I have to confess that this Denim Fabric was intended for a different garment but when I looked at the pattern I was going to use I realised that it would not do this denim justice. The one I chose in the end is Simplicity Sewing Pattern 8258, one of the Amazing Fit range.
It’s medium weight denim which washes softer and is perfect for this dress. There are plenty of alternative choices if you do not want denim, how about Brocade Fabric for evening, or printed Cotton Fabric?
Everybody should take time to make one of Simplicity's Amazing Fit Sewing Patterns because they teach you so much about fitting a garment to your actual figure shape. This is such a vital skill to learn because you can use the process to make every garment you make fit you perfectly every time.
The instructions go to great lengths to explain how to get the perfect fit and how to make adjustments to the pattern. There is even a section explaining how the dress should fit on the neckline, shoulders and sleeves and how to make any adjustments necessary.
To start I washed and ironed my fabric, firstly to allow it to shrink and secondly because denim is notorious for the colour rubbing off. I once ruined a beige handbag because the colour rubbed off on it from my new jacket. So I was taking no chances!
Having done that and after checking my fabric for flaws I took a look at the pattern.
The pattern asks you to take your measurements and from this you determine your cup size as well as your bust and hip sizes. According to my measurements I needed to cut size 12 C. But the pattern did not stop there because then you are invited to choose between slim, average and curvy. The thing I love about this range of patterns is that there are individual pattern pieces for each combination of measurements. I chose average but I ought to have chosen slim, having lost weight. I think I am suffering from body dysmorphia and I should really learn to trust my tape measure but in the end it didn’t really matter because it was easily put right in the fitting stages.
To prepare the fabric for cutting out, fold the fabric carefully and pin the selvedge’s together then take all of your pattern pieces and pin the pattern onto the fabric, carefully noting the pattern instructions regarding placement. Then it is time to get the scissors out and carefully cut around the notches, please don’t snip into them. The next job is to transfer all the pattern markings onto the fabric using my favourite tailor’s tacks, or whatever method you prefer.
You know that I love machine embroidery so I could not resist doing a design across the top of the dress. This needed marking out so that it ran straight with the grain of the fabric. I always draw a faint line on the fabric with tailors chalk crossing at the exact centre of the design. To make it easier to see I then run a few running stitches with tacking thread along these lines just for a couple of inches. You need then to iron your stabiliser onto the back of the fabric which you peel off when the design is complete. The embroidery designs do give you measurements so it is easy to calculate where to place them. The machine I use is this one from Jaycotts.co.uk. At the time of writing this it is on special offer so do telephone Jaycotts for more details.
Once you have placed your design and the hoop is in the machine pull the tacking threads out.
If you want to do hand embroidery Minerva sell a huge range of Machine Embroidery Threads. Embroidery still continues to be very fashionable and I think it will be here to stay for a very long time. I love it because it enables you to personalise everything you can think of.
Having finished my embellishment – which was already on my embroidery machine when I got it, I then proceeded to make up the dress. Embroidery machines come with designs built into them but they can be easily supplemented by the many designs available online. A lot of them are free.
I was instructed to insert the pockets first and to stitch the darts. Then I stitched the side fronts and backs to the front and back. In order to get the garment ready for fitting I stitched the centre back up to the bottom of the zip placement and tacked it the rest of the way right to the top. After stitching the shoulder seams the dress is ready for fitting
When I put it on I pinned the side seams together and quickly realised that I would need to take the sides in by at least two inches. However the bust line and shoulders were perfect.
Deciding it would make fitting easier I inserted the back zipper next. I have not lost favour with concealed zips entirely but I have been using centred zips a lot lately. I had totally forgotten how easy they are to insert and how trouble free they are. To insert one, press the tacked back seam open and lay your zip face down, centering the zip teeth over the seam. Then tack the zip in place.
Using a regular zipper foot, stitch down one side of the zip from the top to the bottom on the right side of your fabric. Then stitch top to bottom on the other side. Before you take your tacking stitches out give it a press, do use a pressing cloth to avoid melting the zip teeth and from leaving iron marks on your fabric. Take your tacking out and there you have a perfect centred zip. Easy isn’t it!
Now I can get down to the business of fitting the dress. I tacked down the sides first and put it on, then I pinned where it needed taking in a bit more. 
I decided against over-fitting the dress because I want to wear it with a polo neck jumper under it in winter. It really is a versatile dress. There are a lot of instructions on fitting so it really is something which you can take forward to every garment you make.
The hem needed shortening by four inches but length is personal preference. I used a twin needle to topstitch the hem.
Keep trying the dress on and make small adjustments where you need to. It is a good idea to keep a notebook and write in it how you altered the pattern and by how much.
I chose the sleeveless version so that it would be more versatile, and I think that it suits the quite sturdy fabric. The facings need Interfacing before stitching them in place. Never miss this step because the extra firmness really does support the neckline and armhole keeping the whole garment crisp and hanging nicely.
I under-stitched the facings to keep them in place and also top stitched around the armholes. When it came to finishing the neckline I thought that a row of embroidery made on my regular sewing machine would just add the finishing touch. 
I chose one of the embroidery patterns on my machine and the same embroidery thread as the main part of the larger embroidery. You will need an embroidery needle as the eye on these needles is rounder and does not damage the thread. Even so, set your machine to a very slow speed and don’t be afraid to pause every now and then. I was very lucky in that my thread did not snap right in the centre of the front as often happens when you sew too quickly. Use your seam guide too – or a piece of masking tape on your machine if you don’t have one – as any wobbly stitching will be very noticeable.
And that’s it really. Take your time to get the fit right and you will be delighted with the result. I can’t wait to get hold of a fine polo neck top and wear this dress with my boots!
There are several Simplicity amazing fit patterns, do try one. You will learn such a lot about fitting and to be honest no matter what your size a well fitting garment is the most flattering thing to wear.
Happy sewing,