Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Floral Birthday Dress

Simplicity 1882 with piping 

My 36th Birthday Dress!

I am so proud of this dress, inside and out! Made for the Montreal's Sewing bloggers Meet-up and my family's big party for everyone born in August ; a never ending day of fun!


Project Overview

My measurements :

High Bust : 37,5 in
Bust : 40 in
Waist : 33 in
Hip : 40 in
5ft 2in and 157 lbs


Pattern sizes used :

Making Simplicity 1882, no collar, no sleeves, size 18, D cup but with an altered V neckline at front and back that I designed. I think it is more flattering on my wide back.

Back V neckline variation


 Pattern alterations :

  • Modified Bodice front and back to have a deep V opening and the top of the armholes to slim the shoulder straps. 
  • Trim to taper the side seems :
    - 1 1/8 inch underarm,
    - 1/2 inch at top of midriff,
    - 6/8 inch at waist
    - 1/2 inch at bottom midriff,
    - 1/2 inch at top of skirt to size 16 skirt under the pocket.
  • Shorten by 5 in at the hem.
  • I used french seams to finish the bottom of the pockets.
  • I omitted the facings and lined the bodice and midriff. 
  • I retrace all my pattern piece and reduce the seam allowance to 3/8 inch. 
S1882 v2 - Quilting Cotton Muslin

I like to sew 3/8 inch SA because it is exactly as wide as my favorite sewing machine foot and the same width as the piping and zipper seam allowance. I found it easier to sew princess seams with smaller SA too... Moreover, I do not need to trim the SA before using my overcasting stitch to finish the SA edges! But beware as it gives no chance to make fitting adjustments ; which was OK for a 3rd make of the same pattern in this case...


 Fabrics and notions :

  • Fabric : Stretch Cotton Sateen floral with royal blue, turquoise, lime and avocado on white background (2m at 9.60$/m = 20$)
  • Bodice lining : White soft lightweight cotton poplin. (less than 1m at 12$/3m = 3$)
  • Notions :
    - Dark royal blue piping (4$)
    - 22 inches invisible zipper (4,50$)
    - Single fold bias tape from stash to finish the hem (0$)
    - Thrifted vintage royal blue rayon tape to hem the lining (0$)

Cost : about 32$
Time : less than 10h


Project Sewing Order

To sew Simplicity 1882 dress without piping, the general idea is to sew all front and back pieces separately. Then assemble the whole front to the back by the shoulder seam. And finally, sew the side seam (SS). This method is also the best to alter the dress to fit as the SS is continuous.

But if you want to use piping, the general order for sewing it is : sew all bodice, midriff and skirt pieces separately. Then baste the piping at the top and bottom of the midriff. Finally, assemble the 3 parts together ; bodice, midriff and skirt. That is why it is best, IMO, to add pipping when the fitting issues are resolved ; else, any adjustment to the SS might result in misaligned piping at the side...

Construction Order

Sewing Lining, without piping :

A good alternative to tossing your muslin could be to do a muslin of your pattern to assess the fit and make alterations. Then to use your muslin to line your real version in your main shell fabric! I decided not to line the skirt as I was afraid the cotton poplin would made the skirt ride up.

Here "Sew" = sew, finish and press the seam.
  1. Staystitch :
    - Bodice Front neckline, from CF to shoulder
    - Bodice Back neckline, from CB to shoulder
    - (if lining skirt too) Skirt Front, from SS to CF (left and right)
  2. Sew the Front :
    - Bodice Front and Bodice Side at princess seams
    - Midriff Front and Side
    - Bodice Front to Midriff Front
    - (if lining skirt too) Skirt Back Darts
    - (if lining skirt too) Midriff Front to Skirt Front without yoke/pockets
  3. Sew the Back (left and right) :
    - Bodice Back Darts
    - Bodice Back to Midriff Back
    - (if lining skirt too) Skirt Back Darts
    - (if lining skirt too) Midriff Back to Skirt Back without yoke/pockets
  4. Sew Shoulder seams
  5. Trim 1/8 inch from neckline and armholes. (if you are not using the dress without piping as lining, sew the side seams, zip and hem and Voilà! All done!)

Bodice lining, missing zip and hem.

Sewing Shell Dress, with piping :

  1. Staystitch :
    - Bodice Front neckline, from CF to shoulder
    - Bodice Back neckline, from CB to shoulder
    - Skirt Front, from one SS to CF, then the other SS to CF.
  2. Sew the Bodice :
    - Bodice Front and Side at princess seams
    - Bodice Back darts
    - Shoulder seams
  3. (if lining) Assemble Shell and Lining :
    - Sew and finish neckline
    - Sew and finish armholes (left and right)
    - Turn through the shoulder and press
    - Sew Shell and lining SS in one go (tack under the armhole for perfect matching)
    - Finish lining hem.
  4. Sew the Midriff : (steps 19 to 21)
    - Midriff Front and Midriff Side
    - Midriff Back and Midriff Side
    - Baste piping to top of continuous Midriff (raw edges together, piping just showing outside SA, using a zipper foot to get as close as possible to the cord)
    - Baste piping to bottom of continuous Midriff
  5. Sew Skirt
    Vertical seams alignment
    - Skirt Front darts
    - Skirt Back darts
    - Sew/finish/understitch Skirt Front to Yoke/Pockets (steps 8-9)
    - Pocket bottom French seams
    - Bast top and SS or Yoke/Pockets to Skirt Front
    - Skirt Front and Back SS
  6. Final Assembly  (pin vertical seams for perfect matching)
    - Sew Bodice to Middriff
    - Sew Midriff to Skirt
  7. Sew Zipper (steps 24 to 26)
    - Finish raw edges at CB
    - Press invisible zipper open
    - Baste one side of zipper
    - Mark horizontal seams for perfect matching
    - Baste the other side of zipper
    - Verify alignment with zipper close, rectify.

    - Sew both side of zipper
    - Sew CB below zipper
    - (if zipper was cut) Cover the bottom edge with fabric pouch to avoid scratchiness.
  8. Hem the dress (step 48)

Related Links 

  • How to line a sleeveless bodice : Slapdash sewist tutorial to line the bodice : I chose her method because it would have allowed to put pipping in the neckline without any joints at the shoulders. I chickened out of putting the pipping in the neckline at the last minute, but enjoyed doing the lining her way. Another option was found here, where the shoulder seams are sewn at the end, instead of the side seams. The fashion incubator suggested tips to avoid bulk when sewing facings and lining ; mainly leaving spaces where the seams are joining and sewing those joints in a second pass.
  • Invisible zipper tutorial : from Sew Serendipity and the Coletterie. I found it easier also to reduce the SA to 3/8 inch which is exactly the space between the raw edge and the zipper teeth. Also, do not be afraid to press the zipper until it lays very flat and you can see the sweet spot just next to the teeth where you want your stitches to fall!
  • Hemming Tutorial : Very interesting vintage booklet on How to Hem.
  • Link to my review of S1882 on my blog
  • Link to my review of S1882 on


  1. I have this dress in my queue and actually want to make it out of challis. I'm really liking it on you so I may move it up!

    1. Oh, rayon challis would be cool for the summer! I will keep an eye on your blog to see your version :D

  2. Caroline, ta robe est vraiment très belle. A très, très bientôt.

    1. Merci Carmen! Merci encore pour les cadeaux et ton agréable compagnie samedi!