ethical fashion · sewing

Pattern Review: Simplicity 8384

Overview

Fashioned from an old curtain and bedsheet, this Simplicity 8384 shirtdress has become a staple in my wardrobe, despite some serious frustrations while sewing it.  I combined the sleeveless bodice from view A with the skirt from view B.

simplicity-shirt-dress-pattern-8384-envelope-front

Virtues

I liked this pattern immediately: it’s fitted bodice, a-line skirt, and fun hemline options suggested it would be both comfortable and attractive. I decided to line the bodice, and while the pattern doesn’t include instructions for this, it was fairly easy to do with the sleeveless top, following this tutorial.

Once finished, the garment is indeed comfortable, with a skirt that drapes nicely and a bodice that fits well. During fitting I was concerned that it would be baggy, but once I attached the actual buttons it took its shape nicely.

Problems

My main frustration during sewing was the collar. I found the instructions confusing, but more than that, the pattern piece simply didn’t seem to be long enough. In the end I cut a new piece slightly longer than than the pattern piece itself, and this allowed me to finish the collar according to the written instructions.

IMG_1198

The other troubles I had while sewing I made for myself. I decided I wanted to use French seams for the skirt, since the fabric I used is lightweight and frays easily. French seams are not especially difficult, but I didn’t know what to do with my side-seam pockets. On both sides, the point where the pocket meets the side seam is a mess — in order to conceal the raw edges peaking out, I finally had to just zig-zag over them. If anyone has guidance for using French seams with pockets, please share in the comments!

I also ran into difficulty with the casing for the elastic in the back. My thrift-store bedsheet (the bodice material) frayed badly, and so I ended up with a tiny casing, almost too narrow for my 1/8″ elastic to make it through. I was really unhappy with the way the elastic looked when finished. This trouble confirms my resolution to find alternatives to elastic whenever possible.

Once finished, I decided the waist line was a little baggy. This might be a result of my elastic troubles, but looking back at the pattern envelope, I think that it may just be the way the dress is designed. A wide belt solves that problem, as well as hiding the untidy elastic. For future versions, I would want to try some other option for the waist, such as a sash or back-tie.

IMG_1694
A cute belt covers a multitude of sins. It does not, however, make up for not having a photographer to help me out with better pictures….

Modifications

As described above, I lined the bodice and finished the skirt with French seams.

Conclusions

Although I was pretty near despising this dress by the time it was finished, I’ve come to like it quite a lot. Even my mistakes and troubles I see as progress in my craft, for they indicate that I am growing bold enough to diverge from the printed instructions and shape the garment according to my own sensibilities. While my actual skills are not always equal to these aspirations, I know they will shapren and increase if I continue to practice.

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