Slow Sewing

This is a long post for a self-drafted wrap dress which has been a LONG time in the planning – grab your cuppa of choice & prepare for a bumpy ride! This tale has a lot of twists and turns but, like any good yarn, it all comes right in the end.

Like last year’s “summer” dress, by the time this was finished we were already heading into autumn. Oh well, at least I’ve got a new dress for next summer! I bought the fabric almost 2 years ago at the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate. It’s Clothkits Summer Sunshine by Peg Conley but it doesn’t seem to be available anymore. And, frustratingly, it’s difficult to photograph well.

As soon as I saw it I knew that I wanted to make a wrap dress with it and my initial inspiration was the wrap dress below. It was used as an advert for a Craftsy/Bluprint class which I intended to do, but Bluprint folded before I had chance – and now it’s been “resurrected” as Craftsy again I no longer need the class!

The final dress ended up being a series of firsts: first wrap dress, first self-drafted collar, first armscye princess seams . . . and if there’s one thing that all this has taught me, it’s that taking my time to get the details right pays off. All of them just worked; no time-consuming correcting of mistakes and much greater satisfaction with the end result.

But how this dress ended up was not how it started! It evolved over several weeks. My first draft was based on my Sure-Fit Designs sleeveless block but I shifted the bust dart to the French dart position by following the instructions in Alice Prier‘s book and I modified the waist darts to allow a bit more ease. I used my sleeveless bodice back pretty much as is, this has a forward shoulder adjustment made to it; the front bodice block I used hasn’t had the same adjustment made yet, but I reduced the shoulder by 1.5 cm as per the SFD instructions and this made the wrap fit perfectly with no gaping at all.

After my first toile, I thought it looked odd because even though both sides have front waist darts only one dart was visible, so I reduced the outside wrap by 6cm to make both waist darts visible. At this point I also scooped the front armscye out a little more, with hindsight I probably would leave this alone next time, the fit is good but I know it could be better. Then I switched from French darts to shoulder princess seams & eventually on to armscye princess seams . . . I told you it evolved! The princess seams were drafted with the aid of my SFD dress kit book.

I almost chickened out of doing a collar but in the end I decided to just go for it – if it didn’t work, I would just sew up the neck edge without it. I drafted it following the instructions in my Sure-Fit Designs dress pattern book. My first attempt at sewing the collar really didn’t look right – then I realised I’d sewn it the wrong way round, I’d attached the outer edge to the neck edge of the dress – no wonder it didn’t look right! Reattaching it the right way round it was perfect and here is the finished collar in all its glory.

At some point the dress evolved again, because what dress would be complete without pockets? I had a good idea of how to draft them but this post by Diane at DreamCutSew confirmed it for me, and prompted me to add interfacing to the top of the pocket which was something I probably wouldn’t (but should) have thought of. The dress came together quite quickly after that.

Then I waited a while for some buttons I’d ordered to arrive and, whilst waiting, I realised that I wasn’t sure how I was going to make the button fastening work well. I had visions of interfacing on the inside of the dress looking ragged after a couple of washes, and the finish on the outside being somewhat lacking. Instead I fastened the inside wrap with a button & elastic loop which keeps it really secure, but the solution for the outside wrap eluded me for a while. Then I happened across this, which saw me hunting in my meagre stash for something I could use to create the same effect. Ta-da!

Still with me? Well done, I bet your cuppa has gone cold! In the end this was a really satisfying project with lots of challenges that I was really happy I overcame. I learned a lot along the way and gained confidence for future projects.