The Summerset Dress!

Here is the dress with a crinoline (tulle petticoat).

Now, I won’t be wearing the petticoat under the dress for everyday life, but I might for more fancy occasions!
I took the above picture yesterday, but the rest of the review was written last week. I’m not wearing the petticoat in the pictures below.

I’m afraid none of the pictures do the fabric and dress justice. The fabric is stunning in real life, with its embroidery and appliqués.


Friends, I had to call this dress after Summerset. Not only does she inspire me daily to keep pushing myself and striving for quality sewing – but her vintage projects remind me all the time how much I love the fifties fashion! And how I should sew more vintage patterns. So, there you go, Summerset. I hope the dress deserves wearing your name.

Simplicity 3673
(Picture taken by Seb 2 weeks ago)


Simplicity 3673 Review
My rating: Recommended, but with modifications

Pattern Description:
Dresses have empire waists and gathered bodices. The dresses’ skirts are shaped by pleats, and come in full and slim skirts. Optional belts for views A and B. The bodice is fully lined.
I made view C, the full-skirted version.

Pattern Sizing:
6-14. I made a 6 all around except for the front bodice which I graded into a 10.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions were excellent. The writers made an effort to add useful tips on top of the basic construction instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Likes: Oh, I love this pattern. You know, when all the different companies’ autumn collections came out, this was my must-have! It is just perfect for me:

  1. I’ve always liked jumpers: they mean you can wear a pretty dress but still stay warm in winter because you can layer it. I’m glad that jumpers are back into fashion!
  2. I am fascinated by the fifties fashion.
  3. I love empire waists.
  4. I adore full skirts.
  5. Finally, I really, really like how the waist is shaped with all those darts.

I am so grateful to Simplicity for re-releasing that pattern! Merci, Simplicity !

Dislikes: The empire seamline was too high, and I found the armholes were too narrow, as well (too narrow to wear a blouse or a top underneath anyway). See alterations section below.
The petite adjustment was ridiculously insufficient. Or, maybe I am ridiculously petite? (154 cm, i.e. not quite 5’1″)

Fabric Used:
This was my splurge of the season. I bought a black suede embroidered and appliquéed with flowers, in a variegated black-grey-white thread. I really loved that pattern and wanted a fabric to match, as this was meant to be the piece de resistance of my autumn/winter wardrobe.

Using suede was a first for me. I so did not want to mess it up! This is why I basted everything by hand beforehand. I was afraid ripped stitches would leave small holes in the fabric so I wanted to avoid having to rip seams. Making a muslin and hand-basting the dress were therefore compulsory!
Since some flowers are appliqueed on the fabric, I had to cut out those which were located on seamlines or which would be enclosed into the darts.
I realize in the pictures that the hem seems uneven at places where there are flowers on the fold of the. I need to press the flowers to the inside.

The dress’s success depends largely on the darts’ accurate shaping, in my opinion. This is why I used the tip Christina posted on her blog about basting darts with a ladder stitch (thanks again, Christina!). The process was time-demanding, but the result was perfect!


A close-up of the bodice so you can see the fabric and details at the bust.


Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
Yes, I altered the pattern somewhat.
– As always, I cut a six for the back. I cut either a 6 or an 8 for the waist and hips, and my muslin revealed a 6 was better all around this time. I cut a 10 for the bust and graded the pieces’ lines.

– The empire waistline seemed too high to me, and an entry on Sew Retro confirmed my doubts. I made a muslin of the upper bodice and ended up adding 1.5 cm (5/8″) in height.

– On my muslin, the armholes seemed narrow for a dress that is supposed to be worn with a top or a blouse underneath. I was afraid it wouldn’t be very comfortable, and this is a case where wide armholes are better than narrow since there’s no risk of bra showing, etc – this dress is
designed to be worn over a top.
I therefore added 1 cm to the shoulders, back and front. You may want to consider this if you plan on layering this with a blouse that has wide sleeves, like the one I’m wearing in the picture.

– Petites beware! It was a nice surprise to see that the pattern came with an optional petite adjustment. However, even with the adjustment, I still needed to remove 13 centimeters to the bottom hem to have the same length as in the model picture!! That is more than 5 inches. OK, I know I lengthened the bodice, but by only 1.5 cm (5/8″).

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Okay. I very rarely sew patterns twice – there are so many out there that I want to try! Besides, this one was very work-intensive because I so wanted to do it right. While I was sewing it, I wasn’t planning on sewing it again. BUT. But, once I’d tried it on for the final fitting, I thought, now I want one with the slim skirt! So we’ll see about that. I would like to sew it again – now to see if I manage to fit another version into my ever-expanding list of projects!

I warmly recommend the pattern… but I also warmly recommend you make a muslin of at least the upper bodice.

This is truly a beautiful pattern. I had high hopes about that project, and am not disappointed in the outcome! Even with that beautiful fabric, the dress ended up costing less than 30 euro (including the price of the pattern). I didn’t even pay that in reality, because I had a 15 euro coupon at the store when I bought it! I don’t think it’s that bad considering the price of RTW today! And this is not RTW, of course. 🙂 I really like the combination of a vintage patten and a fashionable fabric.

