Sew Simple: The Grace Dress & Skirts (pattern review)

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.

Fabric

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.

Construction

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!

Result

dav

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). dav

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.

bty

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!

dav

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!

Pattern review

Buy it here

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.

Positive

  • 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!

Neutral

  • 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.

Negative

  • 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.

dav

I’m giving this pattern away!

I have copied my size and the instructions so now I want to move the pattern along in the sewing community. Contact me here or through DM over at herhandmadehistory’s Instagram!

Thank you again for reading. Have you made something from Sew Simple? What are your experiences?

~ Mardie

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