Completed: Simplicity 1803, aka, The Disaster Dress

19 Jun

I am calling this The Disaster Dress, but it’s really not that bad. Promise! My main issue could have *easily* been solved in the muslin stage – had I actually been paying attention when I tried it on.

Simplicity 1803

Anyway, this is the ever-popular Simplicity 1803. If my dress looks familiar, it is because I was quite obviously influenced by Gertie’s perfect version. I had to have one for myself!

I guess I should mention exactly why I chose to call this dress a disaster. It doesn’t look much like a disaster now – I worked around all the fitting issues. But hoo boy, getting there was an adventure! This pattern has some wacky shit going on with it, y’all. WACKY, I tell you. First, we have the issue of ease. I know this has been talked to death about all over the sewing blogesphere, but seriously – this dress has a LOT of ease. Let me put it this way: according to Simplicity’s size chart, I fit in the 12-14 range. I cut a 4 in this pattern and it fit perfectly. There is about 4.5″ of ease in this pattern… consider yourself warned. Anyway, I cut my 4 & sewed up the muslin, put it on, glanced in the mirror, and started working on the real dress. I am a fit-as-you-go type sewist – constantly pinning & basting to double-check the fit. Right before I sewed up the shoulder seams, I realized that the curves of the princess seams were nowhere near the fullest part of my bust – how I missed that, I have no idea. The shoulders were WAY too short – which is actually kind of ironic, since I usually have to shorten that stuff quite a bit for my teensy shoulders. Of course, I already had the bodice half-sewn (and underlined!) at this point. Long story short, my shoulder seams are sewn with the scantest of scant seam allowances – like, less than 1/4″. The fit and everything is in it’s proper place – but barely. Also I have no idea exactly where I’m going with this story, except that you should definitely scrutinize your muslin.

Also, another beef I had with this pattern was that they skipped some vital steps in the instructions – such as sewing up the side seams. Wtf, Simplicity? You will give me half a page on ~how to sew a dart~ but then forget to tell me to sew up the side seams? You cray.

This is part 2 of Stuff I Made Using Birthday Gifts – the teal Bemberg rayon lining was sent to me by Alicia of Iron On Maiden (can we also collectively agree that she has the coolest blog name ever? Yes.) for my birthday! Yeah! It is underlining this awesome black eyelet from Mood. I also finally got to test out my new interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply – I used the light-weight fusible and it is AWESOME. I never thought I would actually like fusible interfacing, but I think I just officially converted.

Simplicity 1803

Other than the above rant on sizing/fit (and lack of side seams), this dress went together pretty quickly. The only other change I made to the pattern was to swap out the gathers for soft pleats – there was a LOT of gathering involved, and my fabric is quite thick so I was afraid it would get too bulky around the waist. To make the pleats, I matched up all the seams/notches as I would if I was gathering, and then just pleated the fabric until everything looked good & matched up. Pretty easy! I think I like this much better than I would have liked the gathers, too!

The pockets are really fucking stupid, though. They are in the right place according to the pattern – but WTF!? Who puts pockets on the princess seams of a full-skirted dress?! I know the Iris Shorts have similar pockets, but they actually contribute to the design… in this dress, they’re hidden in the folds. Of course I didn’t notice this until I actually sewed them in – and of course it is displayed prominently on the envelope. Oh well.

Simplicity 1803
This is how I feel about the pockets.

Simplicity 1803
I do like the scoop back!

Simplicity 1803
Bonus drunk-looking picture of me.

Simplicity 1803

Simplicity 1803 - bodice, belt
Do you like my birdy brooch? πŸ™‚ I tore up an old necklace (well, it was already broken), glued a pin to the back & spray painted it blue.

Simplicity 1803 - no belt
Here it is without the belt!

Simplicity 1803 - Bodice, no belt

Simplicity 1803
I love how bluuuue the inside is. The facing is a simple black broadcloth – again, the eyelet was too bulky for facing. I trimmed it with some matching rayon seam binding (also in the package from Alicia – told you she was awesome :D) and catch-stitched it to the lining.

Simplicity 1803

Simplicity 1803

Simplicity 1803
Lapped zipper & soft pleats (and that red spot is from my camera – I was wondering why it kept leaving a spot of haziness in every picture. Then I noticed that the lens was incredibly dirty. At this point, I am sure you are questioning how much I actually pay attention to things. Not much, I’m afraid).

