When looking at my closet, I felt like didn’t have many (if any at all) simple, easy, neutral dresses. So, this dress is a baby step to try to remedy that situation. And yes, I know this chartreuse-y green color isn’t exactly what most would call a simple neutral, but for me, it is. I think I may have mentioned before that my closet basically looks like a clown car.
When I came across Simplicity 8981, I thought it would be the perfect dress to give me a solid start to building some “basic” options. Also, it has that cool obi-style belt. This is an “easy to sew” pattern and has several sleeve and length variations. I made view A, with the mid-length. I originally used the sleeves from view A, with the cuff, but once completed, I didn’t like the cuff. I felt like it hit at an awkward place on my arm – so I took it off and went with the simple hem.
The fabric recommendations for this pattern crack me up. They range from chambray to French terry. So…basically anything. I selected a ponte knit, because I thought it would give the dress some nice structure and be very comfortable. Once that was decided, I knew exactly what ponte I wanted to use.
So, what ponte did I choose? This amazing quality ponte from Mood. I’d used it before for this burgundy (I may throw my sewing machine in the ocean and never sew again) dress. Don’t worry, I would never actually throw Sally (that’s my sewing machine) into the ocean. But this ponte is a seriously great fabric.
I took a look at the colors and decided this chartreuse color was just what my wardrobe needed. Sorry, black and navy – you know, actual neutrals. Let me state for the record that I was not drunk when I selected this color. It looked nice and bright online. In the right lighting, it does have that snappy green color. However, in the wrong light, it looks like it came from the wrong end of a baby. Luckily for me, the light for these photos shows off the former.
As promised on the pattern envelope, this was an incredibly easy dress. The most difficult part was making sure I didn’t leave scorch marks from my iron. Even with a pressing cloth, ironing was a slow and tedious process.
For the sizing I graded between two sizes, grading out at the hips. If I made this pattern again, I may take in the top just a bit, especially around the sleeves.
I made a few small alterations to the pattern. First, I chopped about two inches off the length. I’m so picky about finding the sweet spot with my hems. The second change was finishing the neckline with a facing, as opposed to bias tape. I did this for several reasons. 1. I knew I was going to HATE having topstitching around the neckline. 2. Where could I ever find bias tap even close to matching this fabric? 3. This ponte has some weight to it, and I couldn’t even imagine the bulky mess I’d get with the bias tape. Ok, actually I guess I could imagine just that and opted not to do it.
To make the facing, I traced the neckline of the pattern and made each facing piece about two inches wide. Ahhh…the finish is so much cleaner. After I decided to hand sew the hems on the sleeves and skirt, I knew I’d made the right choice.
The third and final alteration I made was to the sleeves. As I previously mentioned, I intended to make the version with the faux cuff detail. Once I had that hem treatment finished, I couldn’t get my seam ripper out fast enough. Not only were the cuffs incredibly bulky, but they landed at an odd, and I’ll say unflattering, length. So, I simply hemmed them 1.25” and called it a day.
I’ve found that the best thing to help with hemming knits is adhesive hem tape. It really keeps everything in place and prevents stretching – double win!
Finishing details included adding a silver button for the back closure and making the belt. Sewing up the belt was a breeze, but I’m going to get up on my soapbox for just a minute.
Big Four patterns add such a ridiculous amount of ease their patterns. If you selected a size based solely by the envelope measurements, your garments would always be gigantic. However, and here’s what drives me bonkers, they don’t add the same amount of ease to the belts! I suspected this would be the case, so I cut the largest size belt I could – up two sizes from the actual dress. And guess what? It just fits…sigh.
Ok, I’m done with my rant. Overall, I’m a fan of this dress…despite the questionable color choice.
Until next time,