Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Simple Sew Ruby Dress (Lighthouse Dress)

Its finished! I'm currently making a bag to match, but lets concentrate on the dress first:

This is the pattern. Its literally just one sheet of instructions (printed both sides) and multiple pattern sheets printed on fairly thick paper. Rather than going step by step through making it (the instructions are fairly clear), I will just summarise below.
Finished dress on Kirstie with belt

Dress before I added extra darts to reduce gaping

Modifications I made:

  • neckline drop. I just couldn't bear it across my windpipe so I lowered it by an inch. It doesn't look quite right as its no longer a 'slash' neck but at least I'll be able to wear it
  • half an inch added on all bodice side seams. Because I am fatter than their size 18. (Just quarter of an inch added to each side of the skirt pieces - of which I had 4 because I had to make two front pieces as fabric not wide enough to cut on the fold)
  • extra dart to compensate for gaping armholes (pic above). I'd already sewn on the bodice facing so I had to dart that as well which means a bit of extra bulk I could do without, but never mind. 
  • 4 extra inches on the bottom to take it to my knees. I don't like them on display much. actually I could have done with 5 extra inches but I know for next time. 
  • pattern placement - I only had a 44" wide fabric and this pattern requires 60". Not really an issue as I just seamed the front skirt instead of having it on the fold. I also used most of my 4 metres of fabric because of the width issue. Good job it was cheap!
  • belt loops added in case I want to wear one
  • Tacked down facing to main body at seamlines  to avoid 'bunching' when wearing.

Dress back on Kirstie with Belt added

Things I liked about the pattern:

  • It is what it says it is - simple. I really liked the clean look of the pattern and the instruction sheet.
  • I like the fact that they've used substantial paper which you can trace from. Tissue does my head in - its so fragile.
  • The waist is in the right place for me - I normally have to shorten it a bit but this was perfect.
  • The back. I like the shape of the back a lot. Reminds me of the Hell Bunny Souvenir dress I have. 
  • If I'd had the suggested width fabric rather than 44" this would have been really quick to cut out. I hate the cutting out bit. (Although I do like the sound of shears moving through fabric...)
  • Sizing seems accurate. I went by their suggestions that the 18 was 44" bust and 36" waist. As I have a 44" bust and a 37.5" waist I added half an inch to the side of each bodice section to take it to 46" bust and 38" waist. I then of course added an extra dart to the side bust as the front arm holes gaped really badly which will have taken some off the bust allowance. It seems to fit just right.
  • I also like the fact that you get support - I emailed them a question and they came back to me within the day.
Belt loops added

Things I did not like as much about the pattern:

  • They forgot to say you need a 16" concealed zip. (They have noticed and mentioned it on their fb page)
  • They don't tell you the seam allowance (1.5cm and 1cm along the neckline) They do have notches to indicate this on the pattern, but they don't tell you that is what they are for. I think a beginner would get quite confused.
  • Oversimplification - the grading lines aren't marked in the less obvious places. I pretty much had to guess which lines to use where there are  6 different sizing lines overlapping each other and its not at all obvious which one belongs to which size. I know clutter on a pattern sheet is not good, but sometimes you need that extra bit of info.
  • The concealed zip insertion guide is kind of pants. Again, they have cut instructions down to the bare minimum, which is the beauty of it, but sometimes you need more. That's what Google is for though. I used this one instead.
  • The diagrams are a teensy bit confusing in places. There's a square neck in there. This dress doesn't have a square neck. Its straight on the front, and triangular at the back.


  • There needs to be an extra dart on the side bust. However this may just be my shape and not the patterns fault. I also had to 'round off' the main (large) darts at the tip as they just looked really 'pointy'
  • The armscyes are a bit small for me as in they are a bit too close to my armpit. I actually don't think this is an issue with the pattern - I should have adjusted it for my size (I only adjusted the side seams)
I used seam binding to hem as I didn't make the skirt quite long enough. N.B. This is is NOT cheating. It actually looks really neat!
Happy with my concealed zip.


  • I used a directional fabric which really needed pattern matching in some places. Avoid this and you'll have a much quicker/easier task which doesn't take up as much fabric.
  • Please try and get hold of 60" fabric, but if you can't don't stress. Just accept that you need to cut two front pieces (and add on 1.5cm on each 'fold' line to seam them together) I needed more like 3.5m -4m of fabric to do this, however my fabric is directional so I had no choice in which direction to place the tissue. I also tried to pattern match which 'wasted' more fabric. If you have non-directional, you will probably need much less fabric.
  • Its always worth tracing your size rather than cutting out the pattern itself. Tedious but honestly worth it.
  • Buy an overlocker LOL. Seriously though - I used a zig zag on all seams and its a nice finish. I do have an overlock stitch on my machine, but it doesn't look as neat as plain zig zag.
  • I use seam binding on the hem, then turn it over and hem that way (see pics) I just find it a simpler way to do it.
  • Buy a mannequin/dressmaking dummy. Or make one. Its soooo much easier to fit that way.
  • Secure your facings with a few stitches on the seams.

Photo by Joey (7)

Terrible shots on the landing

and another
So in summary - I enjoyed running this up. The high slash neckline and wide shoulder placement doesn't really work for me to wear - but that isn't the patterns fault. Its just my preference. It was indeed a simple sew and suitable for a beginner. I will wear it quite a lot I think. Its very comfortable which is a massive thumbs up from me.

I really like the circle skirt and will use that again with 5" added to the bottom - maybe with a Flora bodice or a very similar bodice to this but with a round neck and narrower shoulders (Simplicity 2444?)

I'd probably give Simple Sew patterns another go now.  I do have their blouse pattern from an earlier 'Love Sewing' mag. Go check out their site here

Don't mess with the Potts!


  1. it looks great! love the fabric! Im a total beginner and bought this pattern I was a bit confused about the zipper thanks for the information :)

  2. I found this because I was trying to find out if Simple Sew have the seam allowance added to the pattern, before I went through the tedious pinning the pattern to my dummy to find out. Your comments have been really useful and you've made a super job of your dress.