Simplicity 1301 – My 25th handmade dress

This is Simplicity 1301 in a floral Cotton/Lycra blend with short Ambiance rayon lining. I will definitely make this pattern again. I love the bateau neckline, slim fitting bodice, lack of a waist seam, and the slits on each side at the hem.

This dress has just two primary pieces – the front and back – which would make you think it’d be super-fast and easy to make, but it’s fitted with fourteen (!) darts: one on the front and back of each shoulder, two bust darts, and eight contour darts around the waist.

The wide bateau neckline makes the waist look smaller and balances the hips a bit.

The wide bateau neckline makes the waist look smaller and balances the hips a bit.



Unfortunately, due to a minor cutting mishap (I moved the zip from the side to the back and initially forgot to add a seam allowance), I didn't have enough fabric to attempt matching the pattern.

Unfortunately, due to a minor cutting mishap (I moved the zip from the side to the back and initially forgot to add a seam allowance), I didn’t have enough fabric to attempt matching the pattern.

I love the invisible zipper foot on my Bernina.

I love the invisible zipper foot on my Bernina.

I used fabric remnants from my last dress (my second Deer & Doe Belladone) as facings that I hand stitched to the lining.

I used fabric remnants from my last dress (my second Deer & Doe Belladone) as facings that I hand stitched to the lining.

I had to improvise a bit on the inside along the slits since I was unhappy with the pattern design. I chose to use bright yellow bias tape to conceal the overlooked (aka: ugly) fabric edge.

I had to improvise a bit on the inside along the slits since I was unhappy with the pattern design. I chose to use bright yellow bias tape to conceal the overlooked (aka: ugly) fabric edge.

Pattern (Size 16; Bust 34) mods that I remember:

  • Moved the zip from the side seam to the back.
  • Removed 1.25″ in length from center back and faded to 0″ at side seams.
  • Lengthened the bust darts by 1/2″ each
  • Deepened the outer back contour darts by 1/4″ each
  • Removed 5/8″ from top of back seam fading to 0″ about 8″ down
  • Removed 6″ from skirt length and moved the marking for the side slits up accordingly.

Taylorski, aka Belladone #2

Meet Taylorski, my second Deer & Doe Belladone dress, made specifically for a very special event this weekend – the celebration of the wedding of my wonderful friends Mike Taylor and Scott Jarworski.

There’s a 50/50 chance that, like most wedding dresses, this will only get worn once: It’s mostly white; I’m a light weight; I’m told there will be not one, but two signature cocktails; there will be gobs of tasty food to balance on small plates while sipping said cocktails; and did I mention I’m a light weight? Oh well. It’ll be worth it.


I added that band at the bottom to tie in with the waist. It was more difficult to do than you’d think.


Stripes are tough to photograph. Sorry for all the wrinkles.


Pocket and side seam matching.


Bottom band and side seam matching.


The prettiest hem tape ever!

Pattern: Deer & Doe Belladone dress

Fabric: Vintage cotton, only 34″ wide (which forced me to add a center seam in the front skirt)

Cheers! And congratulations, again, Mike & Scott.

Simplicity 5996: My favorite make to date

When I started this dress last Saturday, I had no idea that two old Cynthia Rowley shower curtains (gifted to me by my sister, Emilie) plus my favorite dress pattern (modified Simplicity 5996) would turn out looking a bit like a vintage Lilly Pulitzer dress, but I’m glad it did. I’m not a huge fan of her style, but I’m very happy with how this dress turned out.



I love the stripe down the center front. I don’t love the placement of the ferns just below the waist line or that the pattern at the shoulders is off a bit, but it was unavoidable and I’ll get over it.


A very invisible back zip and perfectly matched pattern at the waist seam.


Pattern matching at the front waist seam — not too bad.


Pattern matching on the front bodice princess seam.

There’s just one problem: I tore a few holes in the lining when it got caught in the zipper earlier today. The result is not pretty, and if I wear this before I come up with a way to fix the issue, there’s a decent chance the zip will get stuck again and I’ll need to be cut out of it.


Anne Adams 4710: Where is my lint roller!?!?

Top three lessons learned while sewing this dress (Anne Adams 4710-A in vintage semi-sheer black cotton with textured stripes and a full Bemberg lining):

1) Horizontal stripes can be your friend, if used wisely, but they’re a bitch to match across seams and zippers, so plan accordingly (hence the vertical stripes on the side insets and back).
2) Black dresses are, in my opinion, a bit boring but they hide many sins – from poor diet and exercise habits to super-sloppy hand stitching.
3) Every garment, like most people, goes through an ugly phase. Keep working on it and you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised. 

Oh, and I’m going to need more lint rollers.


Another lesson, black is tough to photograph. You can sort of see that the fabric is a bit sheer along the hemline in this pic.


I tried matching stripes between the front and side inset pieces and had moderate success.


Each stripe is actually a long thin fold in the fabric. I have no idea how they made it and have never seen anything like it.


