I was asked to review a new pattern from Simplicity, #8345, a new one from Ashley Nell Tipton. Simplicity describes the pattern as follows: “Ashley Nell Tipton bodycon dresses are sized for stretch knits… One and two-piece dresses have optional color or fabric blocking to flatter your curves. Straps are designed in two widths and cross over in back.”
The size range I chose was for 18W (40 Euro) to 34W (60 Euro). This size range goes from: bust 40″ to 56″, waist 33″ to 51.5″ and hip 42″ to 58″. I thought this was a good spread of sizes. There is also a smaller sized pattern, but I didn’t fit into those sizes.
I cut the size 20W, grading out to a 22W for the waist and hip. I could have taken it back in at the hip as I fit into the 20W, but wasn’t that keen for the more figure hugging shape! My measurements are: bust 41”, waist 38” and hip 44”. I’m 5’2” and, although I used to be an hour glass shape, I think I have fallen more into the rectangle shape nowadays.
I didn’t make that many changes to the pattern, although, with hindsight, I should have shortened the bodice just a little, as it is wrinkled a bit at the back. I shortened the skirt as I do with most clothes. Once I had made the bodice, I tried it on and had to bring the whole side seam in as it was shaped for someone that is more of an hourglass. Overall, the adjustments were quick and easy to make and probably only took 15 minutes to redraw lines and unpick my side seams and resew.
Surprisingly, this pattern is made for knits! Simplicity suggests: jersey, spandex blends, stretch velvet, two-way stretch. I was all ready for a structured dress and had practised my “zipper insertion technique,” but I didn’t need it. Yay! I was pleasantly surprised and overall, it has come out as a very comfortable dress because of that. I used a red stretch velvet as I couldn’t find another decently weighted stretch that I thought would suit and secretly I’ve always wanted a velvet dress (I’ll be making something else in velvet soon, as I’m a convert!). The only problem with it is that it is very hard to press the seams, so they don’t sit as nicely as I’d like them to.
The construction of this dress was very simple, I must say. It relies on a little bit of negative ease in the bodice so slight miscalculations in my measuring or the pattern aren’t noticed. The instructions were easy to read and understand, and I followed them to the letter. The lining of the bodice is meant to be just tacked down to the waist seam and I thought that looked unfinished and a bit thrown together. If I ever made another version of this dress, I would change that and make it look a bit better. I also found the middle skirt pattern piece is the same for the front and back and while the back is curved and looks ok when stretched over my rear, the front is all saggy and should have been a straighter piece. You can see this in the photos, the front skirt doesn’t sit well. I found this to be a bit weird and didn’t like the resulting shape at all.
Sadly, I don’t think this pattern is the one for me. I never wear tight things and feel very self-conscious in it. I also think, for a rectangle shape, it isn’t very flattering. I feel like a “linebacker” or an inverted triangle which isn’t a look I particularly like. I also don’t have occasions to wear something like this so it was an experiment, and good fun, but it just isn’t my kind of dress. Possibly use this bodice and hack a 1/3 circle or ½ circle skirt onto it might look better on me, and maybe go up a size????? I’m still unsure about this.
This dress, I think, overall, is a success – it is simple and sews up nicely and would definitely look lovely on hourglass shapes. People who have special occasions to wear something this fitted, or are used to this aesthetic, would be comfortable with this. Maybe just not me.
Ratings for this pattern:
Size Range – 5 out of 5: Up to a 56″ bust and 58″ hip is pretty good.
Instructions – 5 out of 5: It’s a simple dress, so there wasn’t anything tricky to be explained.
Construction Process – 4 out of 5: The inside of the bodice just looks a bit unfinished and I’m unsure about the shape of the centre panel in the skirt front…
Final Fit – 3 out of 5: I just don’t like this shape on me. On other people, it would look amazing.
Overall Rating – 3 out of 5: overall this is a good pattern with a few small issues. It ends up fitting OK but it’s just not my new favourite pattern. I would still recommend this to some other curvy sewers.