ETA: I wrote that review last week, but Summerset started posting a series of posts comparing the Simplicity 2007 re-release of the pattern, and the original pattern. I find it fascinating.
In particular, what I altered in the pattern (high bustline, narrow armholes) was even more emphasized in the original pattern.
I stated the instructions were excellent; but the earlier instructions were apparently even better, giving tips for a more couture finish.

(ps: I might look a bit like a little girl with that blouse. That is Seb’s opinion anyway. But I don’t really care. That blouse is one of my favourite garments ever. I bought it for a pound in an op-shop in England when I was 14! The sleeves are cut in eyelet fabric and the princess seams and collar are gorgeous. Can you tell I was already fascinated by interesting fabrics and tailored details? 😉 I’ve worn it a lot over the past 11 years, but have taken care of it, too.
However, I want to make a trendy knit grey top to create a different look! I have the fabric, but am still undecided about the pattern 🙂 )

In closing: I am meeting Tany from Portugal today!! She is spending a few days in Paris and we’re going fabric shopping and having lunch together. Can you believe it? I can’t get over how fortunate I am to be meeting her.

43 thoughts on “The Summerset Dress!

  1. Hala says:

    houlalalallalaalalalal FASCINATINg DRESSSSSSSSSS i love it i love it a lot 🙂 i feel am in dream land when i come and erad your articles:) great work Isabelle , it is amazing your work is turning…i would see a small jacket in very fine knitting wool for your dress with pearl buttons or just that closes witht a Ribbon at the top..bisous


  2. Summerset says:

    I am very honored to have a dress named after me! Thank you! It’s a surreal type of experience to see your own name in a blog title.You have done a marvelous job with the jumper. The fabric is just so beautiful and is perfect for a major portion of a winter wardrobe. You will get a lot of use out of the garment. Let me say, I am so *jealous* that you get to meet and shop with Tany! Have a lovely day together!


  3. Tini says:

    first: absolut jealousy here for meeting Tany! Give her a hug and 2 thumbs up for her great work from me and second2 thumbs up for your great dress!!! It is great with or without crinoline. Although my costumerbrain thought something very different when you said crinoline 😉


  4. Vicki says:

    Oh my goodness!!! Lucky you and lucky Tany! Have fun and do show us what you purchase. Now to that dress….you have done the most beautiful job. If only the photography could catch the fabric better. My screen does not do it justice for sure.


  5. Lisbeï13 says:

    Hello my dear friend.That dress is very beautiful, I like it with the petticoat very much ! You can tell Seb for me that with this dress in blue fabric and fair hair, you would be a perfect Alice in Wonderland …But in black, this is perfect for an active young woman !Big kisses !


  6. marty says:

    You have done an amazing job with such a simple pattern. Love your choice of fabric and the detail finishes. Can’t wait to see the straight skirt version. I do think that a grey knit top would be perfect with some boots for those cold winter days. Enjoy your shopping trip with Trini.


  7. The Silver Thistle says:

    Isabelle! Here you are! I can’t get into my sideline to change the link just now, but I’ll just keep piggy backing from the old blog to here, for now 🙂SUCH a pretty dress. It looks adorable on you. I’m ‘almost’ tempted to try and run something up myself, I’m so inspired. I’m the the furthest person away from being a seamstress that you could hope to meet though, lol. I think I’ll leave the beautiful gown making to the expert (you) 🙂


  8. Sylvie says:

    What a gorgeous dress! I’d love to see a picture without the blouse too 🙂J’ai installé le nouveau PC hier et après bien des soucis avec ma connexion internet, cela a fini par fonctionner (mais bien entendu je m’en sortie avec une bien grosse migraine…). La migraine est partie ce matin et je suis époustouflée par la vitesse à laquelle fonctionne le nouveau PC, rien à voir avec l’escargot qui a rendu l’âme…Gros gros bisous ma belle, j’aurais bien aimé faire le pont aujourd’hui 🙂


  9. Tracy says:

    Just love it! I really thrill to the simple elegance of this one. And the fabric is stunning. It pairs so nicely with the blouse. A knit top as an alternative is a super idea. Once again, you’ve written a great pattern review. Have a grand time visiting with your friend–hooray! Happy weekend to you, my friend ((HUGS))


  10. Tany says:

    Isabelle, your dress is FABULOUS!!!! Well worth Summerset’s name on it! Fantastic work and you look perfect in it! I like the blouse too (men sometimes have strange opinions, believe me I know!)!(I still have to visit Summerset’s blog to read about the pattern comparison, I’ll do that right away!){{{HUGS}}}


  11. Katrin says:

    Whow, Isabelle, this is so beautiful. I love the fabric you chose. And I also can really add strange comments from men, so if you like yourself in this outfit, wear it, it looks really stylish.Isn´t that great when you find the perfect garment and love wearing. it for such a long time ?Best wishes,Katrin


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