Not all sewing project go smoothly. Have you ever started a project and you can tell from the get-go that it’s just not going to work out? This is exactly how this project started. I was looking through my more modern sewing patterns that I was gifted when I first started sewing; some have been great for learning bodices and most things can be made to look more vintage by adding a midi skirt. I found a pattern which was a collaboration between Cynthia Rowley and Simplicity, number 1873, which I loved for it’s variations and I kept hearing it call out to me. Even though I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know who Cynthia Rowley is, I thought this pattern would be super cute so off I went.
After a quick Google search, I found out that Cynthia Rowley is an American fashion designer with her own brand. Cynthia Rowley is a leading global lifestyle brand built on the philosophy that fashion should be an adventure. The brand’s signature pretty-meets-sporty assortment features ready-to-wear, surf and swim, fitness, accessories, and home decor as well as exclusive collaborations with like-minded brands.
Here’s where things started going weird; I went through my fabric stash and found what I think is woven curtain fabric which was gifted to me. I loved the print as it had large screen printed autumnal images on it such as sunflowers and corn. I noticed this fabric was quite slippery but also very stiff and it didn’t seem to be coming together very well. I realised I wasn’t excited to keep sewing up the project and spend more time scrolling instagram whilst seated at my sewing machine rather than actually sewing. I knew it was the fabric, it was a bad choice but I still liked the pattern so I ended up choosing different fabric and restarting the project. So, with that side story out of the way, let’s have a closer look at the pattern itself.
Simplicity X Cynthia Rowley 1873 is a dress pattern released in 2013 which features three dress variations and two jacket options. The dress has a scoop neckline with a darted bodice which is the basis for styles A, B and C. Option A gives you cute pleated puff sleeves, option B and C are sleeveless but option C has little side tabs attached with buttons to the front of the bodice. All three variations have the same pleated short skirt but I will be swapping it out for a gathered midi skirt instead. The pattern also comes with two jacket options which for this review I will not be making.
I love the little side tabs/straps and thought they might make a cute little feature so for my review of this pattern, I will be combining the side tabs of option C with the sleeves of option A. As for sizing, I will go for my normal size of 12 when it comes to simplicity patterns as it’s one size down from my correct measurements and it fits me perfect this way.
As my first fabric choice turned out to be a fail, I opted for a simple autumnal cotton which I found on fabric.com from the brand Mook Fabrics. This particular printed cotton fabric is from the Cotton Fall collection and is entitled ‘Fall Mixed Leaves White’ and is currently at time of writing, still available for purchase. This fabric is lightweight, easy to sew with a soft hand, and is very versatile. I had 4 yards to use which was the perfect amount.
Sew, let’s get started (again). The bodice was pretty straight forward to put together; it has four darts on the front with only two on the back. Before I sewed my sides together, I created the tabs which I pinned to the sides before finishing my bodice completely. The bodice is also lined which creates a nice finish. The dress has a back zipper which i reinforced with some interfacing tape.
The sleeves were a lot of fun to put together and I knew I made the right call when it came to putting the sleeves of this pattern together. Although they are only little cap sleeves, they have 5 darts in them which creates a cute shape. I really love how the sleeves of this dress turned out and I might borrow this sleeve pattern for future projects. The sleeves are also fully lines as well.
For the skirt, I toyed with the option of using the original patterns pleats but I would end up with quite a bit of fabric left over and I like to use up as much as I can. I ended up cutting four panels at 28″ of skirt and turning that into a gathered skirt. It’s my preferred amount of fullness and I’m really happy with how it came together. In my next try of this pattern I will definitely be adding pockets.
Fit: I am so happy that I changed my fabric choice on this pattern as I love how this dress turned out. The original fabric was really stiff, didn’t feel nice on the skin and had no flow to it but this one was very comfortable, well fitted and flowed really nicely. The dress fit me perfect and I love how flattering the bodice was. The sleeves were a cute length and had a bit of a puff to them which I really liked. I’m really glad I added the sleeves to this pattern and will definitely use them in the future.
The side tabs on this dress are a really cute and unique touch; although I haven’t seen a true vintage dress with tabs such as these, I think they work really well and I’m tempted to make this dress in a cute gingham print for the summer months. The buttons I used on the tabs came from an old coat of mine and they are gold metal casing with a maroon enamel poured into them. They work really well with the print of the dress and were a better option than white buttons but I also think wooden buttons would be cute, I just didn’t have any.
One thing I will keep in mind next time I sew this pattern and want to add the tabs is that I can move them down slightly. I personally think the tabs I attached to this particular dress were slightly higher than they should have been which isn’t a big deal but its something I have noticed.
Overall, I really enjoyed this pattern once I had a better fabric to work with. I have left the first attempt of this dress in a pouch (as I do for printed patterns or self drafted pattern pieces) and I’m not sure I will end up returning to it as I just don’t like working with the material or how it feels on the skin. This pattern can be found online but I don’t think it’s produced much. There are lots of other Cynthia Rowley patterns out there but this was a great first introduction to get the ball rolling.
I hope this sewing adventure has encouraged you to try again with failed patterns as it might just be as simple and swapping out your fabric, franken-patterning your garment together or adding elements to make it more your style. You don’t need true vintage patterns or retro replica patterns to sew vintage styled clothing; by changing little elements here and there, you can make any pattern have a vintage vibe.
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.