Making a dress with Simplicity 3301

Hello friends! I have become enamored with the idea of challenging myself to create more professional, neater looking garments in recent times. I want to be able to look at these pieces and feel pride in the care I have shown at each step. And while this does significantly increase the time that I spend on each garment I think it has been well worth it, as this version of Simplicity 3301 shows. I thrill each time I look at the neatness of the buttons and buttonholes, and I am so delighted that all the tweaks I made to the fit – and all the unpicking that went into that, have come together to make something so delightful to wear. Even if I finished it somewhat too late to thoroughly enjoy it before it turned too cold.

I have to say that the pattern itself is a lot of fun and has lots of lovely little details built into the construction. There is no zipper or full button closure, instead there is a secret V split in the center front which allows wiggle room to get in and out. The skirt itself is pleated and View 1 in particular has enormous pockets. Pockets people! The Detachable collar on View 1 is also enormous and I adore that, but it also looks quite good as a high-neck dress without the collar. I tend to find dresses and blouses from this era do have quite small arm scythes and the sleeves can be a bit tight, which was also true for this dress. And I think the only time I struggled with the pattern was when I was attempting to work out the pleats, which does get quite confusing around the seams.

As with a lot of dress patterns like this it requires immense amounts of fabric. If you were not keen on having a longer skirt like I prefer having, it’s worth noting the pattern has a 3” hem which could be reduced quite a bit to get more out of the fabric. In my case I was just barely able to squeeze it out of this thick cotton fabric I had found at the op-shop some months back. I didn’t have enough to cut the sleeves in the same direction as the rest, or to have matching collar and cuffs, so I decided to use up some scraps of white cotton instead. I used secondhand interfacing for the collar and front facing, but it was the main fabric that stole the show. Because it is sturdier it was a breeze to press, and it was so easy to draw on it really made the buttonhole markings so much clearer.

I am also so proud of these buttonholes! I have been sewing for a few years at this point, and it has taken me this entire time to figure out the sweet spot for positioning the center of the buttonhole! I ended up sewing over each buttonhole twice to ensure better thickness, and then adding a snap fastener at the waist for additional support. This was definitely one of the more professional finishes that gives me goosebumps whenever I look at it! Likewise, I made sure to finish all the seams on my overlocker, except for the waist which I finished with bias binding due to the thickness with the edges of the pleats. I then decided to use some jumbo ricrac for a decorative trim, having had this very project in mind when I picked it up at a Church sale.

My final thoughts on this pattern are: I think it’s a great project that – if you’re willing to spend the time on it, can make a very unique and fun dress. Mine was made in bust size 36, which meant needing to let it out around the waist (waist size 30). The detachable collar option means you can have great flexibility in the styling, and you can definitely add trims and the like for fun. I think the only thing that was a bit tricky was understanding the direction of the pleats in the skirt, but otherwise it was fairly straightforward to sew would be good for an intermediate sewist.

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