Do you ever find a fabric that you love but you can’t seem to find a match to a decent pattern? I have a super cute fabric I have been wanting to sew up for about two years but every time I finally decide on a pattern; the fabric is either not wide enough, too short or the pattern is one-directional which means it just won’t work. This particular fabric was chosen for Simplicity 8873 and when I was laying out my pattern pieces, I realised once again it wouldn’t work because it’s one-directional. Instead of finding a new pattern, I just chose a different fabric because the more I looked at this pattern, the more I wanted to sew it so that’s how today’s review started.
Simplicity 8873 is a cute vintage-inspired dress with a straight neckline, a darted bodice, tie up shoulder straps and your choice of two skirts. Style A features a three quarter circle skirt and style B is a gathered rectangle skirt. The dress has pockets and a lapped back zipper. Style B gives you the option of decorating the bodice with some rick-rack and it peeps out to give a very cute look. As I didn’t have any on hand and I was itching to start sewing before my brain decided to focus on something else, I opted for style A as a sort of trial on this pattern and I do plan to return to it to try style B at a later date.
What’s interesting about this pattern is the bodice pieces come in multiple cup sizes to ensure a well-fitted bust. Outside of Gertie’s Charm Patterns, I haven’t seen any of the big pattern brands give such as option (please let me know if there’s a pattern that does this because I’d love to check it out). When it came to sizing, I opted for size 12 as it would be just under my waist measurement which I have found to be ideal and after measuring my bust, I opted for the c cup option. Depending on the brand of bra, I do hover between a C and a D but I normally opt for a C so I would suggest measuring your own bust and following the instructions inside the pattern. Oh, I hope I chose correctly.
As for fabric, I have quite a stash of Gertie fabric from her collaborations with Spotlight and I opted for the Gertie Posy Printed Stretch Poplin Fabric in Green. At the current moment, this fabric is still available at Spotlight but according to some of the sewing groups I’m in on Facebook, some stores have completely sold out. I would certainly hurry if you wanted to get some. The Gertie Posy Printed Stretch Poplin Fabric is a beautiful floral choice, sure to make your garment projects bloom. Poplin can be used for blouses, dresses and shirts and the colours and details really pop in the design. This fabric is breathable, durable, easy to iron and has natural wrinkle resistance. This material is composed of 97% cotton and 3% elastane, making it a great choice for garments requiring stretch factors. For this project, I had 3 and a half meters. If you recognise this fabric, it’s what I used for the shelf bust on my recently made Easter dress. This dress was made before my Easter one but luckily I had enough scrap fabric left over to be turned into a bust.
Sew, let’s get started. After cutting out my pattern pieces, I went about cutting out my fabric. As the fabric was quite wide, I could really lay out my pattern without too much waste. I was so happy that my skirt could fit as the pattern n the fabric is multidirectional meaning it doesn’t matter if I pin my pattern upside down, the design will still look fine from any angle. Such a fabric like this one is great especially if you are making a circle skirt so I’d definitely recommend it if you are planning to sew one. This pattern doesn’t have lining and instead opts for facing which I like doing as it’s generally quick and easy. My facing had an interface attached and it reminded me I’m running out and need to pick up some more this weekend at the store.
If you’ve ever sewn Gertie’s cotton poplins, you know you’re in for an absolute treat. In my early days of sewing, I remember using cotton poplin for the first time (pretty sure it was the Butterick B6453 pattern also by Gertie) and it was such a dream to work with after only using low-quality cotton (I’ve since learnt). The fabric is thick and lush and was easy to mark and sew together. I started with the bodice which came together super quick and it was done before I knew it. The dress has bust darts to ensure a good bust fit and the last thing I needed to sew for the bodice was the shoulder ties.
To make the ties, I spent a bit of time with my iron making sure they were folded correctly before sewing. I think I could have been slightly neater in some parts but I was really happy with how they turned out. If you are making this dress, it really helps to have the pattern markings on the outside fabric so when you go to pin them to your bodice, you can match the large and small circles. This means all your straps are facing the right way and will be straight. I made sure to clip all my seams and notches as this ensured when folded so the front fabric was on the outside, all the seams were crisp and smooth.
The skirt came together really quickly and I found it a great tip to sew a row of stay-stitches along the waistline to stop the skirt warping on the bias. Normally circle skirts are hung up for about 24-48 hours so its natural weight will pull on the bias and it can then be trimmed. By sewing, a row of stay-stitches from the outside into the centre ensures the skirt doesn’t warp and doesn’t stretch as you add it to the bodice. I’m so glad I learnt this tip from this pattern and I will be sure to do it in future projects with similar situations.
The last thing I needed to do was to sew in my zipper (which I had to wait 4 days for because I ran out of 20-inch zippers) and with a final skirt hem and a good press, she was done. I don’t know how I did it but I think this dress now proudly holds the worse zip I have ever installed. It was wonky and uneven and I had to awkwardly fold the facing over the top and try to even it out. It kind of ruined the final dress for me but at least I don’t see it when I wear it.
Fit: This dress fits like a dream and I already want to sew up another one. The bodice darts, at least on my body, seem to fit me perfectly and I didn’t have to make any adjustments. I know I can bring the back in a little along the skirt line but honestly, it’s such a smooth fit along the front that the back doesn’t bother me. I really love the skirt but I think next time I will opt for a full circle skirt to add a little more volume and twirl. The addition of pockets is always a great idea and these ones are particularly deep and lovely.
I’m a fan of the tie-up shoulders but I am tempted to add normal shoulder straps; in saying that, I wonder if the style of the bodice just works better with tie-up straps in the overall look because I’m concerned that normal straps may look like an afterthought. To be fair, I’m not great at tying up bows so I try to avoid them if I can.
Sewing up this dress took me the best part of a day and I would have happily made it to completion had I an appropriate zip on hand. This is a great, fast and easy sewing project for beginners as it’s not overly complicated in it’s construction. The most difficult part would be waiting for the skirt to stretch before hemming but if it were swapped out by a rectangle skirt, it can be done pretty quickly. I found the instructions very clear, well laid out and easy to follow so definitely add this pattern to your list if you’ve been wanting to try it out for yourself.
I really love my fabric choice for this dress as it’s sweet, summery and aggressively floral which is my favourite type of pattern. I do have this fabric in blue and I’m not sure what I will make out of it just yet but I’m sure something will inspire me soon enough. I’m a little stuck with ideas on what pattern to sew, so if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I kind of wish I waited to get some pink rick-rack to match the roses as it would have added an extra design element and it’s something I need to get more comfortable doing in my sewing projects. I love the twirl on the skirt but personally wish I made it a full circle skirt instead as I love really full skirts on my vintage patterns.
This pattern is a fantastic dupe for the black dress Audrey Hepburn wears in Sabrina as well as Midge Maisel’s comedy outfit dress in the earlier seasons of Amazon’s The Marvellous Mrs Maisel. If you sew this dress up in a shiny black fabric such as satin, all you need are some black elbow-length gloves and you have yourself a perfect costume. If you’re game to try out a free pattern in a similar style, check out this pattern from sewmag.com. Alternatively, you can get another free pattern in a very similar style (just no tie up shoulder straps from mood.com known as the Maisel Dress. I haven’t tried either pattern so I can’t comment on them but just in case you wanted to see if this style works for you, you can give it a go! Plus, who doesn’t love a free sewing pattern?
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.