Simplicity 1607 – Cynthia Rowley Dress

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I have this self imposed rule about not sewing sleeveless garments, mostly because I never remember to shave, I also really hate shoulder sunburns. But this dress pattern was just so awesome I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately the Polar Vortex won’t go away for longer than a day so it’s been too cold for cute dresses. To compromise I took indoor pictures. Take that, weather!

The Goal: I wanted to make this pattern since it first debuted in the catalog but never found just the right fabric for it, until now!

The Pattern: Simplicity 1607, a Cynthia Rowley design (love that lady!). I chose version A with the cool straps. Those straps almost turned out to be my downfall. Looking at the dress now I don’t even think I got the strap configuration correct, oh well, the effect is the same.

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The Fabric: A border print cotton from Fabricker here in Austin. It’s got orange thread running one way and pink the other. Close up it looks almost iridescent. Far away it looks coral. Just my color!

The Changes: I took a risk and sewed this dress sans muslin. I picked a size 10 since this is meant to be a close fitting dress and big 4 patterns notoriously have too much ease.. I accidentally sewed side seam with the zipper a little small so this dress is very fitted. Had I chosen the 12 it would have gaped a lot around the neckline, no bueno. I think this dress needs to fit closely in the waist to take some pressure off where the straps attach to the bodice, as well.

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On problem, though. With such a fitted bodice the fabric around my invisible zipper pulls open, as you can see. It’s a side zip so not a huge deal. I suppose I’d rather have a fitted bodice and exposed zip than a baggy bodice and hidden zip. A lapped zip would have been a good alternative, prettier than a regular zip and solves the not-so-invisible zip issue. Maybe for next time.

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The only significant change: the bottom part of the skirt with the stripes. The original pattern piece is curved but that would have warped the stripe effect so I just cut rectangles. I don’t think it alters the silhouette much.

The Results: Very cute dress! That is a “dang! look at that dress!” kind of dress.

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Couple major tips – those pesky straps up top are really easy to get confused so be sure to carefully label all your pattern pieces. No, really LABEL THEM!!!!! Like, label the top, the left and right, front and back, every angle where it’s supposed to attach to another piece. You will be so confused otherwise

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Add extra interfacing to the straps (they only tell you to apply it to the outer strap layers). Interface all the strap pieces, then interface them some more. You don’t want floppy straps.

Don’t be lazy like me, if you know you normally have to make a lot of pattern changes like lengthening or shortening bodices, make a muslin. Those straps would be very difficult to alter after the fact. The straps also come up pretty high on my neck. Not that uncomfortable but it’s definitely noticeable while I’m wearing it. Might be something else to consider.

I’m digging my new camera and remote. Now that I have a working autofocus I get to play around with poses and close ups and what not. AND… I just got a little light kit as well! Stepping it up a notch.

  • Oooh thanks for posting. I swear to label everything!! I totally intend to muslin it too. Cross my heart. Fingers crossed you get some better weather so you can wear this pretty dress out the house!

  • That fabric is amazing! And the dress looks great on you! I’ve passed by the pattern so many times, but this is making me reconsider. Great job, the straps look like an ordeal! Hope winter ends soon so you can wear it 😛

  • Lauren Taylor

    You weren’t kidding – that is totally a “Dang! Look at that dress!” kind of dress. It’s SUPER cute, and I love the border print.

    Also – how cute are your freckles!? Gah, I’m so jealous. Bare freckled shoulders for life!

  • Those straps! Love them! Even from my end, I can see how they could be tricky.

  • Jen

    Lovely! Digging the straps – of course – but yeah, gotta be careful with tan/sunburn lines with those! And I love the shape at the waist with the band. Very cute all in all!

  • Wow, this is a masterpiece! You have chosen a great color and really tamed those crazy straps! You must go somewhere special in this dress!

  • Sofie M

    Lovely, lovely colour and I have to say great fit around the upper chest area and that’s really hard. Looks great.

  • I totally went “dang! look at that dress!” Nice job on those beautiful straps.

  • Wow! The fit looks fantastic! Coral is my absolute favourite summer colour too, well any season colour actually so I just love this fabric.

  • tigerlounge

    Stunning! It looks like an amazing vintage dress that your cool aunt picked up in Acapulco in the late 50s. Gorgeous, and thanks for all the tips. I’ve had this pattern in the queue for ages.

  • Wow! Those straps look like so much fun to sew up! I’m kind of fascinated looking at them and trying to work out how it all goes together. The shape really suits you too

  • Wow, what a fabulous summer dress! And I think those straps look great, they’re a really interesting feature 🙂

  • Nicole Morgan

    SO GOOD. Seriously, this looks awesome on you. I really like that fabric, too.

  • Oh I love it! Another pattern I got just recently that you’ve gone and made to show me how it looks, lol.

