Simplicity 1652 – The Dress That Nearly Wasn’t A Dress

Simplicity 1652 interiorThis is the dress that I nearly didn’t make. My lovely friend, Rachel, was getting married to the equally lovely Brett. Rachel has been a faithful follower of my blog and I even made her a work outfit that she still wears to international book fairs. (Indeed, I’ve heard tell of meetings being opened with the question, ‘Is that the dress Karen made?’)

So, when Rachel announced her wedding she didn’t waste any time telling me that I needed to start sewing my outfit. Soon! There was only one problem. I’d been mega busy for nearly a year and wasn’t sure I had the energy for a make that counted. I’ll tell her soon, I kept thinking. She won’t mind if I wear a shop-bought dress.

Then something happened. I went to the Minerva Crafts weekend and spotted some cerise triple crepe. I snapped up three metres. Buoyed on the energy and enthusiasm of that weekend I made myself a promise. I wasn’t going to let my friend down.

I dug out the Simplicity 1652 from my pattern collection. This is one of their Amazing Fit patterns. I swear, if I was banished to a desert island and told I only had one pattern line to sew from, it would be the Amazing Fits. They’re amazing. And they fit.

The pattern instructions are mega-detailed with useful tips, there are different cup size pattern pieces and the order of construction allows you to carefully check and adjust fit during the sewing process. Guess what? I didn’t make a toile of this dress. Knew I didn’t need to. Had faith that the Amazing Fits wouldn’t let me down. Hey, don’t The Amazing Fits sound like a bunch of sewing superheroes? They are!

I will add one caveat. The Amazing Fits fit if you follow the instructions. And the instructions are to baste the entire dress together before the final sewing. Which is a big test on a person’s patience. So just, you know, learn to be patient. It’s still quicker than cutting a dress out twice!

Simplicity 1652The above being said, I made life easy by choosing the simplest variation with a simple back bodice section. The back bodice does come with a cool cut out option, though. Maybe I’ll try it next time I make this dress! I think a back bodice can be almost – almost! – as demanding as a front bodice to fit. You want it right, right?

Back bodiceI was all set on a simple, straightforward, stress-free make. But (and as often happens with me) the deeper I delved into the project, the more I wanted to take care. Out came some fusible interfacing to give the front bodice structure and allow me to tack down the raw princess seams and armhole seams:

Princess seams

And out came the satin lining for the bodice (see top picture). Out came the button making kit, which left poor Ella scared when I kept thumping it!

pink buttons

And out came the silk thread and antique silver thimble. Ella kept me company as I sunk deeper and deeper into long stretches of hand stitching the hem, bodice lining and … gosh, so much hand sewing!

As I worked in silence, the same words kept turning over in my head and my heart. We love you, Rachel. Schmaltzy, I know, but it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to.

Simplicity Collage.jpgI got up before work to sew, I sewed late into the night – I was still sewing on the morning of the wedding! Then two of my dearest friends in the world arrived at the house, we each gave Ella a quick cuddle, and there was nothing left to do except make our way to a very happy day indeed. Here I am with the bride:

Karen and Rachel

 It was a really, really lovely day and I’m glad I made my dress. It was worth it. And sewing lessons learned? You should never be too busy for your friends.

Do you have a wedding story to go with your sewing?

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50 Responses to Simplicity 1652 – The Dress That Nearly Wasn’t A Dress

  1. dottiedoodle says:

    Beautiful dress, love the colour on you.

  2. nicola says:

    You are so clever, I follow your blog but haven’t yet made anything but you are inspiring me to have a go. the dress is beautiful

  3. This is a lovely story! This kind of hand-sewing madness can be really frustrating while it’s going on, but it’s always worth it afterwards. You look lovely in your dress!

