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Simplicity 2406: Cynthia Rowley Dress

25 July 2010 45 Comments

I am happy that my sewing slump is officially over. I finished this dress earlier in the week, but I was too busy tweaking my blog design to post it. Enjoy!

Pattern Description: Misses’ dress in three lengths with sleeve variations by Cynthia Rowley

Pattern Sizing: This is a multi-size pattern (6-14). I made a size 12 and graded to a 14 in the hips (View B)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!

Note: The sash in the second photo is longer than the photo above it because I took this photo before I shortened it as described below.

Were the instructions easy to follow? *#%& No! First of all, the instructions for the pockets didn’t make much sense to me (based on other pockets I’ve constructed) so I ended up ripping them out. I just couldn’t figure out how they would end up looking right, so I decided to stop. I’m glad I did because I think they would have interfered with the silhouette of the dress. Also, I got really confused with the sleeves beginning with Step #16 (the drawing was misleading) and found myself concentrating really hard to minimize the need to break out my seam ripper. I had to study the drawing carefully for step #17 because the instructions were unnecessarily weird and unclear. Also, for a moment, I really couldn’t figure out how it would be possible to turn the sleeve right side out with the facings, but I was determined to squeeze the fabric through that ridiculously narrow hole and it eventually went through. When I got to step #19, I misunderstood the instructions and did not turn the facing over the sleeve, so I had to rip the seams out and sew them again. I didn’t have issues with the rest of the instructions, but they could  have been more clear. Also, it was after midnight and I was pretty sleepy when I got to the sleeve section.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I really disliked making the sleeves and turning the facings. When I turned the facings to the inside of the dress (steps 19-20), I had to rip the seams out a few times and clip the corners in order to eliminate bulk inside of the facings. I encountered some drama in the left back facing area (immediately beneath the letters “in” written in hot pink writing in the photo below), but I didn’t feel like using my seam ripper again so I trimmed and ironed it as evenly as possible. It’s still not perfect, but I didn’t obsess over it because it’s not that noticeable from the outside when I am wearing the dress.

I also noticed that the back facing kept flipping over to the outside of the back opening, so I sewed all of the facings down by hand using the “invisible hem” stitch to hold them in place. In retrospect, I should have done this after I sewed the hook and eye because I had to rip out some of the invisible stitches in order to sew on the hooks because my hands couldn’t fit underneath the facing :(.

Fabric Used: Poplin

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I made a few minor alterations.  First, I am 5’2 and shortened the sash by 10 inches because it hung several inches below the hem (I cut off four inches from the bottom of the dress and made a 1 inch hem). This could have been easily avoided if I had tied the sash around my waist to measure the length before I sewed the seams (duh! :). It’s still longer than the sash featured on the pattern envelope. If I make this again, I may make it even shorter and I will tie it on the side instead of the middle.

Also, I didn’t have any issues with the slit in the back exposing too much skin as some of the other reviewers noted, however, I am going to sew a few more inches of the opening closed because it exposed my bra strap even though I pushed it as far down my back as possible. I didn’t notice this until I was on my way out of the door in the dress, so I used a safety pin.

Note: I took this photo before I pinned the opening closed.
Ugh! I can sort of see that pesky little area where I encountered the drama with the uneven back facing (left shoulder), but I have decided to stop being a perfectionist, so I’m going to make like Keyshia Cole and “let it go
“…..(woo-saa!). Besides, if anyone is that close to my shoulder to notice this minor detail, they really need to back up off me! :)

Finally, I sewed a hook and eye instead of a button. When I wore this dress out to dinner, my friends had to constantly re-fasten the hook every couple of minutes because it refused to stay closed (sooooo annoying). I am definitely going to replace the hook and eye with a button and thread loop before I wear this dress again!

Let me know if you have any button suggestions. I was thinking of something sparkly — perhaps rhinestones?

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would definitely recommend this pattern to others, but it’s a very unique and memorable dress and I’m not sure if I need two. However, I LOVE the flattering fit and back opening, so I am definitely going to sew the sleeveless version (View D) in the near future to spare myself the headache I encountered with the sleeves and facings again. From my experience, I recommend View D for beginners instead of View B. This dress would have probably ended up in the wadder pile if I had attempted to make it (without assistance from my sewing instructor) before I had some experience with sleeves and facings.

