The cherry-picking frock

Just add summer and ideally a red patent belt and a petticoat. And subtract the black eye that I’m inexplicably sporting at the moment (broken nights? anaemia? who knows?)

The pattern is Simplicity 1666, it’s the Attache dress by Lisette. Let’s be clear, the picture on the envelope was not what made me want to make this dress, though it did make look further afield for finished versions. Rather, it was the purple beauty over on the Lisette blog. The two look as different as chalk and cheese. As a fit and flare dress it’s inevitably better in 3 dimensions than in two, and is truly flattering in real life.

A few notes on the pattern. There is no overlap in sizing between the smaller and larger envelopes. The smaller envelope tops out at UK 14 and the larger starts at UK16 so you can’t grade between size 14 and 16 lines on the same pattern piece. This did make me pause for a few weeks before finally deciding to buy the pattern.  In the end I took in an extra half to three-quarters of an inch on each side of the centre back seam above the waist and we were golden. The pattern instructions were explicit, helpful and in a sensible order.

Fabric is a cherry print poplin from Ditto fabrics. I used slightly more than the pattern said, as I’ve been caught out before with the largest size on a pattern =being a close fit on a laundered fabric. So I ordered extra and was grateful for the wiggle room when laying out. The cotton is lovely and perfect for the frock.

Sewing the dress was a piece of (cherry) cake. Construction is princess line with a centre-back zip and cap sleeves that are cut as one with the side bodice pieces. There are no darts and a lot of long seams. It’s not lined but has a facing on the neck and hems on the sleeve edges. The only places where I had to think were joining the upper and lower side pieces to each other (there are notches and dots so it’s not really hard unless you’re not strong on spatial awareness like me) and a bit of easing on the front bodice seams. The instructions have a lapped zip, I decided to hand-pick a centred zipper as it seemed more in keeping with the vintage feel of the print. It was much easier and tidier than the machined zip that I did on the paisley frock. Having hand-picked the zip I then felt obliged to hand-hem the sleeves and the skirt. Fit and flare skirts do seem to take a while to hand-hem though! The bottom edge was beautifully level right the way around before hemming which was lovely as it made pinning the hem very straightforward.

I used a red zip that went beautifully with the print. It was a bit too long so I trimmed it to size (18”) after sewing. On the next dress however I will use a slightly longer zip by an inch or two for ease of on-and-offness as it’s a tiny bit close to snug going over my hips, though fits perfectly once clear of them. This may well be more about my shape and preferences and less about the pattern. The zip is inserted into the back very early in the construction process which was also a lovely straightforward way of doing things.

I would definitely recommend, and indeed have recommended this pattern to others. It did a great job of selling itself at the dressmaking class I go to every week and I’m sure I’ll be seeing a couple more versions soon. I think it would be lovely in all manner of fabrics – the purple one linked to above is in wool crepe and I’d love to do another in linen or a washed silk or viscose… It’s a lovely dress and deserves a much improved pattern illustration Smile


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