  4. sassy02 says:

    The dress turned out lovely and it fits you perfectly! 🙂

  5. Jenny Lester says:

    Lovely dress – where is the piping?? (PS found TMOS on Saturday!! He even got something from under the covers when I told him I knew you! Came back with a haul and promised to be back in October with 10 giggling sewists)

  6. Adrienne says:

    I enjoyed reading this post a lot. The fit and finishing of your dress as well as the fabric-pattern pairing are very, very successful. Beaauuutiful attention to detail and linning. And the dress feels very “you”. I agree that a back bodice can be really tricky to fit. Definitely true for my figure. Looks like your are making the most of your limited sewing time! Inspiring!

  7. Chris says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and you NEVER fail to inspire me Karen. I love the things you make and am amazed at how much you cram into life. The dress looks lovely on you and another amazing fit pattern has now been added to my ‘to do list’.

  8. stitchedupsam says:

    This dress looks lovely on you Karen. I made that pattern last year, with the cut out back, which was a total pain to fit!

  9. Philippa says:

    It’s a lovely dress that fits superbly. I have made an amazing fit top and I love it because I don’t have to faff around with a FBA and it still fits. On the subject of wedding sewing, I made my daughter a beautiful cream raw silk and brocade bridesmaids dress for my friend’s wedding. My daughter spilt blackcurrant squash down it at the wedding reception and it was completely ruined! in her defence, she was only three at the time. At least it looked good in the photos!!

  10. Mertxe says:

    Wonderful dress, Karen! Again, I say that is the best method for sewing: tailor tucks marking, big seam allowances (just in case), baste, fit and do the necessary corrections, and sew at the end. I understand that it can be a bore to tailor tuck and baste the whole thing, if you are not used to it, but making a toile is also a lot of work, and sometimes wasted (different fabric, different dress). And when it comes to sew, let’s enjoy the whole process, make it slow and nice.
    On the other side, dressing up is the best part about a wedding if, of course, one makes the outfit!

  11. Sonja says:

    Lovely dress and stunning colour and fabric! Fits fabulous :). I’m very interested in the pattern, yet I have so much to sew already.

    I made my first dress ánd accessory jacket, also for a wedding and it turned out great. I’m very happy I had made those garments in the end and I am still proud for the result 🙂

  12. velosewer says:

    An amazing fit dress that you’ve nailed and fits you so well Karen. Great colour too. Rachel’s work dress is also lovely too.

  13. ginderella says:

    Lovely dress, fits you beautifully.

    Its my usual thing to make a dress for an occasion: my friends graduation, hen parties, niece and nephews baptism. I love the process of matching fabric and patterns to the celebration. My brother is getting married early August and I’ll be wearing a hand made dress, problem is I’m still undecided on pattern and fabric. I did buy some fabric months ago, but then I fell in love with a hat at a vintage fair and bought it, thing is the fabric and hat don’t match….

  14. That color is your color… Such a beautiful dress! And you are so right – we should never be too busy for our friends. Excellent words of wisdom and advice!

  15. lisa g says:

    gorgeous dress! that pink looks stunning on you.

  16. SaltyGirl says:


  17. Stephanie says:

    I second all of Adrienne’s comments – you look lovely and the care you took with the dress shows. The colour is really pretty on you. It’s also lovely to read a story of friendship on a Monday morning. My brother is getting married next year and they’ve informed us 1) that they’re getting married in Iceland (6,000 km from where they live) and 2) that they have a theme colour for the guests: turquoise (huh?!?). I will be following your lead and making something special (I do have time though!)

  18. Kim says:

    Gorgeous! I love the colour and the side details 🙂 I wore my Anna dress to a wedding and was loving every moment of it…

  19. Nakisha says:

    So pretty…and it’s PINK!

  20. Ellen says:

    What a beautiful dress, and the color is so flattering on you. My sewing/wedding story is about my own dress. 41 years ago I was getting married and we were on a TIGHT budget. I was confident I could sew my own dress, but you need to know that I wait til the last minute for everything. The morning of the big day, and the dress was done, but it didn’t like how the sleeves looked. So I removed them, altered them and reassembled the dress. I had 1 hour to spare, not bad. Still married to my sweetie all these years later, and yes, I am still a last minute person.

