Hot! The “Really Not Sew Simple” Pull-Over Dress

The Facts:

  • Fabric:  2m poly charmeuse = $8
  • Pattern:  Simplicity 1989  = $1.99 + Simplicity 5823 ($0)
  • Notions:  thread
  • Time to complete:  5 hours due to recutting sleeves and back
  • First worn:  October 24th for photos and to work
  • Wear again:  Perhaps, but only in cool, damp weather (poly is too hot for Montreal summers and too static-y for Montreal winters)
  • Total cost:  $9.99
  • Pantone Fall 2012 colours:  close enough that I’m going to call them Honey Gold (15-1142), Tangerine Tango (17-1463), and French Roast (19-1012).

It was supposed to be a simple project this week ladies.  I had my family visiting, my son’s birthday parties (yes, parties) to handle, a book signing with my favourite cookbook author / world adventurer, Naomi Duguid and a cold.  (Of course, my workmate also had this virus, but he called in sick for three days with “a severe throat infection”.  sigh……..#mancold)  I also wanted to save some sewing energy for my super awesome kick ass costume next week!

I bought this psychedelic fabric on my birthday shopping spree last year.  It was a cold, rainy day and most of the shops weren’t yielding anything interesting.  Even thought these aren’t “my colours” and I usually avoid poly charmeuse like the plague, I loved the deep rich tones and the vaguely Art Nouveau print, so I bought 3m and called it a day.  I figured I would use it for draping a long maxi dress at some point.  And there it sat for 1.5 years, with only the occasional stroking.  You know how it goes.

This is an out of print Sew Simple pattern with three pattern pieces (four if you count the tie belt), and I think I know why it went OOP.  I had to use the sleeves from Simplicity 5823 because the ones provided were very skinny and oddly shaped.  Look closely at the pattern envelope photo and you can see even on the model, there isn’t enough ease and they pull across the front.  I could barely lift my arms!  These slightly flared sleeves worked much better, although they were a b**ch to insert, and the charmeuse wouldn’t ease no matter how hard I tried.  Meh, what’s a little excessive sleevecap gathering between friends?  I also made facings for the neck because working with charmeuse bias tape would be like snake wrangling, and pre-made tape as they recommended would be the wrong weight.  I also top stitched around the neckline because the poly facings wouldn’t lay flat with an understitch alone.  Based on the flat measurements, I pinched an inch out of the front pattern piece before cutting, but I also should have added some width to the back, because I had to let out the seam across the middle back to allow for some ease of movement.  Maybe it’s me; maybe it’s a badly drafted pattern.  The jury is still out.

I did make one snafu:  I cut the back piece on the fold without pinning the two layers of fabric together first.  I thought I had lined up the print perfectly, but this slippery character must have shifted.  When I went to sew the back pieces, I saw this:

My OCD senses were tingling.  I couldn’t walk around knowing the back print was and inch off, and luckily I had enough extra fabric to recut.

If I had made this dress in an easy natural fibre without having to match a large scale print, it would have been a “Sew Simple” 2 hour dress, but leave it to me to complicate the matter.  On the other hand, a simple pattern like this one is the perfect backdrop for a difficult print and fabric.  Next week:  cotton!

In keeping with my tradition, I’ll leave you with an out take:  jumping up and down between poses to try and warm myself.  It was 2C this morning with light frost.  Brrrrr!



Vicki used to sew when she was young and free, but then raising young'uns and bringing home (some of) the bacon took up all her time. Now her closet is full of skinny clothes, maternity clothes and post-partum clothes, none of which fit properly. Maybe that's why she started sewing again in 2010.


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  1. I think you chose the perfect pattern for that large print. It really is spectacular. My favorite photo is of you smiling in front of that yellow-leaved tree. I’m glad you worked through all the problems and made such a flattering outfit.

    • Thanks Barbara. I’m glad I got these photos in time because on Wednesday we had some strong wind that knocked all the leaves off this maple and our big walnut tree. Oddly enough, no one at work or the party I went to that afternoon said anything about it, but perhaps I was just overdressed again in comparison to all the Grad students!

  2. i just love love this dress.. print is awesome!

    • Thanks M. The print was actually slightly crooked, so I had to decide between the grain or the print. I cut along the print, but now it hangs slightly to one side because of the off-graininess. Sigh. I should know better than to buy cheap fabric, but who could resist that print?!?

  3. Oh wow, you really have fall in Montreal! That is such spectacular fabric – I can totally see why you chose it (even though I, like you, avoid poly-charmeuse like the plague). And your layout is just spot-on – the way the curls frame your face, and the point beneath your bust. Brilliant!

    • He he Thanks for noticing the layout. I played around with the layout for quite a while. We do get lovely autumns here, just like sterotypical New England paintings. Then we usually get one violent wind storm that blows the leaves all away overnight and we’re left with cold, grey winter for 5 months.

  4. Nice save with the sleeves and the print matching! Looks like an easy and fun dress to wear, if the weather is cooperating. I’m surprised no one complimented you– perhaps they’re all used to you looking glamorous.

    • Hmmmm…I’ll be happy to go with that conclusion too. I always joke that if I show up to work with clean clothes and showered, I’m already ahead of the game where scientists are concerned ;)

  5. You made me laugh : ) Poly charmeuse AND a bold print, I would have done the SAME thing! The dress looks GREAT so here’s to perserverance. I’m SO looking forward to see what you do this coming week. Oh, and I’m loving your outtakes. I’ll have to add a couple to my next post in honor of you : )

    • Thanks Loran, and I’m happy to be back to cotton blends this week and next. This week’s out take is a little different than my usual goofy photo. It involves raccoon feces. ‘Nuf said. :(

  6. It’s always the way when you plan to have an easy sewing week things almost never go to plan but look at that! your dress turned out great, I always blame the pattern especially if you’re following the instructions and it doesn’t turn out right. Great fabric print for fall.

    Can’t wait to see your super awesome kick ass costume.

    • That’s the problem with getting more experience: you start to feel unsatisfied with the directions and think you can do better! ;) I never wore brown/autumnal tones until I started sewing because I always thought they made me look sallow, but thanks to this group, I’ve been experimenting with lots of different things.

      The costume is not so much “kick ass” anymore because part didn’t turn out; it’s more “giving someone a dirty look” hehe

  7. I hate when something simple goes on and on. Although I usually end up complicating things myself somehow. Bad patterns are the worst! i like what you ended up with and can’t wait to see your project for Halloween.

    • Well, those Sew Simple patterns were only $1.99, so I don’t feel like I wasted money on it. I could use the pattern again if I make the modifications (and use an easier fabric!) My Halloween project ended up a bit abbrieviated because part of it didn’t work, but it’s still OK; I got the general feel of it.