Simplicity 2444 – elephants and kowhai

I love this pattern. It is definitely a TNT for me. I’ve now made, erm, five in total, which could be the most I’ve made of one pattern – I think! The first version I made 11 years ago from a pink and white Tanya Whelan print. Then I gave the pattern a rest until a couple of years ago when I made up my smarties dress and then again a couple of months later from a frangipani fabric originally from Hawai’i.

This pattern, which is now sadly out of print is a traditional fit and flare, which tends to fit me really well. The front bodice has two waist darts and I don’t need to make any adjustments for an FBA, which makes a change. I also just love the pleats in the skirt, the front pleat overlaps slightly. The pattern comes with an optional collar, cape (as I made with my very first version), waist ties, short sleeves or ¾ sleeves.

The first of these is made from the Tiny Garden Elephants from Nerida Hansen in Australia (sorry, it’s no longer available, although you might find it through other online stores). This is the quilting cotton which I bought in June 2020. It was a little bit narrow so I had to piece the skirt, but I am the pattern matching queen which means you can’t see that. If you look carefully in this photo there are three seams, but only one is obvious.

Those who know me, will know I love elephants, so the fabric was made for me! I made the dress up earlier in the year around January, when we lived in our old house and it was summer. Although we now live in a warmer, sunnier part of the country and although it’s the winter, I’ve worn this a couple of times recently, without a jumper and these photos were taken in August, which is basically the middle of winter!

This version is as simple as the pattern comes, sleeveless, without the collar, cape or sleeves. This fabric was beautiful to sew with and the dress went together really quickly and is definitely earning its keep in my wardrobe!

This last version I made up in July for my birthday. I had a big birthday this year and we booked a nice dinner and invited friends along. It was a really good evening. The restaurant put us in a room at the back just for us, so we could be naughty and laugh and just have fun. [The original plan was to head to Aus and go across to Perth, but Covid had other ideas, but at least at the time we could party locally.]

This fabric I bought when we went to Tokyo back in February 2018. This fabric looks like it is covered in kowhai which are a native tree in NZ and an unofficial national flower. Why I should find fabric covered in kowhai in Tokyo, I don’t know, but it’s been in my stash since then, waiting for that perfect pattern.

I’m unsure exactly of the composition. I suspect it’s got something man made in it. It also frayed like anything! The fabric is quite thick and is actually quite warm. The front has a really nice texture to it, so it’s not plain black. It’s also double layered, just check the reverse!

For this version, it being winter, I decided to make ¾ sleeves. This is the first time I’ve made up the sleeves for this pattern and they fit really well. I did measure them fully first.

I also made some changes with the zip. When looking in my zip stash, I decided that a normal dress zip or invisible zip just wouldn’t work and I found this metal zip just the right length. Perfect for an exposed zip. I had a bit of a panic putting it in, thinking halfway through that it was a big mistake, by which time I had to go for it. But it definitely isn’t a mistake, even if it is a bit cold on my back when I put it on! 🙂

I also wore this dress for the Wellington Frocktails at the end of July. I flew down to the big smoke to be part of the committee putting on the event at a hotel. It was a good evening, with lots of sewing chatter, petting of fabrics, etc. These photos were taken by our photographer, Fairlie, from Kapiti Photography. One is of the committee and strangely I’m not smiling!

It was also good, since I stayed down overnight and that meant I could fabric shop on the Sunday before my flight back! 🙂

The deets
FabricsNerida Hansen Tiny Garden Elephants quilting cotton (no longer available) bought June 2020, black something or other with a Kowhai pattern, I think from Tomato in Nippori, Tokyo, bought Feb 2018. It’s definitely from Nippori!
Notions:  Interfacing for the neckline and zips, navy dress zip and black metal zip.
PatternSimplicity Project Runway 2444, size 16, now sadly unavailable. One version the basic bodice and pleated skirt, second basic bodice, pleated skirt with additional ¾ sleeves.
Changes made:  Bodice lengthened by ¾” and front darts lowered by the same amount.
Another one/recommendations:  In the interests of completeness, I’ll answer this, but I suspect I’ll make another. I love this pattern so much. The fit, the neckline, the skirt, it’s just me and I’ve made this enough times to be able to sew it up really quickly. If you can get one second hand, I’d recommend it.

One thought on “Simplicity 2444 – elephants and kowhai

  1. I love them both! They both look great on you. I extra love the kowhai with the black tights. (Possibly just envy coz too hot to do that look here!) And variations of black is just so Wellington 😀

    I’m a bit of a fit and flare girl myself. I’ve got a zillion patterns in that style, variations. I actually found in an op shop a pattern with a very similar skirt. I think I should try a frankenpattern of a nice bodice and that pattern’s skirt. You’ve inspired me!

    But first I have to make some ‘build up’ floofy dresses. Hottest humidest time here in Darwin is starting like …. NOW!!!


    But yay for being able to make clothes that fit perfectly to the climate eh? Not so easy if you rely on rtw here.

    However, fit and flares in my future await me 🙂

    Isn’t that kowhai fabric just beautiful! And of course, elephants!

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