Simplicity 1371 – Cynthia Rowley meets Vlisco

Simplicity 1371
This is probably the craziest outfit I’ve ever sewn…

The Goal: Let me back track for a second – I think we all have our limits to personal style, what we will or won’t make and feel comfortable wearing. For me I usually draw the line at loud, bold, high fashion styles and tend to stick to something more casual, classic, low key.

What was I to do when I saw this Cynthia Rowley design staring back at me from the pattern catalog? Something in me demanded that I make it even though I’d probably never be caught wearing a halter-style crop top with matching high waist pleated pants. I mean, the shirt even has an under-bewb window. I know some ladies would totally rock this look no problem, for me it’s more daring than I’d normally try.

But I loved it! And I figured, if I was going to sew, for me, an outrageous outfit I had better double down, go all in, and totally commit – so naturally I paired the pattern with a huge all over print that screams “look at meeeeeeeeee!!!!”

So this is my experiment in out-of-my-comfort-zone sewing, a fashion challenge to myself, and I think I might have succeeded.

The Pattern: #1371 is one of the more recent releases from Cynthia Rowley and Simplicity. Sewing her designs reminds me of when I first started making clothes using Built By Wendy patterns. The regular Simplicity offerings bored me but the BBW collection was much more my style. Any time there was a sale I’d snatch up all the patterns just to collect as inspiration. And now there’s a new designer who makes me want to collect every single pattern she makes.

I made views A and C just like on the model on the envelope (but without the frill on the crop top).

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The Fabric: Leftover Vlisco wax print from this dress. Even after making this outfit I still have nearly THREE YARDS left! If anyone has any Vlisco of her own and maybe wants to trade a yard or two leave me a comment.

This light weight, crisp cotton was the perfect fabric for this style.

The Changes: Since this was more of a “fun” project I didn’t make a muslin or many changes at all.

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I made a size 12 for top and bottom and both have a tiny bit too much ease. The only thing I changed for the top was making the neck straps tighter in back.

The pants are interesting, the waistband extends above your natural waist. The problem with that was the pants were slightly too big so they kept sliding down to make the waistband sit lower, this made the waistband pouf out at the top so I had to do some after sewing hijinks to wrangle the waistband to be more snug.

And the sliding down waistband in turn caused the crotch line to drop lower. You can’t really tell with the busy print but next time I think I’ll lop off a few inches from the top of the pants and attach the waistband on so that it sits more normally.

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Also with that very tall waistband the crop top hardly seems cropped at all. If I slouch there’s not really a gap at the midriff, in fact it kind of looks like a fancy jumpsuit when the shirt overlaps the pants. I’m sure the envelope model was taller than me.

Even with the waistband shenanigans the pants fit surprisingly well for a big 4 pattern. Pockets don’t stick out, legs aren’t too wide, this pattern might work well for some regular dress pants.

The assembly for the pants was your standard fare but for the top the instructions have you put together all the pieces in a very specific order. I did quite a bit of hand stitching because I wasn’t paying attention to the directions, ooops.

The Results: Ok, I have to admit I will probably never wear this matchy matchy outfit in public. It’s just too strong of a look for me but if I pair the garments separately with something less vivid I think I could pass for normal.

Here’s how I’d probably wear these pieces:

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This is my hi-low circle skirt (rather wrinkled). It’s high waist and a solid color making this a not bad choice for say, hanging out at a concert in the park on a hot summer night.

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And with a plain t-shirt and maybe a couple accessories I could make these my “party pants.” In case I have to go downtown to see a concert. Let’s face it, in Austin, if you’re getting dressed up you’re probably going to a concert somewhere…

Looks like my daring outfit might actually be wardrobe friendly, who would have thought?

So, I ask you, readers, what’s the most crazy, out there, attention grabbing garment you’ve ever made? Have you ever tried sewing something you couldn’t imagine wearing? What styles or prints make you wonder if you could pull them off with confidence?

  • Naomi

    I absolutely love this pattern but I don’t think it’s available outside of the States. Boooo! I love that you’ve shown the pieces worn as separates, both outfits look great.

  • Omg chica you can totally rock the whole outfit, but I love both of those last two looks. VERY cute… And I forgot to look at my Vlisco stash about this but I will, promise…

  • Wow, the print makes this outfit amazing! Really looks like a jumpsuit when worn together. I’m going to hunt this pattern down, I love it!

  • Louise Tomlinson-Sylvest

    Wow! I love this outfit on you, it looks amazing! Especially in that gorgeous print. I even like the matchy matchy look and that normally isn’t me.