Conclusion: I love this dress and highly recommend this pattern! It is very flattering, especially if you want to camouflage extra pounds in the midsection. Side note: I wore this to my birthday dinner and my friends raved about it. I ate ice cream and a HUGE piece of chocolate cake and I didn’t even have to loosen up the sash :)

Related posts:

McCall's 6083 (Jumpsuit): Crotch FAIL / Tube Top Refashion
New Look 6655: Pencil Skirt
Happy New Year!: 2011 Sewing Goals & Year-End Review


  • Adrienne said:

    LOVE IT!!! Very cute.

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thank you!

  • mz.choize said:

    It came out great! I feel ur pain on those sleeves, I ran into the same issues too, those instructions are a joke, lol.
    I think a rhinestone button would be cute, I used one on my dress too.
    Great blog btw.

  • Victoria said:

    Such a cute dress!!! You looked great in it!!!!


  • Carla (author) said:

    @ Mz. Choize: Thanks so much! I read your review and cracked up at the “need a drink” comment. I was thinking the same thing while I worked on this dress, but if I had indulged it would have ended up looking a hot mess. And you are definitely right about this dress not being “bra friendly”. I looked for a cute rhinestone button at Hancock Fabrics today, but I didn’t see one I liked. I am going to keep looking.

    @ Victoria: Thank you. I’ll have to drop by your blog to see what’s new :)

  • Ebony said:

    Carla, that dress is gorgeous. I am just in awe that you made it. I know nothing about sewing, so I have absolutely no concept about the process. But whatever it is, keep doing it!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Awww, thanks Ebony! I’m glad you like it. I hope your blog is almost ready :)

  • Sandi said:

    That is so cute! I had bypassed this pattern, but now I may have to pick it up. I think it looks better on someone with curves than the model on the package – you rocked it well!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thank you, Sandi. Let me know if you make it!

  • Linda L said:

    Great looking dress! Cute style and fits you very well. Happy belated birthday!

  • Bibah said:

    Love the dress. Great job. Hope you find a cute button soon :-)

  • Myra said:

    Wow, you are definitely working that dress!!! Very pretty and anything that allows you to be comfortable after eating that luscious looking piece of decadent chocolate cake, is great in my book too! Beautiful outcome! Happy Belated Birthday!

  • Mom said:

    Your dress looks great, Baby Girl. Can’t wait to see it on you. (I also want that same cake next time I come to visit!) I’m so impressed with your grit and determination in learning to sew. May we all be inspired by your example of setting and achieving a goal.

  • Rondine said:

    I love the birthday dress Carla! wow lots of time it seems… but worth it! Sorry that I did not keep up with my sewing….

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks, Ladies!

    @ Mom: Thank you! By the way, this is Linda’s Fudge Cake from the Cheesecake Factory. It’s not as good as the brownie sundae I like at California Pizza Kitchen (I had the latter the night before this photo was taken).

    @ Rondine: Thanks for visiting my blog. It’s never too late to start sewing again. Maybe you should reunite with your machine? :-)

  • Rondine said:

    maybe… i need a better, easier to use, more fancy features one… but for now I’ll just grudge your skills… Actually my mom use to sew my baby clothes – so when I finally am expecting – I will pick it up again… :-)

  • Carla (author) said:

    @ Rondine: When you’re ready for a new machine, I highly recommend this one: http://www.amazon.com/Brother-CS6000I-60-Stitch-Computerized-Functions/dp/B000JQM1DE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1281021075&sr=8-1

    I love mine and it’s very easy to use.

  • lasandrou said:

    Your birthday dress is beautiful!! I love it !
    This pattern is a must have …

  • Francesca said:

    Great review. I love this pattern but I’m still a novice so I’ll have to give it a miss. WHEN OH WHEN will someone create patterns with GOOD instructions?

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks, Francesca,

    I definitely recommend trying another pattern until you have more sewing experience! I think the pattern companies should start making videos available for the patterns. FYI – The big 4 pattern companies will answer questions over the the phone. I’ve called Vogue a few times and it was very helpful.

  • Colleen said:

    Hi Carla,

    Thanks for the great review of this pattern. Your dress is great, and so flattering.

    I’m getting ready to cut my fabric, and I was wondering if you could give me advice. I don’t want to leave the back open. Do you think that if I cut the back on the fold, and leave the top closed, I’ll be able to get the dress on?

    Thank you:)

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks, Colleen.