Simplicity 1803

Anyway, despite all the shit I went through to get this thing put together, I’m absolutely happy with the finished dress! I think it’s quite flattering & can be worn for a number of occasions (and seasons, for that matter!). So yeah! Now that I’ve sorted out my issues, I will probably make another one… I have this awesome/wacky rayon fabric that I picked up at Goodwill recently; I think it’s perfect for this style. What do you think?

Simplicity 1803


65 Responses to “Completed: Simplicity 1803, aka, The Disaster Dress”

  1. Tracy June 19, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Beautiful as always!

  2. laceythevegan June 19, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    I need to figure out how to make my body be exactly like yours so i can steal your clothes. I mean. um.

  3. Dancingnance June 19, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    The shoulders were way to short for me too!!. I am very tall (5’11”) so I thought it was just me. I did catch it at the muslin stage, but it took two tries to get it right. It really causes fit problems with the keyhole version. I love your version…much more versatile than the hot pink that I chose for this dress *lol*

  4. Marie June 19, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Despite all yur issues, you’ve turned out a gorgeous and well-fitting dress again Lauren! I think you look a treat in it and it’s so versatile! I love the rayon you have earmarked for version 2, it’s so much fun! Also, how long is your hair looking!?! I wish mine grew that fast – I’ve been growing it for ages and feel like it’s not going anywhere!!!

    • LLADYBIRD June 19, 2012 at 11:05 am #

      I KNOW! I knew my hair grew fast – but this is ridiculous! I haven’t had a cut since I last cut it off in September. I might cut it short again when winter rolls around – I miss having cute curly hair (and, in case you were wondering – those waves fell out as soon as I finished taking pictures, boo!).

      • Marie June 19, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

        Well, it looks wonderful either way!!!

  5. pd June 19, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Despite all the hassles, this looks incredible. I have to admit, I even like the pockets.

  6. Rene June 19, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    I LOVE this dress. My favorite thing is pockets in a dress πŸ˜›

  7. Trice June 19, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Why would a dress have that much ease, seams silly.
    It’s a super cute dress, despite it being evil putting it together.
    Love your brooch, where are you getting these cute birdies , I would love one for myself.

    • LLADYBIRD June 19, 2012 at 11:27 am #

      This bird was part of a necklace that an ex bought me many years ago. I am fairly certain I’ve seen the exact same charm at Joann’s before, though – so maybe try looking there?

  8. ReadyThreadSew June 19, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who goes through the effort of making a muslin and then doesn’t pay attention to how that muslin fits! I’m glad you were able to save your dress though – it’s very pretty.

  9. Lauren June 19, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    This has got to be one of my favorite dresses of yours! It’s got tons of class while still being unique, and true to your style. Love it!

  10. Faye Lewis June 19, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Your dress is beautiful inside and out.

  11. Jeanine June 19, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Quite lovely! I’m glad I haven’t tried this yet. Something tells me I will have to make a 4 as well. I hate huge amounts of ease. It’s like they want us to be stuck in the 90’s or something!

  12. Maddie June 19, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Despite the headaches involved in making this dress, I think it turned out great. The eyelet is awesome but the light blue bamberg peeking through makes the dress!

  13. Kerry June 19, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    I love the combination of teal and eyelet – beautiful

  14. oonaballoona June 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    you are so goddam funny.

    i love that blue underneath, this is perfect! i have this pattern waiting to go– but so far this is the only PR pattern i’ve heard peeps have issues with. like, everywhere. i’m going to rethink my sizing on this one, thanks!

  15. Scruffy Badger June 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Dreamy birthday dress – it really does look a perfect fit & nips in your tiny waist – so cute. Great combo – the teal with the black. You’re right though – strange place for pockets, not that they show unless you stick your hands in them, or load them up

  16. Tasha @ By gum, by golly! June 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    That’s just stunning on you! The shape is so crisp, and I love how you decided to do pleats instead of gathers. I love pleats. The blue underlining looks so perfect with it, it really pops. The little birdie brooch is cute too and pulls it out. So not a disaster dress in the end!

  17. symondezyn June 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    really perfect LBD for you – love the little peek of blue ^__^

  18. K-Line June 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    OK, this is my kind of disaster dress! Looks terrific and I love the contrast underlining.

  19. Fiona June 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Gorgeous! It makes me want to make one now…

  20. Stitcherhi June 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    That’s so cute!

  21. Heather Lou June 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I love that I’m not the only blogger with a damn trucker mouth. If you don’t swear when you sew there is a serious.fucking.problem. Ahem. Oh yes, this is super lovely. Really digging the blue on black. I really got to get around to making this number. I think it would be kooky awesome with that vintage print too. But maybe a skinnier belt?