Anne Adams is a mail-order only pattern company. This dress pattern is from 1966, I think.

Butterick 7514: Belmont

I started calling this dress Belmont as soon as I pinned the pattern on the fabric. Not because I think the ladies of Belmont wear a lot of mid-fifties fashion – if they do, I must move there immediately – but because it’s made from a pair of cotton curtains from my friends, Gavin & Jane’s, past home in Belmont. (Side note: if you’re thinking that belt looks like the ties ripped off the old tie-top curtains attached to a vintage enamel and brass buckle, you’re right!)

This is a very different silhouette for me, a woman constantly trying to slim the appearance around the hips/ass. But the exaggerated pockets that stand away from the body plus the pop-up collar were too much for me to resist. 


A unique silhouette for me.


Close up of a pocket from the side/back.


This stunning vintage enamel and brass buckle was a gift from Brian.


I may not be able to get away with making this dress 5+ times since it’s quite a unique design.

Butterick 7514: Bodice from view A and skirt from view C (since I’m quite sure full petticoats at work may be frowned upon.)

Simplicity 5996: #5 in butterflies

This is Simplicity 5996 dress #5 – which I shouldn’t even call by name anymore since I’ve hacked it up so much.  It is made in a crisp cotton in navy with white butterflies all over it.    This version has a super-long skinny belt, a slightly shortened hem (though still financial services work appropriate, of course) and self-drafted sleeve cuffs. It is unlined <gasp!> so I’ll skip showing you her insides this time.


I’ve named this dress Sue, in honor of my mother-in-law, who gave me a weekend with very few plans last week. She also loves butterflies.


I’ve wanted to add cuffs to dress sleeves for a bit, but always opted to skip it to save time and effort. I’m pretty psyched to now have a pattern piece to use next time.

Belladone: Just in time for Mexico!

Meet Millie – the exact opposite of ready to wear, “fast” fashion. She’s a Deer and Doe Belladone dress made of navy cotton chambray with paisley poly pockets and seam bindings. I started this pattern last August. All was well until I tried her on the the fit in the back skirt was horrid. She spent the winter in my unfinished sadness bin, but I was determined to finish her for this summer. (Hence, Millie, a French name for stubborn determination.) Three+ zip installs and multiple skirt alterations later, she’s finally ready.


Simplicity 5996: An Irish psychedelic frog

I’ve been asked dozens of times why I’d want to spend 10-12 hours making a dress when I could just go out and buy one. Well, one reason – and there are many – is because I’m pretty sure I could spend hours looking at a mall and I would never find a kelly green wool dress with lining that looks like a psychedelic frog. And if by chance I did, it’d cost a whole lot more than the roughly $15 I spent on supplies to make this one. Cheers!

Pattern: Simplicity 5996, again


Between the outer wool and the poly lining, this dress is very warm.



Tell me this doesn’t look like a psychedelic frog?!?!

Simplicity 5996 in grey wools

My Simplicity 5996 in two shades of grey wool is done.  I’m pretty happy with how this dress turned out.  I think I like the red stretch denim one I made earlier this year more, but this will be a nice addition to my Fall/Winter work wardrobe.

Simplicity 5996 - Oct. 2013

Simplicity 5996 – Oct. 2013

I cut the same size as last time (vintage size 14, 34″ bust) and made some changes: (1) I combined the bust and bodice waist darts into princess seams that run from the shoulder seam to the waist.  I have a small bust and a narrow upper torso so these seams allowed me to tinker with fit right up until completion; (2) I added 1/8″ along each side seam at the waist and 3/8″ along each side seam at the hip and continued that to the hem of the skirt.  I also sewed the side seams at 1/2″ instead of 5/8″ because I think I put on a few pounds between making my muslin and the final product.  I figured it’s easier to take it in a bit than let it out.  (3) I cut at least three inches off the hem, as usual. (I’m 5’2″ on a tall day.)

I had originally intended to make a different belt, somehow incorporating the grey buttons from my stash, but I haven’t come up with a design idea that I like yet.  I’m sure it’ll strike my while I’m lying in bed trying to get to sleep some time soon, so don’t be surprised if you see this dress with different belt options.

This dress is fully lined (I line everything!).  I simply made a second dress out of the lining fabrics, attached the black cotton facings to the top of those and then attached the facings to the dress as usual.  I tacked the lining to the bodice at the under arms to keep it in place.  I used white Bemberg lining for the bodice and sleeves (more breathable) and junk black polyester lining for the skirt.  Both were from my constantly growing stash.






One of the reasons it took me so long to start this blog – I thought about it for months before my first post – is that I hate having my picture taken.  I had to avoid the urge to crop my head off of each of these pictures. I did, however, crop out one of my dogs, Indy.  I guess I’ll leave the pups in the house next time. If not, my pictures will look more like these.




I’ll post details on my next project – which is a bit of a stretch project for me – soon.  Happy sewing.