Simplicity 1801 – My Winter Summer Dress

Simplicity 1801

Are you the same as me right now? Wrapping up in layers and then peeling them off? At this time of year I need what I call a Winter Summer dress – otherwise known as the Simplicity 1801. The print suits winter, but the fabric is cool enough so that when I sit in an airless, overheated office I’m not fanning my face.

I used a viscose twill, bought from eBay. (If you want to read all about viscose, check out my Fabric Focus here.) My fabric choice isn’t available any more, but this is from the same supplier.

Simplicity 1801 iii

The success or failure of this dress is all in the fitting. It relies on fabric with drape and there are lots of gathers at the bust, waist and back. So, it’s a good job I remembered some advice given to me years ago: Always make Simplicity dresses two sizes smaller than the pattern measurements tell you.

According to the pattern’s body measurements, I should have cut out a size 18. I cut out a size 14, and had few fitting adjustments. I shaved a bit of depth off the shoulder width (common for me), took an inch off the sleeve length, shortened the skirt by 3.5 inches and took 3/4 inch off the depth of the back bodice. It’s worth knowing that there’s a very handy back yoke seam that allows you to adjust the back fit with no tears – as long as you address this before sleeve insertion.

Simplicty 1801 back view

There are pockets included in the pattern, but I didn’t use them. I thought they’d bag out with a fabric this full of drape. One other adjustment I must mention. I raised the V neckline by about 1.5 inches. Otherwise, I wouldn’t want to bend over in this dress. Not without revealing my bra!

The sleeves are voluminous, so I’d pause to consider if that’s a look you’re going to like. There’s a side seam invisible zip and … that’s about it.

I am very happy with this dress! I’d happily continue wearing it beyond winter months. Do you have to negotiate temperature chaos at this time of year? My house is freezing right now!

Simplicity 1801 iv

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61 Responses to Simplicity 1801 – My Winter Summer Dress

  1. I love it. Very pretty and so nice to see a sophisticated print in a dress you can wear to work. and great fit.

  2. I do the same type of dressing. One of my favorite ways to handle the temp swings are footless polar fleece tights. Perfect for walking outside, and I can take them off the moment I get into my office 🙂 Since they’re footless, I already have socks on, so i don’t have to remember to bring socks. Knee high boots and bare feet are a bad mix…

  3. Oh, very elegant Karen! Looks lovely on you, should imagine you could wear this all year round. Our house is freezing as is the school. I work in, but other parts are ridiculously hot. I wear layer upon layer, and spend the whole day stripping off and piling it all back on again, layer by layer…

  4. carly927 says:

    This dress is incredibly flattering on you.

  5. Linda T says:

    Very pretty. I may have to take a second look at this pattern. Lovely fabric. I love rayon/viscose fabrics.

  6. Jane says:

    Supremely flattering dress Karen, you look gorgeous! x

  7. Jen (NY) says:

    Same problem in New York – horribly overheated indoors, freezing outside. A winter summer dress is a perfect solution. Nice one!

  8. Lovely dress, the fabric is beautiful. It’s always overheated in my office too. I have to wear so many layers

  9. That fabric is so pretty and perfect for a winter summer dress. I like the pattern, it looks like one for knits at first glance. Thanks for the tip about making Simplicity 2 sizes smaller. I am always disappointed with their sizing as they had so much ease in their patterns.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Lovely dress and a great look on you. Come to think of it I made a Cynthia Rowley Simplicity dress last summer and I had to take it in a ton. Good to remember the tip you shared!

  11. Caroline says:

    Such a delightful fabric that really compliments the dress. You look lovely in this Karen – are you planning to make a second?

  12. Alice says:

    This is amazing Karen! The fabric choice, the fit, the finish – it’s absolutely perfect. I’m a huge fan of viscose, as it’s so comfortable to wear!

    And yes, I couldn’t have said the winter layering thing better myself 🙂

  13. Hélène says:

    You seem more and more confident about the style that suits you best. This dress is simply perfect on you. Plus, your new hairstyle is amazingly flattering.

  14. sewbusylizzy says:

    I’ve given up reading those size charts. I always go by the ‘finished measurements’ usually printed on the pattern itself. I put the tape measure around myself at various points, based on the finished measurements and decide if that is the sort of fit I’d like for the style. Rarely lets me down!
    Gorgeous dress. I stash Cynthia Rowley patterns every pattern sale.

  15. Katie says:

    Really lovely, the colours in the fabric are lush. Sadly no such overheating problem for me.. richocheting between a freezing flat, office and outdoors means I’m stocking up on sweater knits.

  16. lisa g says:

    I love the print you used! Great dress and very flattering!

  17. Jenny says:

    I know exactly what you mean. Nice dress! Looks great with tights in cooler weather and will look great with sandles in warm weather!

  18. It’s gorgeous,and would also look very hip with a skivvy under it don’t you think? Here, the weather is eternally fickle at all times. I am forever stripping and redressing layers. At least right now it is consistently hot. That’s good, isn;t it?

  19. Shelby says:

    Dress is so cute! I love it!

