Simplicity 1886 – FO 18/2013 – review and a splendid Simplicity pattern giveaway

Ye Gods!

I’m so glad to finally be able to post this review. I’ve been exceptionally tardy with it. Although we’ve had a lovely time, the summer holidays really got in the way of my creative time. On Sunday The Husband whisked the kids away to the park  and for ice cream.  He’s my hero!

Of course, I’d have been posting this much sooner if I hadn’t had that pesky ironing escapade!

Anyway…back to the patterns.  As you know I was approached by Simplicity who very kindly offered me some free patterns in exchange for me making up and reviewing them.  I was delighted to accept, but all opinions are my own.

I chose:



1606 (1)

My third pattern is the one I’ll be reviewing first, although I will get to the other two over the coming months.


As the weather is cooling down a little as we head towards autumn, I decided to shop the stash and make this up in some pretty John Kaldor print that’s been waiting far too long to make it to the sewing table.

John Kaldor floral

John Kaldor floral

Yes it’s poly, but I thought it would be a great little basic to wear with my denim skirt and a little cardigan for slightly cooler days.

I chose this pattern as I’ve been looking for a replacement for Sorbetto.  I love Colette’s aesthetic but really had trouble getting the darts right because of the FBA I needed.  I’m still a bit hit and miss with FBA’s.  I’ll crack them eventually.

With that in mind, this pattern seemed a great option as it’s already drafted for different cup sizes…although I’m a DD/E dependent on who you speak to, so even with the extra cup size options, I knew I’d have some finangling of the fit to do.

So…how did I get on?

It’s a mix of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

The Good

Well, despite the discrepancy between my bosom and that of the pattern, it took me a surprisingly small amount of time and effort to to fit this top.

I cut the pattern in the D cup option in the size that fits my high bust measurement at the shoulders and armholes.  I cut the side seams at the next size up.

This is the muslin straight off the pattern:

03 08 13_edited-1-1_edited-1

I was really surprised that this worked.  Yes, I still had gapping at the armhole and front and back necks…but I always have that gapping.  It’s down to the shape I am.

You can see that I’ve already pinned out a dart on one of the armholes.  I just replicated that at the front neck and back neck, transferred those darts to the pattern and cut out the fashion fabric.


Alterations made and transferred to the pattern within about half an hour. Which is without doubt the quickest turnaround of a muslin in my whole sewing career! It was so easy and I am a very happy camper!

The multi cup size pattern options really do work.

So I was ready to sew, which is when we came to…

The Bad

Perhaps calling them ‘Bad’ is a little harsh.  Perhaps ‘Pesky’ would be a better word.  Or just a little bit ‘Naughty’.

Semantics aside, the first hiccup came when I was making the ruffle for the front. Let’s just say the instructions for inserting the ruffles are less than clear.


The neck band was a complete and total bear.  I’ve lost count of how many times I unpicked the wretched thing.

However, I think it’s most likely that the problems I encountered were created by the fabric being very slippery and fidgety.  Because it was very slippery and fidgety indeed.  But! I suspect that it would have been easier to draft a simple stand collar than the band and facings used here.  It was all a little bit fussy to apply and turned the air in the sewing loft blue on more than one occasion.

Despite it being a slippery customer, once done, it looks really cute, and if I did it again it would be a whole lot easier.  That said, I’m grateful for the printed fabric. It hides a multiple of sins! 😉

The Ugly

This is where I’m going to take the opportunity to speak to Simplicity (and the other major pattern houses, to be fair.  They’re just as bad) about the styling of their pattern envelopes.

People…you really need to up your game on the envelope styling!

You don’t make it at all easy for us to choose your patterns.  I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen a really cute dress/top/trousers/whatever on a blog only to realise that it’s a pattern that I’d previously totally discounted due to the styling on the envelope.

I can understand that back in the day, before the independent pattern companies flourished, that you could get away with it.  But now…not so much. The Cynthia Rowley envelope isn’t all bad but 1606 and 1886…I feel that they really need some work.

