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Cynthia Rowley Dress – Simplicity 1802


I’ve been sewing constantly it seems as of late – working on costumes (the Civil War one and another which I’ll tell you about soon, promise) and some other projects. This is one I just finished.


The Goal: This dress was an attempt at stash busting. I had this pattern that I bought months ago but never used. I really liked the design tho. And I have a bunch of random knits in my stash. This pattern wasn’t designed for knits but I thought I might be able to get away with it, I mean, my Anna dress turned out great? Why not go in for a second try?


The Pattern: Simplicity’s 1802, part of the Cynthia Rowley collection. I love most of her designs from Simplicity and I loved the curved insets and the angles in the bodice. I made the version with short sleeves.

The Fabric: A lovely vibrant blue jersey which I think is cotton with a little spandex. I thought this would be a decent weight to use with this pattern. It has great recovery and is pretty stable for a single knit but it’s dense enough that skin won’t show through and heavy enough to give a good drape in the skirt. I got it locally at Stitched Fabric Boutique (which has now merged spaces with Fabricker to form the Austin Fabric Co-op, yay!)

The Changes: With a Big 4 pattern it’s generally a good idea to cut a size smaller than you normally would. Sometimes two depending on the shape of the design. This dress is supposed to be pretty fitted in the bodice, the skirt doesn’t matter much. I went down one size and cut a 10 to compensate a little for the knit stretch and I think it fits perfectly.


Other than that I didn’t make many changes except for I didn’t line the bodice. I made a neck binding rather than a collar like I usually do for knits. It looks like bias binding but I topstitched it with a twin needle.


I twin needled the hem and sleeves, too.

Actually I sewed the entire dress with my sewing machine and a zig zag stitch rather than trying to trim off the excess seam allowance with my serger (it gets messy and clogs up my serger with fiber dust, annoying).

I added elastic to the waist, like I did with the Anna dress. It was pretty obvious that the skirt was so heavy that it needed re-enforcement in the waist.


Oh, and I left off the waistband piece, because, well, I forgot about it. Oh well. The dress fits and it’s long enough without a waistband.

The Results: This dress came together surprisingly fast but I did have quite a few hicups.

I bought this fabric long before I knew what I wanted to make with it so I only bought 2 yds. This pattern called for almost 3. I did everything I possibly could to conserve fabric but I made a major mistake. I cut four of the big skirt pieces rather than two meaning I didn’t have enough for the godet inserts. If I hadn’t made that dumb mess up I could have gotten away with it. Alas, I had to go to the store and luckily they had enough of the fabric left for me to finish the dress.


Also, I accidentally sewed one of the sleeves on wrong side out. It’s not immediately apparent but when I looked up close I could tell. The wrong side of the fabric is slightly darker. So I ripped it out and re-inserted it but right when I went to hem the sleeve I snapped my twin needle in half. Ugh! So I faked that sleeve hem with two carefully placed rows of single stitches.


But it was all worth is because I absolutely LOVE this dress! I love everything about it – the color, the fit, the twirl-factor. It’s comfy and totally cute. I’m digging the jewel neckline – perfect for collars and statement necklaces. Might be one of my most favorite makes ever!


Justin likes it, too, although when I showed it to him in progress he said it looked like a flight-attendant uniform. Ugh. There should be a meme or a twitter hashtag about “things boyfriends shouldn’t say to their seamstress girlfriends.” I love the man, but sometimes he is just dense. Anyone else have some funny boyfriend-sewing-comments to share? I’d love to hear ’em.

Comments (35) for post “Cynthia Rowley Dress – Simplicity 1802”

  • Haha, I started reading this post, saw the pattern’s lines drawings and thought “I don’t like the skirt” and then I saw your photos and the way it falls (and twirls!) and I’m sold. Love it, skirts, bodice, colour… well done!

    As for awful things boyfriends say – my boyfriend is very funny after a few beers and when Project Runway is on. He gets quite vicious, but even funnier are his made up names for the design elements. Poor pet, he has no idea…

  • I think that’s turned out really well and I love the colour! Definitely worth all the hiccups – looks great 🙂

  • That seaming detail on a knit was an inspired choice and it looks great in that blue. We should have a “things boyfriends say to seamstress girlfriends.” When showing Piemaker my Victoria Blazer he said tentatively. “Your not actually going to wear that until Halloween are you?” How Rude!

