Wednesday 16 April 2014

built by wendy 3835

built by wendy 3835built by wendy 3835built by Wendy 3835built by wendy 3835built by wendy 383538353835

The Built by Wendy Simplicity 3835 pattern is famous on the interwebs. Everyone has made it, and usually more than once! This versatile pattern is for a top and two dresses with different sleeve lengths and necklines.

Do you know it? Its been out of print for years but still manages to appear regularly on sewing blogs. In fact all the Built by Wendy patterns are popular. And all out of print.

I don't understand why pattern companies, and fabric companies, don't revive some of their more popular designs. I'm sure there are reasons, but when they are still sought after and increasingly rare, I feel like they could do a limited rerelease.

The good news about the 3835 pattern, for me and for you if you don't own it, is that it is available as a digital download from the site along with some of the other Built by Wendy patterns.

I bought the pattern and made this top once a year or two ago. It is a quick sew and takes a tiny amount of fabric. I quite liked it at the time, but wear it rarely because it ended up as they often do too tight across the bust and shoulders, but gapey on the sides where I ended up taking it in.

When I decided recently to finally tackle the world of the FBA, or full bust adjustment, it was this simple pattern I turned to. The FBA if you don't know it is an essential tool if you are a sewer with a larger than B cup. Its also a good first step toward making your own pattern alterations, which leads to more satisfying clothes sewing.

Its taken me a while to learn this secret, but now I'm on to it! My first basic foray into pattern making here also gave me more of an understanding about how it all works, and more confidence to fiddle.

Unfortunately this is a raglan style top and the instructions for a raglan FBA were thin on the ground so it took some dithering around until I just went for it. The only tutorial I could find online was this one. I'm not sure what she does with the dart at the end, so I pressed on and added a dart where one didn't exist before and left it there.

I sewed a couple of muslins with my revised pattern making changes until I was happy with the fit. I actually ended up coming down two pattern sizes. From making a size 16 the first time I sewed this eventually as a 12, using my high bust measurement, adding a FBA and using the size 14 sleeves with slightly extended armscyes to fit. The sleeves are notoriously tight on this pattern.

I then cut the sleeve lengths where I wanted rather than following the pattern, I used the longer dress length sleeve pattern rather than the top as a starting point.

Once I was happy with my revisions I made these two tops in quick succession. I think the blue and white patterned top is the more successful due to the nice drape of this voiley Spotlight fabric which was already in the stash.

But I do love the colour of the blue floral figured fabric and couldn't resist buying it. It has a bit of a starchy, quilty feel but I'm hoping it will wear in a bit. The good news is that both tops cost less than $10 to make and I now have a bespoke pattern that I can make confidently again. And it has given me confidence for altering other patterns.

As usual I hate photos of myself (I enlisted my school holidaying junior photography team for these) but as usual I wanted to pay back all those people who have shared their 3835s online and from whom I've learnt so much. Special mention to the special Built by us Flickr group. Check out my friend Jo's versions, they are all great.


  1. They're lovely Susie :-) I still wear mine a lot, just with a cardi in this cooler weather, but I'd love to try a longer sleeve as you've done, it's a really flattering length. I made one in quilting cotton & it had a totally different look to the voile ones but I still love it. I'll be interested to hear which of yours ends up getting more wear x

  2. Snap! I've just made five of these and it was going to be next blog post!

    1. Whoops, hit send before i could edit for correct grammar and to say i love your versions.

      I'm wearing a pink version as i type!

  3. Excellent work Susie. The tops look great.... Sounds like the perfect pattern really and shows there's no excuse not to make some clothes for ourselves!

  4. I have four built by wendy patterns, I wish I had bought others at the same time. Mine remain unused though. I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for almost six years straight, I can not wait to be done FINALLY when I wean bub. SO many things to sew!!!!

  5. Hello, I have been searching for the built by wendy simplicity 3835 pattern forever now with no luck - the link to the digital download no longer works. Any idea about how I might be able to find this famous pattern? I reside outside the U.S. and cannot get a hold of the printed version. Thank you..

  6. Its still on the site, try searching 3835

  7. Found it! Thank you sew much! :)


Thank you for dropping by and commenting :-)