  • ashley akers

    That’s a sexy little summer dress! I have that pattern but never could decide how I felt about the straps. I think you pull it off well!

  • This is AWESOME. I absolutely love the colour (one of my faves too) and the stripe gathered panel adds a little something something. I bought this pattern a while back and it’s been sitting in my stash waiting for the right moment. I actually love how close fitting it is (ease shcmease). I wants it.

  • A Stitching Odyssey

    Dang! Look at that dress! ;o) It’s gorgeous Dixie and the straps really are impressive. I’m also (not so) secretly jealous that you can look so hot in a drop waisted dress!

  • Thanks! I think I can get by with the drop waist because it’s really fitted in the hips and natural waist, it’s kinda pseudo-drop waist.

  • lol, ease shcmease, i’m gonna say that from now on. thanks! and I think you would totally rock this style. 😉

  • thanks! there’s another version that has a regular v-neck with some subdued (compared to this version) strap action going on in the back that might be good if you think the straps are too wild – or if you just don’t want to be stressed out while sewing. 😉

  • lol, thanks carolyn 😉

  • thanks nicole!!

  • Yeah, the colors def have a 50s vibe. Thanks lady!

  • Thanks! 🙂 And yes, coral is the best!

  • haha, it’s odd, I don’t tan really, but my freckles get darker. Oh well, I’ve grown to love the freckles. 🙂 Thanks Lauren!

  • You’re welcome. 😉 Looks like things are warming up around here so I might actually wear it outside the house (last time I wore it was with a full coat and I regretted not wearing tights.

  • Thanks Maddie!

  • OMG, yes, gonna have to load up on sunblock before I put the dress on. That would be some really strange burn lines!!

  • blacklabel

    Wow, I reckon you’re incredibly brave for making this dress. Those straps look all kinds a S.C.A.R.Y. Well done, looks superb!

  • Amanda Adams

    Those straps! That fabric! So awesome, Dixie! You are totes ready for summer!

  • Lara

    That is an amazing dress, the kind where people will definitely stop and ask where you got it! Let’s hope for some sun now! x

  • Anna Christina

    No one (outside of the blogging world) will ever imagine that you made this dress yourself. It is really amazing. The fit is wonderful and your figure is perfect for the style. Wish I knew what it”s like to have a flat tummy.

  • tinygoldenpins

    WOW! I agree with the poster below me who said nobody would ever believe you made this yourself. You look amazing in that incredible dress. So beautiful. I hope you wear it at LEAST twice a week!!!!!

  • Hannah Inglis

    I think everyone has times like these, sometimes I go through stages where I wonder why I don’t just buy things, but I always end up being inspired and planning loads more sewing projects and get back into it.

    By the way my sewing space has often looked like that, tidying up is definitely not fun, but I do try and keep it tidy, it is not so bad doing a bit at a time, there is nothing worse than seeing a huge pile of mess and not knowing where to start, I have definitely been there…

    Hannah.

    http://surfjewels.tumblr.com/

  • Shannon Phillips

    What a beautiful dress-it just looks lovely on you! No wonder the straps were tricky. I love the color too!

  • This dress is SO COOL! I never would have noticed this pattern, but it looks seriously awesome on you! I love the border print, the fit is spot-on, and the color is really pretty with your skin tone.

  • TWZMom

    Beautiful dress, and you did an excellent job with the straps! Try adding a waist stay – it might help with any pulling on the zipper and can help take the pressure of holding the dress up off the bodice.

  • liza jane

    Gorgeous!! The fabric you used is just perfect for it. You look smokin’ in that drop waist!

  • lifeinamadshouse

    What a cool dress! I never shop the Big 4 (apart from vintage) but I really really want a copy of this pattern after seeing how great your dress looks! It’s seriously amazing!

  • Thanks, I rarely do either but I make an exception for the designer patterns. They tend to be more creative than the regular stock, too.

  • rehanonmackenzie

    This is a very funky number. Those straps are knockout. This is is the sort of frock where I would come up to someone and say hey love the dress!

  • i love it!! i have been sitting on this pattern for years. yours is awesome.

  • Hmm, good idea, might try that. thanks!

  • Aww, thanks!

  • Wow, what a cool dress! I love those straps and the colour looks great on you!

  • Mrs. Smith

    swoon!

  • Katie Ott

    I am trying to make this dress as well and am stuck on step 16 any advice?

  • sarah

    love this! ive been debating whether or not to purchase the pattern as im a bit of a newbie to patterns… i recently completed a burda dress pattern that was considered an “average” difficulty without any issues though… you may have just swayed me to give this beauty a try!

  • Kyema Bialick

    This is gorgeous! I’ve been eyeing this pattern for awhile and you make it look so pretty!