Simplicity 8635: The dress that nearly broke me

Simplicity 8635: The dress that nearly broke me

Every so often a pattern comes along that you have such high hopes for and then when you finish it it all your dreams are crushed and you are left with a dress you never want to wear… well this was one of those dresses for me.

The simplicity 8635 is a beautiful pattern for summer. It has a tie back with closed and open back versions, rounded and v neckline, two options of skirt length and a jumpsuit option. I chose to do a short dress with the open tie back and rounded neckline and, of course, pockets!

The cutting out was where the issues started. The pattern require 1 7/8 yards and I had 1.4m but that was fine, I was only about 30cm short so nothing a bit of pattern Tetris couldn’t solve. However, the fabric I’d chosen had been in my stash for about 6 months and I’d completely forgotten it was narrow cotton. This meant I actually had a lot less fabric than they suggested. It was seriously tricky to get the pattern out of this much fabric but I managed it, and used some other cotton for the pockets. (Christmas cotton pockets in a summer dress cos I’m a rebel like that!)

The dress statistics

  • Fabric type: quilting cotton
  • Fabric length: 1.4m of 44inch wide
  • Fabric from: Miss Gingers
  • Size sewn: 14
  • View: D for back bodice, B for front bodice, C for skirt
  • Once the pattern Tetris was complete I started on the dress. You start by making the bodice, then the skirt or trousers, and then attaching them.
  • When I’d finished the bodice i knew it didn’t fit correctly but I didn’t have the confidence to make adjustments to the pattern. Consider this a lesson learnt! I have a high waist and often find bodices sit too low on me so I should have taken a few centimetres off at this point. I think this is partly the reason why the back bunches up so much. (Yup I know this is an awkward photo but it shows the dress best).
  • A tip that may seem obvious, but wasn’t to me, is to use the lining instructions from the bottom half of the garment as the way you attach the skirt or trousers is affected by the lining.
  • The first step of the skirt is to sew up your centre seam and I ask you, why?! This centre seam has no purpose in the overall dress construction so I would recommend ignoring this and cutting it on the fold (minus seam allowances).
  • Changes I made

    • Top stitched the ties instead of trying to loop turn (so much easier!)
    • Added contrast Christmas pockets due to lack of fabric
    • Shortened skirt by 5cm due to lack of fabric
  • Once I’d finished the dress I put it on, still optimistic about it, aaaaand I burst into tears. All I could see were the fit issues of the bodice, the centre seam which led to a few beheaded dogs, the stiff skirt and the colour not being one I’m confident in. After being convinced by my boyfriend to put it aside and come back to it I decided to get ready for my birthday night out and then try it again.
  • With some lipstick on and a pair of heeled boots I felt a lot more confident and ready to go out. I’d be a lot less confident person if lipstick hadn’t been invented!
  • Things I’d change if I made it again

    • Raise the waist by 4cm
    • Remove the centre seam and cut the front piece on the fold
    • Use a lighter weight fabric
    • Sew a larger bust size (16) and taper to 14 on the waist
    • Curve the darts to remove excess fabric around ribcage
    • Make pockets bigger and deeper
  • After wearing it a couple of times I don’t think this dress is a complete write off. I would make it again but with some adjustments and in a drapier fabric.
  • I’d love to know what you think of this pattern if you have made it and what tips you’d recommend to make the bodice fit better!
  • And so I’ll leave you with this photo of me having a whale of a time being very bad at juggling…
  • Follow:


    1. Caitlin McWilliams
      January 22, 2019 / 9:22 pm

      Hi Alice-May, thank you so much for these useful comments on this pattern- I am currently attempting the jumpsuit version of the pattern. I also have quite a high waist so will definitely be looking at trimming it down when I make it! I wondered if you might be able to help me with an odd request – I have managed to lose pages 3-4 of the pattern (no idea how!) and can’t find the pages anywhere online without buying the whole thing again. Do you still have your pattern? If so, do you think you might be able to take a picture of the 3 and 4th pages and send it to me via email? I know it’s a massive ask but it would help me out so much! Caitlin x

      • Alice-May
        January 22, 2019 / 9:41 pm

        Hi Caitlin,
        Thanks so much for getting in touch! I’m glad it my post has been useful. I’d love to help out. Can you send me an email and I’ll can see what I can do. My email is
        Alice-May x

    2. Michelle
      February 13, 2019 / 4:33 am

      Thank you for this blog post! I’m making this pattern as my wedding dress and I am having the same fit issues! Makes me feel so much better. Thanks again from Tennessee USA.

      • Alice-May
        February 13, 2019 / 1:05 pm

        Ooh good luck with your dress! I can imagine this pattern making an amazing dress once the fit is nailed. x

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Looking for Something?