Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Simplicity 1586 Amazing Fit Dress in Cotton Sateen

Yesterday the subject for the #sewphotohop in Instagram was Fitting S.O.S. Which is a topic we can all relate to. Fitting really is a challenge, and shows you how much goes into a sewing pattern. In the past few years I've expanded my knowledge of fitting so much, and I think sewing for other people lets you take a very critical look at fit without getting hung up on how a thing might look on you personally. Fortunately I have a my very own muse, in the person of my friend Heather. Now that I've been making things for her for more than 5 years we are at the point where I just pick out the patterns and styles, and she says yay or nay. But mostly yay. Or she will give me an idea of what she wants, or show me something on a website and then I find the pattern and/or adapt to create the look. Which I just did tonight for a simple silk blouse that will appear in the future.

Today's item is a simple dress pattern that will make a lot of appearances in the future, as I'm so happy with the fit and a basic princess seamed sheath dress can be adapted to work in any season, with so many fabrics and with sleeve and neckline variations.

Blue white sateen squaref

I saw this fabric on the Mood website and knew it would be perfect for a sleeveless summer dress. It's a cotton sateen with a touch of lycra. Here's the link, still in stock. It would make a cute summer jacket as well. It really is navy blue and white even if it looks black on the screen.

blue white sateen front close up on form

But what about the neckline? Yes, you know I can't leave a pattern as it is, and also I was trying to go for the look of another pattern.  See below, this Vogue 9167 which has shoulder princess seams and a center front seam which creates that V-notch neckline.


Let's work backwards. Since this fabric is such a busy print it's a bit hard to see the detailing of the dress. And I worked so hard to add the waist seam which totally disappeared!!
Here is the dress inside out, before lining was added so you can see the seam lines.

blue white dress inside on form

And here is the pattern that I used as the starting point. I made a dress for Heather earlier in the summer in a beautiful Loro Piana wool we bought at Britex, it's so nice and I can't seem to find the photos I took. For that dress I made the pattern as is, with the armhole princess seams.

This is the pattern I used as the starting point. These Amazing Fit patterns are really useful.

Simplicity 1586

I know that some of these patterns from Simplicity and McCalls, Vogue etc get criticized for having excess ease - but they give you the final garment measurements on the envelope or on the pattern pieces. I try to teach in my classes to the multi-size to adjust as needed and get the amount of ease that you want. Although I tend to err on the side of more ease because I think most dresses (wovens) should kind of float around you instead of being really form fitting. It actually reduces wrinkling and drag lines.

In order to have the style of the Vogue pattern (which I could have used but would have needed to start fitting for Heather from scratch) I made a pattern alteration on the Simplicity pattern pieces to have shoulder princess seams instead of the armhole princess seams.


I'm pretty sure that somewhere in my photo stream are the photos of the work on this - as I made paper pieces with no seam allowances, pivoted the seams and then derived the new pieces. Another thing to look for in my giant file of photos ;( The white paper below are the new pattern pieces.
Also I raised the armhole slightly, added a seam allowance on the center front instead of cutting on fold, and added the V-shape notch. I also added more seam allowance at the shoulder just to be able to play with that on final fittings. The back is done similarly, actually a bit easier as it doesn't have the bust shaping.


Here I'm cutting out the dress lining in plain white cotton batiste. When I do these types of neckline or upper body adjustments I just make a half body pattern piece, and attach to the regular pattern piece since there is no need to remake the skirt portion. You can also see the front facing that I drew on the pattern piece and then traced onto the fabric. With these V-notch necklines it's important to have sufficient interfacing, I usually use fusible on the facings as well as sew some silk organza on the dress side. Then I sew on the facings and under stitch as far as possible on all seams.

Blue white sateen front and back on form

You can see that all that seaming gets lost in the print, but it did allow a very nice fit and this pattern will be so useful in either way for future dresses. I'm even thinking I can add a bit of ease and use it to create a top as well.

