Pattern In Action: Simplicity Cynthia Rowley #1873

First it was dubbed the Summer Solstice Dress.  Then it became the Birthday Dress.  Now it is the Finished Dress!  This is me using every ounce of my being to type “professional” words instead of “squee!” or “woot-woot!” or “booyah!”.  This is the Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern #1873, view A with cap sleeves.

I am so proud of this dress!  It is by far my most advanced and professional work to date.  I made some alterations to the original pattern by adding pockets, lining the entire dress rather than just the bodice, and using a blind hem on the outer skirt.  This dress was also another first for me with the invisible zipper.  Here’s how I wore my dress this week, taken in a gusty breeze outside of the Santa Monica Umami Burger at the Fred Segal boutique.

The main dress is a Japanese cotton print from Michael Levine.  The lining is a silky poly blend from Mood Fabrics.  Summer beach waves in my hair from Styles by Vanessa.  Edna Caryall satchel bag by Guess.  T-strap patent leather wedge heels by Blowfish Malibu.

The outer skirt is already quite full and pleated, but I was able to give it a little added boost in volume by gathering the skirt lining for some added fullness.  All-in-all, I felt very retro and very glamorous wearing my new dress!  The color is like catnip, however, so it’s definitely not a dress for wallflower days.

Here is the underside… and I’m excited to show it!  Usually I want to hide my reverse side because it looks so rough, but not this time.  I think the Anthropologie catalogue just developed a case of dress envy.

Things I like about about Simplicity #1873:

  • It’s a beautiful silhouette!  Very classic, just enough retro styling, and very flattering.
  • Even though I chose the longer skirt, I didn’t have to chop off multiple inches at the bottom.  On a taller person it might feel much shorter but my petite legs appreciated it.
  • The pleated sleeves provide a really flattering detail.

Things I don’t like about Simplicity #1873, but it’s definitely alterable:

  • It doesn’t come with pockets, but they are very easily added between the front side & back panels.
  • The pattern only calls for a bodice lining, but I think it looks and feels weird without a skirt lining, too.  I found a nice shortcut by gathering the skirt lining instead of pleating it to mirror the outer skirt, which also enhanced the full skirt silhouette.

I learned a lot by making this dress!  Starting with a toile was an excellent decision–I made all my mistakes with the zipper and pockets on cheap muslin and scrap lining.  By the time I got to the final dress, I sewed the whole thing in just a few evenings.  Here are some of my previously published images of the toile for old times sake.


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  • astimegoesbuy - OMG!
    MaryAnne! I love this dress!
    The colour, print, cut…everything is perfect!
    And you look adorable in it. 🙂
    I so wish I had learned to sew…you are amazing…and I am green with envy.

    • Mary Ann Williams - Thank you, Laura! 🙂 I love my dress, too. I kind of want to wear it every day this week. Well, if you decide to take up sewing, I will lead your cheering squad! And I still have your black & tan inspiration on my to-do list of outfits to sew. -mawReplyCancel

      • astimegoesbuy - Ohhh!
        To bad it’s not colder, you could wear it with a cardi or tights or a little blazer. It would be fun to style it 7 different ways to see if you could get away with wearing it everyday this week!
        Can’t wait to see what you come up with on the black and tan look. 🙂

  • Sarah Allyn Bauer (@sarahallynbauer) - GORGEOUS! congrats-you look stunning! you are a #seamstressReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Thank you!! 🙂 I feel like a seamstress finally. Working on a skirt & blouse combo now… can’t wait to post it!ReplyCancel

  • CherryPix - Oh my, what a work of art! Perfect fabric for this dress and beautifully sewn…and best of all, it’s stunning on you. You definitely should be proud!ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Thank you so much! 🙂 I’m hoping to do a mini fashion photo shoot with this dress soon, so I’ll have more pictures to share. Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • Scrub-a-dub-dub… Clean Machine « School of Moxie - […] I do, I put my machine through a lot and it deserves some more royal treatment!  Since I just finished a dress and I’m now embarking on my Frugal Fabric Challenge, I thought there’s no time like now […]ReplyCancel

  • Kiss My Hammy! « School of Moxie - […] tailor’s ham has one side you’ll recognize from my Summer Solstice Dress (I could have used this ham making that dress!) and the other side is remnant cotton from some […]ReplyCancel

