Pattern Review – Simplicity 1586, aka The Wedding Gown Refactor

30 years ago, a journey began.
June 1 1985
Since that beautiful June day, lots has happened – two sons, two careers, ups, downs, and everything in between that makes up a more or less normal life.

After the wedding, I had my gown preserved, and since then it’s been sitting in a big honkin’ box in the back of DS the Elder’s closet. To mark our anniversary, we decided to go out for a nice dinner. What to wear, what to wear? Well, typical of my style, on Thursday of this week I got the hankering to make a new dress, and a light bulb went off. I don’t have a daughter; I have a big old dress just sitting there. Surely there must be enough fabric to make something new that also is a sweet way to honor the occasion. I started looking through patterns at lunch and found this one.

Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website, “Misses’ & Plus size dress with sleeve and neckline variations. Individual patterns for slim, average & curvy fit & B, C, D cup size for miss & C, D, DD cup sizes for plus. Amazing Fit Collection by Simplicity.

To add to that, this is an armhole-princess-line pattern. I made the v-neck, sleeveless version.

Sizing: 10-28 with cup size and curve variations for all sizes. I used a 12 at the shoulders, tapering to a 14 D-cup/Average figure for the rest.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Silk Satin (Similar Here), Sheer Cotton Voile in White

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki serger, Iron, Ham. Shoulder press, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Tricot Interfacing, ¼” cotton twill tape, Lampo lightweight mesh invisible zipper, Japanese hand-sewing needles, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Fear Not the Fabric, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them. It’s a straightforward princess line dress, and I can sew those in my sleep.

Construction Notes: I have to admit that I was very nervous about this project when I started. I didn’t know what condition the dress would be in when I pulled it out of the box.

My hands were shaking as I opened the box

Fortunately, other than wrinkles from being stored in a box for the better part of 3 decades it was in great shape.

Princess Diana would have been proud.
There’s a lot of fabric in that train

My heart was pounding as I started to cut the skirt but I got over my nerves and really enjoyed the process. I was fascinated to see that this dress was really, really well made. I had the dubious pleasure of helping a good friend with her $6000 Vera Wang wedding dress several years ago, and I was appalled at the shoddy construction used – unfinished seam allowances, threads left hanging, and 4mm stitch length. But my dress was beautifully made, with wide seam allowances, hand-sewn lining in the bodice, tight stitching and all seams finished. Not a serger stitch in sight, either.

There was enough fabric in the skirt to make the dress a couple of times over. I cut out the pieces and decided, thanks to time constraints, to underline the dress (the pattern is unlined) with cotton voile rather than create a lining for it. I made a quick muslin to check the fit. I have found that Simplicity patterns run huge on me through the upper chest and shoulders. This was no exception. I started with a 12, and I still had to take about an inch out of the back neck (I used darts) where it gapped dreadfully. I tapered out to a 14 at the bust (using the D-cup pieces) and gave myself a skoosh extra room at the waist (sigh…)

I used twill tape to stay the v-neckline. I hand basted the underlining pieces to the outer dress pieces and sewed it up. I used the serger to finish the facings and the hem. This went together very quickly. Once I sat at the sewing machine I sewed it up in 4 hours from first seam to last hem stitch. Pressing everything properly took the bulk of that time.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great base piece for any wardrobe. I love the simple clean lines. I love the different cup sizes and curviness options. Hate Simplicity’s fit through the upper chest, but I know about it so I can fix it easily. There’s nothing I dislike about the pattern (other than the aforementioned fit issue). The pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together without a hitch.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would do it again. I definitely recommend it.

Conclusion: I’m so happy with how this turned out. I have enough fabric from the dress left to make a bolero, which I think I will do at some point. I also have all the lace, which would make a nice trim on said bolero. Enough of my yammering, here are pictures…

On Shelley
On me
With the Man I Love
Gratuitous Hoover Shot

I think my next project will be a less emotionally-fraught maxi dress for summer.
Happy sewing!

