It actually happened. It involved staying up late, not finishing several other things, and some seriously slipshod stitching, but my Simplicity 8498 (AKA Simplicity 3833) got made!
I changed my mind on the fabric—I had planned on a teal plaid cotton. But that really felt like a summer dress and, well, Australia this ain’t.* So I dug through my stash some more and turned up about 2m of this gold brocade drapery fabric, absolutely clamouring to become View 3 from the original envelope. It’s not any warmer, mind you, but somehow it feels more “right” for the season.
Making this took some doing. First off, given the time constraints, I didn’t have the time to trace and alter my pattern properly. So I made my small plethora of usual alterations by dint of folding, pinning, and occasionally chalking out the changes directly on the fabric. Also my pattern is a size 14 (NEW SIZING!), which is a size larger than I usually make; I trimmed 1/4″ off of each seam after cutting, except for the few pieces on the fold, which I overhung the edge the same amount. Not the most scientific grading method ever.
This post, along with some slapdash tissue fitting, suggested that I wouldn’t need to shorten the upper bodice as I usually do, but measuring the back piece confirmed that the distance to the waist is still the full Simplicity standard. So I took my 1″ tuck below the bust but above the waist. On the back I added a swayback adjustment. I squared the shoulders the “proper” way, by raising the outside rather than dropping the inside, since I was pretty sure I didn’t need to raise the bust point even a little bit.
I carefully re-attached the lower portion of the skirt pieces (which had been trimmed away by some previous stitcher, but fortunately saved) using scraps of cheap iron-on interfacing. It took considerably wriggling to get all the pieces on my 2 (ish) m of fabric, but somehow I did it, although I won’t swear that all the skirt pieces are perfectly on grain. (I’m not convinced the original pattern grain-lines were the most logical, either, for that matter).
I only made one major style alteration: I knew I would feel dowdy and choked if I kept even the lower of the high necklines, so instead I made a squarish scoop neckline. In hindsight, I think it rather resembles the neckline in this similar-era dress, actually, though I didn’t explicitly set out to copy it. I lowered it over 2″ and it’s still not even what I would call low-cut.
There’s not much to say about the construction. It was simple, fast, and completely lacking in finesse. I did manage a decent (not awesome) lapped zipper in the back, facilitated by the fact that I had extra-wide seam-allowances to play with. Even after I had trimmed off the amount of excess I thought I would need to remove, I still wound up taking in the side-seams each an extra 1cm (for a total around the dress of 4cm)… I suspect I am not really respecting the intended fit of a shift dress, but I like it this way, which in the end trumps period authenticity in my books. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the shift-dress shape, which is why you haven’t seen a whole lot (any?) of them in my sewing thus far. I really like how the fit of this turned out, though. Even if it is a little more sheath than shift. Also, I love how these late 60s/70s patterns do long. I didn’t even lengthen the skirt (after removing 1″ above the waist, remember), and I could still take a 2″ hem at the bottom. Win.
It is nice being able to understitch all around the separate arm- and neck facings, but they still seem bulky and awkward to me where they overlap. The darts wound up at pretty much the exact right position, perhaps a smidge high but no worse than I typically end up with. (I have a hard time with dart placement, I think stemming from the fact that my “bust apex” and my nipple are not in the same location.)
I really miss my dedicated photo-space. Finding an un-cluttered space with enough distance to set up the tripod in out current, limited digs is, um, tricky to say the least. None of these photos are as awesome as I feel like the dress looks in real life… not sure if that’s a reflection on poor photography or my own vanity. At least they aren’t iPhone photos, as I finally found my camera charger. Actually, Osiris found it. In the wall-socket where I left it. Apparently it’s been there the whole time. I’m blaming the poor light in our bedroom—I think I mistook it for the telephone plug in.
So, the dress has been worn to one Christmas dinner already, with at least one more to go. It appears we will get away with only two turkeys this time. Up side of shift dress style, no issues with a restrictive waistband when indulging in conspicuous consumption. It’s not exactly the right style to become a wardrobe staple—maybe in another version—but I am definitely satisfied. :)
*Let’s just say that I kinda hope my brother doesn’t call from Adelaide, because I may very well cuss him out out of sheer bitterness. Real Saskatchewan winter has finally arrived, with daytime highs not exceeding -20C and windchills pulling everything below -30C, and I am realizing how thoroughly pampered I have been by the last five years of pansy-ass Southern Alberta winters.