  22. gingermakes June 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Suuuuuuuuuuper cute! I love this– totally worth all the hassles. That crazy rayon stuff will be kickass for this style!

  23. Michelle June 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    haha i love your face for how you feel about the pockets! i have this pattern too, and now i will definitely put the pockets on the side seams!

    also, i love how you can see the lining through the main fabric. i just might have to make a similiar version (x

  24. leahfranqui June 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    I love this! And I agree with those who have spoken before me, the blue lining is tops, I love it, it even matches the bird! How cute is that?

  25. Rochelle New June 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    Uhg. I feel your pain. It’s the exact reason why I have that same dress (front yoke-y thing version) all cut out and half sewn but not done. I started it WEEKS ago and I HATE not finishing a project. Maybe I’ll attempt to finish it tonight. It’s nearly done, I just can’t figure out the yoke placement. It either chokes me, or the key hole effect disappears. I guess that’s why everyone keeps making the version you made haha! If my disaster dress turns out half as nice as yours, I’ll be elated.

    • Dancingnance June 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

      Rochelle, I had the same issue with the keyhole. I ended up cutting it lower on bodice, then kept the placement for the top piece on the marks provided. I found it was choking me too because the shoulders are really short. Adding to the shoulder seam allowances fixed the choking problem.

  26. Joanne June 19, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    I’m loving this dress – particularly the wee turquoise peeking through – very very cute! Well done on rescuing this bad boy – it was worth it wasn’t it? Great pocket-hating face!

  27. SuzySewing June 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Looking gorgeous for a disaster;) I know what you mean though, the amount of ease is just silly and I fail to see the purpose of it other than to make women feel thinner because they feel they can fit on a “small size”(which means it should make me feel like I’m dissapearing as I’m under a size 0, according to this rationalle. Anyway, enough rambling, it looks great and I love the inside. Very neat!

  28. Stacy @ Stacyverb June 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Looks like it was worth all the drama! It’s such a pretty dress. Now i want to make something with underlined eyelets….

  29. Neeno June 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Despite ur issues with fit (how frickin annoying!!!! 4.5″ of ease WTF!!!!!!!) and the other issues u encountered this dress is gorgeous!!!! The pleats looks awesome and the scoop back. Love love love it!!!!! Xx

  30. annaintechnicolor June 19, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Ooh, despite the challenges involved, I love how this dress came out! I have the pattern, too, and definitely need to give it a go now. πŸ˜‰

  31. sarah June 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    wow– if only my disasters could look this good…one can dream!
    looks great and i do love the pockets even if they’re stupid!

  32. StephC June 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    The blue under the black looks gorgeous, I love the effect. πŸ™‚ I really like this whole dress, well done. πŸ™‚

  33. irononmaiden June 19, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Omigod, your dress turned out awesome! Even the inside is so neat. Looks really great. πŸ™‚

  34. jessica June 19, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    What an adorable dress, especially the blue lining peeking through! I loved reading about the process–you are so funny! And who knew sewing was funny??

  35. Meg@Mood June 19, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    This is so unbelievably cute! Can I post a photo on our Facebook page?

    • LLADYBIRD June 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

      Of course! I’d be honored πŸ™‚

  36. Helen Made June 20, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    This dress is gorgeous, despite all the fitting issues. I love the blue underlining!

  37. Sew Little Time June 20, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    I love it! that fabric with the blue showing through looks great! that size issue is the bane of my sewing life! as a newbie sewer/ sewist/ sewing person it really worries me that i never know whether things will fit right, and i know it will be a long time before i don’t have to make a muslin to check fit – burda i have found especially bad.

    • LLADYBIRD June 20, 2012 at 8:56 am #

      Haha well, if it makes you feel any better, I pretty much *always* make a muslin still – and I’ve been sewing for years. It’s the nature of the beast!

  38. Roisin Muldoon June 20, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Ease shenanigans wreck my head – but this seems like an extreme case of it! Still, for all the hassle I think the dress looks fab – definitely better your way, with the side seams sewn up anyway I also swear lots while sewing – I think the only activity that makes me swear more is writing on a word document.