  • Cat Does It

    I had the same experience when sewing a two-piece set – had to have it, but it looks crazy on, maybe as separates :)

  • Suzanne

    I totally love these pieces. They look great on you. I think the matching set is a great look for the right event.

  • Ladanu Ladan

    I think this looks amazing, as a whole outfit it’s chic and very edgy. I saw Lilacs and Lace do this with a vintage edge, I think it looks a treat whatever you do with it. Rowley is very clever.

  • Alicia

    Beautiful!!! I tried to comment a minute ago and it disappeared so apologies if you get more than one from me. :) Vlisco makes such gorgeous prints, I usually try to tone them down, I love that you amped it up! So…. I have about three yards left over of a wax print- I made this: https://flic.kr/p/ocRNni – if you are interested in a trade, let me know! I live in California.

  • I really like it. The matching set is a great look but they also look nice as separates.

  • HAWT!!!! Love it

  • lifeinamadshouse

    I love this outfit, and agree that it looks wonderful paired with simpler pieces for a toned-down look as well. And I have been drooling over this fabric ever since you posted the dress you made from it–it’s amazing!! Maybe some day I’ll be able to justify a 6-yard (!!!!!) piece of my own. =)

  • I love this!!! I do love each piece paired with a solid color too. Great job on daring yourself!

  • Beautiful fit. The fabric is killer. Just bust a move and wear the whole ensemble at once one day, you look gorgeous in it. But they do look really, really good as separates with other clothes.

  • Everything about this is AWESOME. I especially love that crop top. Your risk taking totally paid off.

  • Amber Hooks

    “What was I to do when I saw this Cynthia Rowley design staring back at me from the pattern catalog? Something in me demanded that I make it even though I’d probably never be caught wearing a halter-style crop top with matching high waist pleated pants.”

    Every time I’ve seen this pattern, I’ve felt the same way!!! I want to make it soooo bad, but I’m a beginner at sewing and I know this project would frustrate me if I attempted to sew it now. That fabric is gorgeous. You look fantastic in it.

  • Great separates for adding interest and focal points to different outfits! I frequently try to squeeze multiple garments out of same feature fabric too. And usually they’re a bit too much when worn all at once. But they are great for jazzing up more sombre player in my wardrobe. Good for you for taking a chance!

  • This is such a fun set! I love them together!

  • I read this post last night and then I may or may not have gone to Jo-Ann’s to get the pattern this morning lol! Well my main mission was to get quilt batting but I definitely added the pattern to my list after seeing your version. These pants are totally awesome so I have to try to make a pair for myself. The set looks great together, but it’s also great that you can mix and match them with other things too!

    p.s. that fabric is epic.

  • Super cool! The pieces are definitely wearable as separates… I want those pants.

  • That is just fabulous. Love it. Love them together and love them as separates. I’ve only recently sewn up a few Cynthia Rowley patterns, with great results. I think I’m turning into a fan.

  • I’m just going to go ahead and join the band wagon – I freaking love this! All of it. Everything. The fabric. The combo. Yes, totally together.

  • It is crazy and yet amazing, I love it!

  • lisa g

    wowza! what an outfit! i really love these pieces as separates. i have to admit i’ve never really veered from my comfort zone all that much… i’m practical to a fault!

  • YES! I love this pattern, and have been waiting to see fabulous versions popping up, and this definitely doesn’t disappoint! I’m not sure how I’d wear any of the pieces, but I love all of it on you! Amazing!

  • Thanks! I’ve only seen one other person make this and only the pants (it was a pretty cool pair of pants). I was a little worried how it would look on a “real” person.

  • Thanks, yeah I tend to sew practical clothes. I’ve had too many duds in the past where I end up never wearing the garment so these days I tend to sew “safe” clothes.

  • Thank you! I’ve sewn a number of her patterns and only had major problems with one dress. I’d say that’s a pretty good track record.

  • Thanks! And you would totally rock those pants!

  • Thanks! The pants are easy to assemble but fit might be an issue. You could sew the top if you follow the instructions closely and make a muslin from the lining or another fabric. Sometimes patterns can be intimidating but if you take your time you could pull it off. ;)

  • Thank you! If you can go in with a friend and order two prints you both like then each of you gets 3rd of both fabrics. It’s hard to justify spending so much so a huge amount of fabric in the same design, if you can share it’s a pretty good deal.

  • lifeinamadshouse

    That’s a great idea!

  • Wow. I love this – both as an outfit and as separates. I really love it as an outfit, especially – I could totally see this at a semi-formal occasion with really high heels! I too am drawn to the Cynthia Rowley patterns but have yet to make one – I will have to get going and take the plunge.

