Today, I have a pattern review and a first look at my most luxurious dress of the year — a silk velvet 1930’s dress!
Pattern Name: Simplicity 8504
Size Range: 12-20
What size did you make? Graded up to about a 26/28
What are your…..
Body Shape: Pear-ish/Spoon
Bra size: 44D
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
I had to grade this pattern up as it only goes up to a size 20 (bust 42″). This is a very curve friendly dress, so I’m not sure why they couldn’t expand the sizing up to at least a 24 (I mean, seriously…. WTF Simplicity?!). It’s very difficult to find re-issued 1930’s patterns in plus sizes and I fell in love with this pattern as soon as it was released, so I resized it to fit me. I’ve been grading up patterns for a long time, so this alteration didn’t take me much time at all.
I made this dress out of silk velvet (silk on rayon — not 100% silk velvet) and as a frugal sewist, I was very stubborn about buying the amount of fabric needed and I purchased about a yard (or more) less than suggested. As I was working with a limited amount of fabric that also has a nap, I shortened the gored skirt pieces by about 1 1/2″ and pieced the corners. It worked out just fine as that’s a very period sewing method and the skirt was not too short on me with the altered length.
I did not add much width to the sleeves, and instead added underarm gussets. The sleeves are still full, but probably not as full on me as the pattern sample, so I might add more width in a future version of this dress to achieve the look of those glorious voluminous sleeves.
For some reason, I didn’t check the size of the collar, but it easily closes on my neck. I just don’t prefer to have the top button buttoned, so I leave that open.
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
This pattern is not a difficult one to sew, although it may look a bit intimidating to a beginner. The instructions thoroughly explain the process and are easy to follow. However, I added a bodice lining which is sewn to the facings. I kept the facings for added structure and also as I didn’t want the lining to peek out at all. The sleeves are partially lined, which is included in the pattern. The sleeve lining helps to achieve the size and shape of the sleeves as the upper portion of the sleeves is gathered in rows, giving a cool faux smocking appearance. My dress also has bound buttonholes, covered buttons, a self-drafted belt and covered buckle. There is a belt pattern piece/instructions included with the pattern, but I didn’t use it. I did a Hong Kong finish on the skirt seams and hand sewed the hem. The hem is a bit wonky and not perfectly even as I sewed it really quickly to finish this dress in time for our family Christmas photo, so I’ll be taking it out and re-doing it soon.
How did you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think that the design works well for your body shape?
I have steered clear of 1930’s patterns for a long time as most seemed too clingy and form-fitting for me. In the past, I have widened skirts at the hips to get a fuller shape as I don’t like a close fit. I looked at the sample on the pattern for a while and decided that the dress wasn’t going to hug me, so I didn’t alter the skirt pieces and was very happy with the final fit. I do think the design works for me and I absolutely love wearing this dress.
Will you make this pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
Yes, I’d definitely make this pattern again. The only change from the alterations I’ve already made to the pattern would be to add some width to the sleeves so that I could have the fuller sleeves as designed.
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources or materials that helped you sew this piece up?
I used this method for resizing this pattern. I didn’t use any resources for any of the techniques that I used to sew this dress, but listed below are some tutorials that will help you learn more about these methods.
Pattern Rating (1-5):
Size range: 2
Construction process: 5
Final fit: 5
Overall rating: 4.25
Overall, I just love this pattern and my dress even more. My only wish is that Simplicity would have added additional sizes to the size range for this pattern. That’s just a huge thumbs down for me on the sizing and Simplicity 1930’s pattern re-issues as a whole for the limited sizes. My patience for limited size ranges in Big 4 patterns is waning. Other than that, I adore my dress and absolutely love wearing it and the alterations were well worth the effort.