  20. Becky says:

    Karen, this is so lovely! Very flattering on you, and the fabric is beautiful. This is a dress you can wear all year, yeah? Those are the best kind.

  21. Rachel says:

    Lovely dress!

    I have the opposite problem at this time of year (in Australia). I have to find work clothes that are suitable for walking outside in 30+ degrees but also ok for layering for Arctic airconditioned conditions inside the office.

  22. BeaJay says:

    Stunning. Love your fabric and pattern choice. That dress really is lovely.

  23. emsewcrazy says:

    You hit the nail on the head with this one. Both the winter temperature problem and fixing it with this fabulous dress!

  24. Verykerryberry says:

    Lovely! Fabric drapes beautifully for the style. I’ve made the same dress before and used it for a maxi skirt too, love the shaped waist band on it.

  25. Pre says:

    This dress really turned out great and the colors & shape are very flattering on you. One of my favorites that you’ve made lately.

  26. I cannot race enough about this dress! You did a fantastic job with the fit and fabric choice. It’s BEAUTIFUL!

  27. Sandi says:

    The dress fits you beautifully!! Thank you for the inspiration….I am going to make this dress!

  28. Anne-Marie says:

    Lovely dress Karen, very flattering. I do like the colours of the print; they suit you so well.

  29. Philippa says:

    Really pretty dress! I work with the elderly and their homes are so hot, so I completely understand what you are talking about! I wear layers too as when I get back in my car it is freezing.

  30. The perfect fabric for the perfect dress! Love this!

  31. Good idea. Love the dress and the fabric.

  32. Fadanista says:

    What a gorgeous dress. It will see you right through to summer.

  33. Styled to perfection…loving that necklace too!
    Daisy J

  34. sjmcclelland says:

    Lovely dress. The colours really suit you. Looks great with the tights. We get long stretches of -20 celsius days in January, so I tend to wear pants in the winter (with tights underneath). On “warmer” days, I pull on a pair of leggings under my skirt/dress. I don’t like having cold feet, so I always wear an extra pair of socks.

  35. Liza Jane says:

    Gorgeous fabric. I’m a fan of the voluminous sleeve, too. I’ve made that pattern before. And yes, the neckline is super revealing without some modification. Love it!

  36. I love this dress. The fabric is very nice and looks great one you. First time I have seen a review of it too which is good as I have been wanting a copy of this pattern for ages. I bought it for my swap partner for the Curvy Sewing Collective Holiday Swap and was kicking myself that I never bought one for myself at the same time. Seeing yours has definitely made me want one. Xx

  37. This looks amazingly comfortable and so Pacific Northwest! Love it!

  38. nicola says:

    I love all your sewing and after following you for some time I think I am ready to take the plunge and make my first piece of clothing . what simple shirt/blouse/top patter do you recommended

  39. SarahStar says:

    That is a GORGEOUS dress! The fit is beautiful. I love it! Here in Wales in my 300 year old building, I wear fingerless gloves and 3 layers of clothes in the house, and a couple more to go out. Roll on summer…did dressing once really just involve, y’know, a dress….?

  40. Shaewc says:

    That fabric is just gorgeous and the dress looks lovely on you. Successful sew!

  41. Maryjane says:

    What a gorgeous dress, and colourway is sublime! BTW, what lip color are you sporting? We have very similar coloring! 🙂

  42. Gail says:

    This pattern is very similar to a vintage Butterick I have. I love your idea of a winter/summer dress and the colours in yours are perfect. Love that fabric.

  43. fabrickated says:

    I love the shape of this dress on you, and the scale and colours of the pattern. It’s really an all time great. And my office is freezing on a Monday and unbareable by Friday.

  44. Everything about this dress is so flattering on you!

  45. monica L. says:

    Basically all my struggles with temperature are just being too cold! Even in summer I sometimes carry a jacket around with me because buildings and stores always blast the cold air when it’s warm out! Very pretty dress!

  46. Roberta Fahrni says:

    Very nice!

  47. I like the lines of the dress, and the print really suits your coloring.

  48. Melizza says:

    What a stunner! But I confess. I did a happy dance after discovering this pattern is in my stash. Hope to make one almost as pretty!

  49. tinygoldenpins says:

    This is really beautiful. It’s all in the fabric, I think. I have this dress and did it up in older Liberty lawn Strawberry Thief print. I didn’t know about the too-big-sizing of Liberty and between that and my paranoia about my makes too tight so I always size up, the dress is like a sack with enormous sleeves. So, it’s put aside right now. I do think the print I used is too dainty for this pattern because your print looks fabulous in the pattern and the color so suit your hair and lovely skin. Of course: viva la red lipstick.

    I, too, may have to dig this pattern out of my files….

  50. I had no idea about that Simplicity tip. It sure explains a lot. I always thought I was measuring myself wrong!

  51. Charlotte S says:

    Very nice! Nice to see one of fave bloggers making this as I am making this dress myself and i am finding getting a neat finish around the bottom of the v neck a bit tricky…any tips? 🙂

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