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Simple Sew Brigitte dress Sewalong. 1: Assembling the pattern

May 2, 2014

Hello there!  Welcome to the first instalment of the Simple Sew Brigitte dress sewalong, the free pattern you can get with the first issue of Love Sewing magazine.  Hopefully by now you have printed the PDF pattern and you are ready to assemble it.  If not, click here and get printing! 🙂  When you print the pattern, ensure that you print actual size, i.e. no scaling.

The pattern pages are numbered to help you fit them together in the correct order, starting at top left with number 1.  Each page overlaps the adjacent pages slightly.  Although it always looks simple enough, it can be quite difficult to tape all these pages together in one go and to get everything lined up properly.  My tip is start laying the pages out and lining them up roughly but without actually taping them together yet.  If you have a big table, use that, or you might be better off using the floor!

Lay out the pieces of paper in the correct order before taping together

Lay out the pieces of paper in the correct order before taping together

Once you’ve done this you can see how the individual pattern pieces are pieced together, and I work on one pattern piece at a time to help simplify all the joining up.  In my experience if you just start top left and join it all together in one go, it ends up not matching up correctly somewhere further along or further down, and it becomes a very frustrating experience!

So, I take all the pieces of paper for each pattern piece and roughly cut around them, like in the photo below.  I hope this makes sense!

I cut roughl;y around each pattern piece before starting to stick together

I cut roughly around each pattern piece before starting to stick together

I then only have to worry about aligning each individual pattern piece correctly for the moment.  I overlap the edges and tape the papers together, taking into account that the print won’t appear on the edges where the paper overlaps.  I don’t cut or fold the edges of my papers, I just overlap and tape because it wastes less time in what is already a tedious process!  This is a picture of my sleeve pattern piece, to give you an idea of how it overlaps:

Sleeve pattern

Sleeve pattern

Once you’ve got your pattern pieces assembled, you’ll need to decide what size to cut.  This pattern doesn’t contain a whole load of ease, so I would measure very carefully!  You can then either trace off your size, preserving the master copy, or cut your size directly from the paper.  As you can see, I chose the latter option!  If you do too, it might be an idea to use glass headed pins when you pin your pattern pieces to the fabric, as it is quite tough pinning through printer paper.

That’s all we’re doing for today.  On Tuesday 6th May we are going to cut your fabric and transfer all the pattern markings, so if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to buy your fabric, pre-wash it and iron it so that it is ready to cut.

Just to warn you: I won’t be going through the process of making a ‘toile’ or ‘muslin’ (i.e. a test version) with you in this sewalong, so if your fabric is utterly precious and you are worried that the dress might not fit exactly right, then please use a less precious fabric and make yourself a test version!  Toiles are usually made out of calico because it doesn’t stretch, it’s pale, so it can be drawn all over, and it’s easy to see fitting issues that a busy print may help disguise.

Any questions, just comment below.  See you on Tuesday, and have an excellent bank holiday weekend!

Oh, and if you want you can add this blog button to your blog to show you are sewing along with me!

Brigitte sewalong web button

  1. May 2, 2014 12:17 pm

    What a great post! Thank you!
    I downloaded and printed out the whole pattern to ‘actual size’. However, although the test square is fine, there’s a margin on all printed pages..The pattern looks fine in the print preview but once printed there’s a margin. I have tried everything but just can’t get rid of it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! x

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 2, 2014 12:19 pm

      Hi Louisa, that’s perfectly normal. The margins overlap one another to make the whole.

      • May 2, 2014 12:26 pm

        Thank you very much for your response. This was driving me mad! I’m a little bit confused about the gap created by those margins. If I line up page 1 and 2 together, even if they overlap, there is still a gap – this blank space – between the lines on the right edge of page 1 and left edge of page 2. Doesn’t that alter the measurement?
        I’ sorry for my silly questions. You’ve probably guessed that I’m a novice. I have just subscribed to the magazine and would love to be able to make sense of the pattern but feeling stuck from the start! Thanks so much for your help!

      • tabathatweedie permalink*
        May 2, 2014 12:41 pm

        Your questions aren’t silly at all, don’t hesitate to ask! There will be a gap/blank space, it’s true, but it doesn’t affect the measurements. If you look closely at my assembled sleeve pattern, you’ll see how there are gaps but the flow of the text and the lines is still correct and it all lines up. It’s like having a little blind strip I suppose, you just visualise how the edges connect together. Many other pdf patterns have actual solid border lines which match up precisely, but this pattern doesn’t (or at least my testing version doesn’t). Have a closer look at my sleeve pattern picture and hopefully that should help.