  21. gingermakes says:

    What a beautiful dress! I’m so glad you took the time to make it- it’s so lovely and so nice that it’s for such a special event. My craziest wedding-related sewing was the time I foolishly offered to make bridesmaid and MOB dresses for my sister’s wedding. I was a complete sewing newbie at the time and had no idea how to fit other people or manage my time well, so I ended up sewing all night long the night before the wedding, hand sewing on the flight to Chicago, and sewing up until the very last minute on the day! Luckily one of the other bridesmaids had worked in the costume shop at her college theater program, so she helped me finish up the last bit of hand sewing just in time and everyone walked down the aisle completely clothed!

  22. gorgeous, might I say amazing (ha ha) great fit and a great color on you.

  23. Oh, it’s just perfect! Worth all that hard work and hand sewing, definitely.

  24. Ali says:

    The dress is stunning! Looks fab on you! Definitely worth all the effort ✂️😀✂️

  25. Elaine says:

    Gorgeous colour. I’m mother of the groom in 2 weeks. I’ve made a jacket in a very bright pinky cerise colour. Hopefully I will be able to wing this. I’ve never worn anything I’ve made for such an important event and feel quite sick about it. Hope it holds out as I really don’t want to have a story!

  26. Danka says:

    Stunning! The cerise is very summery! I’m making a dress next weekend for a wedding the following weekend. This post inspired me to be patient and follow the instructions.

  27. Kendra Cameron says:

    I made this dress for my daughter last year in navy with white polka dots. It was really easy to make adjustments for fit and she wears it a lot. Yours is just beautiful! Love the color.

  28. amcclure2014 says:

    A beautiful dress and I love the colour.

  29. What a lovely story Karen, and a beautiful dress to boot!

  30. senjiva says:

    So glad to see this pattern worked beautifully for you! I bought this pattern a while ago but it’s just been sitting because I couldn’t decide if it would look good IRL or not.

  31. I love that colour, and it looks beautiful on you! Glad you were able to whip up something so detailed in such a short time!

  32. Karen says:

    Love the color, especially on you!
    I made a dress to wear for a very good friend’s wedding. The day of, I was still finishing it. Her wedding day turned out to be unexpectedly cool, so I added sleeves instead of the planned sleeveless style. Then when I got to the wedding, another friend ran up to me and squealed, “I have a chair in that fabric!” So for the next month my friends kept kidding about whether they should put sleeves in their clothes each day, and what chair they wanted to look like.

  33. B-rouchka says:

    Great dress!
    My wedding-guest dress story: wedding scheduled in June, I started sewing beg.April. I chose a great Burda pattern, which only came in size 44 and up (I am a short 34). So 15 hours and 4 muslins later, I cut it out from the silk fashion fabric. 15 more hours later I tried the dress on only to realize the fit was still not perfect and I made a few mistake which made the dress unwearable for a perfectionnist like me. SO, 2 weeks before the wedding I bought some more blue silk (it had to go with my hat) and sewn another dress, on time :o)

  34. Lorna says:

    Oh, lovely dress – you look fantastic in that colour! I have a wedding-related fail. I made a dress for my friends’ wedding, but I also made the wedding rings. I made them in silver first to check fit, but the groom kept changing his mind about width, so they didn’t get the final versions until (gulp) four days before the wedding. (Maybe I should mention that I’m not a jeweller – it was just a hobby). I was such a nervous wreck that I lost 7lbs in a week and my lovely dress just didn’t look right at all. I didn’t have time to alter it, so ended up wearing something shop bought – but at least the bride and groom were happy with the finished rings! Oh, the tension. They’re still wearing those rings just over a decade later, thank goodness. Sadly, the 7lbs didn’t stay off! Love your blog x

  35. Fickle Sense says:

    Lovely dress with a lovely fit. The colour is just ppeerrrrfect!
    I got married early this year and created the bride dress, bridesmaid and grooms suit. It certainly was a challenge, but I pulled it off in the end. There certainly can be a lot of stress around sewing and weddings, but you did a wonderful job!

