DVF Wrap 1

Pattern: Butterick 5454, view B
Fabric: ITY knit from Fabric Place Basement

Watch: Michael Kors
Boots: Bandolino
Lipstick: Nars Funny Face (my fave color!)

I wanted to call this post “flat girls can wear wrap dresses, too!” because yes, with a few alterations, it’s possible to get a wrap dress that fits and doesn’t gape open.  Originally, I attempted to make a version of this dress back in 2012 with no success and a lot of gaping – I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to fix yet another dress that was too big in the bust for me.  I wrote off wrap dresses as one of those cute dresses that only girls with a chest could wear and would never grace my closet.  However, after getting sucked into a marathon of “House of DVF” reruns and seeing all of the beautiful wrap dresses gracing the contestants, the idea of making a wrap dress consumed my sewing thoughts
and I needed to conquer my fitting challenges.


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Ladies of the small-busted variety, here’s our fitting challenge when it comes to wrap dresses: the surplice length of the wrap is usually too long.  We don’t need a lot of fabric to cross over and cover our chest, which leads to the excess neckline length and extra fabric drooping near the tie.  Sure, we can try and tie the dress tighter, but we still don’t get the secure fit of a neckline laying close to the body, or we have to wear a cami underneath the dress for modesty.

Threads Magazine #168 from September 2013 is a great resource for fitting wrap dresses and really helped me get the fit of my dress correct.  Here’s what you do: on your pattern, make a small tuck along the neckline above the bust, and another small tuck below the bust – I made two 1/2″ tucks for a total length reduction of 1″.  That’s it – excess length is reduced.  For more modesty, I also gradually raised the neckline 1/2″ to ensure better coverage and that this dress would be work-appropriate. 


DVF Wrap 4

Bias can be tricky to work with, but when you have bias with a knit fabric, watch out – chaos can quickly happen if that sucker isn’t stabilized asap.  To get a stable neckline, I used a technique from Sandra Betzina’s Power Sewing book – 1/4″ twill tape.  I measured the neckline length on my altered pattern piece and cut two pieces of twill tape that exact length for each side of the neckline, plus one for the back neck (note: she recommends different lengths depending on your bust size).  Then, with the knit fabric against the feed-dogs of the machine and the twill tape on top, I eased the neckline onto the length of the twill tape on the wrong side of the bodice front.  I was pleased as punch when I tried the dress on, wrapped the neckline, and had zero gape.  I feel like I achieved the impossible!

The other part about this pattern I liked, versus other wrap dress patterns that are out there, is the fact that there are no pleats underneath the bust near the ties like with Vogue 8379 or Vogue 8784.  With pleats comes extra volume and fabric, and I’m not sure how easy it would be to get that design element to fit on a small bust and not cause gaping.


DVF Wrap 3

The skirt on this dress has a slight flare, but is more of a straight skirt style than an A-line skirt seen on some other wrap dresses.  There’s some pleats in the skirt in the front and the back, which I didn’t mind since you don’t see them with the pattern of the fabric.  Now that I got the bodice to fit, I want to try to match different wrap skirt styles to get different looking dresses – maybe even turn the pleats in the skirt and bodice into gathers?


DVF Wrap 5

There’s a whole world of dress options open now, this is just the beginning of wrap dress sewing!  I immediately earmarked some jersey fabric that’s been in my stash for a while as new wrap dress projects, and I cut out a turquoise merino wool knit fabric the other night for a winter-ized version.  Wrap dresses are like secret PJs: polished looking, but so comfy and easy to wear.

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Pattern: Renfrew bodice/Vogue 8663 skirt
Fabric: sweater knit from Joann Fabrics
Size: Renfrew – 2; Vogue – 8

Boots – Nine West

The idea for this pattern mash-up came from Sarah’s awesome SkaterFrew dress over at Katie and Laney – the Renfrew is a great pattern that I’ve made many many times (like most sewists in the sewing blogosphere!), and I loved the fit-and-flare style of Sarah’s dress.

I can be a bit of a lazy sewist – I’ve curbed some bad habits I used to have, but I like things to be as uncomplicated as possible when it comes to certain things in my sewing.  Take PDF patterns – ugh!  I hate the idea of printing them out, taping them together, cutting them out, and then still having to cut out my fabric!  Way too much work, but I make the exception with some patterns that are truly awesome or I know are well worth the effort (hello, Grainline Studio!)  So, the idea of going through hoops to print out and assemble the Lady Skater pattern when I had a perfectly fine flared dress pattern in my stash.


