Pattern Review: Simplicity 8731
This is a 1950s vintage-style ensemble with a trapeze-silhouette coat and fit-and-flare dress. The unlined sleeveless dress has a square neckline in front and V-neckline in back, a highly fitted bodice with an inset center-front panel with two deep pleats below, side bust darts, soft pleats under the bustline at the bodice inner corners, and vertical darts in front and back. It flares out to a skirt that is generously pleated from the side front to center back. The extras include a narrow bias trim along the short front empire seam, tiny bows below the bust and along the center-back invisible zipper closure, and an inner waist stay. The lined swing coat has no closure, three-quarter-length sleeves, a raised neckline with a stand-up shawl collar, front cut-on sleeves, and shoulder darts. In back, there are neckline darts, a set-in sleeve with double elbow darts, a substantial yoke embellished with an inset curved band topped off with a dainty bow, and a deep center-back pleat. Both garments end around midcalf. The sewing is intermediate. Stitching the bodice to the pleated skirt, especially where the inside corner meets the outside corner, can be challenging. Our tester says:
- The illustration for step 8 of the dress construction shows the seam allowances between pattern pieces 6 and 7 pressed open. However, the allowances should be pressed toward center front to accommodate the French tack in step 13.
- Instructions in step 9 could be clearer on forming the final pleats on either side of center back when attaching the bodice to the skirt. When doing so, be sure to leave a 5/8-inch-wide seam allowance unpleated along the center back to accommodate the zipper.
- Step 17 would benefit from an additional illustration showing the turned sleeve just before being sewn.
Select lightweight to medium-weight natural-fiber woven fabrics.
(Sized Misses’ 6–22 for busts 30.5–44 in. and hips 32.5–46 in.)
—Tested by Faith McLean, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Style tip: To achieve a true retro ’50s silhouette, make or purchase a full petticoat to wear under this ensemble.
This review was originally published in Threads #215, Fall 2021. Have you made this pattern? If so, be sure to share pictures in our Readers Closet gallery.
Illustrations by Steven Fleck.
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