  • Forever Bound Art - Seriously, can you be any cuter? Love how the tangerine turned out, especially in the solid state. The “underside” wants to be in my closet. Excellent workReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Thank you!! 🙂 I love the underside, too. Definitely in love with the Tangerine Tango shade, so I’ll have to make more of it!ReplyCancel

  • Reunions & Sew-A-Longs « School of Moxie - […] got to see my amazing new sewing studio (she was the very first to lay eyes on the completed Summer Solstice Dress!) and we got to talking about the things that make you say “Ohm” and “Ahh” […]ReplyCancel

  • Scrub-a-dub-dub… Clean Machine : School of Moxie - […] I do, I put my machine through a lot and it deserves some more royal treatment!  Since I just finished a dress and I’m now embarking on my Frugal Fabric Challenge, I thought there’s no time like now […]ReplyCancel

  • Lily - I came here from the NPR article about different price ranges of mens’ suits that you posted a comment and link to. I am so impressed with your craftsmanship on this dress. It is beautiful and so well made, and looks nice on you. I hope you enjoy it for a long time to come.ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Thank you so much, Lily! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing my dress — I love it, too. I’m sure I will see you around the NPR community in the future. Cheers! ~Mary AnnReplyCancel

  • Pattern In Action: New Look #6723 : School of Moxie - […] idea of a sweetheart neckline and my body fits well into dresses with princess seams.  After the Summer Solstice Dress, I was not terribly interested in making a ton of pleats and this one has a gathered skirt.  […]ReplyCancel

  • A Night With the Cool Kids : School of Moxie - […] The attendees were all impossibly Hollywood-cool and with a glass of wine in my hand while donning my favorite Moxie dress, I took a look around and thought to myself, “Everything is just as it should […]ReplyCancel

  • Time to shop at Michael Levine : School of Moxie - […] favorite dress, to date, is The Summer Solstice Dress I made last summer with a gorgeous tangerine tango cotton from Michael Levine.  I get so many […]ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - Hi! I love your dress it turned out great! I recently made this dress 3 times to get it right.. practice makes perfect! I lined the bodice and skirt the 3rd time.. I could not for the life of me figure out how to line it properly like you have done with the zipper and all. I looked in my sewing books and many other blogs, but didn’t really find an answer. Would be able to explain to me how you sewed it so perfectly? It would be greatly appreciated 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Mary Ann Williams - Hi Rebecca! It was easier for me to explain the answer to your question in a video and I’m going to post it later this week… stay tuned! Thanks so much for reading my blog! Reply part 2 coming right up… 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Reader Q&A : School of Moxie - […] desk is now open for answers!  I had a question from Rebecca about how I attached the lining to my Summer Solstice Dress last summer.  Rebecca has tried this dress a few times (kudos to you!) and also likes having a […]ReplyCancel

  • Mood Fabrics (LA): Same Awesome, New Location : School of Moxie - […] think back then was, “Tim Gunn walked these same aisles!!”  I found the lining for my Summer Solstice Dress there and completed my beautiful tangerine tango […]ReplyCancel

  • Parting Is Bittersweet : School of Moxie - […] secluded corner in the Bradbury Building).  We started in the Flower Market district and with Simplicity Cynthia Rowley #1873.  Sunglasses are from Old Focals and shoes are by Blowfish (see more about these favorite sources […]ReplyCancel

  • The Emery Dress : School of Moxie - […] isn’t really elegant.  I’ve done much better jobs of full linings on other dresses (Tangerine Tango, in particular).  It still creates the effect I wanted, however, and since the lining is on the […]ReplyCancel

  • Ines - I love your dress, I need to make me one!ReplyCancel

  • Kiss My Hammy! : School of Moxie - […] tailor’s ham has one side you’ll recognize from my Summer Solstice Dress (I could have used this ham making that dress!) and the other side is remnant cotton from some […]ReplyCancel

  • Perfection… or something like it : School of Moxie - […] My proudest achievement:  The Summer Solstice Dress.  To date, it’s still my best work!  My dirty little secret… I traced the darts with […]ReplyCancel

  • En Pointe : School of Moxie - […] feel (and look) like a remedial ballet dancer these days (although my Summer Solstice Dress looks looser from working hard at it, eh?), but I take heart that I can still legitimately claim my […]ReplyCancel

  • Amanda vs Simplicity 1873 - […] also: 2012 Amanda, Idle Fancy, School of Moxie, Measure Twice Cut […]ReplyCancel

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