Friday, March 18, 2011

Mlle Marie Va Au Musée: Simplicity 2215

Cynthia Rowley is a genius, kittens. Did we ever doubt it? Her line of patterns for Simplicity is at once fashion-forward and delightfully classic. In every pattern envelope, there is room to skew both ways, depending on the sewer's personal tastes.

Her newest, Simplicity 2215, is no exception. The patterns seem simple - a shirtdress, then a skirt and shirt made from the separated dress. But, of course, nothing from Rowley is ever truly simple. The envelope itself suggests room to spice things up - deconstructed modern trims, bold fabric choices - but the pattern pieces themselves are also a cut above the normal Simplicity fare. For my first 2215 project, I chose the skirt. As I mentioned in my musings post, I've been lusting after a similar ready-to-wear piece from Talbot's, the Champs-Élysées skirt. Indigo is in my spring palette for the Colette challenge and this pattern seemed like a fairly-straightforward recreation of that classic pleated silhouette. I was mistaken. It is so much better.

The skirt pattern ended up being that brilliant Rowley mix of classic and modern. You see, the pleats and folds are actually asymmetrical. Unlike normal skirts, where the pleats typically all go toward the center and are of uniform width, each pleat in 2215 is an individual. Some face toward the center, while others double back toward the side, forming subtle box pleats. They all vary in width, as well, creating interest and depth in this seemingly simple pattern. This difference may not be noticeable to the common eye, but it made me a bit giddy. I live for surprising pattern details.

All this gushing is not to say there weren't some tricky parts. Namely, the side invisible zipper and pockets double threat. This was my first time inserting pockets when dealing with a side zipper. While the Simplicity instructions were remarkably clear, I still ended up sewing the left pocket shut my first time through. There's only so much one can visualize, you know? Right sides have to be together, the zipper has to be upside down, etc. It gets a little muddy. (Full disclosure: I was also a little distracted by the Stuff You Missed In History Class podcast on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Did you know he crash landed in the Libyan desert and that was his inspiration for The Little Prince?) Luckily, it was a snap to take out the stitches and resew the zipper to the correct pocket side.

Another slight issue revolved around pretty details I added, then had to cover up. I've decided to give up on fusible interfacing, unless absolutely necessary, and instead underlined the waistband with some leftover rose print pique from my first Miss Rose dress. It looked absolutely adorable. Then, of course, the pattern told me to fold over the waistband - effectively hiding the pretty. My fault, for not reading through the entire pattern directions, but still a bit disappointing. Similarly, I decided to use navy flexi-lace hem facing to do the hem. It also turned out well - a very cute detail that I will be returning to in the future - but in the end I wanted to take a bit more length off, so I had to fold it under. Once more, hiding the pretty. Luckily, I made the pockets of of the rose pique, so there are still some fun details lingering!

Overall, this is a wonderful pattern. Made up in a stretch indigo denim, it's an almost exact replica of the RTW inspiration skirt. This is a pattern that we'll definitely be seeing again, as I have grand plans to buy some cheery spring poplins and have a whole rainbow of pleated full skirts.

Things I Changed:
  • Made the pockets from contrasting printed fabric.
  • Made the pockets from the Colette Crepe dress, as I find that channel pocket design lays flatter against the body. That's it! No other alterations were necessary. Don't you love skirt patterns?
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • When I make the poplin versions of 2215, I will probably double the waistband width. I tend to like slightly wider waistbands, so that my hourglass figure is clearly visible. The waistband of 2215 ends up being about one-and-a-half inches, so a little on the narrow side for my liking.
  • Add length and take a deeper hem. This is a personal thing. I just really like how sumptuous wide hems are and how floaty they make skirts.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • The invisible zipper/pocket conundrum. It's a bit confusing to visualize how this pieces together, so my major advice is this: sew the zipper to the side of the pocket that is in line with the skirt side. I originally sewed it to the side that Simplicity says\ to turn under, because that's how the diagram looked. Yeah, that sews the pocket shut. Sew to the long side, whatever you do!
  • When making the pleats on the skirt, have the pattern piece handy. While I did properly mark the pleat directions, it was nice to have the little arrows to look at on the piece telling me what to do, as they do switch it up a lot.
Fabric Used:
  • Stretch indigo denim from Hancock's - $9.99/yard.
Outfit Details:
  • Skirt: 2215 made by me! Hooray!
  • Shirt: white lace shirt by Merona from Target
  • Cardigan: blue lace detail cardigan by Merona from Target (I freaking love their cardigans right now - so many great embellishment and details. Also, no one would guess it's from Target. Even better.)
  • Shoes: brown Fiddle Bow wedges by Clarks (Which I love. Not only are they adorable, but they are super comfortable. I now own them in not one, but three colors.)
Completely Superfluous Picture of Remy, Who Really Wanted To Be Involved In This Shoot:


  1. Wow, I love how you detail every single aspect of the patterns you use! I also made a full, pleated, denim-y skirt for spring, but I love how intricate the pleats are on yours.

    I wonder wether Cynthia Rowley's line can be found in France...

  2. So cute! I love it in denim...I may just have to make one for myself. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

  3. I LOVE the denim! I have about 6 yards of it, but I fear it's too thick to make a skirt with. It's on my watch list though, lol. (By the way, you're making me eat my words about the newest Simplicity patterns, one pattern at a's such a cute skirt!)

  4. Your skirt is so so cute1 And your pictures are outstanding. :]

  5. Carlotta, thanks for stopping by the blog! I absolutely loved your plaid circle skirt from the Colette Spring Palette Challenge. So, so cute!

    Also, don't you love having a fun denim skirt for spring? I've been wearing this one like crazy, since I finished it. It's so perfect with floral tops and pastel sweaters. Wearing it makes me want to go to a flower market or something equally springy. :D

    Oh! And if you can't find the CR patterns in France, I know Simplicity ships internationally. My parisienne friend Lucie is also a sewer and raves about their international shipping!

  6. Carolyn,

    Ha! I hope that's true, as mine is a total knock-off of that poor Talbots skirt. Also, I would love to see another denim version of this skirt, so you should definitely give it a try. It's been a wonderful skirt for Spring, even though I've only had it a week.

  7. Thanks, Sabrina! Isn't this pattern awesome made up in denim? I can definitely see thickness being a problem, though. I bought the absolute lightest weight denim I could find at Hancocks, but I still had trouble sewing through multiple layers, most notably the waistband ends.

    Also - hooray! - my evil plan is working. ;-) I love these new Simplicity patterns so much, even though they are pretty simple design-wise. Every one I've tried so far has really been a cut above a normal Simplicity pattern for me.

  8. Thanks, Alexandra!! I think I'm going to sew some more up, so I can participate in the next Me Made month. I've been so enjoying following your month of self-made fashion!

  9. Thanks, Rebecca!

    And I'll have to tell my little sister you liked the photos! When she comes over, I've been forcing her to be my designated photographer. Once we figured out that the pictures look way better if she's standing on something, because I'm a few inches taller, everything got better. Still, taking pictures is my least favorite part of blogging, not going to lie. I am dying for a dress form! ;-)

  10. Hey, just found your blog on sewing pattern review. Thanks for posting such a well though out and detailed review of this pattern. I was musing about getting this one and giving it a go in a green lawn fabric. After reading your blog it is a sure thing! I think I might try your idea of widening the waistband so it is more like an anthropology dress I have been eyeing. I love all your details too!

  11. Mary,

    I found your blog about a week ago and have been inspired to sew a skirt using this pattern. It looks so great on you! I'm a truly novice sewer, but I think if I take my time I can handle it. Thanks for inspiring me to start sewing again!

  12. Wow! Very nicely done. I am inspired to try my own but I'm not sure which size to choose. Did you go with your exact body measurements on the chart on the back of the simplicity envelope? I wish there was a finished garment measurement for the waist!
    Thank you!

  13. I also listen to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast while sewing! I love your version of this skirt.