my husband took this photo of the finished product!).

 

 Virtues

As I return to dressmaking after a hiatus of several years, I’m less interested in simply following a pattern, and more interested in pattern design. This dress, though suitable for a beginner, is fun if you are interested in the various ways a garment can be constructed.  The bodice shaping comes not from darts, but from elastic at the back and sides, and a wedge-shaped front panel that runs from the breastbone to the hem of the skirt.  Although you can’t see this panel very well in the overall print of my bedsheet version, I think it could make a striking contrast if the front panel were done in a solid color, contrasting with the main body color or pattern.

The actual sewing and construction was very easy. The elastic waist and easy fit requires no zippers, buttons, or other closures, so it would be a good piece for practicing very basic skills like fabric selection, pattern transfer, cutting, and stitching.

Problems

The back skirt panel is simply a rectangle gathered by the elastic at the waist, and skirts like this aren’t really the best fit for my figure. With a small waist and a generous backside/hip area, this kind of skirt-waist construction can easily look baggy. A fabric with more drape would probably help, as my bedsheet was about the weight of quilting cotton, and somewhat stiff.

Modifications

For the shoulder ties, I made my own bias tape from some extra fabric, rather than sewing tiny tubes and turning them inside. Turning tiny tubes inside out makes me want to say bad words, so I avoid it whenever possible. Here is the kind of bias tape maker I use. I have a few different sizes. I think I used the 1/2″ on the straps.

Conclusion

From a “whole cloth” point of view, this pattern is an excellent choice. The fun design elements encourage makers to engage more deeply in the work of our hands, rather than passively consuming a pre-established project. The long front panel could make this a good choice for using leftover yardage or smaller pieces of fabric, which encourages thrift. It could be a satisfying project for someone with very basic sewing skills. Next time I make it I’ll use a lighter fabric and perhaps try the shorter length, but I’ve already worn, enjoyed, and received plenty of compliments on this recycled-bedhsheet version.

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