Cynthia Rowley Party Dress – By Hand London + Simplicity 1873 Mashup

party dress 3

party dress 4


Ahh, it’s fall and grad school is keeping my busy like crazy. Whenever September rolls around, my sewing cadence grinds to a halt and it’s a challenge to find time to balance work, school, and my love of sewing. I think I figured out a little strategic planning that’s helped so far, like starting our Halloween costumes in August, and planning out what to work on each weekend when there’s a little time free to work on some steps of a project (like cutting out the fabric one weekend, sewing some parts here and there…you get the picture).

Originally, I wasn’t planning on making a dress to wear for a friend’s wedding at the beginning of October, thinking I was going to get something from Rent the Runway instead and call it a day. But with a little pattern-hacking, I quickly made a new party dress based on my fave bodice, By Hand London’s Elisalex Dress, with a skirt from Simplicity 1873, a Cynthia Rowley pattern similar to the designer version of this dress.


party dress 1

Now, I could have easily made the Simplicity dress right out of the pattern envelope – that dress versus the one I made look pretty similar, right? However, the bodice of the Simplicity dress had bust darts and waist darts, and it would have taken time to make a muslin and get it to fit correctly. Which is why I decided to use something that I know fits well and works, the BHL bodice. All that was left to do was figure out how to make the Simplicity skirt fit the bodice – I pinned all of the tucks in place on the skirt pieces and fitted the pattern tissue on my dress form so that it was the same circumference as the bodice. The size 14 did the trick and magically the side seams of the skirt and bodice matched up perfectly – it was meant to be!


party dress 2

I love the back of this bodice so much, I think the original Simplicity dress could have benefitted from something like this. Well, this is why I sew – to make my own version of things!  Also, this skirt is reallllly short, so I took the hem up about an inch.


party dress 5

Let’s talk about this yummy fabric! I bought this from Metro Textile about two years ago, and it was one of those impulse purchases where I didn’t know what I’d make from it, but had to have it. Waiting for the right project was definitely worth it, it’s not quite a brocade but heavy enough to provide the right kind of shape and body to the skirt of the dress. I also played with the pattern placement on the bodice and centered the paisley motif on the center front bodice piece.


party dress 6

I always get sad when I make special occasion garments that I only get to wear once or twice, but I think this dress will be pretty versatile. Since it’s green, I’ll most likely wear this for my husband’s company Christmas party with some tights and ankle booties, plus a faux-fur wrap for warmth.


Pattern: By Hand London Elisalex and Simplicity 1873
Fabric: poly brocade from Metro Textile



  1. November 6, 2017 / 10:08 am

    It’s SO pretty! And you achieved a great fit!

    • Lucinda
      November 6, 2017 / 6:16 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

  2. Linda (ACraftyScrivener)
    November 6, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous, and would fit right in at a Christmas party I think. That fabric is divine!

    • Lucinda
      November 6, 2017 / 6:16 pm

      Thank you, the fabric really makes it!

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