Sewing for Me: Navy Plaid Simplicity 3835

I’m crazy about plaid, especially in the fall. When this sweet Built by WendyΒ pattern came out a few years ago, it was all over the sewing blogosphere. I attempted my own version at the time, but as a newbie at sewing, the dress looked like a train wreck. It was humongous, and I couldn’t figure out how to construct the neck facing so I ended up trying a contrast binding that is completely frayed and awfully stretched out now. The hem is uneven, the gathers…well, you get the idea.

If anyone were to ask me, I would consider my current sewing skill level to be somewhere in the advanced beginner range. Now that I have a few years’ worth of sewing experience under my belt, I wanted to try the pattern again, hoping for non-train wreck results. So much easier this time around!

I even made a few modifications. I love patch pockets on clothes for K, but for me, it’s a bit too twee. So I made angled pockets instead (I’ve been erroneously calling them welt pockets, but I’m not sure what they are…welt pockets without the welt?). Surprisingly, I matched up the plaids everywhere except where the pocket linings show and one sleeve. Stellar for me, I’d say.

The fabric was a Goodwill find several years ago, and despite many washings it’s still sporting eau de thrift store. But the odor is subtle, which gives me hope that there might be some natural content in this strangely spongy knit. Yes, it’s knit. Doesn’t it look like wool at first glance?

Another modification I made was to do away with the zipper since the dress slides over my head and stretches nicely. I like the subtle shaping the back darts provide, but I probably could have gone down a size (I cut a 14). Additionally, I felt that the sleeves were an awkward length that didn’t do my arms any favors, so I added sleeve cuffs cut on the bias. I’m liking the detail.

M calls this my Amish/Sister-wife-on-the-compound-curtain-dress. I was a little uncertain about the overall vibe of the look too, but I wore it out and about yesterday and at a coffee shop, a young woman wearing uber hipster glasses told me that she loved my outfit, so I decided that the dress passes muster.

The key, I believe, is in the styling. With my beloved chunky scarves and boots, I think it works! I tried a few variations — my laziness prevented me from reaching for things outside of arm’s length so I realize that the looks below are not all that scintillating nor are they that varied from each other…but there’s definite potential here for some styling fun.

I want to make another one in a solid color with an exposed zipper – wouldn’t that be hipster (or are exposed zippers so yesterday?)?


44 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: Navy Plaid Simplicity 3835

  1. This is great! Have you tried washing the dress and hanging it outside to dry? That usually works to kick the thrift store smell out of my treasures!
    I think those pockets are my favorite part of the dress!

    1. That’s a great tip, Teresa! Around this time of year in Seattle, catching enough sunshine to dry out eau de thrift store is a bit tricky, but I will try!

  2. Hi Sanae. Wow I really like the pockets. I should try these pockets in the future. πŸ™‚ I think you look lovely in this dress.

  3. I love Built by Wendy. I didn’t know you could get patterns outside of her books. This is great news! πŸ™‚ I love the three books I have. That’s a super cute dress on you. I’m debating making my little black dress for Project Sewn out of her raglan t-shirt pattern (lengthening and a-lining it into a dress). We’ll see if I have enough of the fabric I want to use!

    1. Oh, I love the idea of a raglan lbd! I don’t think there are too many Built By Wendy Simplicity patterns, but I have three: this one (3835), one for some tops (3692) and one for pants/shorts (3850). Good luck with your dress!

  4. Your pockets are totally impressive, and you did such a nice job with the plaid! Such a good feeling when you easily make a pattern that initially gave you trouble.

    1. Thanks Morgan! It does feel good to see progress in sewing – sometimes I feel like I’m regressing so this was a nice validation πŸ™‚

  5. Very hipster! Even without exposed zipper. I have a dress from last year with an exposed zipper, but maybe here in Europe we are so hip we are one year ahead? The pockets are great. I make them like that when I put a zippered pocket in a bag. So maybe “zipperd pockets without a zip”? πŸ˜‰

    1. Ha! You are way ahead of the hipster curve in Europe, Ute! I have a good friend who spends her summers in Netherlands and she likes to send me links to different fashion houses in Europe and the stuff is amazing!!

  6. Love it! I’m totally going to bite your bias cuff idea for my current plaid Tova-in-progress… I think plaid and the sort-of sixties silhouette are totally in right now!

