I’ve been sewing: Simplicity 2444 dress with cape collar

The last thing I sewed and actually finished was my bridesmaid dress for Kat’s wedding. Given that she’s been married for two years now, I thought it was time to get some more use out of my sewing machine and dressmaker’s dummy! So spurred on by seeing how fab it looked on Roisin, I decided to raid my pattern stash for Simplicity 2444 (I have patterns, just never actually *make* them). I’d read nothing but great things about this pattern, which has four darts in the front to really shape the bodice for a good fit. It’s one of the Project Runway sewing patterns, which means there are lots of elements you can add and remove to make different dress styles. I decided to go for the cape collar version (as seen on the model in blue floral print).

It took me about a week to put together, just doing the odd hour here and there. I reckon it could easily be constructed in a day if you really concentrate (I tend to work slowly in front of episodes of Fringe). I used about two and a half metres of black gingham I bought from eBay and notions from my stash – the only other expense was the zip, taking the total cost of the dress up to about £10 excluding the pattern (which I will definitely use again). Here’s the final result…

Simplicity 2444 dress

I’m really, really happy with the finished item. Sewing pattern sizes don’t usually equate to UK or US clothing sizes, so you really must get to know your measurements. I cut the 14, which is actually closer to a UK 12, but I know from experience that the ease in most patterns means I can go down a size. I made the darts ever so slightly smaller than they were meant to be to allow an extra cm or so on the waist, and the dress fit perfectly. I’d read that it was good for big busts and it definitely is – I wish I could find dresses in the shops that fit like this!

Simplicity 2444 with pockets

One of my favourite things about this pattern is that it has pockets! Never underestimate how useful a dress with pockets is. It was my first time sewing in pockets, so that was a good little trick to learn, too. I’d also forgotten when I bought the fabric that I have the perfect shoes to go with this dress, an old pair of slingback wedges with bows in matching gingham. I can’t wait for a sunny day (please?!) to show this off somewhere other than my flat!

Simplicity 2444 50s style dress sewing gingham

I’ll definitely be making this pattern again, though I think next time I’ll leave off the cape top and just make a simple sundress. I’m hunting down an interesting fabric as we speak – I’m wondering about the car print from Ditto Fabrics for a Prada-esque look?

Before I go, here’s a little extra pic for those who don’t follow me on Twitter. I went to Royal Ascot on Friday (as a guest of the fabulous folks at Longines) and this is what I wore. We were in the Royal Enclosure, so hats and modest hemlines were a must!

Outfit for Royal Ascot

My nan was right. People should wear more hats.

  • http://twitter.com/BeckyAndTheJets Becky Mount

    This has definitely inspired me to use my sewing machine for more than just taking up hems on vintage dresses! 

  • sallyjm

    Hi Gemma, both dresses are gorgeous. Love the one you made, could I just ask a couple of questions – what sewing machine do you use? And are you a ‘self-taught’ seamstress or did you take lessons? Thanks!

    PS. Love your blog, all the vintage style stuff is great xx 

  • Kat

    Love it Gemsy; the cut really suits you! Also love your updo — got any pics from behind?

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    Hi Sally, sorry the reply took a while – kept forgetting to check the box! I have a Brother XL 2610 sewing machine (http://direct.hobbycraft.co.uk/products-Brother-XL-2610-Sewing-Machine_283086.htm – mine’s not got the ugly pink though!)

    My mum taught me to sew when I was a teenager, and then I did GCSE textiles and A’ level Art which also helped with the basics and kept me sewing. I think having someone to show you all the tricks (like how to do tailors tacks, how to put in a zip, how to cut notches and match them) is really useful – if you don’t know someone who sews I’d definitely recommend a lesson or two just to learn the basics. There are some great videos and stuff online but nothing beats someone leaning over going “no, do it like THIS.”

    And thanks for the kind words, hope the blog continues to be useful! xx

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    Thanks! Alas, no pics of the back, it was a bit of a mess, lots of clips and combs to hold it to the side. I just shoved it up so the collar would show a bit better, it came out after 5 mins. x

  • Sallyrtwt

    Thank you that’s really helpful – my local fabric shop does basic sewing classes so I’ll give it go before I invest in a machine. Thanks again! xx

  • Kkdowning

    Beautiful dress (the one you made) but did know that Queen of Holloway (where I’m assuming you bought the blue floral PUG Evelyn knock off ) is actually counterfeiting via the UK in China? The work of Bernie Dexter, PUG, Trashy Diva, Vivien of Holloway etc is all stolen from photos to patterns. They even use Bernie Dexter’s actual photos of her modeling and then sell the knock offs with no shame. The name says it all. Can’t see how you would have missed that they are bad news… Love the hat though.

  • http://www.gemmacartwright.com Gemma

    Hi, you’re right and it’s exactly why I haven’t linked to where I bought it – it was a bad call on my part. Rest assured I won’t be buying from them again or talking about them / linking to them here.

  • CuckooChanel

    This dress is perfect. Great job. You are adorable and I love your blog. Your Royal Ascot hat is a dream too–royal indeed. I LOVE seeing people wearing hats. So fun.

  • kath

    WOW that dress looks fab on you, well done! I made this dress too and I would really recommend it to anyone who is busty. The fit is great.