I'm so excited to share my latest make with you. It's the last on my official winter make list, and already it's one of my favourite makes ever. You know how sometimes you make something and as soon as you put it on you feel a bit transformed and special. Thats how this dress makes me feel (my other fave is of course my denim shift).
A couple of months ago I saw Kelly's AMAZING wrap dress, made from a vintage Diane Von Furstenberg pattern from the 70's. Most of you will know that these patterns go for a ridiculous amount of money on Ebay and Etsy (although far less expensive than buying a RTW DVF dress, therefore scale of economy does need to be taken into account here!). So Kelly shouted herself a vintage pattern for her 40th and made herself an absolutely smoking wrap dress that instantly made me covetous. There's something so flattering about a wrap dress - it suits so many body types and all ages. I started perusing patterns, both modern and vintage, and couldn't decide which way to go. Jenny of Cashmerette is of course the reigning wrap dress queen, and her fave pattern is from Christine Jonson. Maris made a great version of the Style Arc Kate dress here. But I was just after something a bit different.
I found this gorgeous 1970's Vogue 8922 pattern on Etsy, in my size for about $15 and was smitten. I loved the primary colour styling on the coverart, and I loved the unusual shoulder gathers, raglan sleeves and curved hemline. I also quite liked the idea of the shorter wrap cardigan option. But my favourite view was the long sleeved version, especially in the red! Isn't she lovely?
Fast forward a few weeks and it arrived in my letter box and I proceeded to stroke it and contemplate fabrics. I think it's important to keep in mind fabric choice when using a vintage knit pattern. Knits were pretty synthetic and heavy in those days so I was mindful to take the pattern shopping with me and use the stretch guide on the side. I really wanted to make a navy dress, but couldn't find any blue wool knit of a suitable weight that I liked, so I went with a black wool fleece knit from the Fabric Store during their recent sale.
I did make a quick cardi length muslin, and I'm glad I did as the order of construction was a bit weird and made the sleeve insertion harder than it needed to be. The sleeves are set in the round, but for the final version I did them flat because who wants to do raglan sleeves in the round. Initially I thought I'd take it in a little in the armscye as it's quite droopy but I couldn't do it without totally stuffing up the shape of the sleeve - this is what the sleeve shape looks like:
So I accept that it's not super fitted in the bodice, more of a blouson style - which means that to avoid a wardrobe malfunction I do need to wear a camisole underneath. It actually sits a bit better with something else underneath anyway - I think it gives the wool something to cling to rather than just a slippery bra. Being black it was of course impossible to photograph well, but the gathered shoulder details are lovely, and the armscye seam is beautiful and curved.
The pattern is designed to be made entirely on a sewing machine, and has a few slightly odd tips and instructions. There's lots of random stay stitching (well its not random but a bit all over the place) which I followed for the most part just because it was obviously recommended for a reason. It also recommended the use of stay tape to be basted in various spots, including the entire circumference of the neckline and hem. I ordered some lovely fine knit stay tape from the US as I couldn't find knit stay tape in Australia (I found it on eBay - quite reasonable postage for some black and white tape). I guess I could have made my own using tricot interfacing but this stuff is awesome, and worth the investment.
The neckline and lovely curved hem are finished as one seam, just turned and stitched after applying the stay tape. I was actually a bit concerned about this method as I was worried the neckline would gape too much without a band to finish the edge, but it turned out great. I took the rather unprecedented step of hand basting this hem - it took forever - pinning and fusing the stay tape, then measuring and pinning the hem, then hand basting, THEN finally topstitching it down with a twin needle but it was ABSOLUTELY worth it. I applied the stay tape about 15mm in from the edge, so that when the twin needle caught the fashion side of the fabric it didn't channel up. I also took care to just miss the edge, and as a result I have pretty much the nicest twin needle hem I've ever done. I'm fairly converted to the hand basting too, for a big hem that needs to look swish - it meant I could ease in the curved corners beautifully, no pins on the wrong side. An extra step that probably saved time really.
I think it's a great pattern - elegant, chic and sexy. My beloved loves it, and I feel a million bucks in it. I'd love to make a navy silk jersey version, and of course I will be constantly on the look out for my very own DVF for 99c in an op shop. A girl can dream.
Do you love a wrap dress? What's your favourite pattern? Lets all make them and go disco dancing together.....