crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Simplicity 1803: Graduation day

Pattern: Simplicity 1803 (project runway)

Fabric: Cotton Sateen (sold out!)


I don’t usually enjoy sewing for a specific occasion.  More often than not I wind up not finishing in time, which leads to guilt – and since sewing is a hobby, I try to avoid that feeling!  I really wanted to make a dress for my graduation ceremony, in spite of the fact that no one would see it until after.  And while yes, it’s true that I was putting the zipper in at 10 o clock this morning (I had to line up at 11!) I’m still pleased with my choice.

I bought this fabric from fashion fabrics  club a few months ago.  I order a lot of prints from them, because they tend to be cheap, but you never really know what the weight or quality will be.  Fortunately, this fabric is lovely for a dress – it has a nice drape, isn’t too sheer, and doesn’t wrinkle badly (the photos were taken after the three hour ceremony – it survived this uncrumpled under a robe!)

About the pattern:  Well, it seems to be a popular choice right now.  I was attracted to the neckline, and thought it would be pretty simple to sew.  The directions were, as usual for a Project Runway pattern, pretty scattered.  They were accurate, it’s just that at times it was hard to know what view/steps I should move to next.   I figured it out – the view I made is bodice A combined with the sleeveless armhole finish and skirt without pockets.  The pattern was really well drafted – no issues with that.

I do have a few issues with this dress on my particular body type.  In the photo above I’m holding out the skirt as though it had a crinoline.  Here is the view without:

I have broad shoulders for my size, and the top of this dress makes me look a wee bit boxy.  This is not generally  a concern of mine, but I do recall not loving this sort of neckline the last time it was popular.  I think I can fix the proportions by simply wearing the dress with a little crinoline in the future.  Don’t misunderstand – I don’t think I look bad here, just that I think it could be improved!

The yoke was not as hard to construct as I feared.  I have one issue – since the yoke is only attached at the armholes but not across the front, the keyhole tends to gape open a bit if I lean over.  I’m going to go back and top stitch it to the bodice front.  Now it’s entirely possible that I missed that direction – I was running behind a bit, and probably skipped some steps!

Ah, there are the sitting wrinkles!  The back fits very nicely.  The scoop is low, but wearable with a bra (the front, however, requires a bra with really wide skinny straps not to show under the keyhole.  I wore a strapless.

I have a serged hem in these photos, as I haven’t decided for certain on the length.  I may take an inch or two off – I think it would help with the proportions.  Other alterations:  I had to taper 2 inches out of the waist of the dress, as I probably cut a size too big there.  I do recommend this pattern – it’s an adorable design!  My only real advice is to check the fit on the keyhole – I am a B cup, but it is slightly big.

Here is how I actually spent the day:

(my parents, husband, and myself after the ceremony)

It took a long time for me to get here, and it feels good to finally clear the last hurdle.  What comes next for me?  Well, I already feel so lucky.  I decided long ago that what I really wanted out of life was to find a way to thrive doing what I love.  People hear I’m a professional musician and assume that I’m after some sort of elusive fame or fortune, but that’s not the case.  For the vast majority of us, the joy comes from being able to live with music every day – to surround myself with my fellow musicians and live in that space (and hopefully earn enough to pay the bills… that always helps.)

So I don’t plan to change – rather to continue on as I have been, finding new opportunities and places to do what I love.  I don’t know where that will take me, but I’m ok with being along for the ride.  As always, thanks so much for reading, and congratulations to all the other graduates out there this year!


42 thoughts on “Simplicity 1803: Graduation day

  1. Are your shoulders uneven, or is that just a trick of the camera? My shoulders are quite lopsided because of my scoliosis, and I’m curious if and how you adjust patterns.

    Congratulations on the graduation!

  2. The dress is adorable! What a perfectly cheerful fabric for such a happy occasion. Congratulations!!

  3. Congratulations on your graduation – what an accomplishment to reach a goal! – you’re such an example!!! Your dad is so adorable – my husband wore suspenders and jeans to our daughter’s graduation too!!!

  4. I’ll be in my home stretch in December at bellarmine, I envy you! Congratulations! I think poka dots are perfect for celebrating!

  5. I LOVE the idea that you had this secret amazing polka dotty dress under your grad robes! 🙂 so cute too, great fit. Congratulations, feels good doesn’t it?! I enjoyed reading how you get joy from living with music everyday, beautifully written xx

  6. Congratulations on your graduation and all the best for your future.
    This is another gorgeous dress..loved seeing your outfits on mmm’12.

  7. Congratulations on graduating. It really is a big accomplishment. The keyhole dress in your yellow fabric is simply divine. I think a crinoline would be a great touch underneath so that it looks more like how you have it in the first picture.

  8. Congratulations! That’s such a beautiful colour on you! Thank you for the tips on the dress, I always wonder whether the keyhole thing would gape and look forward to knowing whether stitching it to the front bodice works out.

    Enjoy that wonderful sense of achievement! Congratulations again!

  9. Congratulations! Great sunny dress to celebrate in! I have this pattern, so I appreciate your comments on the fit and construction.

  10. Gorgeous dress… and congratulations on your graduation. I’m totally with you regs enjoying the ride of life. I think if you are creative in any way the ride will be a wonderful and fullfilled one without too much effort!

  11. Your dress is just lovely! My heartiest congratulations to you on your accomplishment. It’s really worth all the hard work. I’m so pleased that you intend to continue to do work you love. If more people would just do that, this would be a much happier world.

  12. Congratulations on finishing your dress, the fit and on graduating. I made my grad dress too. It’s a great feeling.

  13. Looks great! And like everyone else says, congrats!!
    I agree that the dress would probably benefit from a bit off the hem, to bring it into proportion.
    And your crinoline idea is great too!

  14. Congratulations on your graduation, and lovely dress! Also, best wishes to you as you pursue a career in music–that’s also the path I chose, and for me, the day-to-day of it has ended up as teaching private lessons, working another part-time job (I’ve been blessed to find one that lets me have the after-school hours off so I can teach) and occasional performing. It’s not always paid gigs, but I’m honestly not competitive enough to try to be the top performer in the area, and I’m happy as long as I still get to play!

  15. Congratulations! It takes real commitment to study even if it is something you love. Best wishes in your future in whatever path it may take you.

  16. Congratulations on your graduation! It is so rewarding to achieve something you have worked so hard on. Also your dress tuned out nice. I especially like the scooped back.

  17. Congratulations on graduating! And great dress, I’m glad you went with the sunny polka dot! I know too well the feeling of hemming frantically 5 minutes before having to be at an event, that’s pretty much all my sewing 🙂 But even in a rush your work is impeccable!

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