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This dress is so comfy and easy to wear!  I wanted it to be a little more fitted than my other Renfrew tops, and I learned from another dress I made based off of the pattern that it would look better fitted.  But the best part is that because it’s a fit-and-flare, you can eat a big lunch and no one will know! (I did that the day I wore this dress and it was awesome)


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It was a little tricky getting the skirt to match up to the waist, and I had to do some adjustments off of a mock-up I made first to get it just right.  Just a little grading magic and redrafting between the two patterns and the dress was all set – had this done in about half an hour.  The waist is slightly higher than I would have liked (I wanted it more at the natural waist), but ah, live and learn.


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Back view – the waist line is a teensy bit lower than in the front, oh well! 

Hemming this dress was a biotch, there was no way I could do it by myself – knit fabric on the bias?  Yuck.  I actually had to bring it home with me during Christmas vacation so my mom could help pin up the hem while I wore it.  It totally sold me on the fact that I need to get one of those nice dress forms Gertie posted about a few weeks ago… 


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I ended up catch-stitching the hem by hand since there was a bit of easing that needed to be done with the skirt hem.  After some vigorous steam with my iron, you could even see the tiny hem stitches (because, you know: “it’ll steam out”).

I love this dress!  It’s perfect for wearing with boots and is great for cold snowy days, which seem to  be happening even more frequently every week in the Northeast.

Is it spring yet???

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wool circle top 5


wool circle top 1

Pattern: Circle Top from Papercut Patterns
Fabric: Merino wool crepe knit from Metro Textiles (thanks, sis!)
Size: XXS

Tank: Old Navy
Jeans: Paige Denim
Boots: London Fog

Hooray, my first finished garment for 2014!  I started this on New Year’s Eve, actually, but couldn’t finish the binding until I got my sewing machine back from the shop – as much as I love my serger, you can’t do everything on it.  I’ve worn it out a few times already and I bought some fabric for another version of this cozy cardi.  I guess that’s a testament to how much I like this!


wool circle top 2

This cardi is massive: it’s basically a giant circle with two holes in the center where the sleeves are inserted.  That’s it!  The pattern envelope claims there’s many different ways you can wear this – I didn’t find that to be the case, but if you’re feeling silly, you can wear it as a hoodie.

My sister picked up this fabric for me from Metro Textiles before she headed to our parent’s house for Christmas – it’s a yummy mauve merino wool knit with a crepe-like texture.  It has a lot of body, and behaves more like a woven than a knit, but it’s warm and I love wrapping it around me while I sit on the couch and watch TV (helloooo Downton Abbey season 4!)


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The binding was the most time-consuming and fiddly part of making this cardigan.  There’s a lot of circumference to bind!  I decided to opt-out of how the pattern called for sewing the binding and did it my own way, which seemed a lot easier: sew the strip of binding around the cardigan, press it over to the right side of the garment, turn the raw edge under about 5/8″, and edge stitch it down.  It has a thicker look to it, but the way the instructions have you sew the binding seemed way too fussy for my liking and I’m happy with how my binding turned out.


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This cardigan has a very fluid and casual style to it, and I fought with it the first time I wore it to get it to lay exactly how I wanted it to.  But in the end, it’s best if you just let it do its thing and undulate around you.  I bought a light pink rayon cotton jersey for my next version and I bet it will be even softer and drapier.  A quick, no-stress project!

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Pattern: Vogue 8825, view B
Fabric: Jersey ITY from Metro Textiles, NYC
Size: 10 graded into a 12

Boots: Bandolino

I’m sure I’m not the only sewer that’s bought fabric intending to use it for another purpose.  Take this knit jersey, for example, that I bought back in May – I saw it and instantly thought, “long maxi dress for a wedding this summer.”  Instead, this is the dress I wore to that wedding, and the jersey ended up sitting on a shelf in my closet.  Sometimes the original design intention is just not meant to be, which was definitely the case when I flipped through a pattern book at Joann Fabrics and discovered Vogue 8825.  I needed a “festive” dress for my coworker’s Christmas party, I loved the retro feel of the pattern, and I had this funky red and black fabric begging to be made into something fun.  Presto!