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35 thoughts on “Pattern Review – Simplicity 1586, aka The Wedding Gown Refactor”

  1. Happy anniversary!!! Your bravery pulling out your wedding dress really paid off– your new dress is gorgeous (and maybe a bit more wearable than its predecessor). 🙂 I’m also going to have to check out that pattern– it really sounds like a winner.

  2. One of my favorite projects is restyling a wedding gown into a new dress – generally, it’s a christening gown I’m making. I fully understand your trepidation while first pulling your gown out of storage – several times I’ve had to start with a gown that was pretty badly stained. How lucky that yours was in such good shape! The new dress is wonderful, great fit – and I’m sure set the stage for a lovely anniversary celebration. Congratulations to both of you!

  3. What a stunning reinvention! So elegant and lovely. Happy anniversary and thanks for sharing an honest review of this pattern — it’s in my stash and moving up to the top of my “to-do” list!

  4. Beautiful. What a great idea. My 50th anniversary is in July. I am going to take a look at my gown. I know it has yellowed but I will use something like BIZ to try and whiten it or maybe cream color is ok. Thanks for the amazing idea.

  5. I echo the bravery observation! Even though I doubt my daughter will wear my dress, I get hives thinking about cutting it apart. Why?! Your refashion is simply lovely, and I do hope you get to wear it often. Looking forward to the bolero, I think it’s a smashing idea!

  6. I really like Simplicity’s Amazing Fit patterns….have several of them. I love the all over white look from your hair to your shoes – perfect. <3 <3 <3

  7. This is a gorgeous, classy reuse of your wedding dress. You look fabulous in it. Maybe one day I will use my wedding dress for fabric. I doubt my daughter will want my 80’s mutton chop sleeves and full skirt on her wedding day.

  8. Happy Anniversary and here’s to hoping you have many more! Beautiful photos of you, Larry and Hoover the Man! XOXO

  9. Happy Anniversary Ann and, WOW, you look absolutely stunning in your new dress! How wonderful that you could use the fabric of your wedding dress to make this new dress and celebrate your Wedding Anniversary! Bravo!

  10. Happy Anniversary and what a great idea. My husband and I are also celebrating 30 this year. I have an unmarried daughter so I will need to wait to cut into mine but would love to do something with it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Happy Anniversary! WOW! You look stunningly gorgeous darling! And you both look way too young to be celebrating your 30th. Amazing work converting your wedding gown into a beautiful and celebratory garment that will no doubt be worn for many special events yet to come. Thanks for the inspiration because now I need to get busy making a special dress for our 40th anniversary this December. Thank you for inviting all of your sewing peeps to share your special day 🙂

  12. I really enjoyed reading this post… what a lovely story of your wedding dress. Hopefully one day I’ll change my wedding dress to something more wearable but at the moment I can’t bring myself to do it (4.5 years). Hope you had a good time wearing it to celebrate all this years of marriage.

  13. Wow! What a great idea! I was just thinking the other day how my husband and I will celebrate 30 years in October 2016. I may try a similar project. Just not sure if my daughter will ever want to wear/use part of my gown.

  14. What a lovely idea…something other sewers could do with their own wedding gowns tucked away into a dusty closet corner.

  15. Congratulations on 30 years of marriage. Your dress is lovely – and so are Larry and Hoover. How old is Hoover now? He seems to have been in your photographs for as long as I can remember and yet he doesn’t seem to have aged at all – all lovely black and shite fur with no greying at all. I hope that you and Larry had a good night out and best wishes for the next 30 years.

    1. Thanks everyone for the lovely wishes!
      Ruth, Hoover is 11. He really hasn’t aged, has he? I suspect there’s a picture of Dorian Dog somewhere stashed in our house.
      Actually he has just a touch of gray under his muzzle. It’s his goatee. 😉

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