This weekend just gone my brother got married. An occasion like that demands a new dress, don't you think? And obviously I had to make that dress. I knew I wanted to stick with my favoured fit and flare silhouette, but with some sort of feature to stand out from the dresses I wear on a daily basis. I looked through my pattern stash and eventually settled on Simplicity 1418.
This is a pattern that I got free with a magazine at some point and to be honest I'd forgotten I even owned it, but it was just what I wanted for this project. Simplicity 1418 is one of the Pattern Runway series, which has various bodice options and a pleated skirt. I decided to omit the back inserts and shoulder straps, and use the off-the-shoulder sleeves.
I made a toile of the bodice using a size 16 at the bust and grading to an 18 at the waist, and making my standard adjustment of adding an inch to the length. The fit was good, apart from when it came to the sleeves - they were huge! I took a large wedge out of the middle of the sleeve piece, which greatly improved things but there was still a bit of extra room so I slimmed them down again. I think in the end I took around 3 inches out of the sleeve, and adjusted the elastic and casing that help hold the sleeve in place by the same amount.
That meant I was ready to move on to creating the actual dress. I considered a whole range of fabric options, but the winner in the end was this lovely viscose and linen mix from Sew La Di Da. It's a really gorgeous fabric, and I think the large scale print helps to make it stand out from my everyday dresses.
It is quite a thin fabric so I decided to underline everything with white cotton lawn. I'm really happy I made that choice - not only does it ensure that the fabric is opaque, it also makes the colours look more vivid.
I cut everything out in a single layer to make it easier to get the print placement right. I wanted to make sure I had one of the groups of 3 poppies in the centre of the bodice, and then carry that on down through the skirt. The front bodice also has princess seams, and I matched the pattern up as closely as possible between the centre front and side front sections. I'm glad I put in the effort to do that - I think the bodice could have ended up looking a bit of a mess with this print otherwise.
The sewing process was all straightforward and the instructions were easy to follow. I decided to line the bodice instead of using the facings. I used the facings on my toile and there's absolutely nothing wrong with them, but I just prefer the clean finish of a lined bodice, especially for a dress like this. I also added 2 inches to the length of the skirt pieces just to make sure that it would be a nice elegant length.
To top it all off, I used some of the remnants of the fabric to make the simple flowers that you can hopefully just about see in my hair in these photos. The benefit of making your own outfit is that it's easy to make sure your accessories match because you can just use the same fabric!
I really enjoyed wearing this dress - I was slightly concerned that the off-the-shoulder sleeves would annoy me, but they didn't at all. I think having the elastic underneath the sleeves really helps them to stay in place and stops the bodice from slipping. It's not going to be one of my most worn dresses because it is a bit special, but it is definitely one of my favourites. Now I just need someone else to get married so that I can wear it again!