Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Hot Child In The City" Dress - Simplicity 2444

 You Guys! You Guys! I made a dress! And it fits!
This is my very first iteration of Simplicity 2444, that much beloved pattern the entire blogosphere over. Sewing bloggers have sung this patterns praises for the past 2 years - I've had it in my stash all that time, but only recently decided to officially make it up. I made 2 full muslins of the bodice (including the sleeves), and it took quite a few alterations to make it fit me.
Since this was my first full make up of the pattern, I decided to use a fabric that I liked, but wouldn't be completely heartbroken over if it didn't work out. This is the City Scenes Aerial View Quilting Cotton by Jane Dixon for Andover Fabrics in the pink/black/white colorway. I was feeling very brave when I bought it from Fabric.com, lol, and when it arrived I still liked it but was a bit worried it could end up being a bit over the top.
I totally love that this has pockets!
This dress pattern is well regarded for good reason - it's a very simple bodice with some cool diagonal waist darts, it has pockets (!), it has a full skirt that would look good with a petticoat or without, and the pattern includes lots of simple variations for fancy collars and a waist tie. I went with the simplest possible version - the fitted plain bodice with sleeves and a full skirt. Like I said, it took quite a few alterations to the pattern to get it fitting me, but I am glad I put in the time because it really does fit well now :) My alterations included: 2" hollow chest adjustment, lengthening the bodice by 2.5", lengthening the darts accordingly, adding 1/2" to the waist at each side, adding darts to the upper back. I think I changed more than that, but I can't remember. That's a lot of changes, ya'll! I also had to fudge the outermost pleat on the skirt to account for that extra width at the waist - no biggie.
Even with all my adjustments, it's not perfect. The bodice was great until I put the interfaced facing on and now the back stands away from my neck - it's not crazy noticeable, but it's enough for my hair to sink down into it and tickle my back all day, lol. I'll be sure to make that back dart a smidge bigger next time. Darn that dowager's hump! In all honesty, I don't know that the skirt is the most flattering on me. Pleats right where my gut starts poking out means the skirt sticks out more at the waist. Next time around, I will either move the darts toward the sides or try out a different skirt with the bodice. I think this decision will be made by how much fabric I have on hand.
I used a 22" black zipper I had in my stash - I lucked out really, since I just assumed I would have a zipper on hand and never officially checked until I needed to insert it - this was the only possible candidate that matched. Hooray for thrift store zippers! This zip cost me 10¢, and is most definitely older than I am - but wouldn't you know it went in great and works like a champ! They just don't make things the way they used to :)
Speaking of zippers, can I get an Amen for this zipper insertion?! This is by far the best looking zipper I have ever inserted IN my entire life. I didn't pattern match since the pattern is so crazy and I was so limited on fabric - I bought 3 yards with no specific project in mind and it ended up being just enough if I got incredibly creative with my cutting layout - thank heavens this pattern isn't directional! Anyway, I inserted the zipper exactly as described by Sunni in her free Craftsy class and man did it deliver. I stabilized the opening with knit stay tape, ironed the seam allowance over, applied Wonder Tape, stuck the zipper on, and stitched it in place - not a single problem! What a joy :) This baby looks so good it makes me want to walk around backwards so others can fully appreciate it.
Here's a closeup of the front and the back. I know it's hard to see them in the crazy print, but the waist darts are really cool. And there's the zipper again - ah, perfection :) I know the picture shows some gaping at waist/bodice junction in the zipper - but I had worn this dress 3 separate days already without ironing before these photos (oops), and I know it was perfect when I first made it so I think it just needs ironing.
Here's a view of the insides for you. All of the seams were finished with pinking shears, because they are quick and easy. If you look close you can see selvage in my seams - man, did I use lots of selvage! I'm telling you, it was a small miracle that I could get all these pieces cut out of this fabric. I was only able to fit all the pieces as drafter by cutting the front pieces one direction and the back pieces "upside down". You can only tell by certain buildings which way the pattern goes, but no matter which way you look there are always some buildings upside down so I'm not worried about it. In the end I had nothing but small scraps left, though I did have enough to cut an extra sleeve - I forgot to flip the pattern to cut the second one (oops). Every skirt piece has selvage on one side of it, plus I had to be creative with the pockets and facings - they ended up with a few "cut in" spots.
The only place this actually showed through in more than the seam allowances was on one side of one of the pockets - there was a teeny little hole. So, I used the same trick I did for mending my sheets - I ironed a tiny piece of fusible interfacing to the back, then stitched just over the hole back and forth and put a little fray check on it. From the front all you can see is a tiny spot of white stitches, but in the print you have to really search for it. It just looks like part of one of the buildings :)
I did a small bit of hand sewing on this dress too - somehow the mark that the pattern tells you to sew the skirt up to before you insert the zipper was too short - like 2 full inches too short (which makes no sense since I used the recommended zipper length and marked the fabric correctly, but whatev). I was able to use my zipper foot and sew it closed about another inch, but I had to hand sew the rest up to the base of the zip. Also, I hand stitched the facing at the shoulder seams to keep it from flipping outside the dress as well as around the zipper opening just to keep things neat and tidy. I could have been neater about my stitches at that back facing, but hey - it's inside the dress and it does the job - case closed. I was so excited to be done at that point that I totally didn't care. There is also a hook and eye at the top.
So there you have it :) I successfully made a dress! Oh, and all in all I'm estimating this cost me a whopping $14.00 - the fabric cost $13.32 in the 4th of July Sale, the zip was 10¢, and I'm rounding up to account for the hook and eye, wonder tape, and stay tape. Not bad in my book! I have already worn the dress several times and it hasn't fallen apart - always a good sign. Also, I don't feel like it's too crazy of a print. The dress feels very ModCloth to me, so I think I hit the right balance of quirky and cute. I wore it the first time plain, then I came across this wide elastic belt in my closet and wore it with that the next few times - I think the belt makes it look more "ready-to-wear" and helps break up the crazy print a bit. I still like it both ways though. I was complimented on the dress several times, but not once was I asked if I made it :) I call that a success!

I can guarantee that there will be many more of this dress in my future - hello, cute quilting cottons! This project being a success did so much for my sewing mojo. After the past few projects that ran into serious road blocks that I had no idea how to fix, actually having a wearable finished item that fits and I like is kind of a personal miracle. Now I'm all jazzed to Make All The Things! So stick around and see where this leads me :)

P.S. I hope the name of the dress is self explanatory, but I named it 'Hot Child In The City' after the song lyric due to a) the hot pink color b) the city scene print and c) it's freakin' hot outside right now!


  1. The zipper does look great! The dress is awesome. I love that it has pockets. This one is going on my list of sewing projects too. Thanks for the heads up about the pattern mistake.

    1. Thanks so much, Emily :) I'm glad the post was helpful. It's a super cute pattern and I'd love to see yours!


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