  • I’ve never seen this pattern before! Such great style lines and so feminine and fun! Beautiful color on you and I agree about the neckline… so many possibilities!

  • What year was Justin born? Does he have a memory of Braniff hostesses, or something? Or is he just making it up as he goes along? 🙂 Some projects are just snakebit, aren’t they? But seriously, this turned out great. Leaving off the waistband piece was a good call, no matter how inadvertent it was. If you don’t have a long torso, I doubt this dress as designed would work very well for most people. I’m curious about your sizing — did you use your high bust measurement to find your size? They’re always telling us to use that, not the full bust.

  • This looks fantastic Dixie…can’t believe you were brave enough to tackle it as a knit, but it’s worked out perfectly! My boyfriend says so many inappropriate things (just recently, he said about a fabric I was using, ‘eeew, that looks like an old granny’s blouse’) that I’ve lost count ;o)

  • CUTE! I usually am not a fan of gored skirts, but all the lines on this dress are great and you did such a wonderful job with it!

    Just looked to make sure, and yep, this does kind of look like Britney Spears’ flight attendant costume in her “Toxic” video. haha sorry. That only came to me after you wrote about your boyfriend’s comment though!

  • Never heard of Braniff so maybe he knows. he was born in the late 70s. I used my regular bust measurement as I tend to fit into the proportions of big 4 patterns fairly well.

    Also, I’m wondering if the weight of the knit dragged the fabric down and if I made it in a woven if the bodice would be shorter, therefore making the bodice+waistband not as long as it would be in this version, you know?

  • I’d rather be Britney as a flight attendant than looking like an actual flight attendant. At leas that was Brit before the crazy meltdown. 😉

  • That is a really good question. If you made this again, but in a woven, you’d probably want to baste the waistband on the bodice and then baste the skirt on to try it out.

  • Ooooh Dix it’s gorgeous! I love that color so much, and the dress looks wonderful on you! If you didn’t get the last of that fabric, I may have to see about getting some too… 🙂
    Al tries not to make comments that I’ll chafe about, but it’s the look on his face when he’s DOING THAT TRYING that speaks volumes! Haha, he tends to recoil against crazy prints too, so that should tell you how dissimilar our tastes are… 😀

  • This looks great! Your version does way more justice to the pattern than the cover art!

    I always get, “Needs a belt”, which annoys me to no end. Not every dress needs a belt! 🙂

  • I definitely thing we should collectively start that meme and all take turns posting to it. I’ve got at least 3 things to contribute right now. Like the time I busted him cutting cable ties with my shears?? And he so totally knew he was being bad – the guilty look on his face made me laugh instead of being angry, though!!
    Love this dress – seriously, Cynthia Rowley patterns always tickle my fancy, such great design lines – especially on this skirt. Love the twirl factor!! And the statement necklace platform. Looking great!

  • I think your dress turned out great. The color is so fun. I have a couple of the Cynthia Rowley patterns in my stash. Need to try one soon.

    I don’t have any funny boyfriend sewing comments that I can think of, but it’s probably because there are so many of them that I just tune them out!! 😉

  • HELP! I am working on this pattern and cannot seem to get the facing right…my pattern only has one piece for the facing front and not the back and I keep feeling like I know I’m missing something. From your pictures it looks as thought you have a complete facing. Please email if you can –!

  • This is so cute! And great for me because I recently bought this pattern and was also thinking of trying it in a knit ;o) It’s a relief to hear it transitions into a knit pretty well! My husband says head-scratcher/’unhelpful’ things about my sewing all the time, although I can’t think of a specific example at the moment. What I always DO remember is the weirdest thing he said to me after once getting a haircut: “you look like an orphan” Huh??????????

  • same pattern but 3 different sewers. One says great even when made with knit fabric, one says bin it and to heck with the fabric loss, looks awful, terrible pattern, bad design features, the third says great looking pattern but needs major reworking before being made – she reworked the bodice by losing the one in the pattern and using another, and changed the skirt length to a maxi, but the finished item looked really fabulous and was made using wax cotton. I have a copy of the pattern, I like the godets in the skirt but not sure about the sections between them (tried a similar pattern some years ago and skirt just looks funny, dress is still hanging in my wardrobe and is seldom worn), the many different lines in the bodice will, I reckon, look horrible on my daughter who has an hourglass curved figure (large bust and hips but tiny waist). This looks great in the photos but I think I’ll have to give it a miss and pass the pattern on to someone without the curves and who is willing to give it a go.

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