Sunday, September 23, 2007

Simplicity 3631 - The Dress

I became intrigued by this pattern after Sew Stylish magazine devoted an entire issue to the pattern. The versatility of the pattern was right up my alley and the fact that you could get trendy corporate looks from the pattern only intensified my desire to own the pattern and to sew garments from it.

I thought that I would start with the dress first, because hey, I love dresses and they work so well in my corporate environment. However, what should have been a simple shift dress almost made me throw up my hands and declare that "I could not sew!"

First this pattern is only sized up to a 22. Now I can usually work with a pattern that is anywhere from a size 20 up to a size 24 and get a reasonably well fitted garment. However, Simplicity really just needs to make this pattern in a plus size. Because I totally reworked this pattern to get a dress that minimally fits well. It is because of my stubborness that I even got a dress out of this pattern. I had too much invested in it working. Gosh, I have bought fabric to make several copies of this dress as well as the jacket, top and skirt. So I really wanted it to work.

I know you are dying to see the finished product ~ so here it is:

And here are the particulars:

4 yards of a 100% tropical wool from Fabric Mart
2 yards of polyester lining

20" zipper, 2 yards of rayon hem tape

The only thing that is original on my pattern is the shoulder and bust area. Everything else has either been lengthened, added to or sliced up!

To the top:
~I added 2" in length to the front and back piece - I didn't like where the seam would hit (my abdomen is not a good place for a seam!)

~To the back piece I added a 3" wedge that started at 3/4 of an inch and grew to 3" at the hem. ~I also shortened the armhole by 1/4". I might add that back in...

~I did basically the same to the front but I also added another inch to the bottom of the top to make it even with the back piece.

~I also added a 1/4" on the front fold about 4" down from the top to the bottom of the piece.

~And I took a smidge of a fold in the neckline on the front and back piece.

To the skirt:

~I added 3" to the front of the skirt piece and then took 1" out of the side seam midway down to the hem. I needed the space in the abdomen area but not in the side seam.

~The same alteration was done to the back skirt piece.

So I make a bodice up first...with my first set of alterations it fit but the fit was too close. So back to the drawing board and I came up with the final alterations listed above. The pattern tells you to line only the top of the dress...why? So after assembling the front top and skirt pieces, I laid them down on top of the lining and cut a full lining piece and did the same for the back. And then I constructed the dress.

Will I make this again? I don't know. I am thinking about taking these pieces and laying them on top of my TNT dress pattern and seeing if I can recreate them with my TNT dress pattern. Then again, I have done all of this work so maybe I should try another dress. I don't know...because it was a lot of work to get an okay fitting dress. Anyway, there are plenty of photos in my Flickr album.

I am back to work tomorrow and my four gore TNT skirt still isn't hemmed. Ummm, maybe its because this dress has consumed me for the last three days! *smile* Anyway, I am going to wear "The Ladybug Dress" to work tomorrow and hem the skirt later in the week. The weather is suppose to be summer-like for the rest of the week so I have time to wear the skirt.

I have started fall sewing...both the Jackie O Retro Suit and this last dress are fall garments. I just may have to rethink my plans for Simplicity 3631!


  1. Oh, Carolyn, I sense your frustration with the dress. Am so glad to know that you did not let the pattern defeat you. It is lovely as is the jacket. I always enjoy reading your blog and see photos of your sewing projects. You are so creative. Happy Stitching!

  2. Well, you sure did make it work. What a fantastic outcome.

  3. I am amazed by your ability to make these patterns work for you. You look ready to tackle the world. And life.

  4. Great job, Carolyn, the dress looks beautiful now!

  5. It looks great Carolyn! I can't wait until I can sew again! LOL, I was working on View B before my machine decided to DIE! LOL

  6. Isn't it a bummer when you have all these wonderful plans and dreams for a pattern and then it doesn't live up to your expectations? I think you should take another crack at the dress - I think it fits well enough that with a few more tweaks, you will be very happy with it.

  7. You did a fantastic job working with this pattern (and the outcome looks great even though you're not pleased with it, it does look good in the photos)

  8. I'm also amazed at your ability to make patterns work for you, as well as your perseverance. I think the final outcome was worth the effort.

    I ended up not purchasing *anything* during the 20% off sale at Fabric Mart, although I was sorely tempted.

  9. You did a fantastic job on the dress and always enjoy how you make the pattern work for you.

  10. Carolyn, your dress and jacket are beautiful! Even if you had to "stubborn" this one done, it looks to me like the effort was very well worth it!

  11. Good for you for "making it work"! All your tenacity paid off - you have a great dress that will transition well into fall!

  12. I congratulate you! You made it work! The outcome is perfect!

  13. I love that jacket/dress combo on you. The color, the cut - you look stunning. I can certainly understand the frustration you felt; after all, it looks like a simple dress - but we all know how deceiving "simple" can be. But try to imagine the hours and the frustration you would have invested in trying to find something similar in RTW. You dun good - and you look fantastic.

  14. Beautiful dress, Carolyn. I'm extremely impressed with your alteration skills! You look fantastic in that dress.

  15. Carolyn, I too have to add my admiration for your tenacity and skills! I like that neutral color with the print jacket - looks very versatile. But Carolyn, those shoes! TDF! Look great with the outfit.

  16. Love the Dress!! As always I am in awe!! But off topic, I finally got my copy of Decorative Dressmaking!! Brand new and beautiful!!! So much food for thought!! Can you tell I am excited? Okay, I just wanted to share!!


  17. You are as always, inspiring. This looks great on you. Since there are so few nice patterns available in larger sizes it's a good thing you are so good at alterations. After all that work you should definitely make it again.


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