Fabric: Stretch Velvet from Spotlight
(I’ve decided to start putting the pattern and fabric info at the beginning of the posts so they’re easier to find. Let’s see if I remember to do it on future posts…).
I’m not quite sure why this dress gives me Mrs Robinson vibes, maybe there’s something about the combination of a wrap dress and velvet that’s a bit old Hollywood for me. Who knows? I’m rolling with it anyway.
I’ve had this pattern for ages. Possibly years. What has stopped me from sewing it? Reviews. Whenever I’m about to sew something, I google the pattern and see if anyone has had issues with it. It’s a generally very helpful process and I do recommend it. This one repeatedly comes up as too short, too wide at the neck, too low cut and with a flippy facing.
Right. Too many things to consider, until now. Because really, they aren’t things that are too enormous to fix. And you know, we’re all unique snowflakes and what is a problem on one body, might work on another. Plus I’ve seen a bit of this getting around and I wanted in:
But I decided that to make it more wearable, I’d prefer it shorter. I mean, I have a tendency to overdress for most occasions anyway, but even I wouldn’t get much wear out of a longer length, deeeeeeep necked velvet wrap dress. Besides that, there’s probably not enough tape in the world to keep my top half contained. It does remind me a bit of the most made and blogged dress ever, Vogue 9253. Or this one, if you like the mullety hemline.
Into my patterns I launched and came up with the Ultimate Dress pattern that I’d never made. Ooh why? Googling again reminded me. Right. This can be fixed though. I held the pattern pieces up to my body in the most accurate and scientific fashion.
The back of the neck didn’t look too wide for me, so I left it as is. I added 8cm to the hem to combat the short length (It’s so short. I could have added more length – I’m only 165cm and really used to shortening everything) and took a wedge out of the front neckline at about the midpoint. This is a really standard wrap adjustment for me. I’m short waisted, so they are always too long at the actual wrap part. This increases the coverage too.
My measurements (40/32/40) put me in a 16 for the bust and 14 for the waist, but I cut the 16 as knits and wraps tend to be pretty forgiving and I wanted to make sure I had enough coverage. As it turns out, I’ve tied it as tight as it allows, so I might grade it down to the 14 at the waist next time.
So that just left the facing. I knew I didn’t want it, not only because it was said to flip to the wrong side (annoying) but also because I knew you’d be able to see the edge of it through this fabric. Stretch velvet is a bit unforgiving like that. So I decided to band it. I cut a length of the fabric in the direction of the stretch (this only has stretch in one direction, which is good, because otherwise the dress would grow in length), after measuring the length of the neckline all the way around.
I cut it at 80% of that measurement and stretched it slightly as I went to make sure it sat snugly against my body. As it turns out, it was too long but that’s fine because I could just cut the excess off when I was done. The only problem with this method is there’s not a nice, neat way to add the ties (they’d normally go under the facing for a clean finish. I think that’s the only real issue with banding this dress. I lined the stitching of my ties up with the stitching of the hem so it’s not noticeable from the outside and honestly, they are wrapped over themselves anyway.
I constructed most of the dress on my overlocker, so it’s a really quick sew. It doesn’t have a waist seam either, making the cutting part quick too. I finished all the raw edges (hems, sleeve hems) with the overlocker too, then used that stitching as a guide to fold it over twice so the hems are narrow but nice and even. Stretch velvet doesn’t really press, so this is an easy way to keep it under control without pulling your hair out and throwing things. I only really used my normal machine to hem, attach the ties and finish the edges of the little gap in the waist for the ties. I just used straight stitch too because those parts don’t need to stretch so there’s no danger of popping stitches.
Hot tip: Don’t cut your ties along the stretch! Cut them so they have as little stretch as possible. I’ve made this mistake in the past and they just keep growing.
The only other thing I changed was the sleeves and I just stole them from another pattern and adjusted the sleeve cap to fit. And I put them in flat instead of set in, because it’s about 1000 times easier. I think changing the sleeves has brought it dangerously close to dressing gown territory, but with shoes and face I think we’re good.
All in all, quite a successful sew considering I’ve avoided this pattern for so long! I like the curved hem and how quickly it all came together (bless knits). The fit ended up pretty spot on and I’ll definitely make more because it’s really comfortable. I love a wrap dress but wovens are far less forgiving fit-wise, knits make it easy.