Plus, it’s not like I’d get much wear out of a maxi dress in New England…the summers are way too short.


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The Pattern

Even though Vogue calls this a “Very Easy Very Vogue” pattern, I believe I’ve sewn patterns other than this one that deserve that title.  Yes, it’s not complicated, but I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to someone sewing a knit dress for the first time, which is how I view “Very Easy Very Vogue” patterns to be classified.

It was also the line drawing, not the photo of the dress, that caught my eye in the pattern book – I think that really speaks for something…

After cutting out the pattern, which consists of eight pieces, it went together fairly quickly.  The neck facing is built in to the bodice pattern piece and connects to a back neck band – pretty great pattern drafting, if you ask me.  I think I only referred to the directions when I attached the sleeves to the bodice.  

The raglan sleeve is actually a two-piece sleeve, which gives the sleeve the fullness necessary to create the gathered puffiness at the cuff.  The barrel cuff could have been a little smaller in circumference, I found that while wearing the dress the sleeves kept slipping down over my hands.  If the barrel was tighter, it would stay up better and create a more poofy sleeve – my biggest disappointment of the pattern.  Don’t get me wrong, I love how it turned out, but I really wanted that dramatic sleeve flounce shown in the pattern illustration.  I definitely want to make the tunic version of this pattern and will draft my own barrel cuff for the next go-round – probably out of a solid colored jersey.


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There’s also some shaping to the dress as well, it’s not just a dress shaped by a sash like some other simple knit dresses – the back bodice and skirt pieces have waist darts.  The sash is super duper long so it can be wrapped around obi-style and tie either in the front or back, depending on your preference, which I love.  It keeps the surplice style of the bodice in check as well and prevents it from gaping open, something I was very concerned about with this style of dress.

Also, I took the hem of the dress up about four inches so the proportions of the dress would work well with the boots I intended to wear.  


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The Fabric

I’ll be honest – it’s the fabric that’s doing all the work and really makes this dress.  I love that the giant paisley paired with the dramatic sleeve give it a retro-cool vibe, hence my cheesy pose above!  I was a little worried that with so many pattern pieces, the print would be broken up and not work well, hence the reason I originally thought of using this fabric for a maxi dress.  But really, this print is so crazy that it didn’t even matter.  I’m really glad that I bought the three yards of fabric that I thought I needed for that maxi dress, otherwise this dress would never have happened.  I’ll be getting more wear out of this dress for sure this winter, even though it’s quite bold and loud.

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honeycowl1

I’ve never been one to impulsively buy yarn.  Fabric yes, yarn no – I guess it’s because it’s easy to say “2 yards, please” for fabric and I’ll have enough material for a variety of projects, but that’s not the case for yarn.  Yarn quantity for a project depends on the weight of the yarn, the gauge and size needles it’ll be knit on, the type of the project, etc.  To me, there doesn’t seem to be some sort of “magic number” that will work for buying yarn and having enough for whatever type of project inspires me, like a cute sweater.

Well that’s not entirely true, usually one ball of yarn can get you a nice scarf or cowl.  Such was the case when I met Ana of Toil and Trouble during the Greater Boston Yarn Crawl back in September.  The Black Sheep Knitting Co. in Needham hosted a special trunk show during the event showcasing her hand-dyed yarns which were too gorgeous for me to pass up.  I fell in love with the sparkly green yarn above and had to have it, but since it was a sock weight yarn and I don’t do socks, I didn’t know what I could make from it. Ana suggested a scarf made on some larger sized needles to give it an airy look and I liked the idea.  It wasn’t until last week that I found the pattern that seemed just right to showcase the colors of the yarn.


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Enter the Honey Cowl by Madeline Tosh: 8,000+ projects on Ravelry and counting.  I’m knitting the long version but making it on size 7 circulars since, errmm, my 8s are being used on *multiple* projects right now.  After trying it on, I’m afraid it may be too short to wrap around my neck twice, but I still think it will look nice hanging in a single loop.  It’s slow going on the knitting front, only two inches completed, but it makes for great TV knitting.  And it also serves as a great procrastination project from my Owls sweater, of which I have to frog and wet yarn from the first time I cast on for the sweater.  I’m down to my last ball and I neeeeed that yarn to start the second sleeve and continue the yoke.


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Look at the sparklies!  Oooo, it puts me in the holiday mood.

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