I recognise that the big 4 are aiming at a much wider audience than the indie companies, but I’m not sure that’s a strong enough argument.  How hard can it be to pitch at multiple markets with the same envelope? Especially as most of the design is sketched. Even Knip Mode magazine, which isn’t always the most fashion forward of the sewing mags, manages to do this on a regular basis.

Yep...same pattern...different fabric and styling! Although the camel ones could do with a better fit...more whiskers that O'Malley the Alley Cat!

Yep…same pattern…different fabric and styling!
Although the camel ones could do with a better fit…more whiskers that O’Malley the Alley Cat!

As the sewing market grows, both in the number of customers (due to the resurgence of interest in the craft), and of the range of patterns available (because of the growth of independent houses), I feel that the Big 4 are missing a real opportunity to reach out to sewists and provide them with a well drafted product in a packaging that appeals to a wide range of tastes and styles.


I hope you don’t think this is a negative review because, despite the niggles I had with the neckline on this top, I’m really, really pleased with the result and feel that it really fills a gap in my wardrobe. I know it’s going to get quite a bit of wear over the next few months.  It goes with my denim skirt and a pair of cropped RTW trousers.


Please ignore the creases…this was the end of a very busy day of last minute school uniform shopping!

I also think the ruffle, which I’d normally avoid, works very well and is surprisingly flattering thanks to the lovely drape of the fabric.

For me, this pattern works in a way that I couldn’t get Sorbetto to.  The darts are great and as a result it’s not too boxy.  Lord knows, I need no help in looking boxy!


Happy dart and a lovely snug armhole.
Ignore the wrinkles…they’re just there because I’m pulling my arm back to show the dart.

I can see myself playing with the neckline and hemline to make variations so that I can get some much needed quick and easy tops into my wardrobe. Although, rest assured, next time I’ll be binding the neck and armholes and not faffing with the wretched neckline and facing pieces given in the pattern.

And the scorch…


I just slapped a teeny tiny patch on it…and a matching one on the other side seam. I promise they are much less obtrusive and inelegant in real life. You can hardly see them. And they mean I can happily wear this top.  As most of the time I’ll be wearing this with a cardigan, this is a solution I can easily live with.

But most of all I am totally sold on the idea of multiple bust size options, and salute Simplicity for introducing them.  Being able to remove/reduce the FBA/SBA makes fitting so much faster and easier. I think we’ll all agree that this is a Very Good Thing.  For sure, I’ve never fitted a pattern so quickly and with such a good result.

I can only encourage more/all pattern companies to embrace this feature going forwards.  It’s a feature that will definitely influence my pattern purchasing decisions in the future.  I suspect I’m not alone in this view.

So I’m patting myself on the back for selecting this pattern, and am patting Simplicity on the back for giving me the opportunity to try it.  I’m also looking forward to making up the other two patterns and am hopeful for an equally happy outcome.

But now, if you not asleep at this point, here’s the bit of this post you’ve really been waiting for. It’s time for you to get your hands on a Simplicity pattern of your own!

Actually, it’s time for 3 (yep…three) of you to get a Simplicity pattern of your choice!

Here’s how you can win:

  1. Go to and choose which pattern you’d like to add to your collection.
  2. Leave a comment below telling me which pattern you’ve chosen.
  3. For an extra chance to win, just follow Simplicity on Twitter – @SewSimplicity – and leave me another comment to confirm you’ve done so.
  4. Get a third chance to win by posting this giveaway on your blog and pop a link to the post in your comment.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

I’ll close this giveaway on Friday 6th September at midnight GMT and choose 3 lucky winners to receive the pattern of their choice.

This giveaway is open to international readers as well as those in the UK.

Good luck!

48 Responses to Simplicity 1886 – FO 18/2013 – review and a splendid Simplicity pattern giveaway

  1. dokucug says:

    Oooh, that looks so pretty on you! What great colors! I’m so glad you were able to fix the scorch!

