Friday, June 30, 2017

Simplicity 1654 in green ponte, also knows as Plenty of Pattern Pieces

Here's another thing I recently sewed for someone else, that I thought might interest everyone out there who like to see the pattern manipulations for fit on a somewhat crazy pattern. Sometimes I think the simple patterns are more difficult to alter for fit - as they require you to choose a path and pursue it, whereas the pattern with lots of little pieces affords opportunity for many small adjustments. However the sewing does take some with this type of dress, a bodice with multiple shapes, front and back, and then an 8 panel skirt.

Here's the finished dress so you can see what I'm talking about. To my eye it looks a little lumpy bumpy but I have the dress form padded out to fit the size with all manner of stuffing - not exactly smooth and sleek under there.
The pattern is Simplicity 1654, and a quick search turns up no reviews - did anyone make it? It was released in 2013.

green ponte front full view

Here's the pattern envelope and tech drawing. Cute, huh? and I would definitely take a 2nd look if I saw it in a store. The blue version is very striking although when I look at the drawing that stitching on Version A makes me think of a baseball :). We decided against the stitching.
This dress is for the same person who recently had me make the plaid coat. A tall person (some envy) who can wear this style well.

Simplicity 1654 pattern envelope

S1654 tech drawing

Where to start on the fitting? I use a size 14 as the starting point although I know it will be a bit big in some places. Based on other things I have made for her (blouses) I needed to add some length over the bust, but not really much in the way of circumference.

Now the fun part for those of you who like to look at sewing pattern adjustments. I want to say sewing nerds but really you are my people!!  Some people like to talk about their cookware or their newest olive oil find, some people are obsessed with their cars, there are those geeks who pore over the latest tech gadgets, and we love nothing more than a good analysis of a sewing pattern, right?

Here's my slightly unorthodox method for adding length to the bust in these princess seam patterns. This picture is missing one pattern piece which is a curved one, that attaches to the side princess panel and also to the center front piece creating the armhole and shoulder portion. But I forgot to add it to my tableau of bodice pieces. You get the idea. The main adjustment is the lengthening of the princess seam right over the bust, which is that triangle section opened up along the seam. The key is to add just the right amount, and then to make sure the seam sews together smoothly. Which for me is a bit of intuition and measuring of the stitching line.

bodice pieces Simplicity 1654dress

So this pattern has a lot of pieces. On other dresses with pieces above the midriff I have added at the bottom of the upper pieces (if that makes sense) and then what that does is make sure that the waistband piece always stays at the waist, horizontal, and doesn't pull up towards the bust. Here's an example of that change, scroll through post to see the adjustment.

There are separate lining pieces included with this pattern (oh happy day!) so they need the adjustment also. I added the darts so you can see how they take care of the shaping that is inherent in all those princess seam pieces on the dress bodice. My adjustment for length is there on the bodice front, added to the bottom on the lining piece. I think about 3/4" of addition.

lining pieces S1654

I did these adjustments on the flat pattern and then sewed up a quick muslin in a scrap of ponte that I had. While I typically use muslin it's helpful to use a similar fabric to the final one to get a really good feel for fit. But I don't buy anything extra - this was literally a scrap from some other project.

test adjustments S1654 SaveSave

The fit was really good, the only further adjustments after the muslin were to take it up at the shoulders about 1/2" total and then to pinch in that shoulder princess seam a bit, the wearer has a very narrow upper chest relative to pattern size. You can also see that this dress is fairly low cut and open - so you are warned in case that is not the look you are going for!
After that it was onward to sewing.

See how the waistband is perfectly horizontal -whew!  I think it looks good. It's really annoying me that it looks a bit puckered on the form, on the body it's fairly form fitting.

green ponte dress front close up

Back view. Oooooh I am happy with that zipper/seam alignment :) for which I have a trick which I will have to show one of these days.

green ponte back full view

green ponte side full view

With the side view you can really get an idea of how full that skirt is. Actually I am just putting the finishing touches on a 2nd version of this dress for the same person so I decided to measure the skirt circumference: 134". Of hand hemming! That is what episodes of Granchester are for, hand sewing...

