Pattern Review: Simplicity 4014

Alright, as we all know I did some major stash accumulation a few weeks ago.  And I have a long list of things I need to get working on located on the left side of the blog.  Top of the list: make a dress for the wedding I am going to in June.  So I did that… sort of.

I had a great vision for what I wanted the dress to look like: the shape, style, and colors.  And I sort of accomplished that, but, well, the pattern let me down.  The offending pattern: Simplicity 4014.

Simplicity 4014

See, you can make a pattern fit, but that doesn’t mean it looks great on you.  In all honesty, it is probably the best fitting dress I have ever worn (which is actually sort of sad) but it just doesn’t look that good.  The seams are smooth, the zipper is invisible, and we don’t have any major gaping issues.  So, what is not to love?  Well, let me show you:

So over this dress I didn’t even clean the floor for the pictures….

Now, on the dress form it sort of looks ok-ish.  But on a person… it makes me look 40 miles wide.  And five years older than I am.  Which is not exactly the look I was going for.  I tried adding a belt, adding jewelry, adding shoes.  As we all learned from Nina Garcia on Project Runway – styling is important and it can send you home.  But alas.  Nothing helped.  So, what went wrong?  I pondered over blaming the print.  We all know I can’t wear prints (aparently not even subtle ones… sigh).  I have tried.  Just doesn’t work.  But, well, the print is really really subtle here.  Like, not even noticeable from a distance.  So, somehow I don’t think it is the fabric.  And the color is a little deeper than it looks in the picture – more of a deep blue-teal and less of a bright neon blue.  And the color splotches are definitely less noticeable in person.  So no, I think this fabric could have worked in a different dress or as a shirt or somehow in some other capacity.  Alas.  I am not crying over this one, but, well, tis a little sad.

Even subtle patterns do not work for me….

These colors aren’t quite so bright in real life.

I can’t blame the fit – it actually fits pretty well.  It fits much smoother on me than on the dressform (those side and back wrinkles are NOT there on a real person…), and other than the non-smoothness around the bust it is actually is made pretty well too.  So it doesn’t actually look too poorly constructed, and I like the shape of the skirt.  And yet, it still doesn’t look good on me.

Look at that zipper!  And the sway back adjustments!

So, in the end, I have to blame the pattern.  Really, my problem is that the princess seams don’t actually hit anywhere near the bust apex, but rather far to the side of it.  This is why they add bust darts to the center front of the pattern.  The positions of the seams make me look super wide from the front and the bust darts don’t really help since they are on the front piece and not the sides.  And, since the bust seams are sort of wide, the entire seam is sort of wide, which makes my waist look super wide.  Which, I will be blunt, it really is not.  I am always (even on this pattern!) taking inches in around the waist, so I don’t think the result should be for me to look like I have a wide waist.  It’s no wonder the picture on the envelope has the jacket over the dress – I think this dress needs a jacket to cover the top and waist.  And, granted, I am going to make a coat for the wedding, but since it will be outside I don’t think I will be wearing it the whole time.  So I need a cute coat and a cute dress.  *Sigh*  I mean, I have seen this pattern on Pattern Review and it did look good on many people of different sizes, but it doesn’t look good on me.

On the one hand I am pretty pleased with my construction here:

From the side – my waist is not big!  But it looks that way from the front…

I do like the fit on the back.  And LOVING my new invisible zipper foot.
I also used my narrow hem foot!

I added lace to the lining for some extra detail.  It doesn’t help my opinion of the dress.

Extreme close up of my rolled/picot hem.

So, yes, Simplicity 4014, it is official – I am going to a wedding and you aren’t invited.  My mother usually doesn’t care about such things but she was quite relieved when I told her I wasn’t going to wear it.  That alone would have prevented it from going.

