one-piece wardrobe

Cynthia Rowley x Simplicity 8264

Pattern: Simplicity 8264 by Cynthia Rowley
Fabric: Woven two-tone rayon/synthetic blend Damask with one way stretch from Fabric Depot
Size: 4
Alterations: reduced gather in neck ruffle, added 1.5 inches in length, added 1.25 inches to back width, omitted zipper due to stretch in fabric, removed center back seam.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know I’m a sucker for yarn-dyes. I’m rarely drawn to a printed textile (though I have a few in my stash), which is why I tend to play with stripes, plaids, ikats, chambrays, and solids: all fabrics that are generally made with dyed yarns. It’s also precisely why I was so drawn to this black and white woven damask. Most of the time, yarn-dyed fabric is geometric or linear in pattern; it’s rare to find a floral or even abstract yarn-dye.

I found this fabric in the Special Occasions section at Fabric Depot in Portland. It was imported from Italy with a somewhat unclear labeling of fiber content (something about a blend of rayon and synthetic), and while I try to steer clear of synthetic fibers, I think it’s so difficult to avoid when looking at stretch or knit textiles. Plus, the loveliness of the yarn-dye negated any apprehension about synthetics for me.

I think this pattern (Simplicity 8264) does really well with a Jacquard or Damask (as called for on the pattern envelope), not only aesthetically, but also because damasks/jacquards tend to have multiple layers of thread and weaving, creating a drape with less fluidity and more bounce. The other fabrics called for are Denim, Linen types, Poplin, Pique; all fabric that have at least a bit of body and/or structure.

The only real negative in pairing this fabric with this pattern is that the shift style really highlights the repetitive nature of this pattern; the flower motif repeats itself every 3.5 centimeters and creates a boxy grid from afar. It’s not the worst thing in the world, especially because I can’t imagine this fabric as any other garment or with more seamlines or drape.

While I measured between an 8 and a 10, I was able to make this dress in a size 4. After taking a look at the finished garment measurements (something I recommend doing with all Big 4 patterns), I determined that the size 4 had a much more reasonable amount of ease than the size 10, and any area of tightness would be mitigated by my stretch fabric. My only real concern would be that the shoulders would be too narrow in a size 4, but I’ve got a fairly small frame for my torso and the measurements stacked up just fine against each other.

When it came time to cut my fabric, I was undecided on whether or not I was going to use a zipper at all or whether it would be an exposed sparkly gold one or an invisible zip. It would ultimately come down to aesthetics and necessity (if the neck hole was too small to fit over my head). While the back pattern piece is designed to have a center back seam, I decided to cut it a single piece on the fold (without removing the seam allowance and with marking the center back with pins) just in case I decided to add an exposed zipper or insert a back seam. Not removing the seam allowance actually added 1 1/4 inches to the width of the back piece, so in the end, my sizing down 3 sizes may have made no difference in the actual width of the garment. However, I’m fairly certain the fit would have been slightly better if I hadn’t added 1 1/4 inches to the width, because it’s a bit wide in the back as it is.

I wasn’t ultimately too pleased with how this piece was coming together with the repetitiveness of the pattern, and in the end, decided it wasn’t worthy of the gold sparkly zipper. Additionally, my long hair almost always covers the back of my neck (and, hence, the zipper), so I decided to save it for a better garment, despite the unanimous pro-sparkly zip vote on Instagram.

For the ruffles and hem, I used the selvedge of the fabric. I also removed all gathering for the neck ruffles and simply used a straight length of selvedge, making this into a mini “funnel neck” of sorts. I’m quite happy with that, because the ruffles would have added too much bulk, and additionally, if it had flared out like the sleeves do, it would have looked clownish. I also reduced the length of the ruffle pattern piece on the sleeves by two inches, and I halved the width of the ruffle on both the sleeve and the neck.

I’d heard from a few other Sewists that this pattern is shorter than it looks (and it already looks quite short on the model!), so it’d be wise to consider adding some length. I’m not even 5’3”, so I knew length wouldn’t be a major problem for me, but still, I inadvertently added 1.5” to the length; the hem allowance is 1.5” and I cut the bottom along the selvedge, deciding later to leave the selvedge as is. I think I could have chopped that 1.5” off while still feeling comfortable (I do own shorter dresses), but I’m happy with how it’s turned out.

I flat-felled almost every seam, and the inside is cleanly finished almost in its entirety; the only raw edge left is the ruffles on the sleeve. I’m still undecided on how to cleanly finish the inside of a ruffle, so if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears!

As always, thanks for reading and sharing my joy of sewing with me. I hope you have a wonderful week!

5 Comment

    1. Thanks Kathleen! Using selvedge can save so much time with finishing, and it’s probably the biggest reason I keep using it over and over 😂

  1. Long time reader, first time comment-er ;-): You look so fly! Good call on the zipper, save that for a sexy skirt! Selvage for the ruffles, so innovative. I’ll definitely remember that 😉 Miss you!

    1. Yes! Sexy skirt! I wasn’t even thinking that (mostly fixated on a shirt zip?), so thank you for that idea! I miss you, too Fonda! Now I’m off to read your blog ❤️

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