How often do we fall in love with a pattern and swear that we’re going to make a million versions, and then end up with just the original one? Yeah. I definitely made this pattern like 3 years ago, and I definitely have been saying ever since then that I need to make it again. Whoops. Better late than never, anyway!
The pattern in question is Simplicity 6266,
which, 3+ years later, I STILL can’t find anywhere on the internet. EDIT: Definitely had the pattern number wrong. Dunno what that was all about hahah! This post has been corrected :) I made this forever and ever ago in a slinky poly cheetah print, with adorable little tulip sleeves. It’s the best dress. I still wear it all the time – it is kind of awful in the summer (polyester not being breathable and all), but I do it for the ~fashion~. Truth me told, the OG cheetah version is one of the few dresses that I actually altered to fit my new size after I lost weight, rather than get rid of it (which happened to most of my closet, if you were around for the Great Closet Etsy Purge a couple years ago). Now you know that’s true love!
I knew I eventually wanted to make it again – it stayed in my pattern queue piles for years, and I waffled back and forth on fabric choices. I finally decided to bite the bullet and just fucking make it – and I used a special/hoardy fabric to do it. Might as well kill two birds with one stone! Get’er done and all that!
Remember when I said that I had to alter the original dress after I lost weight? Well. I knew the pattern was going to need some adjustments, since it was completely unaltered and thus the original size (which was for a 33.5″ bust, sadly larger than what I’m rocking these days), but I threw all fucks to the wind and just charged ahead with making this before I changed my mind. So, there were a lot of last-minute fitting alterations to get this thing even remotely sized like I am. I took quite a bit out of the side seams, as well as raising the shoulders a bit (not much, less than 1/2″. Maybe more like 1/4″. I don’t remember! Sorry!). The resulting fit is pretty good, I think, but it definitely added quite a bit of unnecessary unpicking and re-adjusting that I could have avoided had I bothered to make a muslin and do some flat pattern adjustments. With that being said… did I make those adjustments to the pattern after these alterations? Hell no! Do I look like I operate on common sense?? :P
All that aside, once I got the fitting sorted out – the rest of the dress came together beautifully. This is the kind of project that I just love doing – working with a pattern that I know I love to wear, made up in a beautiful and special fabric, and spending the extra time on parts of the construction, such as blind-stitching the hem by hand (I can’t even remember the last time I did that! What is wrong with me?)
I kept most of the construction true to the pattern, but I did change out a few things. For one, I left off the arm hole facing and used bias facing instead. Since there’s a lot of topstitching going on with this dress, the topstitching for the bias facing doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. I also traded out the lapped zipper for an invisible zipper, because it looks a bit more polished. I did not make the waist tie for this dress (on my cheetah dress, I made it, just didn’t attach it to the dress), instead I added some thread loops to hold my belt in place.
The fabric was another gift from the fabric goddess herself, Sunni. This, too, was part of the awesome care package she sent me last year. I’ve been waiting so long to figure out what to use with it, but I’m happy that I decided to match it up with this pattern! This fabric is rayon challis that has the most gorgeous, fluid drape. Really really lovely stuff. It shed like a hairy little monster, but otherwise sewed and pressed well. It is slightly translucent, so you can see the facings shining through the front in some lights, but that doesn’t bother me. I just wear skin-colored undergarments and get on with my life.
Similar to the cheetah version of this dress, I tacked the front surplice together to prevent it from gaping when I bend over. Unlike the cheetah version, I literally just sewed the two pieces together (see the stitching line? It’s aligned with the topstitching so it doesn’t show from the outside), instead of using a snap. A snap seems kind of silly with a mock-wrap dress – I mean, when am I going to unsnap it? Never, that’s when!
Because the fabric is so drapey and shifty, I added a strip of stay tape to the waist seam to prevent it from stretching over time. Just sewed it to the seam allowance at the waist, and then topstitched it down on the outside. Not shown but also there – I interfaced the zipper seam allowance with a strip of fusible interfacing, before I added the zipper. This not only adds strength, but also keeps the fabric from wrinkling by the zipper. I know there are still a few puckers – alas, the nature of the beast – but it’s not nearly the horrifyingly wavy thing that it was threatening to be pre-interfacing.
I love making belt thread loops! Ha!
One of my favorite parts of this dress is this section right here – the dart + the lines of the surplice neckline. I just think it’s so pretty!
Really glad to finally get a good idea for that fabric so I could give it the love it deserved! I actually almost made a Hawthorn with it – but decided at the last minute that it might look a little too cutesy with the polka dots. This sleek 70s mock-wrap is a good alternative because it’s a classic style in it’s own right, and I know I love wearing it. Ideally, I’d like to make this again for winter with the long sleeves – but I also know I’d have to do a lot of pattern adjustments to the tissue before that happens. We’ll see!
In the meantime – I used some of the remaining fabric to make a really adorable bra, so stay tuned for that!
As a side note – have y’all heard about the Made Up Initiative that was just launched yesterday? Karen and Love Sewing Magazine have dreamed up a great fundraiser, where you pledge a donation and set your own challenge to make something before September 10 (it doesn’t have to be sewing related! It can be anything!). There will be prizes for those who complete their personal challenge on or before the deadline. All the money raised goes to the National Literacy Trust.
I love the idea of pulling the sewing community together to accomplish something like this, and bonus if it’s for literacy! Reading was a huge part of my childhood and I fell in love with it at a very early age. I come from a family of voracious readers and it saddens me that not every child (or adult, for that matter) has those same opportunities that I did. So I’m definitely on board with this, and have contributed and made my pledge – I will be making a swimsuit before we go on vacation next month. It’s a pretty simple pledge – I really wanted to make something show-stopping, like a coat or some shit – but I realized that time is pretty short right now and I need something low-key if I actually want it to be finished by the deadline. Plus, I want an excuse to use this 70s-fabulous string bikini pattern that I bought at the flea market a couple of months ago. We are going to Cancun, Mexico, the first weekend of September, so time is short!
I encourage all of you to consider joining the Made Up Initiative and set your own challenge! Again, it doesn’t have to be a big fancy project – it can be as small as making a couple of napkins – or even sewing related. You just need to make something by the deadline. And even if you don’t think you can manage anything by the deadline, maybe consider donating anyway. Even $5 makes a difference!
For all the info on the Made Up Initiative, check out Karen’s blog post. You can also donated directly to the Just Giving page – as of this publish, it’s at 91%, which is awesome. Think we can double that? C’mon, y’all! Do it for the books! ♥