Amanda vs Simplicity 1873

You have to attend a garden wedding near the beach soon. Do you:

  1. Buy a super cute sundress of the rack?
  2. Forage through your closet and pull out your me-made Tiki dress?
  3. Give yourself two half days to sew up a foliage printed frock which means you can stealth to the dessert table multiple times as you will be in perfect camouflage?

We all know where this is going… Say hello to the sassy yet stealthy Simplicity 1873 party frock!


This is the quintessential Cynthia Rowley party dress – Simplicity 1873. It features a four-darted bodice  with a pleated skirt and a variety of necklines. There is also a loose fitting jacket to go with if you are so inclined. But this lady was strapped for time and forced herself to put the black and white checked sateen for the jacket back at the register. I know, right? Where is my gold medal for self restraint?!


The fabric is a rather snazzy fern leaf print from good ole Spotlight. It has a nice handle, holds pleats well and the colour has stayed fast. Huzzah! But this fabric is not all unicorns and sunshine – do not be fooled! It has a sneaky looser weave than its plain coloured counterparts meaning all the work you put into a muslin is foiled. Foiled I tell you! Fern fronds- if you weren’t so good looking I would drop you like it’s hot. Boom.


So let’s real talk fitting. I decided to go a muslin for the bodice to get things sitting well (yeah, hell just froze over but go with it) and am so glad I did. The darts did not sit well and were ending right on my bust point. Totes. Awks. In the end, the following changes were made to the bodice:

  • Side darts lowered by 3cm
  • Both sets of darts shortened by 1.5”
  • 2cm removed from each side of the back neckline
  • Back zip and seam allowance removed so the back piece is now on the fold
  • Entire neckline scooped out by an extra 2cm

Bloody hell. Just reading that list makes me want to have a nap. And I won’t lie – at the end of the fitting session this lady totally had a mint julep. #winningatlife


Construction wise this had some ups and downs. The bodice and skirt went together easily and well (just make sure you reference the instructions for pleating those five skirt pieces and not try to solve it yourself for twenty minutes. oops). I hit a snag when trying the dress on to sort out hem length and realised the sides had stretched. This was remedied with 2cm removed from each side and some of the pleats unpicked and deepened so the seams would match. The armholes and neckline are finished with bias binding to avoid a lining. Check out these mad hand stitching skills and pleats. Boss mode!


What I loved about this pattern:

  • The sassy pleats. They are so lovely and voluminous and the skirt flares beautifully when you twirl. In fact, so beautifully that you accidentally flash your neighbours as they walk their dog. Ask me how I know. #totesawks
  • Versatile pattern options. You can make View A or B for work and there is a cute jacket. Or just throw that all to hell and make all the View C party dresses you can manage. Bwah ha ha!

What I would change for next time.

  • Go a fabric with some drape. There are some gorgeous drapey 1873s floating round the blogosphere. I need to make this happen.
  • Do I dare cut into the amazing silk taffeta I bought at Mood Fabrics to make this exact pattern? Is it time… Eeep!
  • Improve on my bodice fit a little further. I am not happy with how the underbust is sitting as there is a bit of blousing happening. Some extra time with Fit for Real People should hopefully provide an answer.


The Deets

Pattern: Simplicity 1873

Fabric: 2.5m cotton sateen from Spotlight

Notions: Thread, stash bias binding

See also: 2012 Amanda, Idle Fancy, School of Moxie, Measure Twice Cut Once

Overall, I am rather happy with my last minute frock sewing. The fabric makes this summer cute and totally appropriate for a garden wedding. If you need me, I’ll be in stealth mode near the dessert table! Bwah ha ha!



  1. oh god Amanda, you deserved that post fitting drink–I made this dress a few years back and wanted to set fire to EVERYTHING. And I made it in solid hot pink, so those weird darts were hell!!

    You definitely won. I wonder, if you make it in the silk, will you be mad or triumphant recalling all the fitting work? 😉

    • Juleps fix all the things! So glad to hear someone else struggled with this sucker – it seems it is the magic glass slipper for so many peeps. Curse you 1873 bodice!

  2. Hahaha, stealth dessert table camouflage is now my favourite reason to buy fabric. Shame it was such a pain in the arse to work with, but those pleats look awesome!

  3. Love this! especially the ferns. All this in 2 days?! you certainly are winning. Enjoy that wedding. and oooh yes, definitely worth making in silk next time.

    • I will be sipping on wedding wine while you guys are at CBR Sewing Crew. If anything is taking me away from our catch up this frock and a lovely celebration for my friends is it!

  4. I think this fits beautifully! This pattern is a fave of mine and I got it during a pattern sale at Spottie. Did you lengthen yours? The photo on the front shows the model with quite the short hem! Looks fab lady. I need to move this up my queue.

  5. What a fantastic dress! For a wedding or just to enjoy the summer sun. Hope you had a great time at the wedding. I love weddings. Too bad all my friends are married already

    • It was a super fabulous wedding! Out in rainforest gardens with one of those amazingly beautifully ceremonies with lots of laughter and happy tears. And wine 😉

  6. This is so, so cute! I really love it! But wait- is there no zipper at all? How did you manage that?! Man, I made a muslin of this dress about three years ago and it was a red hot mess, like not even close to fitting. Maybe I should give it another go, but ughhhhhhhh…

    • The sateen has quite a bit of stretch and there is a bit of ease happening so no zip. Bah ha ha! Basically, this happened because I am lazy 😉

  7. What a great dress – terrific fit, and you surely DO have mad hand stitching skills! I can absolutely imagine you being stealthy and camouflaged in that excellent fabric.

    Not necessarily needing zippers in all the dresses, hooray – me too! – a very good thing when there are no matching zips in the stash!

  8. Haha! you are so fabulous Amanda! I LOVE the dress, and you in it, of course
    Stealth mode, engaged; and I assume target was successfully acquired. Over and out


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