  39. sallie June 20, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    beautiful dress! classic black dresses are always a win in my book. and this one has the bonus of pretty peeks of blue. i’m slowly falling off the muslin bandwagon for big 4 patterns. i’ve just been measuring the flat pattern and then picking a size. but the amount of suggested ease for a pattern is really confusing sometimes. like, why do i need two inches around my waist? that will just make me look like a sack of potatoes, thank you very much!

  40. Joan June 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    I know you mentioned that you had problems with the shoulders being too short. I recently had a dress in which the shoulders were too long. How do you adjust them? Is their any tutorial you can reccomend?

    • LLADYBIRD June 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

      Haha, I just adjust them the lazy way – by increasing or reducing the seam allowance. When you fit your muslin – before you sew the sleeves on – put your bodice on inside-out and pull up the shoulders until they fit correctly & note how much needs to be cut off. You can either sew a wider seam allowance, or adjust the actual pattern.

      I do this after my initial pattern adjustments, fyi. You want to ensure that the size you cut corresponds with your high bust measurement – NOT the full bust measurement. This usually get the shoulders the right size for me (after a FBA to take care of the girls), but if they’re long it’s only by a small amount, like 1/2″ or less.

      I hope this helps!

  41. Julie D. June 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I was on the fence about this pattern but it’s super cute. Love the cap sleeves, the neckline ‘v’ and the scoop back. The inside is as lovely as the outside!!

  42. Laura Mae June 21, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    I am so glad that this dress turned out because it really is beautiful! Your fabric/lining choice is PERFECT! I love it!

    And that brooch takes it to a whole new level. What a clever girl you are!

  43. Miss Celie June 21, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    I love this. I have a similar eyelet and may have to copy you.

  44. Jen June 21, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    this is so lovely! i’m glad i read into this because i own this pattern but haven’t tried it yet. i tried Simplicity PR 2176 first, i cut a 4 based on the finished bust measurements (i measured a 32 in other dresses that fit me and on actual me) but the fabric i did not intend to be a muslin ended up as one because that ish was type tiny. I started over and cut an 8 which seems spot on. i guess if i try this one i’ll go with another 4 and hope i don’t have body dismorphic disorder when it comes to reading my measuring tape

  45. Crystal June 23, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    I love how your dress turned out (and was really in love with Gertie’s black version, too). The teal underlining is so subtle and then shows up great up-close. I am glad for good pattern reviews like this. I so want to make this dress, but I’m a little scared of the fit issues as I’m newer to sewing for myself. I’d love to see it made up again in that print.

  46. sorbetsurprise June 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    It’s a shame you had so many issues but the finished dress looks great.

  47. Casey June 25, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    It may have given you fits, but it turned out beautiful! Though like you: I’m not sold on the pocket placement. It’s just seems awkward with the rest of the design. Obviously, with the weird pocket positioning and the oversight about sewing side seams, someone at Simplicity wasn’t paying full attention. hehe!

  48. Max January 19, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Oh you wouldn’t tell from looking at it how hard it was to make! I hate commercial patterns, I’d much rather draft up my own because then I know it will fit me! Also the instructions are SO confusing. I used to be able to sew just fine with them {maybe?} but after the internet and step by step photo tutorials, commercial pattern instructions just don’t do it for me, at all!

  49. kittee March 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I want this dress!! I mean yours, I think it might be too hard for me to make.

  50. Kelly June 2, 2013 at 4:53 am #

    I love your version of this dress! In fact, I love both your versions of this dress! The fabric you’ve used for this one is beautiful (I’m a big fan of teal!). Halfway through making this as my first ever dress, and your posts on it were definitely some of the ones that made me decide this was the dress to go for, and it’s looking great so far, so thanks!

  51. Dede Seamster Burum August 17, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    Wow, finally found where to comment. Way, way, down at the bottom.

    I love the teal underlining. Also, you design choices, removal of the gathering was brilliant.

    For your new fabric from Goodwill, delouse it please. No seriously, who knows where it was stored. Plus, a chevron might make for a cool bodice, plus, you have the body to wear the stripes horizontally.

    Thanks for the humor.

  52. epic October 7, 2015 at 8:47 am #

    What a wonderful tutorial! I bought this pattern because I found this eyelet fabric for a steal and I happened to come across your tutorial in a Google search for eyelet dress!! I am so glad I did, because your tutorial was so helpful and I now have a wonderful dress that fits perfectly (with awesome side pockets!) for my friend’s wedding in a few weeks. I would have been so lost without your tutorial so thank you! πŸ™‚


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