Hi everyone! Thanks for joining me again and today I have a pattern review / sew with me post about the Sew Simple Grace Dress & Skirt!
The Great Big Pattern Swap
Over on Instagram I participated in the Great Big Pattern Swap organized by the.polka.dot.palace & thezipperfoot . The idea was to swap some old or unused patterns with each other, sew a garment with one and win amazing prizes! It was a little hard for me to find patterns in my size (22-24), but the lovely lili_in_the_island had this Grace Dress by the UK pattern company Sew Simple for me. In the end I did have to do a little pattern adjustment but it was the best pattern I could find!
At the end of the post I am actually giving the pattern away again so be sure to scroll all the way down if I can make you happy with this dress pattern! Don’t worry I have copied the pattern and instructions for myself so I don’t need the original any more. I always think about saving patterns to make the same dress for family & friends but this has never happened before so I’d rather pay it forward and make someone else happy with it.
I also have a new post format where I group similar pictures together because I had ~ 50 pictures of the construction progress. Let me know if you prefer large images instead.
Pattern adjustments & toile
The first step was doing my normal adjustments to the pattern (FBA of 6,5 cm, lowered dart by 4cm, take in the back by 2cm). Then I sewed a toile, and immediately noticed the neckline was gaping on me. The back of the bodice fit pretty perfectly, did not need to lengthen the darts.
I did a narrow chest adjustment, and moved the dart to the armscye. Actually at this point I might have just done a princess seam, but I didn’t feel like it! I also added a little more fabric to the armpit area. The waistbands also needed to be adjusted to accommodate the bodice adjustments.
This is the fabric I chose! A striped seersucker with little cactuses. Actually they didn’t have as much fabric as the table suggested, but I just thought it was the cutest and knew I could make it work.
But I could’t make it work! There was just not enough fabric for the pockets. Oh well, the dress is very light and a pocket would just distort the skirt.
Step 1 was to sew all the darts in the bodice and lining.
I joined the shoulder seams together and pressed them open. I staystitched the armholes and neckline with a 2mm stitch to avoid distortion through wear. Then I stitched the neckline, trimmed and clipped the seam, and understitched the neckline. None of these steps were mentioned in the pattern but it is a beginner pattern anyway.
I repeated the steps with the armhole. It is possible to understitch the armholes if you go side seam – shoulder seam on both sides. It gets a little tricky at the end – you could to the final stitches by hand if your machine cannot reach it.
Then I joined the side seams, and attached the waistband. After a good press the bodice was finished!
I stitched the side seams of the skirt together with a French seam. Then I gathered the top and stitched it to the front waistband.
And now I saw the skirt was too short for my liking! I totally did not measure the skirt before, I just used what was left of my fabric. Luckily I still had a strip from the side of the fabric, and it looks kind of cute to have a strip of stripes going the other way, right?
Here’s the dress inside out, with the invisible zipper in place. All that needed to be done was the hem, and hand-stitched the inner waistband down. And I was done!
The dress is really cute, and despite the skirt being straight and not curved it did give me a bit of volume. The extra strip made the skirt the perfect length for my taste (it is somewhere between vieuw A and B in length).
Again the skirt is voluminous enough for a simple summer dress. The skirt is not lined to make it as airy as can be – I can always wear a slip or underskirt with it.
The bodice was 90% perfect – still a little bit of gaping near the neckline but maybe this is because I should have added seam tape and not just staystitch. Also, the front bodice could do with another 1 cm added to the bottom next time. The back was pretty much perfect!
Also you can see the blue stripe of my fabric marker right on the upper dart, oops!
Oh, I thought I was ready! Then I noticed the waistband had a nasty pucker, so I had to torn and re-sew a small 10cm section. Oh well!
Overall this is a great pattern and I am very happy with it. It is a basic pattern, but it is always nice to have some basics in your wardrobe. I think I can make a couple more variations on this dress without getting bored. I was very happy with the instructions. Overall I would definitely recommend this pattern to beginners.
- Large size range (8-20)
- Very clear instructions with drawings
- Clear directions on the tissue paper, with notches to match i.e. pockets and pleats
- Easy sewing, the sleeveless version could definitely be made by a beginner
- An experienced seamstress will find some better ways to do certain steps, like sewing the lining to the zipper by machine vs. by hand.
- The skirt design maximizes the use of your fabric
- Back darts shape the back of the bodice very nicely
- The armscye was very sensible (this is a pet peeve of mine, some pattern makers make a very big but flat armscye to fit the most arms possible, however this armscye loked really good before I butchered the front panel)
- Actual cap sleeves!
- The shoulder fit me perfectly, and I have small shoulders. If you have wider shoulders this would be something to remember, but I’d recommend making a toile of the bodice anyway.
- Needed a FBA for me but this is normal, all patterns are made for B-cup anyway
- I would probably line the skirt too, depending on the fabric. The inverted box pleats give the skirt a lot of structure but the gathered version could benefit from a slip, lining or underskirt. Again this depends on the fabric.
- No sleeve markings!!! Yet I did not attempt the sleeve at all so maybe this was just a matter of folding the sleeve in half and match it up with the shoulder seam?
- There is no size table, only finished garment size. But there is an online size chart, so this doesn’t really matter.
- A straight skirt gathered will always look less full. If this was an intermediate pattern I would have preferred a skirt with a rounded hem.
I’m giving this pattern away!
Thank you again for reading. Have you made something from Sew Simple? What are your experiences?