Simplicity 1803: DIY cut out scoop back brocade dress

Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress
Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress

This is the dress I made to wear to my birthday weekend away to Matfen Hall Hotel in the North East of England (just returned, infact, a few hours back). I made it from some silk brocade that I bought in India and used Simplicity pattern 1803 for the bodice and Butterick 5781 (blogged here) as the basis for the skirt.

Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress
Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress

First of all: brocade. This is not a fabric for the shy and retiring. At least not this particular fabric. It is very shiny. And I am not sure how happy I am with that. It’s also quite hard to photograph. On the other hand, it is actually very light. Combined with the Bremsilk lining I used, this is a beautifully light dress to wear. But…I don’t know…somehow, I wasn’t so taken with the whole…vintage look…of the entire dress and the colour and the shininess…but having spent the time and money on making it I couldn’t not wear it (and didn’t have time to make/ buy anything else). Truthfully, I don’t know if this is a dress that will just languish in the wardrobe or if I will wear it again.

Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress
Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress

Here’s the scoop back:

Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress
Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress

You can read my review below for full details on how I went about altering this pattern to try and eliminate the gaping that other reviewers have commented on. It isn’t perfectly gape free, but at least standing up it’s not too bad. However, sitting down, there was a fair amount of cleavage on show – that’s why I have included this next picture so you get an idea of that:

Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress
Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress

See what I mean? The whole of the front is just pulling away from the body.

Pattern Review

Pattern Description:

Misses’ & miss petite dress with bodice variations and tie belt. I made the bodice from View A which features a yoke to create a “cut out” detail, but substituted and adapted a skirt from another pattern (Butterick 5781).

Pattern Sizing:

4 – 20

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

With the exception of the skirt, yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Yes, I think so, except I wanted to fully line my dress so kind of ignored the instructions and went ahead and installed a beautiful invisible zip and sewed up my side seams, only to then realise that I shouldn’t have done either before attaching the yoke and turning the bodice inside out…I fixed it and this is no reflection on the pattern instructions, just my own impatience!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

Dislikes: the neckline as drafted is too high.

Likes: I do think the cut out detail is something fun and a feature I have seen lots in RTW, but it is hard to stop the gaping….

Fabric Used:

Silk brocade with bremsilk lining.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I made a muslin of the bodice first and from that I decided to:

– Cut the joining points of the yoke front 4 sizes smaller to eliminate excess fabric.

– Lower the front neckline of the yoke front by cutting 3 sizes smaller. The neckline was just too high for me.

– Raise the front neckline (and corresponding facing) by 1 inch.

I also shortened the bodice by 1 and 1/4 inches and did a 1 inch sway back alteration.

I fully lined the dress with Bremsilk lining.

I cut my side bodice princess panels on the bias…just because…

I attempted to stabilise and further eliminate the gaping by using the selvedge of the fabric as tape which I cut 1/4 inch shorter than the edges of the front bodice neckline and lower yoke edge and easing the bodice/ yoke edges to fit the tape.

Overall the yoke doesn’t gape to much when I stand…but sitting down the front of the bodice is pulling away from my body and there is a lot of cleavage on show….

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

No, I don’t know if I would this view again, but I might consider one of the other views. Yes, I would recommend if you are prepared to muslin….


Not sure I love the whole shiny, vintage look of the brocade but I had a great birthday celebration (which is the reason I made this dress).

Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress
Simplicity 1803 brocade cut out dress

One other thing I have to mention and that is that some of you may have noticed I have my first blog sponsor: Click Fabrics, whose fabrics I have used before and from which I made my Vogue 8904. I am very proud to be part of this association and I hope to blog once a month about a garment made using Click Fabrics. Click on the logo at the top of my blog to go straight to their eBay shop and view their fabrics.

Have a great week ahead!


Posted by

By day I work in the exciting world of pharmaceutical regulatory affairs, registering medicines (!), but by night I turn in to a sewing diva, making all manner of clothes in my beautiful sewing space (which you can tour using the link at the top of this blog). I love how sewing and sewing clothes that fit my curvy body continually challenges me. I enjoy working with all different types of fabric, and whilst I don't like to put restrictions on myself and say I won't buy RTW, the truth is that I probably rarely do buy it, preferring the fit of my own me-made clothes. I love to use natural fibres where ever possible and colourful coats are an obsession of mine! Sewing is both my addiction and my therapy. You can contact me at

19 thoughts on “Simplicity 1803: DIY cut out scoop back brocade dress

  1. Hi I have been looking at your blog. That shirt you made your husband back in June was great. The collar looks to be so well done. This ‘cutout” dress is very well made as well but I see what you mean about when you sit down. I have had a problem similar to that before and have no idea how to fix when you find out I hope you will post and let us know.

  2. I definitely think you should wear this dress again! It’s beautiful. It’s only because you made it that you see it’s faults. Really, no-one else would notice! :)xx

    1. Hey dawn if you read this…just stopped by your blog and LOVE some of the stuff you’ve made but it seems you can only leave a comment if you have a google account? I don’t. Anything you can change so others can leave comments?

  3. Hi Manju, thanks for pointing that out to me as I didnt know! I have just had a play around with it and it appears to me that it’s lifted the restriction. Would you mind just popping over for me please and letting me know if you can now comment? Thank you 🙂 xx

  4. Manju, here’s a trick for dealing with a neckline showing excess cleavage. It’s been forty years since I used it, but it worked for me: Take a short piece of boning, 4-6 inches or so, and attach the top to the inside facing of your dress at the middle of the neckline. Leave the bottom hanging free. When you wear the dress, tuck the bottom of the boning into your bra. It will invisibly snug your neckline right up to your chest. Enjoy your beautiful dress!

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