  2. gingermakes says:

    This looks great! The floral print looks so nice on you!

  3. Gjeometry says:

    I think it turned out very pretty! And, I really appreciate your honest review. I think sometimes bloggers are afraid to do that. I think all patterns and pattern companies (major or indie) have good and bad things about them, that’s life! And, nice scorch patch!!! I scorched some fabric for a dress on the sleeve portion while I was sewing and really didn’t know how to fix it. It’s still not fixed.

    I would like to be entered into the giveaway and actually I would like to win one of the patterns you have chosen, the Cynthia Rowley 2406. This pattern actually came in a Pattern Pyramid I won and I wanted it so badly, but it was several sizes too big and I didn’t feel confident to grade it down. My size is a 6. Looking forward to reading your other reviews, especially the one on this dress! Fingers crossed. 🙂

    • The Cynthia Rowley dress is lovely. I’m looking forward to making that too.
      I really did want it to be an honest review, because there seems little point otherwise. I think bloggers are afraid to do so in case they don’t get asked again, but, I think it’s worth the risk. And, to be fair, I would happily spend my own money on this multi-cup patterns. They really are splendid.

  4. Gjeometry says:

    I have also followed @SewSimplicity on Twitter. I am @Gjeometry.

  5. Susan says:

    This top looks so pretty on you, Evie! Thanks for the in-depth review… I really like all the views offered in this pattern. Looking forward to seeing how your others turn out! 🙂

  6. dottiedoodle says:

    Looks good on you – I do like a ruffle! I agree about the envelope styling. We want to be inspired. I would choose 1612 and thank you for the giveaway!

  7. Well done on the save – that patch will never be noticed unless you feel the need to point it out!
    Great review of the pattern – and I agree with the ‘styling’ and the bust options comment. With years of experience that is something many sewers have got used to dealing with (and developed the imagination to get over), but it would be great to encourage lots more people into enjoying this fabulous craft.

    • Exactly…and I’m not telling anyone about the patch!
      I do think fitting is one of the great challenges of sewing. When you get it right it’s fabulous, but, as you say, it takes time and experience, and anything that makes the process smoother is a very good thing.

  8. Ginny says:

    I’m glad you managed to find a fix for the scorch! You’re not the only one to have done that, believe me. Of all the Simplicity pattern range, I think I’d have to go practical and choose 1572, a kids sleepwear and dressing gown pattern. It’s actually a rebrand of 5874, a pattern that was discontinued, that I’ve used to death for my daughter for both sleepwear and daytime tshirts. The raglan sleeves are amazingly easy and I had it down to under half an hour from fabric to finished shirt. She’s outgrown the smaller size and I’ve since felt at a loss because of it. Such a good basic pattern to have!

    • That’s a great basic pattern. I’ve been thinking about making some cosy PJ’s for the kids for autumn and winter. They’ve been growing like weeds over the summer and out of a lot of their stuff…jammies included.

      • Ginny says:

        I make a lot of pjs for my little girl. I have fabric waiting for 3 sets of winter ones to make with another pattern (with a button up shirt). She’s shot up over summer too, so now has hardly any pjs that fit and is growing out of the dressing gown too!

        • I do wish they wouldn’t insist on growing so much! I have a button up pattern somewhere in the stash…I love traditional pjs as well as cute jersey ones.

  9. Such a shame about the scorch mark though… I’m sure the patch is hardly noticeable with the busy print. And well done you for using a stashed fabric instead of buying. Please may I enter the giveaway. After some careful consideration I think I’d plum for Simplicity 2154 as it has plenty of mileage.
    p.s. I’m publishing a new blog post tomorrow so I’ll be sure to link this giveaway and pop back here with the link.