    I recommend following the instructions for inserting a zipper. I’m not sure if it would be easy to get on without one. I haven’t looked at the pattern in awhile, but I remember that it had a zipper option. Did you consider that?

  • CallMeSu said:

    I also made this dress in a purple poplin and the sleeves kicked my ass! So much so that I had to put down the dress and come back several days later! It turned out well though and I got alot of compliments on it. I too want to make the sleeveless version but I want to do it in a more flow-y fabric. Good job though! The dress looks great on you!

  • Carla (author) said:

    I think a sleeveless version in a fabric like jersey would be great for summer. Thanks for checking out my blog.

  • Seawych said:

    Thanks for the info :) I’m looking for a ‘mother of the bride’ type dress with a Romanesque flair and this certainly looks like it would work, especially in something drapey like a fine linen or silk. Thanks.

  • Carla (author) said:

    I think it would be pretty in silk, although I don’t remember what type of fabric the pattern recommends. Good luck!

  • Colleen said:

    Thanks again Carla:) I didn’t want to put in a zipper (too hard to zip up the back), so I figured I’d try it w/o, and it’s fine. The sash is funny, though. I called Simplicity to ask about the length, and the lady there said it should go around twice. Not on my 30″ waist it doesn’t:( Next time I’ll add 3″ per piece.

  • Carla (author) said:

    I’m glad the dress fits w/out the zipper :). Oh wow, is that why the sash is so long?!! haha. I couldn’t figure out why it came down to my knees. I feel silly now. Thanks!

  • Lilly said:


  • halina said:

    Wow! You’ve nailed it with this dress- great fit, perfect fabric.
    I think it looks better than the models’ dress on the pattern envelope. I wasn’t sure about this pattern but will now give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks, Halina. Enjoy the pattern.

  • SandraMarie said:

    I am so glad that I have come across your blog. My daughter , who lives 90 miles away, was stuck on sewing the sleeves to this dress so she drove to my house to have me help her. I have not sewed in very many years but she had faith that I could help her. Well, she was here for 6 hours and we were not able to get the sleeve on. The next day I worked on it for another 2 hours and was able to get it!! Now, I am still unable to figure out steps 19 and have been working on that for days!! About to lose my mind! I am taking a close look at your pictures and hoping it can help me out!! “Simplicity” – LOL, I don’t think so!!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Sandra Marie: Oh no! FYI-You can call the toll free number on the Simplicity web site or pattern envelope and ask for help. There are also some reviews of this dress on Pattern Review and I think I remember others struggling with the sleeves. Maybe there are some helpful tips there. Good luck!

  • Carla (author) said:

    PS– What is step 19? Is that something unrelated to the sleeves?

  • SandraMarie said:

    Step 19 is attaching the sleeve to the body. It says “open out neck facings at armhole edges”. Don’t know what the neck facing is, and , as you said, in your comments about what you “did not like”, it is very confusing. At any rate, I have a friend that is an accomplished seamstress and I am driving to her house today for help. She is anxious to see how it can be so confusing!!
    Thanks for the info on calling the 800#, didn’t really think they could help but if this doesn’t work, I will call them!
    I should clarify that our initial problem was getting the sleeve TOGETHER. Now, it is getting it on the dress.

  • sharolyn bratton said:

    i really like the dress, however, i am having a very hard time putting the sleeves in…my difficulty is coming in at the top of the sleeves not matching my dots…a li’l frustrated.

  • Carla (author) said:

    I’m sorry that so many people are struggling with the sleeves. Unfortunately, I made this over a year ago and can’t remember the details. Good luck!

  • Andee said:

    You look perfectly sweet in this dress. Great work and patience working through the hard parts. I’m starting view D and took notes from your review. Next I will make your View B with African fabric I got in Barbados. I’m sure I will be thanking you as I make it!!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks Andee :) I’m glad my review was helpful.

  • shimere said:

    Very cute! I love the sleeves!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks :)

  • Jennifer said:

    Thanks for the detailed review on this dress! It looks fantastic! I have this pattern in my stash. I will come back to your suggestions when I read through the directions.

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks Jennifer!

  • Sassy T said:

    Just bought this and have to say love your version. Most importantly that you can eat some decent food without feeling you have a corset on. https://www.facebook.com/SassySewingBees

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks Sassy T! I haven’t worn this dress since I wrote this post 3 years ago. Thanks for reminding me that I have it :)

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