    Right now I’m wearing a wax print maxi dress. I made it earlier in the summer to satisfy an idea I’d been brewing for over a year and as I was making it I kept thinking that I’d never really find a reason to wear something so loud. But I’ve worn it at least once a week since I made it and am kind of planning another one!

  • Gail

    I think you should wear the complete outfit in public! It looks amazing! So awesome that both pieces work so well as separates too.

  • Amanda Adams

    Holy monkey hats Dixie, this is out of control RAD! I love it with the heels for an evening event. Though the separates make it totally everyday wearable. Simply wow!
    And crazy sewing wise, I have nothing made. I play it safe… Too safe… :D

  • I love this and the other pairings, too. :) Looks great on you!

  • I literally squealed when I saw this. YOU LOOK SO GREAT! I know it might feel a little crazy matchy matchy but I think you look like a crazy mega babe. If you don’t wear it together, I SURE AS HELL WILL!

  • sallieforrer

    Seriously, when I saw this pop up in my blog reader I skipped right to it!! It’s fantastic! The wild print works really well with this pattern. Yes, it’s pretty fashion forward (reminds me of something Solange Knowles would sport – total compliment!!) but you’re totally working it!

  • devra

    i loved this so much i went out and bought the pattern. i think i may literally have gasped. i love it together, and i love the fun the print brings as separates. beautiful!

  • I think you look really cool in this! But I totally feel you on the not wearing it in public thing, because that always happens to me when I feel like my garment is cooler than I am! (And actually, I’m not wearing my tap shorts in public much now because for some reason they’re just feeling too cool for me lately.) I really love how the top looks with your circle skirt, though.

  • This is awesome! The 2-piece is such a good, wearable alternative to a jumpsuit (super cute mix and match outfits!). But I think you should wear the whole ensemble out just once… see how you feel when everyone is oogling at this amazingness!

  • This outfit is crazy–crazy awesome! It really stands out. That complete outfit is just begging for a night out dancing. I like the way you pair it as separates too.

  • Ariel

    I am definitely one for loud and lairey prints, usually on dresses. However I’m not sure I could pull off that ensemble! Although I have to say I love love love the way you styled them as separates. It makes me want to make something similar. That print is bold and gorgeous.

  • Adriane

    “party pants”!!!! You are the most adorable person I know.

  • hahaha! I gotta use holy monkey hats in my regular conversations now, that’s awesome. thanks ;)

  • aw, thanks so much!!

  • wow, thank you! you would totally rock something like this ;)

  • aww, i love those tap shorts. you’re totally cool enough for all the things. I think it’s just about having one part of the outfit be “cool” and everything else it kind of normal then I don’t feel like I stand out so much. thanks girl!

  • oooh, part of me wants to and part of me is like “no way!” it would have to be a very specific kind of event, i think, for me to dare go outside in that. thanks ;)

  • you should have a party so I can have a place to wear my “party pants” lol!

  • It’s funny, this print on a dress seems much more “normal” or acceptable, something about the super high pants and crazy crop top takes it too a whole other level. thanks!

  • Thanks lady! There have been a bunch of Rowley patterns that I’ve made with success, you should totally give it a go!

    That’s awesome about the maxi dress, I bet a maxi BHL Anna in a wax print would be a showstopper. Hmmm…. ideas….

  • Charlotte Silva

    Oooh I love it! Even together you are totally rocking those pieces but I can how you may feel more comfortable with them separately, Its quite a lot of look!

  • This is such a cool outfit!

  • Amy

    This is fantastic. I get it, the personal style limits, but it’s really cool when a risk like this works. That top really shows off your great shoulders! And the great new bob ;)

  • Amy

    holy shit. I LOVE THIS OUTFIT! This look is perfect; you did such a killer job on this. I have been drooling over vlisco fabrics since I stumbled across them on the internet, their lookbooks slay completely. I would love to make a similar pant from their fabric, but I have been hesitant because I don’t want to shell out the dough and have a material that would be uncomfortable to wear throughout the day or difficult to care for. Can you speak to the comfort level of vlisco fabrics? Do they bleed or shrink?

  • Chui Ming Tang

    This looks fantastic on you!! Love that print and how you mix and match it too. It definitely should be worn in public together too as its so pretty

  • Larena Burno

    Thank you soooo much for this write up! I just got this pattern in the mail and plan to make the size 12; my measurement indicates that I would be size 16, but I made an umpire dress in 16, too big! Your review is very helpful.

  • Courtney Davila

    I am 5’6″ and have a waist of 28″ do you think a size 14 in the pants will be too big on me?

    • Probably, because I’m a bit smaller than you but the 12 was too big on me as well. I’d say measure the pattern pieces themselves to pick the best size.