I’ve had this bee in my bonnet for a while, thinking that a pattern for formalwear could be made in more casual fabric, with more casual details, and look good. Here is my first attempt to put this into practice.

I used Simplicity 4270, a reprint of a formalwear pattern from the 1930’s. The fabric is a knit print someone gave me and the binding is a knit that I cut from a twinset wadder. I cut the neckline much higher both in front and in back than the pattern called for. I’m only 5’2″ and what only shows the average woman’s collar bone will show much more of me. I knew that if I cut it too high, I could cut some away later, but if it were too low, it would be difficult to add to it. I also shortened it significantly. The shorter version of this pattern finishes at 52 inches long from the base of the neck. On me that drags the floor, and I wanted this to look less formal. I also cut the bodice back on the fold, eliminating the center seam and allowances. In retrospect, I wish I’d also cut the front bodice on the fold. It would look better. One other thing: because I was using a stretchy-but-not-too-stretchy knit, I cut one size smaller than I normally would have.

Since the original pattern calls for very nice fabric, it also calls for a very nice finish – lining through both the bodice and skirt. My fabric is much more casual and heavier than what would probably be used for formalwear. I wanted a more conventional finish for knits, so I found the old wadded twinset from which to cut binding. It picks up one of the colors of the print and creates both contrast and interest.

After I got the dress and jacket put together I tried them on. It doesn’t fit through the body now, but might if I excersize. I decided I did not care for the extra fabric at the back of the neck on the jacket.

So I cut it off.

I haven’t hemmed either the dress or the jacket sleeves yet. Maybe later. Maybe not.