The Big Purple One

At this time of year I find I have a yearning for a special dress: something a little bit out of the ordinary; modern yet suitable for festive occasions. I should have learned my lesson from last year’s experience with my birthday dress….

This year I came across this Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2406 and thought it would be perfect. The pattern had a nice gathered neckline, with the option of sleeveless, short sleeves or three-quarter length sleeves. I really liked the raglan sleeves and the idea of an elegant opening on the back, balanced with a sash around the waist.
I have a historic nervousness of commercial pattern companies due to the vagaries of sizing. I’ve only made a couple of garments from the Big 4, and every one has had issues with ease and has been far too big, despite paying attention to the finished garment measurements. I really don’t understand where I go wrong, but I have read of people going down several sizes to offset the generous amounts of design ease. Foolishly, I graded up a size at the hips based upon mine and the finished garment measurements.

A somewhat wrinkled back view, fresh from the suitcase!

So, having consulted my measurements, I plunged right in. I had high hopes of a cute, almost-cocktail style dress and decided to make the first one from a lovely rich purple viscose. If all went well, I might even have used some of my precious Shanghai Tang silk for the ‘real one’. Herein lay the first problem. I hadn’t spotted that the fabric requirement only covered the dress itself and the amount required for the sash was not included. I dashed back to the shop to find that the fabric was no longer in stock.

So no matching sash. My next revelation was that, once stitched up, my ‘almost-cocktail’ dress resembled something more akin to a cassock, or, as I now like to think of it, a giant Quality Street chocolate – the Big Purple One in fact.

Unsure whether to salvage it or not, I ended up taking around 4 inches from the underarm side-seam down to the hips to give it some shape as you can see in this photo. Despite it being nothing like I envisaged, I do rather like the raglan sleeves and the gathered neckline. So much so, that here I am wearing it on Christmas Day.

There’s probably more to be removed from the sides if I’m really to salvage it. What do you think? Is it worth it?

Oh, and pardon the facial expressions. My small people were running riot at the buffet breakfast while we tried to get some quick snaps!


21 thoughts on “The Big Purple One

  1. I think you need to have a word with Cynthia to include the sash in the fabric requirements! It looks better than I thought it would from what you’d already said, maybe for the next one if you reduced the neck opening by about 1/2 inch either side, as it looks a bit big on the shoulders, but otherwise job well done. The shift style dress definitely works for you 😃

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  2. A couple comments….first you are too hard on yourself I think it looks very nice on you! I know we are harder on ourselves than others. This past Saturday the Sewing With Nancy Show was very good on altering your pattern before you cut out. Also, from my point of view (as a retired Home Ec. Teacher still teaching sewing part time at a local Community College) you need to take a garment construction class. Check out your local community college system and see what they have. You do not need to be enrolled in a Fadhion Design Program to take a class. Also, Look for an accomplished sewer in your area and see if they offer or would consider giving a class. A community college is your best value for money, approximately $200 for a semester long (approx.16, 4 hour classes) class. Good Luck and don’t give up….there is help out there.🤗

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  3. I personally really like it and I think it looks rather sophisticated. I wonder if it’s just that you are used to more fitted clothes because, to me, it doesn’t look too big. All down to personal comfort.

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  4. It definitely isn’t as bad as you said – I think the shift style looks good on you – you could definitely narrow the side seams further from the hip – at least it is perfect for eating whatever you like at the buffet!


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  5. Not sure why but this post didn’t appear on my feed hence my late comment! I’ve told you before that ‘the big purple one’ is my favourite Quality Street and the colour is divine on you. Also like the gathered neckline so I reckon this could be a useful dress for you, particular when having a meal! Don’t think it’s quite a cocktail dress though! I have the same fitting issues with the big 4 so don’t bother with them anymore!

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  6. I always find that with the big 4 too! Hmm the shift style definitely has potential but I’m wondering if you could make the sash out of a black fabric? I think the colour blocking would help break up the purple and add a bit of shape. Or even a brown weavey belt, that could look cute!

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