Monday, March 23, 2015

Made by a Fabricista: The Versatile Knit Wrap Dress

Hello everyone and happy Spring!  This is the first time that I've taken photos outdoors since October.  It feels so nice to be outside again!  To celebrate the arrival of Spring, I wanted to make a new dress.  One of the most versatile dresses that I think you can own is a knit wrap dress.  They work for all seasons- just throw on a jacket or cardigan in the winter, and you can make a wrap dress work all year long.  Fabric Mart has all of their knits on sale this week, so this would be the perfect time to try making a wrap dress!


The wrap dress was made popular by Diane Von Furstenberg in the 70's.  Have you ever seen a real DVF Wrap dress?  If you go to the Wrap Shop you can see that the average price is $400, and all of the gorgeous variations that they offer.  The one thing that I noticed that they all have in common, is that they are made from silk jersey knit.  I actually tried on an authentic DVF wrap dress once, and found out what silk jersey really feels like.  It's a lot like an ITY jersey in feel, but it has a lot less stretch.



I really had my heart set on making a wrap dress from a real silk jersey, and as usual, FabricMart had the perfect fabric- a striped silk jersey in my favorite colors.  They have sold out of it now, but this is a close-up for you.

My favorite pattern for this style is Vogue 8379.  I've taught a class using it before, and amazingly, every student, no matter what size or shape they were, looked great in it!  There are a ton of wrap dress pattern options available, and most of them take between 3 to 3-1/2 yards of fabric, depending on your sleeve length, collar and cuff options.   I did make adjustments to the pattern to customize the fit for me: a full bust adjustment, a full biceps adjustment, and added length to the skirt.  But after my adjustments, I got a much better fit than I could ever have gotten buying an authentic DVF wrap dress.



Although my fabric was striped, the stripes actually were gently curved like a winding road, instead of perfectly straight.  This is what it looked like layed out across my cutting table:
This actually opened up more possibilities for me design wise.  Rather than worry about matching stripes at the seams, I decided to just try to play around with the general direction of the stripes with the different pattern pieces.  Since the bodice and sleeves are fitted closely, I decided to lay the back bodice and sleeves in the direction of the maximum stretch- which was horizontally.



I omitted the seam in the center back skirt, and cut it all in a single layer with the stripes at a slight angle.   Then I tried to match the sides in whatever direction the stripes were going in.  It has a kind of ice cream swirl effect.

I oriented the front bodice so that the stripes would line up with the direction of the wrap- almost a 45 degree angle.Lastly, I cut the tie and facings with the stripes going horizontally. My front facing does turn out (even though it's not supposed to!), but it looks intentional with the horizontal facing.

Of course, you do need to pay attention to the skirt when you are sitting, but there is plenty of overlap so that you can stay covered up.  And if it's a windy day, well, you might want to wear another dress that day!  I'm wearing a cami and half slip underneath, just in case a gust of wind comes out of nowhere.



Have you made a wrap dress before?  What is your favorite Wrap Dress pattern and fabric?

Happy Sewing!

Ann for SewBaby News

10 comments:

  1. Cute! And silk knit sounds divine!

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  2. Pretty lady!

    I love this dress on you, it is amazing! And the striped effect is really cool...

    I have only ever owned one wrap dress that properly worked for my body. My hope is to one day use my stash of wrap patterns, compare them to the awesomely fitting wrap dress, and go from there. It will probably take a bunch of work, but that is the issue with small upper body and larger lower body, the fit on a wrap dress has to be altered significantly to work on my frame.

    (Seriously most wrap dresses overwhelm my bust and overemphasize my hips. Sigh.)

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    1. Thank you, Dina! I would recommend this pattern for you, as there were definitely some students with small busts/larger hips that it flattered very nicely. I think it's a rare magic pattern.

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  3. Just lovely! Love the "swirl" effect of the stripes

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  4. Once again, beautiful work! I need to give this pattern a whirl.

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    1. Thanks, Diane! I would love to see your version!

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  5. I may have this pattern in my treasure trove of un-used wrap dresses. Your experience seeing it on a variety of bodies is encouraging me to give it a try after all. I am normally a "refrigerator" shape but I'm willing to try it once:-)

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  6. Lovely, I like the swirl effect of the stripes too. Great post !

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