I had some paisley print rayon I'd bought a couple of months prior (the last 1.8m on the roll), that I was desperately hoping would be enough for a Cascade skirt. Then when I reluctantly conceded I was being delusional, went through the same process with the Gabriola skirt. Ditto. Then it was earmarked for more Simplicity pants. Then I thought I'd get way more wear out of another kimono jacket. Then, I remembered the Simone dress, by Victory Patterns.
(To be honest, this was a pattern I'd admired and dismissed in the past. I think Victory have some amazing designs, but they seemed a bit too, I don't know, trendy or edgy for me. And I am about as unedgy as they come...)
To quote the website:
Simone is a semi-fitted style featuring a contrasting placket and tab detail in which pleats extend, creating fullness. A fitted neckline opens at the front and is secured with a hook and eye. The back features a contrasting racer cut yoke.
I'm not usually one for A-line or tent style dresses; I feel a bit lost in them. But I liked the way this one had a bit of shape to it, without being cinched in at the waist at all. I think the fact that the back is fitted to the waist helps with that. I showed the photos and line drawings to the family and got a general thumbs up. And so the sewing began.
In order to get all the pieces cut from my meagre 1.8m, I did have to lose 10cm from the back lower edge. Although I smoothed out the new curve when I cut it, it does make a difference to the way it falls - when worn, the back curves down beautifully to the middle...and then abruptly stops. (You can possibly see it best in the first hanger photo) If I sew it up again some day I'll definitely cut the back skirt as drafted.
After sewing up a muslin, it was evident that the shoulder seam would have to be taken up significantly. (My notes say it was 6cm, which seems an enormous amount...) But that was really the only fitting modification needed.
I decided against a contrast placket at front and back, and went with piping to highlight the seaming instead. I used the leftovers from my silk Annie cami, which matched the cream of the print exactly. I thought I might behave better as piping. Not so. The only reason it was less irritating this time around was because there was less of it used.
This is the first pattern I've come across that instructs you to fuse bias binding; here, at the neck. That seemed really counter-intuitive - surely interfacing would stop the binding from being pliable enough to sew around curves? But, and I still don't quite understand why, it didn't. Maybe it helps hold the weight of the dress?
I was really worried after I'd sewn the binding on to the armholes that the back section wasn't going to sit flat; it was very ripply even after determined pressing. But, and again I don't understand quite why, it's all fine when worn. Go figure!
Overall, I think I like it. But I'm not entirely sure.
In its favour, it is a perfect dress to wear on a truly hot day; the rayon flows and breathes and feels beautiful. It's not restrictive in any way. I love the colour and the print.
On the other hand, it just feels a bit busy on me. There's a fair bit going on design-wise, what with the seamlines, pleats, racer back, plackets and tab. Done up in a print it feels like overkill. And I have to confess, I can't help being a bit wistful over the kimono jacket that will never be....
I might be being overcritical. After all, I don't think it'll languish unworn in the wardrobe once summer rolls around again, so it's not a fail. In fact, on reflection, this dress has actually helped me discover something. I hadn't realised before this that I much prefer prints with simple design lines, and solids with more complex ones. That's a revelation that'll be very useful in deciding on future projects!
Will I make it up again sometime? Perhaps - in a solid ;) It also has the option of being a top, which might be nice also. Either way I would definitely raise the height of the keyhole at front. It's not too low, but it feels it. As a dress I'd probably try making the front skirt more voluminous too. It feels a little bit skimpy compared to the volume of the back, and I've noticed the weight of the back skirt can pull the front skirt back towards it occasionally.
But my head's not really in summer sewing territory anymore - it's all cool weather projects here now. Just two more things to try and finish before Me Made May...
Have you had an ambivalent project recently? Did you learn anything useful from it?