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In the summer I much prefer dresses over tops and leggings. But I do like to stick to one particular rule: they must have pockets! The range of sewing patterns from Simple Sew seem to suit my style and size. So I decided to try out the Simple Sew Utility Dress.
The Simple Sew Utility Dress
The Simple Sew Utility Dress is marked as a pattern for ‘adventurous’ beginners. It gives finished garment measurements on the back, which I always find so useful. I always make a wearable toile (find out why in this post) , but it does still amaze me how much I have to adjust patterns sometimes.
The pattern comes in size 8-20. The pattern states that it will become a wardrobe staple dress. It has gentle waistline pleats to the bodice and skirt, a drawstring waist with elastic in the back part and most importantly of all, pockets! Suggested fabrics for include light to medium weight woven fabrics. I decided to make my toile in this lovely cotton poplin fabric from Seasalt Cornwall.
I cut the size 18 based on the finished garment sizes.
The layout and cutting plan in the instructions for the dress are really easy to work out and see. There are quite a lot of pattern pieces to this one, 4 of which go into making the waistband inner and outer layers. The pocket bags also add pattern pieces to the layout, but I easily got my size 20 out of 2.5 metres.
Sewing Up The Pattern
Sewing up the Simple Sew Utility dress is also really quite easy. Not only are the instructions really good, but all my cut pattern pieces went together perfectly. One drawback to simple sew patterns is that it doesn’t tell you when to overlock if you do wish to finish off your seams this way. But as a more experienced sewer I just do it as I go along.
The pattern asked for the bodice neckline to be bias bound before sewing the front parts together. I actually made some bias binding from the same material as the dress.
The sleeves are the grown on dolman sleeve variety, so no need for setting in. Which is a real plus. You just need to add cuffs if you wish. I didn’t, because I felt the sleeves were the perfect length without cuffs.
Making the bodice and skirt parts was very easy. But attaching the waist band was slightly trickier. I did have to read and reread the instructions a few times before I could get to grips with how it all fitted together.
You need to add the front drawstring tapes and the back elastic before sewing the waistband to the bodice of the dress. The danger then is that these can get in the way when you are sewing the waistband onto the dress. I used a copious amount of pins to make sure I wasn’t going to sew through the elastic or the tapes when attaching the waistband to the bodice. And used a similar amount of pins when adding the waistband to the skirt. I think this step is what turns the Simple Sew Utility Dress pattern from a beginner to an ‘adventurous beginner’ pattern.
The look of the finished waistband was worth the fiddly sewing though! I used twill tape instead of drawstring. Looking back, I may have preferred to make a matching drawstring (I could have used some of the masses of bias I had left over!) but never mind. Everything in sewing is a learning curve.
It’s a lovely dress…but I wasn’t entirely happy with the dress once finished according to the instructions. It ended up being a little too big in the bodice. I know that this may be the style of the dress, and I will still get some wear out of this over the summer, but I would have preferred a little bit more fitted result.
I made my toile based on the estimated stated size of the finished garment, but maybe this pattern does have a lot of ease. Next time I will probably go down a size again. And perhaps use a fabric with more drape. This cotton is quite stiff, and this maybe doesn’t help the look.
The Finished Dress
Looking beyond the dress being a little too big? I love the deep pockets, and the utilitarian style of the dress is very me.
The dress is incredibly easy to wear. A pull over the head, throw-over style. Comfortable and practical. Even suits me as a larger size 18 lady. And the pockets are just brilliant.
I did find the dress to be quite long. It is below the knee by a number of inches. Even though the front of the pattern shows the design as being knee length. This does not bother me, but you may wish it to be shorter.
Fancy getting your hands on this pattern? Buy it here!
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