Simplicity 2497 – instant* cocktail dress

*Okay, not instant.  But I managed to finish my dress in time for the event! I started it on Tuesday night (with cutting) and finished it on Friday night, with about 2 to 2 and a half hours of sewing per night, which is pretty instant in my book.  But here it is, Simplicity 2497:

I didn’t have time for a muslin (if I were inclined to do such a thing, which I’m not, generally), so I hit upon the idea of changing the construction order to give me continuous side seams for fitting. I moved the zipper to center back, as suggested by The Slapdash Sewist, for that reason and to make the pockets more straightforward to insert, but of course, when I actually got to the point of sewing the side seams, I was so anxious to try it on that I just sewed them up and totally forgot about the pockets (this is not the first time that has happened). I didn’t have the time or the inclination to rip out the side seams, so it just doesn’t have pockets.  Which is for the best, I think, because the skirt’s a little snug across the hips and there’s not really room for pockets.

The fabric is a poly shantung from JoAnn. It was purchased before I vowed never to buy any polyester from JoAnn ever again (after a wadder of epic proportions attempted with one of their “simply silky prints”).  It’s just not nice fabric, at all.  It’s staticky, slippery, and sheds like mad (the cause of the furry foot), and also smells funny when you iron it (why? don’t want to know). It just didn’t sew up very nicely, with puckering and general wubbly-ness in the seams and hem (and man was the bias binding a pain!), some of which is certainly operator error. But this kind of fabric seems like a trap for the beginning sewer – it’s cheap! it’s pretty! – but you need some serious labor and skills to make this fabric look good.  I will say I like the color.  I used the matte side because the shiny side was a little too flashy, and I thought the matte side mimicked the look of silk more. I like how the shiny side peeks out a little in the ruffle, though.

Speaking of the ruffle, I did a serger rolled hem (the “napkin edge” as my serger manual calls it), because you couldn’t have paid me to baby-hem that whole thing. I found a spool of machine embroidery thread that was exactly the right color and had a little sheen, and loaded it as the upper looper thread (which is the one that does most of the work).  I used black thread for the needle and lower looper, and they really don’t show that much.  The hint of black gives a little depth to the edge, I think. I really like the way the edge turned out, it looks very RTW. I also de-exaggerated the tapering of the ruffle a little, so it’s wider in the front and narrower in the back than the pattern pic, and I think I could have narrowed the back even a little more. It’s still plenty dramatic!

My full pattern review is here, with more specific details of the changes I made in construction. Here is the back view, so you can see how less experienced sewer + not nice fabric + in a hurry = puckery seams.  But you can also see the back zipper, I suppose.

Overall I’m pleased with the dress.  As usual, there was a point during construction when I was worried that it wouldn’t work, that the ruffle was too much crazy and I wouldn’t be able to pull off the look, but I think it turned out well and it was appropriate for my event. Now on to the next!

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2 comments
  1. I love this pattern and it looks great on you!

  2. This is GORGEOUS! I’ve had this pattern for over a year, along with the fabric I plan on using, but I haven’t ever gotten around to cutting into it. You’ve inspired me, and it’s nice to know that the timeline is reasonable! Now I just need to find a serger in order to acheive the same lovely neck ruffles you have… great work and thanks for sharing!

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