  36. Siri says:

    The dress is wonderful, and the color is to die for 🙂
    I cannot get over your antique thimble, it is beautiful and I think I need one now….!

  37. Tracy H says:

    Lovely to read of a dress made with such love and care that’s what sewing should be all about. The dress looks beautiful and really suits you. I’m sure it will give you happy memories whenever you wear it.

  38. I love how much care and love you put into this dress. It paid off it is beautiful.

  39. Sheree says:

    This looks lovely on you and a perfect colour too. Thanks for the tip about amazing fit patterns. I will give them a go. After many years of sewing I have finally woken up to the fact that I need to do a FBA, and to be honest I find it all a bit of a pain. It adds so much time to the whole process, so perhaps this is my answer. That, or just make baggy clothes and skirts!!

  40. Maureen says:

    Looks gorgeous!
    I’ve made the same Amazing Fit pattern 3 times so far and I’m about to make it for a 4th time for a friend’s wedding in August. It’s a fantastic pattern. All hail the Amazing Fit range!!!

  41. catkins13 says:

    That looks lovely – I have the same pattern but it is a screwed up mess in the corner – as you said fitting the back can be as tricky as the front! Especially with the cut out – might go back and see if i have enough material left for the back without the cut out!

  42. dietcouture says:

    What a gorgeous dress! I love that shade of pink, and it looks great on you! The only wedding sewing I’ve ever done was to make my wedding dress 8 years ago, and my best friend’s wedding dress 3 years ago. Both were modifications and combinations of multiple patterns to achieve the general look we were after (and the BFF’s dress was baby blue, so of course it had to be custom made so as not to look like a prom dress!). I also made my husband a camouflage vest with safety orange lining to wear to our wedding. The only other wedding attire I’ve sewn was a maternity dress that I wore to four weddings while pregnant with my son.

  43. Rachel says:

    <3 your dress was gorgeous! And you are too! R xxx

  44. Jane M says:

    You look wonderful in that lovely dress. Your happiness just shines through!

  45. Cerian says:

    Gorgeous! Absolutely LOVE the colour!

  46. Alison Pettitt says:

    You are so clever, you always look lovely and I find your blog inspirational. Ella is a real cutie.

  47. Autumn says:

    Wow, this dress turned out amazing! I have a wedding story to go along with my sewing…. I am sewing my wedding gown as I type this!!! It is a nailbiting adventure, for sure. I chose pure white shimmering crepe back satin and lined with polyester. I wish I could afford better materials, or even afford to buy a ready to wear gown. Alas, my finances hold me back. However, I am creating a perfectly tailored garment complete with hand embroidery and beading on tulle panels. The sheer number of hours I have spent to make this dress perfect is overwhelming. I am having some trouble deciding how to do my hem. I don’t know if I want to do it by hand or with my rolled hem foot. I did the hem on the lining with the rolled hem foot and it is fine, but this is a hefty satin and I don’t even want to risk putting it through the rolled hem foot. I have already stay stitched the edge, pressed the hem under, trimmed to 1/8″, and pressed under again. I may as well just do this hem by hand so that I can avoid the ugly topstitching that the rolled hem foot would do. It is too tiny to do a blind hem. I guess it will be me and my fine needles for a few hours. I still have to attach the lining to the gown and attach the appliqués. I have tried to blog about this but I have not had much time! As long as it turns out pretty, I don’t care how long this will take me.

  48. Debbie says:

    is it an A line skirt, ie flared? or are the skirt pieces rectangular, ie as wide at the top (and then gathered to the bodice) as they are at the bottom?

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