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Laura’s Simplicity 8454

I bought my sewing machine on a whim. Most people that you hear about have a lovely romantic story, but not me! It was New Year’s Day 2018 and I wanted something new to get stuck into.

I started making the basics: cushion covers, millions of zipper pouches that I didn’t know what to do with and dabbled in some bag making. It was not long until I discovered the wonderful world of dress making, and I was lucky that it was at the boom of the indie pattern designer. Like most newbies, I wanted full and detailed instructions, with lots of pictures to hold my hand.

For that reason, I have steered clear of the commercial patterns in fear that the instructions would be too sparse and difficult to follow; aimed at an audience who already know what they were doing.

That is… until now!

I recently picked up the Simplicity 8454 pattern, drawn in by the flouncy goodness. Tons of design options to mix and match; it’s one that you could make over again. It was in the sale, and I thought, why not! Clue’s in the name right… simplicity?!

I decided to go for View A – a flounce across the front yoke which is carried through over the upper arm. Not one to usually tone down the drama, but I did choose to omit the frill down the sleeve, I figured there was enough going on, plus I knew I would want to layer with cardigans so it would just get in the way.

And the fabric destined for this adventure? There was a 50:50 fabric lottery in the October Classic box, and I was so happy to receive this most gorgeously soft crepe. It is almost like a thick viscose; smooth like butter next to my skin and serene drape that is perfect for fluttery flounces. And the juxtaposition of the bold graphic triangles with the Cath Kidston-esque roses is to die for.

Only fellow sewists will understand the unadulterated joy when I say that it washed, ironed and cut so beautifully. My rotary cutter glided through with ease; leaving none of those pesky odd threads that pull and distort it.

Pieces cut, on with the sewing!

On the whole, the instructions and accompanying pictures did explain each step quite well. My only criticism is that that at no point does it tell you to finish the seams (with the exception of the narrow hems on flounces). I know that this seems quite basic, and as an experienced sewer something that you just do automatically but had this been back when I first started dressmaking then I would have been quite stuck.

Minor thing, it also doesn’t tell you directly to do gathering stitches on the shoulder cap, rather to “ease between the notches”. Again, not so clear for beginners.

Instructions aside, the actual construction was relatively straightforward. I did find the neck, and particularly the sleeve binding a little fiddly, so my top-stitching is not the neatest, but hey, I can live with that.

Finally, instead of the button and elastic on the back, I hand-stitched on a simple hook-and-eye for ease when I don’t have someone to do up the button for me! Thankfully I didn’t have to make any fitting adjustments.

Now that I have dipped my toe in the world of the big 4, I am feeling confident to do more. My first port of call will always be the indie patterns (support small businesses!) but now I won’t be so hesitant on a commercial pattern.