Made Up dress: striped Simplicity 1873

Black and white and read all over dress

I finished my Made Up pledge! Only a month late.... Oops!

Let's gloss over that lateness (and the two weeks it has been waiting to be blogged). I'm thrilled to have supported Made Up and The National Literacy Trust, such a great charity. Plus Karen's call to arms spurred me on to FINALLY make this dress which has been planned for about a year. I'm so glad I've finally made it.

As I mentioned before, I'm having a big old clear out at the moment, which has led to me enforcing a fabric buying ban on myself until I've used up all the lengths I have (I have a plan for most pieces) and I have to say I've actually enjoyed being restricted in this way. That sounds a bit odd, doesn't it, but I've enjoyed it because it has seen me complete projects that have been planned for ages. Somehow it's easier to get around to them without the distraction of new stuff! Plus, you know, there's the money saving aspect too. I am a bit skint at the moment, and it feels great to still be able to satisfy my sewing craving with minimal (new) expense!  

Back to this particular dress...

The pattern is Simplicity 1873 by Cynthia Rowley  which I got free with Sew magazine about an age ago. I've been stalking lots of lovely versions of this dress online, and decided I really wanted to try the little pleated puff sleeves and the skirt pleats which have many a good review online. So I made view A, and after a quick toile made the following adjustments:
- raised the bust darts 1". It's slightly too much, need to lower slightly for the next version. Also need to extend the waist darts on bodice front slightly. 
- lowered the neckline by 1 and a half inches the whole way round. I liked the high neckline in theory, and love it on other people, but it didn't look right on me for some reason. I much prefer this lower neckline but could probably have gone somewhere in the middle. 
- took a wedge out of centre front neckline to fix gaping 
- added back neckline darts for the same reason 
- lengthened the bodice slightly

I went with the longer skirt length option, because the short one is super short. I don't mind short skirts but I'm not that into short AND full. This silhouette works much better for me. 

The fabric was bought ages and ages ago from Regency Rags on eBay. It was really reasonably priced, so I can't complain there, and is of lovely quality. I made a neckline facing rather than a lining for the bodice of this dress, as I wanted to take advantage of the 3% stretch in this fabric (a cotton/Lycra mix). The weight of the fabric is really nice and not only is it opaque enough to wear unlined, it also holds the pleats and skirt shape really well, so I'm chuffed with that. I stabilised the waist seam with twill tape so it didn't stretch out too much. 

I made my first ever hem facing for this dress too. For some reason I couldn't get the thought of a nice, deep hem out of my head for this dress, but I didn't want to lose the length that I already was quite happy with, so I made a hem facing and I blooming love it. It may just become my new favourite hemming method.

My lovely hem facing. And yes, I pattern matched the facing too. Too far?
Stripe matching. It's a bit of a pain, it definitely takes a while and on this dress caused me to unpick and redo a few seams with gritted teeth, BUT it was totally worth the extra time at each stage. I loathe cutting out, and it took such a long time hunched over my fabric on the living room floor to get the placement and stripe matching just right before cutting out that I seriously doubted my sanity in choosing a pattern with 5 skirt pieces for this bold, stripey fabric. I matched the stripes across all the skirt seams, and the bodice side seams and the centre back. Unfortunately this means I couldn't have my nice black stripe all the way round the waist seam (on the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt) that I wanted, but matching the stripes along the length of the skirt seams was much more important to me, and actually I like the kind of cascading effect this gives the stripes across the skirt pleats. It took a lot of deciding which way to have the stripes running on the sleeves and I think in the end I chose right. 

Stripe matching across one of the skirt seams

I made a big error with the zip. The pattern calls for an invisible zip and that would definitely have been the best option here. But I didn't have one "in stock", and dammit, I wanted to finish my dress. So I used the ordinary black zip I had, and decided to put it in lapped so as to cause minimal disturbance to my lovely stripes continuing over the centre back. It has worked, but my stitching on the zip is not the neatest in the entire world and it does bother me a bit that this is the only truly "homemade" looking part on the dress (in my opinion. You might think the whole dress looks a dog and screams home made!). It's not quite bad enough for me to want to take the entire zip out and redo it but I may redo the offending bit of stitching. If I've got the patience.

Anyway I really, really like my new dress. I feel a bit like I should be carrying a swag bag and walking on my tiptoes in it but that's all part of the fun.

Aren't the little pleated puff sleeves fun?

Trying to show you the pleated sleeve properly!
The day I finished it I wore it to the theatre to see Pure Imagination (a celebration of the music of Leslie Bricusse) and loooooooved wearing it. I can never wait long to wear a new hand sewn dress!

Instagram snap before I headed out to the theatre. Worn with Hell Bunny cardigan

I like this pattern, especially the skirt pleats, and I did love working with cotton sateen. No sewing has happened since I finished this a few weeks ago (boo) but I'm about to do some cutting out now so that's all good! I'm throwing all my sewing plans out of the window, since I quite fancy making another quilt. 

Hope you're all having a lovely Sunday! x


  1. cute! love the shoes you picked to wear with it ;o)

    1. Thank you! I've had those shoes for years and they're still a favourite pair ☺️ Xx

  2. This looks great, I just love this fabric, my dress is getting a bit tatty now so I just might have to hunt a new batch down!
    Excellent stripe matching too! xx

    1. Thanks Zoe! It turned out alright in the end. There's just something about black and white stripes that I'll always love. Hope you manage to find more fabric! xx

  3. Love it!! I love the pleats on the skirt and the sleeves are fab (and also your shoes!). As much as crawling around on the floor and cutting on a single layer is a pain in the bum, it's definitely worth it to match a print. I think I have this exact same fabric from Regency Rags, it really was a cheap as chips. I'm planning a bias cut dress with the stripes on a diagonal, and a centre front and back seam with the stripes matching up. It's still at the planning stage though, we'll see how it goes. Oh, and pattern matching the facing is just dedication to the sewing cause!

    1. Thanks Lynne! I'm pretty pleased with it! Ooh your dress sounds fabulous, can't wait to see it!!! You're right it is totally worth it with stripe matching. I wouldn't have been able to stand it if the stripes didn't match across the seams! xx

  4. Hi Marie!

    Just wanted to say that I love to read your blog so I've nominated you for a Liebster Award. Hope this is ok with you :) Check out my blog post about it:

    Shauni x

    P.S. Love the dress! Amazing pattern matching :)