Blue white sateen side view on H

Of course she doesn't plan to go barefoot but when she came over she was wearing jeans and sneakers so those shoes wouldn't quite go for taking pictures - plus we are still enjoying a bit of summer here.


If you look closely in this picture you can see the red thread. I'm a bit thread tracer, I use a bright and contrasting thread to mark stitching lines on all kinds of garments. It takes a few minutes but it is just so stable - and you can mark where you are going to sew, or where you pin fit a garment and then set it aside knowing you can pick it up again without pins falling out or otherwise shifting. In fact you can then take apart what is pinned together and sew the pieces in the order you prefer, allowing for linings/facings etc to be put in as you go. Sometimes I construct the whole top of a dress, sleeves, lining etc and then add the skirt and skirt linings, and then zipper last.
Anyway - this zipper came out really well. I always aim for perfection but there is good and then sometimes just right :).


Note that I don't have an invisible zipper foot - I just use the regular zipper foot and move the needle as needed. (Although the sliding zipper foot on my vintage Singer machines is actually the best of all and I sometimes use that).

Yes you are seeing that right, no serged seam allowances on this dress. I just don't like serged edges on a lined garments, all that thread bulk for what? But I think I might be in the minority with this opinion. All the notches and markings, how to you see them if you have serged all your fabric pieces?

Blue white sateen dress back view on H

One other tiny fit adjustment was to sew on the lining at the back armhole with a very small seam allowance, which added about 3/8" just above the armhole. With tightening up the center upper back at the zipper that can take away at the outer edge. I like where the back armhole has landed but wouldn't want it any further in towards the center back. Conversely if it was further out I think it would look block-y. These tiny proportion adjustments are things I fuss over (and drive myself a bit crazy) but I think they make such a difference in the finished garment. Things you don't notice but give an overall impression of nice fit and proportion.

One more weird photo because I took it and it shows the neckline.

blue white sateen top view on form

So that's the latest on this dress. Expect to see this pattern again with variations in design and fabric.

I just made a test garment for a completely different dress for Heather, a wrap dress and this one, after a fair bit of work is going to be fantastic. Vogue 8784 I'm making the slim skirt long sleeve version in a printed silk.


So Simplicity Amazing Fit patterns, I frequently recommend. And it drives me crazy that they have discontinued so many - thank goodness for eBay where I have been buying so many recent patterns.

Blue white sateen dress1

Up next, I'm sewing a shirt for myself in another Mood fabric, a silk/cotton Liberty voile. And then it's on to jacket sewing - my class is coming up in early November at Hello Stitch in Berkeley. It's a weekend workshop, with lunches included.

I wrote about all my upcoming classes in this post if you want to check that out. We've added some more in the schedule since I wrote that so you can look at the Hello Stitch website for all the latest. Including a Fit Lab Pattern Fitting class on Oct. 14 which wasn't originally on the calendar but we have added - so you could fit your jacket or coat then.

Happy almost fall sewing,

Today's garden photo, more of the dahlias. This one I bought at the junior college horticulture department May sale. Typically I like the dahlias with lots of petals but this is so cute and it's been a great bloomer.



  1. I love seeing the makes for Heather, especially all the fitting and pattern adjustment information. Heather and I share a body type so this stuff is gold for me!

  2. Excellent job, Beth! That fit is spot-on, and she looks fantastic!

  3. Great job! The fit is perfect and she looks lovely!

  4. Your excellent cutting, fitting and sewing skills really make Heather confident and obviously happy.
    Lovely to see this, thank you.

  5. It's obvious that she is happy with this dress! You do an amazing job fitting her; it's perfect and flattering. Lucky woman having you sew for her.

  6. Agree with all the above comments. I think I’d like Heather for a friend, too. Besides her lovely appearance, she seems to radiate joy and I imagine Heather as a fun person to spend time with. Great looking dress!