This wrap dress had originally been made by me several years ago, probably 2007, as a last minute decision for Christmas/New Year’s fancy occasion wear. Only thing is, I never finished it to the point I could wear it because I was so disappointed – the event I was supposed to attend was cancelled. I think this was my first non-casual dress project that I made on my own and started from scratch. I also do not think I really knew what I was completely doing back then, but, looking at this dress now, I did sew it quite well, interfacing and all, enough to still greatly enjoy putting on this elegant, easy-to-wear, wrap-on frock! I now have the perfect fancy vintage style dress for all seasons and any nice occasion. There’s nothing like a handmade dress to feel happy and confident!
I shake my head to remember how the sewing machine needle kept catching the fabric and pulling runs – why did the fact never hit me to think of changing the needle? Wow! I feel badly admitting this, but it also makes me feel like I’ve come a long way with my sewing skills. I’m just glad the fabric survived its torture well enough to still look good.
My parents had resurrected this dress from my UFO project stash in their basement during the fall of 2011. I finally decided to do the finishing touches it needed to be wearable.
As I had found it, there was no way to close it – no snaps, hooks, or even a tie. Otherwise, the body of the dress was done. At least I had nicely finished off all the inside edges with my mom’s serger (overlock machine) so it has clean raw edges. Now, it is a wrap dress, after all. So I looked at the dress’ original pattern, Butterick 5030, and I also looked at a similar vintage pattern, Butterick 5152, before I decided on making a cummerbund closing. I wanted to give my dress a slight vintage inspiration.
Somehow, among all the millions of scraps between here and my parents’ house, I had found the few handfuls of the dress’ fabric pieces left. Happily, there was just enough fabric to make a cummerbund, but no solid long scrap, so I had to plan for side seams. The extra seams gave me an idea to gather the cummerbund sides instead of a making a plain waistband. This gathering of the cummerbund looks good in the end, only it was quite difficult to achieve because of two factors: 1) I double sided the cummerbund for a finished band that would show no raw edges; 2) the fabric was shedding and fraying all over (just like I remembered from before). I used the right needle this time, by the way…so it must just be a difficult material to work with anyways.
I’m tickled over the metallic gold elastic thread that I braided together to become the button closing loop. The elastic loop’s raw ends were stuffed into the gathered end of the cummerbund and hand tacked into place. It is versatile in fit this way but still fancy enough to be seen. Leaving out a side tie end closing streamlines the dress, I believe. I found a large ‘antique gold’ button at the big box store Wal-mart and thought to attach the cummerbund permanently to the dress and so close both at the same time! I basted the cummerbund on the dress at key spots by machine, but most of the gathering and attaching to my dress was done by hand.
My only regrets for this project are the tiny hook-and-eye closures I sewed on the front bodice wrap of the dress to minimize cleavage ‘exposure’. The tiny hooks caught everywhere on the dress’ open weave and created some pulls in tapestry that I wish had not been there. In some spare time in my sewing future, I think I will change this so I can be completely happy with this dress, but, hey, I can wear it now, so how it’s finished is good enough. I do love the shoulder and neckline details, so perhaps they can distract from any flaws!
After wearing my ‘no-longer-a-UFO dress’, it occurred to me that the reason I balled it up as a wrinkled mess in ’07 was not just because of the sewing problems, but also the nagging thought that maybe this looks like a fancy housecoat. It’s probably because of seeing this vintage wrap-on lounging robe pattern – Butterick #5152. That word “housecoat” still nags the back of my brain every time I wear this, but my tapestry wrap dress fits well and looks elegant, it can’t be all that bad if it is so fun to wear!
I feel like it a testament to the sewing I have done all these years to still be wearing something from my past which – though faulty by my standards of today – was a major accomplishment milestone at the time it was created. I am impressed with everything about this pattern – it fits great, has a versatile design, and was moderately easy construction. This is a good design which would be able to work well with all sorts of both woven and knit materials for a “one pattern does it all” sort of thing. I can’t wait to pick this pattern up again and try it with a fabric which might be easier to work with! This pattern is still in print (miraculously) so you can go snag up this awesome pattern if you want to try it, too!
FABRIC: some sort of rayon/cotton blend (guess I could do the burn test on a scrap)
NOTIONS: just the big button, gold elastic, and thread were needed
PATTERN: Butterick 5030, view B, year 2007
FIRST WORN: out to a classical Symphony concert. We didn’t arrive as early as needed to get the free tickets, so we just hung out at my parents’ house later and watched a good movie (“Follow the Fleet” Astaire/Rodgers movie to be exact). As you can see, I also wore
my dress to the Christmas party were you see us in. We happened to have our picture taken professionally of the two of us – yay!
TIME TO COMPLETE: Back in 2007, I’m guessing I spent maybe10 or more hours for the main body of the dress; in 2011, for the cummerbund and finishing, about 4 more hours.