    1. I’m a sucker for bias details! Thanks for making me feel like I’m on trend, Liz – depending on the moment, I end up feeling like I should be wearing a bonnet with the outfit. πŸ™‚

  7. Wow! You are killing it with the sewing for yourself! (After typing that I think I may have already said that in another comment, ha!) But seriously, this dress is great! Love the plaid and the pockets. I really did think this was wool not jersey. And a solid version would be great with an exposed zip. Awesome job once again Sanae!

    1. Thank you, Meghan! I think it’s getting easier to sew for myself? Still not sure – I feel like I have a harder time deciding what to make than I do with K’s stuff. Why is that?

    1. Oh, you’re just being nice, June! I still make so many mistakes and because I’m entirely self-taught, I often feel like I’m not doing things the “proper” way…but thank you!!!

  8. You are far too modest! “Advanced beginner”? Hardly! Those welt-pockets-without-the-welt were an awesome design decision. Love them. And I’m jealous of your Goodwill score!

    1. Thank you, Lucinda – I still feel like a novice when it comes to sewing most of the time (and I forget how to do things quickly). I was really lucky that day at Goodwill! I found a ton of fabric: linen looks mystery fabrics, cotton, knits and what I hope are wool or wool blends.

  9. This looks great! I made a few of the 3835 smock tops when the pattern was doing the blog rounds… I was nursing at the time so didn’t think to make the dress version, but yours looks great – I might have to dig the pattern out again.

    1. I love the smock top version of this pattern and want to make it! I think this is such a great casual dress with just enough interesting details to keep it from feeling dull – hope you get a chance to make it, Suzy πŸ™‚

  10. I’ve never been a plaid fan myself, unless its part of a lumberjacks work shirt. You have made me a convert! I love it with the boots and scarf, and the jacket dresses it up nicely. If you are making it with an exposed zip, how about trying those awesome decorative lace zippers. They are so cute and would add some pop to a solid coloured dress.

    1. How funny! I was just looking at those amazing lace zippers at a fabric store just the other day when I had to go get some thread – they are SO cool! I didn’t get any at the time, but I think I’ll have to now πŸ™‚

  11. Wow! I thought the first photo of you without the face with that dress was K! You two must look alike a lot.
    Great job as always. Beautiful! I’m crazy about plaid too. And I just finished same pants with this week’s Monday Outfit, but hmmm, maybe it suits better for bigger kids than my super skinny 5yr old. But I love it and really want it in my size.

    1. Haha! That’s a first – K and I don’t look anything alike, especially our bodies, but that’s very flattering πŸ™‚ I love the pants too, but we discovered that the drawstring was a little tricky for bathroom breaks…

  12. Lovely dress, it’s the first time I’ve seen darts at the back of a design like this. Love the way you styled the dress. Boots makes everything look a notch more chic πŸ™‚ I like this type of dress too but I’m not sure how to wear it without looking like I’m wearing my house dress out. And sadly, I live in perpetual summer weather so boots are out for me. I wonder if I make this in a “serious” grey fabric whether I can wear it to work.

    1. Thank you Erin! I think this dress would look fantastic in grey and would be very work-appropriate – since you’re in a warmer climate, a short-sleeve version would be lovely with some bright jewelry or a pretty summer-weight scarf, I think.:-)

  13. M’s comment made me snort laughing. One of my greatest sewing fears is the cotton dress that makes me look like a member of a very conservative religious group!
    Good on you for seeing past the patch pockets and making this dress your own. That’s talent that’s beyond advanced beginner right there. It looks beautiful and comfy.

    1. M is always making hilarious comments about my sewing πŸ™‚ thanks for the kind comment! Maybe I’ll feel bold enough to consider myself “intermediate” soon…:-)

  14. I find there is nothing better than finding a pattern doing it the way should be done than making it your own by changing this bit then that bit. well done you made that pattern your own . I love the fabric you can dress it up or down what ever you fancy. Well done.

  15. Coming to this very late in looking at different versions of this pattern (which I guess I also am coming to late!). LIke my version ok but love yours with its pockets even more. Couldn’t figure out how to add this type of pocket, could you point me to any tutorial or pattern? thanks so much for any suggestions.

    1. Hello! I think I just made up those pockets based on this zipper pocket tutorial I created: β€” I just didn’t add zippers and attached a pocket facing that extended enough to cover the opening…I hope that makes sense!

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