So what to do?  Some serious stash bustin’!  My recent bout of pattern accumulation allowed me to have some decent choices for both woven and knit fabrics, so I didn’t have to limit myself based on fabric choice.  This of course led to about 2 hours of wading through the stash playing with fabrics and ideas.  I have pointed out that this wedding will be held outside in June, and most of my fabric stash consists of material for skating costumes, t-shirt knits, and black stretch lace.  Also, I have some material for making jackets and pants.  A little bit of leftovers from some costumes, but really not too many options for a fun summer party dress.  Everything is either too formal or too casual.  I like a woven for a knit pattern or vice versa.  The patterns are too fancy or too simple.  Luckily, just before I abandoned all hope I remembered something stored way down at the bottom of the heap, and yes, indeed, we had a winner.  Then all I had to do was decide on the perfect dress pattern and it was off to the fabric store for a zipper and a few other odds and ends.

This seems to be the year of “making it work.”  Neither of my skating costumes turned out as planned.  And I had been planning my dress since late last year when I was first invited, but in the end it will look nothing at all like I had first envisioned.  I am using fabric which I had originally bought for a different purpose, and a pattern that I had originally dismissed as being “boring.”  I will inform you that indeed, my new dress is nearly completed, is now officially the best fitting dress I have ever worn, and looking significantly better than the Simplicity dress in all regards.  It is the perfect mix of formal and casual; young and sophisticated.  It is a nice bright springy color, without going into crazy neon territory.  It is, dare I say, trendy.  I have never really worn anything trendy before.  And yet it is simple enough that I could also classify it as stylish.  It is, in a word, perfect for this event.  So now that I’ve got you all excited, I have to disappoint you – you won’t get to see it until after the big event.  I have to have some element of surprise!  However, as a hint, I will say I hopped on the lace trend and the pattern company name starts with a B.  Yes, I know, I am such a tease.  Now I just have to make a smashing coat to go with it (especially after the royal wedding – if I am going sans hat I must have a coat!) and then we should be good to go.

As a side note – I don’t know how some of you churn things out in “a couple of hours.”  It takes me at least 2-3 hours just to make all of my necessary pattern adjustments, let alone tracing and cutting the pattern to start with, and cutting the fabric?  Granted, I only get to sew about 3 days a week, but still.  I can totally appreciate the TNT pattern love; sadly I havn’t really found any TNTs for myself yet (other than the skating pattern).  Indeed, I am still on the hunt, but my new dress may be heading into that territory.  I really don’t need another dress, but I am sort of dying to make the new one again out of some stretch taffeta I saw at a fabric store a while ago.  I really may have to go back and get some.

Anyway, bringing us all back to reality, here is the full pattern review for that other dress:

Pattern Description: Lined dress and unlined jacket pattern.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes (10-18) and (20W-28W).  I made a size 12 (with FBA) on top and size 16 on bottom.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? I made the dress in style B.  I changed the neckline, but other than that it did look like the envelope picture.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were very simple.  There was even good information about how to finish darts, etc. that would be good information for a beginner.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Likes: I like the back and the skirt.  The back makes my shoulders look wide to balance out my hips.  Dislikes: I HATE the way this fits in the front.  I do not like how it fits near the bust, the position of the bust darts, or where the seams hit me around the waist.

Fabric Used: Polyester chiffon over peachskin.  Used some sort of polyester lining as well.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I changed the shape of the neckline slightly – I made more of a diamond point and less rounded. Pattern adjustments:
– add +1″ to lengthen line
-raise arm hole by 3/8″
-cut 1/4″ of of back of armhole (since I did not have sleeves)
-3/4″ FBA (full bust adjustment)
-1/2″ swayback adjustment (I probably should have done 1″ but overall it worked out ok…)
-raise neckline by 1.5″ (it is VERY low to start with)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I will not be sewing this dress again.  I don’t think I would recommend the dress pattern for someone with my body shape.  I do think it could look good on other body types (very slim all over), but I think it would look best with a short jacket over it, as pictured on the envelope.  I have not made the jackets from this pattern, so I cannot speak on how those fit.

Conclusion: I don’t really like this pattern for my body type.  I like it from the waist down, but not at all on the front from the waist up.  I have seen it look good on others on Pattern Review, but it just didn’t work for me.  I think I may find a different pattern that fits better in the bodice and use this pattern for the skirt at some point in the future.  I don’t think I will touch it for a long while though – too many other patterns to test and try.

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