      • May 2, 2014 12:59 pm

        I can’t thank you enough Tabatha! You’re an absolute star! Your explanations make so much sense. It’s fantastic that you’re doing this sewalong. Your post and pics make the whole experience so much clearer and more reassuring!
        I can’t wait to resume the assembling of the pattern now that I know what I’m doing-ish 🙂
        i look forward to your next posts!
        Again THANK YOU! X

  2. May 2, 2014 1:11 pm

    I’m so tempted to have ago with this. Whilst a wiz on my machine when it come to home decoration, I’ve not sewn a complete garment since school.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 2, 2014 1:13 pm

      Give it a go! You could be on the brink of a life-changing new hobby – sewing your own clothes! 😊

  3. francescapia permalink
    May 2, 2014 1:13 pm

    Thanks for this. I printed it out and was about to chuck it as i thought it went wrong somewhere. Not for me though – I’m way too much of a perfectionist to guess where my patterns have to meet – I shan’t be getting any of the patterns till I hear they use a different PDF system!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 2, 2014 1:47 pm

      That’s a shame. Keep an eye out for the second edition of the magazine as I hear there will be a paper pattern given away – perhaps that would suit you better.

      • francescapia permalink
        May 2, 2014 3:15 pm

        Thanks for your reply – good to know:).

  4. May 2, 2014 4:50 pm

    This is great to have a sewalong ! I have sewn for many years but this is the first time I have used a downloaded pattern so its great to see in pictures that I have got it right or not. I can’t wait to get the fabric now or I might use some that I have as a test piece first!
    Thank you

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 2, 2014 4:58 pm

      You’re welcome, glad to be of service! 🙂

  5. Simona permalink
    May 2, 2014 5:50 pm

    Now that’s a good tip. Lay pages in order needed and them step each pattern piece . Should do,that next time 😃

  6. May 3, 2014 9:19 am

    If I use a knit fabric for the dress should I go down a size because of the stretch factor and should I need a zipper? Thanks.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2014 1:25 pm

      I haven’t made a knit version yet, so I’m not sure if you would need to go down a size: that all depends on how fitted you want the dress to be. Sorry I can’t be of more help on that front. Re: zip – yes, providing your fabric has a decent amount of stretch, you could definitely omit it.

      • May 4, 2014 1:39 pm

        Thanks for your answer, I guess the size thing with knits is something I need to experiment with.

  7. May 5, 2014 4:31 pm

    I’m definitely joining you for this sewalong! I’m just starting a year-long challenge of sewing my own wardrobe so this is perfect timing 🙂 Going to catch up tonight!

  8. May 7, 2014 8:05 am

    Oh, thank you for the comments! It was my first PDF-pattern and I thought it was wrong till read your post. 🙂 The seam allowances are included, aren’t’ they?

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 7, 2014 8:18 am

      Yes, the seam allowances are included.

  9. May 14, 2014 10:40 am

    Hi, thanks so much for this sewalong – I’m a bit behind as just starting. Please help me… I have printed my pattern out but the 5cm test square measures 4cm. I’m guessing this is wrong?! How do I print it properly?! I didn’t change any settings, just printed it as it was.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 14, 2014 12:19 pm

      Hi Beth, you need to select zero scaling/print actual size.

  10. May 14, 2014 4:04 pm

    Thanks for replying. I’ve done it now! FYI (anyone who still needs to print the pattern) use Adobe Reader not Mac Reader!! I was using Mac Reader and there wasn’t (well, I couldn’t see) any option to select zero scaling. But I opened the PDF in Adobe Reader and could then change the settings!
    All done now and starting to (try to) tape it together… I’ve got some catching up to do!
    Thanks again
    Beth x

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 14, 2014 4:34 pm

      Thanks, good to know! 🙂

  11. March 30, 2015 1:30 am

    I printed page 3 out, which is the one with the 5cm test square on it. The test square only measured 4.5 cm though. I tried to change this but could not figure out how? I am in the US and we (sadly) do not use cm etc. But this should not make a difference in the printing. I have a MacBook Pro and use Safari.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      March 30, 2015 7:44 am

      Hi. I think you need to look at the printing options before printing and ensure you’ve selected ‘no scaling’.

  12. Marie permalink
    July 18, 2015 10:21 pm

    For the taller ladies, I added three inches to my pattern and my finished dress was barely long enough. Next time I’ll add at least six inches. This pattern is definitely on the shorter side!


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