Wow, I can’t quite believe that I finished this one! You know when you spot that perfect dress pattern and know instantly it’s one you just have to make? I found the Cynthia Rowley 8086 dress from Simplicity online a few months ago now and I’ve been quietly working at it every weekend since. This dress isn’t for the faint-hearted and will challenge your spatial awareness skills like no other – but it’s so worth it.
The dress is almost like two dresses in one: it has a high neck/low back dress underneath and then a high neck/open back overlay over the top. The skirt is full and pleated, there’s a zipper down the centre back and a button loop at the neck. It also has a bodice lining and an overlay lining. (The fabric is a woven brocade from Minerva Crafts, by the way) Can you see why this project took me forever?
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it though – in fact, I loved that I could do a little bit each weekend and could see it slowly coming together on its coat-hanger. I spend quite a lot of time whipping up projects over the course of a weekend so it was nice to take a bit more time and care when making this dress! However, I did also run into a few problems… the pattern instructions are largely wonderfully written (as is often the case with Simplicity) but I had so much trouble when it came to attaching the overlay to the bodice. The instructions for this part were so unclear and it seemed as if steps had been missed out – which is a nightmare when this dress is already quite complicated. After a bit of Googling I found that other people also had the same issue (see Pattern Review for more!).
I also had trouble with the fit around my back and had to take it in and out a few times before I got it to sit right and not gape. This resulted in my back zip being massively off-centre, by which time it was too late to do anything about it! I think I’ve got away with it though – I wore this dress to my friend’s birthday party last weekend and all I got were lovely compliments. I think us sewists are too hard on ourselves sometimes: no one else ever spots the wonky bits that we berate ourselves for!
Despite the few hiccups, I got there in the end. There was a bit of unpicking and trying again but I don’t mind that so much – how else am I going to learn new things? Trial and error is often your friend when it comes to dressmaking! And I really love my finished dress too. I’ve got a couple of weddings coming up in September so I’ll probably wear it again to one of those – I think this dress will become a nice staple in my party dress wardrobe. What do you think?
I definitely recommend this pattern for the more adventurous intermediate/advanced seamstress. I’m super proud of my finished dress and I’m really pleased with how it turned out, especially because at one point I wasn’t sure it was ever going to work! Has this ever happened to you before? I think my cat Barnaby approves too – he loves being in my blog photos these days, perhaps I should get him to do my modelling in future.