project failure: Simplicity 2337

Thursday, 7 April 2011
After two fitting toiles and a week of blog silence I bet you were all expecting to see me back with an awesome finished dress right? Sadly I've committed a basic and unfixable stuff up and the dress is now a monumental project failure. It seems that when I transferred the pattern alterations from the fitting toile to the paper pattern I forgot to add seam allowances, meaning that this dress has turned out to be way too small. Even super duper spanx won't help me squeeze into this one. Sigh..... I guess I should have made a third fitting toile instead of being cavalier and jumping right into it. The problem with using the good method for lining a sleeveless sheath dress is that you can't really try on the dress until the very end, because the side seams and zipper are sewn practially last.

And I really dragged my feet on this one too. For some reason my enthusiasm waned quite early on in this project, and I really had to force myself to finish it since 'no new UFOs' is my mantra now. There were several times when I dragged myself into my sewing room that I found myself cleaning up, laying out fabric for future projects and pulling apart another garment for refashioning instead of sewing this dress - all helpful but nonetheless procrastination.

Here's the pattern, Simplicity 2337:Here it is, on but not zipped up fully (not pressed and with the lining half hanging out): Luckily this fabric was a total bargain - I picked it up for $1/m during the after Christmas sales at the Spotlight near my inlaws house in Ipswich, and then a few weeks later I saw it at full price for $14.95/m at my local Spotlight here in Sydney! It's just a polyester blend fabric, but it's a nice dark charcoal colour in a fine herringbone pattern and had a lovely drape. I suppose I could go back to Spotlight and track down some more of this fabric. This pattern had so much potential, but it won't be realised for a long long time because I've completely lost energy for this pattern and am moving on.

But for everyone else who may be contemplating this pattern, I'll give you my two cents worth anyway. Firstly I have to say all the problems with this pattern were my own doing: I stupidly bought the pattern size to fit my hips (sz12 - 20) and not the smaller pattern size that would have fit my bust. It's much easier to add extra room to the hip and thigh area than it is to grade down several sizes at the bust, especially for a pattern like this one that has a complicated bust area.

The good:
- the finished dress measurements are included on the pattern at the bust, waist and hip points which is very useful because it saves having to do a flat pattern measurement.

- Instructions for an invisible zip are included instead of the usual centred zipper. I always use invisible zips when making dresses or skirts because it looks neater so I didn't really need the instructions, but for beginner sewists using this pattern it would be helpful.

- I like how it offers different sleeve options and variations to the front of the dress, you could easily make several very different dresses out of this one pattern.

The bad:
- this dress has so much ease that if you sewed the size for your body measurements that the dress would be rather loose fitting. Maybe it's just me liking my dresses to be close fitting, but I think that ease of 7.5cm at the bust, 10cm at the waist and 11.5cm at the hips is a lot of ease!

- the dress is unlined which I don't think is ideal for a structured dress like this . But having inserted a lining into my too small but awesome dress, it was really tricky and a bit messy to line due to the cross over panel at the front, so perhaps it was too difficult and beyond the scope of this pattern to include instructions for a lining.

- the pattern instructions are a bit lacking in parts. Some parts are missing completely:
I held the paper up to the light to see if step 6 was written in invisible ink, but no, it was just left out! Not that I followed the instructions since I was changed the order completely to insert the lining, but it may confuse/annoy beginner sewists using this pattern.

- the 'designer' touches are a little naff, but I suppose might appeal to some. - the instructions for finishing the back vent are a little basic and messy looking for an unlined dress, would it have been that difficult to include instructions for a mitred hem? No offence to anyone who uses the method below to do their vents and hems, I did it this way for a long time before realising that a mitred hem isn't that much more effort but looks a millions time better.

- the pleated sleeve version that I made looks a little floppy and somewhat silly. Perhaps if I interfaced the fabric or used a stiffer fabric it might have been better.

For anyone else making this dress who also wants to line it, I'll share how I did it because it took me ages to figure it out (not that this is necessarily the best way to do it though):I made the lining from the pattern pieces, and sewed the front pleated panel and the lining together at the neckline right sides together and then turned in which eliminated the need for a facing. I also sewed the left front panel (the smaller triangle bit) to the lining at the neck edge right sides together and turned in, again eliminating the need for a facing on that piece too.

Then the tricky bit - I sewed the front pleated piece (fabric and lining) to the side piece fabric only and the left front panel fabric only to the bottom of the left front panel. Essentially this wedges the front pleated panel into the princess seam of the dress. And then I sewed the lining of the left front panel to the lining of the side panel to the bottom of the left front panel. And then I sewed the front panel lining to the side panel lining together as normal below the left front panel. Whilst it left a little hole like this at the bottom of the left front panel: when that left front panel is laid across the dress it covers up the hole completely. Now if you imagine that raw edge is actually wedged between the princess seam of the lining, the entire front dress is lined with only the bottom edge of the left front panel still visible in raw form, although I overlocked that bit. For comparison, if you chose not to line the dress and instead face the neck edges this is what it would look like:
I'm thinking those instructions are as clear as mud! If anyone is making this dress and would like a bit more detailed and possibly clearer instructions, just email me. So now I'm contemplating what to make next. I want to start on the Vogue skirt suit from a few posts back (the one with the back peplum and bell sleeves) but I think I'll do something simple first to cleanse the palate and get my mojo back. Maybe even something in black so I don't have to change the thread in my overlocker yet. See, I'm even procrastinating on doing that!

But to finish on a good note, I completely forgot to thank Mary Collins for awarding me a Stylish Blogger award a few posts back - so thank you! I really like how Mary has listed all of her UFOs on her blog (nearly as many as me!), maybe I should do the same because then I might be motivated to finish them......


  1. What a shame - I think that would have been a really nice dress! We live and learn, I guess!
    Onwards and upwards!

  2. I agree with toboldlysew. It would have been a nice dress. I can't believe step 6 was just left blank. Thanks for the review!

  3. Great review of a very pretty dress. Alas that it doesn't fit! You did really beautiful work.

  4. Oh, man, what a downer. Well, on to the next project!

  5. I have had some problems with the Project Runway patterns from Simplicity. The designs are wonderful, but the pattern instructions confusing. Sorry about your dress. It is always such a pain when so much work goes in and you are pleased with the result.

  6. I tried a project runway dress a couple of years ago, and it was just the worst instructions ever. Never could figure out the sleeves.

  7. I have had this pattern in my stash for quite some time now, but I've definitely been intimidated by the sheer structure of it. I'm sorry that your version didn't come out as you had hoped! I give you major points for even trying to line it!

  8. What a bummer this didn't come out! It looks adorable (and my first thought was that I love the sleeves; was amused to read you don't care for them). I have this pattern and would like to give it a try eventually so thank you for the tips..

  9. My heart stopped beating for a few seconds when reading the title of your post ;-/ I have received this pattern yesterday (over 3 weeks from the UK to Italy! Isn't that incredible?). Well, that doesn't mean that I'm actually going to make this dress. At least not necessarily in the next few years. I'm buying so many patterns and sewing so little:-(
    Anyway, the dress looks nice (such a pity it is too small!) so maybe I could still consider making it.
    Thank you for your tips and lining instructions. I don't get why they don't include lining instructions...

  10. Hi, I have enjoyed reading your blog over the last few months and would like to pass on the Stylish Blogger Award to you (please don't feel that you have to accept).

    You can check out my blog - for further details.

    Thanks for sharing all your wonderful sewing projects.


  11. I think the dress is redeemable - you say it is too small, but it looks big in the photo. Re the pattern flaws, I've been totally underwhelmed by Project Runway patterns.