  10. sue says:

    I like the top – like you I wasn’t sure abou the ruffle, but it looks good – just the sort of top I need to find. I too struggled with the sorbetto fitting – but, hopefully, that might just be that I am still a relative newbie!

    Simplicity Amazing Fit 1653 would be my choice, I want to find a good fitting dress and want to try my hand at knits – perfect.

  11. The ruffle was a gamble, for sure…but I think it paid off.
    I hadn’t seen 1653 before. Wow, it’s cute. It would make a great autumn dress with cute boots and opaque tights. I do love a knit dress…I may have to try this too.

  12. Great review and I love the styles you chose as we have a simialr body shape so I tend to make similar things! Will head over to the site and see what catches my eye 🙂 The top looks great and I love the fabric.

  13. I’m liking the very simple 6859 pyjama bottom pattern – practical for the winter!

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  15. Whoa! the top looks great. The fabric you chose is great on you. And I did notice you beautifully covered up a button. I think blue and red go very well on your face…plus it matches your glasses 😉 I have a similar Burda pattern I have been planning to make since 2009!
    I’d love to win the Jiffy pattern and if I am no so luck I will just buy it! It’s so cute.

    • Thank you…I do think red and blue are my best colours!
      I’m afraid I can’t take credit for the button. My mother-in-law salvaged them from a cardigan she was sending to the recycling. She thought I might find a use for them. I still have quite a few left to go on whatever I make from the rest of the fabric. 🙂

  16. foamofdays says:

    I’m not going to be original.. I also would chose Cynthia Rowley 2406 that you’ve chosen 🙂 Its a lovely pattern, and I’m curious to see your version of it..
    Thank you for a very detailed review..

    • It is a lovely pattern. I really must get to it soon. I have the fabric and it’s one of the styles I can make even though my weight is going to be dropping.

  17. foamofdays says:

    Oh, and I’m following SewSimplicity on Twitter 🙂

  18. I love the fabric you chose for this top – its so pretty and luckily because its such a busy design disguises that little scorch mark!! Nobody need ever know… hang on except all your blog-ettes… he, he we won’t tell anyone else…

    I would love to be considered for the Simplicity pattern giveaway and I’d like to make the (1692) 1940’s retro top pattern. I’m envisioning some delightful silky fabric for the bound jewel neck design (slinky fabrics scare me in a sewing capacity so it would be great to tackle the fear head on!)

    Good luck to all the other Simplicity pattern request’ers : )

    • When I scorched my wedding dress I spent the day folding back the pleat that was hiding it to show everyone! I’m hopeless.
      This is another pattern that I hadn’t seen before and it’s so pretty. Slinky fabrics are a pain to sew but worth it in the end.

  19. What a great review – very comprehensive & a lovely end result – it is certainly a pattern I would not have looked twice at just based on the envelope styling.
    I’d also love a chance to enter the giveaway & have spotted a Cynthia Rowley pattern – 1783 – separates – that looks interesting.

    I have also followed Simplicity on Twitter now too 🙂
    Thank you !!

    • I’m really surprised with myself that I saw past the styling on the pattern! It’s usually me seeing someone else make stuff up and thinking “why didn’t I see that”. Great pattern choice…and two entries! 😉

  20. jackien says:

    Thanks for a great review of the pattern, I would have overlooked it due to the lack of waist darts but I love what you have done with it.
    I would love simplicity 1606- its such a great versatile pattern and can be used as a base block to make variousd resses, just change up the skirt, make a peplum, etc.

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  22. Fiona says:

    Oo I’ve read this post in the nick of time! I really want to try out the Simplicity 1918 Amazing Fit Pants pattern after seeing Portia from Miss P had a great result with hers! Any pattern which can make sewing trousers easier must be a winner!
    Lovely blouse, the red really suits you. Looking gorgeous Evie!

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  24. Andrea says:

    Evie, your top turned out great! Love the ruffle detail and you were so clever to add that pocket to cover the scorch. Thanks for the review – I may have to take a second look at this pattern.

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