After a few weeks absence I am back. We had a wonderful time in the USA…I had a whole day of shopping in NYC’s Garment District, and will share all the details with you (including what I purchased), soon. I have quite a back log of unblogged garments to show you, kicking off with Simplicity 8086, which I made to wear to a wedding right before we left for the USA.
The wedding we attended was held at Dalston Hall, less than 30 minutes drive from where we live. This is a converted 16th century mansion which is now a hotel and wedding venue with lovely landscaped gardens and, in fact, by the time the wedding took place late in the afternoon, it was actually nice enough to have the ceremony outside. Before we left, when we took the majority of these photographs, it was windy and cloudy. BTW, the wedding was actually of a colleague of my husbands, whose daughter happens to be in the same class as my daughter.
Prior to the wedding I had seen quite a few of these “floating overlay” style dresses, particularly from Coast, which always seems to have lots of wedding guest appropriate outfits. I knew I wanted something lighter in colour and a brocade was one of the suggested fabrics for this pattern. The fabric I went for was ordered (after sampling) from eBay. I don’t know if it is a “true” brocade, but it was robust and easy to work with (didn’t fray badly) and I pre-washed the fabric and lining so I don’t have to worry about dry cleaning costs. It wasn’t particularly expensive either, so I won’t feel bad if I don’t wear this one too much 🙂 I think the floating overlay, which gives the appearance of a cropped top but with non of the tummy exposure, coupled with the fuller pleated skirt is flattering and the waistband emphasises a relatively smaller waist.
Apologies for the phone photos, but these will give you some idea of the inner bodice construction.
Firstly here is the inner bodice, front view, together with the waistband. The inner bodice is actually cut from lining fabric (it is not visible in the finished garment) and is lined. The waistband (and lower bodice back – see below) are cut from fashion fabric (and also lined).
Here is a shot, midconstruction, which shows the upper bodice back (lining fabric) joined to the lower bodice back (fashion fabric). The key thing you must remember if making this dress is chose thin lining fabrics. Anything bulky is going to create problems. Trim and clip seam allowances and understitch carefully.
Here is the back view on me:
As ever, you can read my full review below. But I wanted to address the elephant in the room: the attachment of the overlay to the inner bodice. IMO there is an error in the instructions for this pattern at step 19. After sewing one armhole as per the instructions, you must turn the overlay to the inside, lay the bodice/ overlay out on a flat surface, and twist both pieces to facilitate sewing the remaining armhole. I know I might get people contacting me in like, 2 years (!) asking me how I did it, and believe me, if adding photos was going to help I would have added them. But it just looked like a big twisted mess at this stage which wasn’t going to help anyone. That is the best help I can give you: it can be done, but you just need to think carefully through the configuration otherwise you will end up with a big mobius strip!
Cynthia Rowley Collection. Dress pattern with lace overlay or popover in single or two fabrics. Get a 2-piece look with comfort and convenience of an all in one dress. Popover reveals bra-friendly dress bodice in back.
I would say the bra-friendly thing only happened for me because I raised the height of the back by 1.5 inches.
4 – 20
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, with the exception of step 19 – see below.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I love the finished dress. I made this dress to wear to a lovely wedding held at a converted 16th century mansion and I felt suitably attired. I think the floating overlay, which gives the appearance of a cropped top but with non of the tummy exposure, coupled with the fuller pleated skirt is flattering and the waistband emphasises a relatively smaller waist. There is nothing to dislike as such about the finished dress, but there is an error IMO at step 19 which may put some users off (see below). Be careful in your selection of fabrics (including linings): the inner and outer bodices are both fully lined and anything too bulky is going to cause problems. Careful trimming and clipping of seams and understitching is required.
Brocade outer fashion fabric. Polyester (?) lining fabric.
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I raised the height of the lower back bodice (piece 10) by 1.5 inches at the centre back seam, tapering to nothing at the dot (this was to give me sufficient bra coverage).
I removed 1.5 inches from the length of the upper bodice back (piece 9).
I did a 1 inch FBA which added in a side bust dart.
I shortened the length of the vertical dart.
On the front overlay (piece 11) I lowered the bust dart by 0.75 inches.
I did a sway back adjustment, removing 0.5 inches from the lower bodice back and 0.5 inches from the top of the skirt back (and adding back to the lower back skirt hem).
I ended up sewing my waist darts significantly smaller (like 1.25 inches smaller) to give me more room at the waist and cutting a longer waistband. I also subsequently added 1.25 inches to the side front skirt seams and used 0.25 inch seam allowances to sew the side seams up.
I ended up doing a cheats FBA to the front overlay, adding 2 inches to the centre front and tapering to nothing at the sides. I also only took 3/8ths inch seam allowance sewing up the overlay side seams.
I took 6/8ths inch seam allowance to sew the upper back seam and used a 22 inch invisible zip (completely unncessary!) instead of 12 inches because I forgot.
I cut 4.25 inch interfacing strips and ironed them to the hem before handstitching the 2 inch deep hem.
My front overlay seemed to be wrinkling at the bust when I had finished. I ended up sewing little bags out of the lining fabric and slipping in curtain weights. These bags were then slip stitched to the lining of the outer overlay at the bust darts and this seemed to do the trick: the overlay lay flat and I forgot all about them whilst wearing the dress.
IMO there is an error in the instructions for this pattern at step 19. After sewing one armhole as per the instructions, you must turn the overlay to the inside, lay the bodice/ overlay out on a flat surface, and twist both pieces to facilitate sewing the remaining armhole. I know I might get people contacting me in like, 2 years (!) asking me how I did it, and believe me, if adding photos was going to help I would have added them. But it just looked like a big twisted mess at this stage which wasn’t going to help anyone. That is the best help I can give you: it can be done, but you just need to think carefully through the configuration otherwise you will end up with a big mobius strip!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I don’t know if I will sew this particular dress again. I recommend so long as you bear in mind the error at step 19.
I felt great wearing this dress. I think it is flattering, current and elegant. It certainly made me feel like the best dressed guest at the wedding 🙂
Finishing with a couple of photographs that made me smile. You get a bonus cow shot for free because that’s how we roll in these parts. Until soon.