After my most recent 1920s style wrap dress, I couldn’t help but whip up another, this time modern one, for the “Sew Together for the Summer of the Wrap Dress”! This will not be a history based, or even a lengthy post, but this is a pattern which is only about a month old now so my dress is “hot off the presses” so to say! Here’s just a quick post here to show off my newest make.
FABRIC: a buff finish (peachskin) polyester
PATTERN: Simplicity #8637, a Summer 2018 pattern
TIME TO COMPLETE: I made this in about 6 to 8 hours
TOTAL COST: This fabric was bought from Wal-Mart back in March 2013 at $28 for 5 yards (only know this because I still had the receipt with it). But when it is something languishing in my stash, I’m not really counting cost now, anyway.
This dreamy baby of a dress just floats as I move and is a weightless romantic thing to wear for summer! Plus it is totally a throw on, or should I say ‘wrap on’, and go dress. It was quite easy to sew overall, the biggest challenge was dealing with sooo much fabric…5 freaking yards! This was an opportunity to use up a quaint floral polyester just sitting in my stash for many years with no previous idea of what to make of it. Not too often (but every once in a while) a fabric makes its way home with me for no other reason than it was pretty and made me feel good. I love when those purchases get justified when they become a garment I enjoy. Funny, I recently saw a vintage Instagrammer make a 50’s dress from this exact same fabric (see it here)!
I did make a few changes to this pattern. Firstly, shortened the length by 3 inches, taking it off of the hem. This way I avoided having to adjust the entire flounce, and kept the seam where the flounce attaches to the skirt horizontal to the back of my knee (from the back of the dress). I wanted a long dress, but not so long it hides my shoes or gets in the way of my ankles.
Secondly, I changed the front darts of the bodice. I disliked the very basic darting as it was designed. I find it very jarring to the elegant and flowing feel of the rest of the dress. However, I feel that a basic bodice is needed with so much going on from the waist down. So I merely closed up the existing darts and changed them into single French darts with go across the bias and come out of the side seam.
Thirdly, I stripped the pattern down to bare bones. It called for a fully lined bodice with facings to finish the neckline. As my fabric is semi-sheer, I wanted the whole dress to be the same, so I could wear different opaque slips underneath. Thus I left my dress unlined, and did a bias bound edge along the neckline and armholes, in lilac too, to match with the flowers on the fabric! Otherwise, all the seams are French for a clean, strong, and professional touch.
Finishing the flounce edges was a real challenge. I knew a skinny hem was absolutely needed. How to do that was the problem. Sure I could do a skinny rolled hem or at least a ¼ inch (or smaller) hem by hand or with my machine but the thought of spending that much effort and time on a dress that took me only a handful of hours to make was not appealing. Not that it wasn’t worth it, but my time is valuable too. So, off I went to my town’s local community sewing room to use their serger (overlocker) machines to quickly and beautifully finish off the flounce’s hem edges. I made a lovely, incredibly tiny, and very clean hem that is just as pliable as a raw edge by doing a rolled hem on the serger (overlocker), the same finish that many table linens such as napkins receive. This finishing for the hem is something I want to venture and say is a must for this dress…this is how pleased I am. Bribe a friend, find a sewing room, do whatever it takes to use a serger if you don’t have one just to finish an edge as if nothing is there with an overlocked rolled hem. This is my first time doing such a stitched finish, and will not be my last!
I did go up a size for this dress and it’s a good thing I did too, because this seems to run small. I also think the bodice runs long, as well. It is not bad enough for me to warrant taking the time to fix it. Nevertheless, it is something to watch out for with this pattern and I will be adjusting that if there is a next time for me to make this.
Honestly, I did not even use the instructions. I did a preliminary once over before I did any stitching just to comprehend if there was anything unexpected to do. After that, though, I wizzed through the dress on my own, which was easy to do as I made the pattern less complex leaving out the lining.
I made the wrap dress’ closures completely a matter of my own taste. I drafted my own ties because I wanted them super long to be flowing with the flounces. For the inside closure, I didn’t want another set of ties…I’m used to that being for house coats. Thus, I sewed a button to the side seam point where the bodice and the skirt join with a short length of buttonhole elastic coming from the other end for a comfy, stretchy, easy, and secure way to keep the inner wrap closed. I love this elastic with its pre-made holes. It’s so handy for so many things.
As much as I do like this dress, I mentally suspect that this is a sort of style reversal for me. It reminds me of what I was buying and making for myself to wear in the late 90’s and early 2000s. The skirts and dresses I picked out and sewed then mostly had bias flounces, bias panels around the legs, and romantic florals. I really don’t think it was just because I could sew for myself either. This was what was also in the stores, as clothes to buy and as fabric offered. It’s not that I didn’t like the style…I did very much and still do! However, my style as an adult has changed a bit and I feel sort of weirdly full circle to come back to my past through sewing my own fashion today. The 90’s has been popping up again in recent fashion – just 6 months ago, for winter, I was seeing velour tank dresses worn with chocker necklaces displayed in some of our stores! Life is weird sometimes…either I’m getting old or fashion is lost and desperate as to what to do for me to see styles from my younger lifetime popping up again. I really think it is the latter reason!