MBM - Simplicity 1419

Well this make has had a bit of a tortured history, let me tell you. I’ll try and keep it brief.
This project started with my daughter Amelia pointing out the Fit and Flare Halter dress, a variation on the shift dress in Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, as a dress she would like for Christmas. This is the dress in question.
                                        This shift dress is redrafted to make this "fit and flare"dress:

I was kind of keen to make this project after I had written a review of GSVC on the blog, and was on the fence about it, reserving judgement until I’d actually made one of the patterns. Here was the opportunity to put it to the test.
Well, I found trying to convert a French darted shift dress into a dress with a fitted bodice and half circle skirt proved way more problematic than I needed just before Christmas.  I wrestled with it for  a while with little progress. Before too long,  I cut my losses and binned the muslin. The final verdict on GSVC will just have to wait.
I reckon I can pinpoint the recent loss of sewing energy to right about here.
After a lot of reproachful looks and sighs about the non-existent “Christmas dress” in the New Year, I then went looking for another pattern. I came up with Simplicity 1419, a Lisette pattern, which had a similar silhouette to the Gertie dress, with a fitted bodice and swingy skirt, and the all important Peter Pan collar.
                                                             As an aside the jacket in this pattern is pretty sweet too!

So after a six week hiatus from the sewing machine, at last I was back to the sewing machine.
Fitting the bodice taught me a lot.To explain, I haven't sewn a lot for my daughter. I made the Colette Truffle dress over 18 months ago, but she has grown quite a bit since then, so in fitting her I was starting from scratch in coming to terms with her fitting issues. It might sound obvious, but it taught me that my own fitting issues have no particular application when it comes to fitting my daughter. Surprises, hey? 
I found our measurements are actually pretty similar, but the fitting challenges are wholly different.  To put it in a nutshell, I almost always have to address fit around the bust, while I my backs generally benefit from a swayback adjustment. With Amelia , the issues are all about the back. The front of this bodice fit nicely with only minimal tweaking , while  the back was a hot mess.
I’ll spare you a blow-by-blow account of the fitting alleys I stumbled around trying to unlock the mystery of the back fit.  A broad back adjustment of about 3cm overall went some way to improving things.  However, Amelia was still complaining that the muslin was choking her. I fiddled around with the neckline, to no avail. It wasn’t until I was on to the third muslin, when I had an "a-ha!” moment.  I was studying Fit for Real People searching for clues,  when I found it in the pages addressing the forward head.
Amelia, like a lot of the technology generation, has a forward head (aka “poor posture”), despite my constant nagging. This causes the front to ride up as the dress tries to borrow fabric to accommodate the accompanying high round back.  In addition, the shoulder seam was about 1cm too far back.
So  I slashed and spread a wedge across the high back adding about 2cm to centre back, which made all the difference. And then I repositioned the shoulder seam.
Kudos to Amelia for putting up with countless tryons, while I scratched my head and muttered. However, she drew the line at fitting photos. Pity, because I think they would have been interesting to a lot of people.
I should have made another muslin to check those changes, but didn’t. Having by this stage made three muslins, I wanted to crack on with the dress itself. Here it is: 

                                    Will someone please deal with those weeds in the pavement? Oh, that'd be me!

The main fabric was a polished cotton Amelia chose at Spotlight. It looks lovely on the roll and presses nicely, feels nice,  but seems to crumple as soon as you get it off the ironing board. The collar was from a silk/cotton blend I had in the stash.
The dress was pretty easy to put together. Instead of facings, I opted to make a self fabric lining for the bodice. I added interfacing to the neckline and armholes to give them a bit of support, and clean finished the hem with interfacing to beef it up. I also added cotton tape to the pocket openings and waistline seam.
Another style change was to sew the skirt about an inch higher than marked. The waistline seam seems to be slightly dropped on the pattern, and Amelia wanted  the skirt to sit on her waist.
I turned up an 8cm hem on this to bring it a length to please a nearly 15 year old. Amelia is about 5’10”, so it seems that there is plenty of length there in the pattern for an average height person.
I’m not overwhelmingly pleased with the resulting dress. It's ok but because this dress is so simple, there is no place to hide. To be specific:
1) The three muslins should have been four or more, because the fit still needs work, especially in back:

2) I wanted a nice, crisp collar, but opted for a too-stiff interfacing. I’ve always found choosing interfacing to be a bit hit and miss, and have been getting better, but I was way off the mark here.
3) There is a small button loop at the front neckline. I made it according to the instructions, but am not all that pleased with the result. It looks a bit chunky. If I was any good at them, I would have made a thread chain instead. Luckily, that collar does do a pretty good job covering it, so it isn't really noticeable.I just know it's there.
4) And lastly, that front slit. I pressed and graded, and pressed and graded again. I still didn’t get a nice clean opening. There is a bit of rippling there. This is the most disappointing bit.
None of these factors is bad enough to put the dress into the refashion pile. Overall, I give myself a pass. These are a few “could do better” details.

 Thank you Amelia for getting out of bed at 9am on a Saturday morning, and doing your hair so I could take photos for the blog. Love, Mum


  1. It must be so satisfying to see your daughter looking very pleased with her new dress. Sounds like there was a lot of effort put in to get the fit right. Well done.

    1. Even though there is still a bit of work to perfect it, the bodice fit is miles better than when we started. I'm pretty happy with what I achieved in that respect!

  2. Congratulations! I can really feel the fitting pain;) it's hard to fit someone else even when like your daughter they have a perfect body! I do have some of her fitting issues and have struggled a lot with my shoulder blades...fit for real people is a great resource

    1. I have a couple of books on fit, and I think Fit for Real People is probably the most useful (everything except the stuff about tissue fitting, which I find almost impossible to do on my own).

  3. I think the dress looks great! Sometimes these things are only noticeable to the maker. I had similar problems with this dress - lots of fitting issues in the back and shoulders. I've never had them to that extent in any other pattern, so I suspect it was a funny fit. Don't worry that you might have all this fitting to do next time you sew for your daughter if you're using a different pattern. (& The jacket was cute but had the same if not worse fit issues!)

    1. In a funny way, I kind of enjoyed the fitting process on this dress, even though it took quite a bit of effort. Thanks for the heads up on the jacket too - I stand warned!

  4. You did an amazing job getting the dress to look as fantastic as it does, interesting the changes that we have to make to our own and others patterns. A good tip I've been using for those weeds, a mixture of white vinegar and salt in a spray bottle/garden pump sprayed directly on those weeds (especially if it is hot) and they soon turn brown and easy to remove.

  5. Thanks Sharon. Thanks also for the tip on the weeds. I normally sprinkle the weeds with salt then pour boiling water on them, but boiling the kettle can get a bit time consuming!

  6. Sounds like it was a lot of work, but your daughter looks lovely in it, and very happy with it! I love that gorgeous colour!


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