So that's the scoop on this interesting Simplicity dress which it appears few people sewed, or at least shared online. Actually I just searched again and found one version on Kollabora. That is not many for a Simplicity designer pattern. Interesting, maybe all that seaming put people off. By the way, I rarely sew with ponte knit, this was a very nice weight and while it's not my favorite fabric I can see the appeal, it's certainly easy to sew and presses nicely.

And what's next? I have several things to make for my friend Heather - including some shirt dresses, for which I am using Butterick 6333 which is a really good pattern. Shoulder princess seams and smooth lines (unlike that McCalls 6696 shirtdress which was really popular but had that oddball poof in the center back that kind of took away from the crisp shirtdress-ness of it).

Also maybe a new top for me, I bought some kelly green eyelet yesterday which I have been eyeing for weeks and it might be quickly make up into a summer top to wear immediately.

The Hello Stitch Studio in Berkeley where I'm teaching classes will be closed the next week for the 4th of July holiday week but you can still register online for any classes - mid-July we have the Tunic top class, Skirt class and starting at the end of the month is the Button Front shirt class. Plus we're doing another all-day Dress class on July 30. I hope to meet some of you there.

Have a great 4th of July weekend, stay safe and enjoy the fireworks. Also the barbecues, ours will include fresh corn on the cob among other yummy things. There's a little farm stand not far from my house, where they grow corn, tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers, and bring in peaches from their sister farm in Brentwood. It's a precious gem and I hope it lasts there for another 100 years.

Happy Sewing, Beth 

today's garden photo - the flower that most resembles a firework. I've been waiting for weeks for my dahlias to bloom and this one did not disappoint. Love it!

dahlias etc


  1. Google popped up three otjer versions of this. Yours is really neat!

  2. As a tall person, I appreciate patterns like this! Very attractive in the Ponte and a beautiful sewing job, as always.

  3. What a lovely dress! I fancy myself a fitting nerd but I don't think I would have known where to begin with this many seams. Very nice.

  4. The dress looks really great, and the color is nice too. I like Ponte, and it is usually easy to sew and wear. Where I have had difficult is where horizontal seams cross the invisible zipper. The Burdastyle "X" seam dress (11-2013-133) was one of those. I just clipped out as much of the seams as a could, but that one was a challenge.

  5. That's some Ninja zipper seam matching skillz! Crossed my eyes just looking! Maybe it's the seams, but I'd pass it by as I'd lose my religion for sure before I got that baby anywhere near fit for public viewing. Your work is always exemplary.

    1. I just had to second this comment Nursebennet! That's what stunned me the most - that back was just gorgeous and really done so beautifully it would knock most out of the park. Stunning!

  6. Once again I bow to your sewing skills... wow, that dress is sharp!

  7. Your client sounds like my body double, narrow upper chest and all! I wonder whether the pattern is still in print, it looks very flattering for those of us with 'curves in all the right places'...

  8. What a lovely dress! Looking forward to read all about your zipper tricks, ponte isn't the easiest fabric to get such impeccable results. Still waiting for the first Dahlia here, just spotted the first buds!

  9. Such a project! I enjoy poring over and digesting a pattern as well. In fact, I enjoy all the prep, measuring, and study at the front end of a project. This pattern is really ambitious, particularly sewn for an off-site client. But you're so talented and do beautiful work.

  10. Please show us the zipper trick, mine never match! This dress looks sharp and comfy, I'd overlooked it because of the "baseball stitching" but I might have to pick it up!

  11. This dress is beautiful! Love the silhouette, style lines of this dress.

  12. Very gorgeous! I loooove it. Thank you for the inspiration.

  13. Beautiful dress - so beautifully made! Wish I lived closer (live in Houston) I would surely take a class from you!!! Karen

  14. I absolutely love the seaming on this dress, but I can't think of how to raise the neckline to a more work-appropriate level without ruining the silhouette. I'm surprised it wasn't made more widely too, it's so lovely!

  15. Great job Beth and great demonstration on the FBA.

  16. This is gorgeous, and you are highly skilled to have put all those pattern pieces together!! I will definitely have to reference your blog if I make this one.


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