We’re nearly at the end of our Shirts & Shirtdresses theme for the Curvy Year of Sewing challenge, and today, I’m reviewing a pattern that does double duty as both a shirtdress and a Halloween costume: Simplicity 8481: Misses’ and Women’s Rockabilly Dresses (Wonder Woman and Bat Girl). This pattern came out in Simplicity’s fall catalogue a little while back, and when my daughter decided that I needed to be a superhero for Halloween this year, this was one of the first pattern options that I pulled out. (She’d told me that I couldn’t be Rey from Star Wars again because I’d been Rey the past two years in a row…even though I’d pointed out that I’d make a new costume to reflect her new costumes in The Last Jedi.) Anyway, I now have a Wonder Woman costume for the first time since I was about 5 or 6 years old!
Pattern description from the Simplicity website:
Size range (with measurements)
This pattern is available in Simplicity Misses’ sizes 10-18 and Simplicity Women’s sizes 20W-28W, which covers a 32.5″ (82.6 cm) bust and 34″ (86 cm) hip up through a 50″ (127 cm) bust and a 52″ (132 cm) hip.
While the size range itself is fairly inclusive for a Big 4 pattern, note that the pattern builds in a whopping 5″ of ease at the bust, which is a quite a bit for a fitted bodice like this one, so theoretically, if you’re slightly above the size range, you could probably get away with not having to grade this pattern up.
What size did you make?
Going off of my high bust measurement, I sewed a straight size 22W.
What are your measurements, height, and body type? (If reviewing a top or dress, bra size is very helpful for our readers.)
My current measurements are as follows:
- High bust: 42″ (106.7 cm)
- Full bust: 49″ (124.5 cm)
- Waist: 42.5″ (108 cm)
- Hip: 46″ (118 cm)
- Height: 5’2″ (157.5 cm)
- Bra Size: 40H
My body type is somewhere between a busty hourglass and busty rectangle from the front, but more of a busty apple from the side.
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
I made the following adjustments:
- Normally, I would have made an FBA to the bodice, but I checked the finished garment measurements, and there was 5″ of ease at the bust already. Given that I wanted a snug fit-and-flare look to this dress (I mean, it is Wonder Woman), I opted to simply add a 1/2″ of ease to the bodice side seams. I did get exactly the look that I was going for with this costume; however, if I re-use this pattern as an everyday dress (which I plan to do), I’ll go ahead and do that FBA.
- I omitted the side zipper, as I knew that I wouldn’t need it to get this dress off and on.
- I could tell that the skirt was going to be extremely long on me from holding it up to my natural waist, so I shortened the paper pattern (which is just a rectangle) by 8″ before cutting my fabric.
- Rather than making my own brooch and belt, I purchased these from Etsy (in the interest of saving time). I also purchased the headband and bracelets from Etsy.
What fabric did you use?
For the solid red on the bodice, I used a red stretch sateen from Mood: https://www.moodfabrics.com/tomato-stretch-cotton-sateen-304024
The blue-and-white star print fabric is a quilting cotton from JoAnn’s. I had a surprisingly hard time finding a woven blue fabric with white stars. Knit options were available, but I knew that those wouldn’t hold the pleats in the skirt. My daughter ended up picking this one out, as she liked the idea of “shooting stars” instead of “plain stars”.
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
The construction process went very smoothly. I did not run into any drafting issues or other weirdness with this dress. Note that there is quite a bit of bulk at some points in the waist seam, given the skirt pleats, bodice darts, and the spot where the CF of the bodice overlaps.
Also note that this dress has facings for the neck and armholes, rather than using bias binding anywhere. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this, but the facings are pretty hefty, size-wise, and I’m guessing that their large size helps keep them from flipping out, which surprisingly, I didn’t really have any issues with.
The instructions are geared a little more towards intermediate sewists than some Big 4 instructions sets. For example, they’ll tell you to understitch, or “sew darts” without going into detail about how to perform those construction steps. You probably wouldn’t want to tackle this pattern as your first dress, but if you’ve made a button-down pajama top or two and a couple of skirts in your sewing history, you should be okay with this pattern.
How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
I got the exact fit that I was going for with this dress/costume. And yes, I realize that it’s a bit snug, but that’s also the look that I was going for, given the context of this being a Wonder Woman costume.
I always love a fit-and-flare dress, and this dress is no exception.
Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
If you take away the fabric and styling that turns this pattern into a Wonder Woman dress, you actually get a cute fit-and-flare shirtdress with non-gaping armholes and a pleated skirt (with pockets!). I would absolutely like to remake this pattern using a non-costume-y fabric, and this time, I’ll go ahead and do that FBA on the bodice to give myself a little more ease through the bust/waist. I’m going to consider omitting the collar, too, in order to make this pattern a little more functional as an everyday dress.
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up?
If you’re not uberbusty, you can probably skip the FBA on this one, as it already has 5″ of ease built in to the bustline, which is a few inches more ease than you’d typically find in a shirtdress bodice. The pattern itself has a decent size range, too, so even if you’re used to having to grade up Big 4 patterns, you might not need to with this one.
Overall pattern rating
Size Range (1-5): 4 — The pattern size range is on par with some of the more inclusive indies; however, there are pattern companies out there who extend past a 50″ bust.
Instructions (1-5): 4 — The instructions are perfect for people like me who, when making a garment type they’ve made before, mainly glance at the instructions and images for construction order but don’t need a lot of hand-holding.
Construction Process (1-5): 5 — The construction process went smoothly. No drafting issues or weird or tricky bits.
Final Fit (1-5): 5 — The final fit of the dress was exactly as expected based off of measurements and the alterations that I chose not to make in order to achieve a snug fit.
Overall Rating (1-5) + Explanation: 4.5 — Average score of other scores. Very nice shirtdress pattern. While not everyone wants a Wonder Woman or Batgirl dress, this pattern has good “bones”, and I’m kind of surprised that we haven’t seen more of these on Instagram, minus the superhero styling.