Wrapping My Mind Around a New Dress for Fall

I am not sure why, but I have been obsessed with wrap dresses lately.  I think it began in May when I wore the dress I made last summer from a mid-‘70s Vogue Diane von Furstenberg pattern.   It seemed to make a hit whenever I had it on – and there is nothing like a compliment to make one try for a repeat!  I just needed to find the perfect fabric – and another perfect pattern.

I made the sleeveless version of this dress in a red and white print.

I made the sleeveless version of this dress in a red and white print.

The perfect fabric turned out to be the easy part of the equation.  One of my classmates in Susan Khalje’s Classic French Jacket Class chose this silk charmeuse for her jacket lining:

Wrap dress - 9 - fabric I loved the design so much that I asked for a swatch of it while I was at Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC with my classmates.  Well, you can guess the end of this part of the story.  A few weeks after arriving home, I called up Alice at Mendel Goldberg and ordered some yardage.  I could picture this fabric as a wrap dress with ¾ or bracelet-length sleeves.  However, it is a woven fabric (of course), and even though it does have a slight stretch to it, those vintage Diane von Furstenberg patterns require “stretchable knits”, even including a stretch gauge on the pattern envelopes to ensure success.

Wrap dress - 8 - stretch gauge Out of curiosity I went through my collection of vintage patterns to see what other “wrap” dresses I could find, and although none of these three were quite the look I wanted, I was struck by the variety of wrap dress patterns available, obviously some long before Diane von Furstenberg made them so popular.

This pattern is copyright 1960.  "slightly gathered skirt back of the sleeveless, easy-does-it dress wraps around plain front to fasten at waist-line with tied belt."

This pattern is copyright 1960. “slightly gathered skirt back of the sleeveless, easy-does-it dress wraps around plain front to fasten at waist-line with tied belt.”

A thumbnail diagram on the back of the pattern envelope.  "Dress opens flat for ironing."

A thumbnail diagram on the back of the pattern envelope. “Dress opens flat for ironing.”

Here is a slightly more elegant wrap dress, also from the early ’60s:

Actually, just the skirt is a wrap on this dress, which has so many different looks, all of them quite stunning.

Actually, just the skirt is a wrap on this dress, which has so many different looks, all of them quite stunning.

Finally this Pucci design, which is another elegant wrap dress:

"Slim, high fitted dress in evening r street length has wrapped back closing, soft side back folds."

“Slim, high fitted dress in evening or street length has wrapped back closing, soft side back folds.”

It was about this time that the September issue of Threads magazine arrived in my mailbox.  Now my obsession was in full force, as the main feature article was on Wrap Dresses: Easy to Fit and Sew.

Wrap dress I liked the dress featured on the cover – which happens to be a new Vogue pattern (V8784).  I also liked the fact that it does not require a knit fabric, and that it is to be lined (I could make it using couture techniques).  I did not like the sleeves, however – too baggy and shapeless.

I could not get around the idea that the look I thought I wanted was this D v F dress, featured on the front cover of Vogue Patterns for September/October 1976:

Wrap dress - 6 DvF cover

This presented two major problems, however,  First, I do not own this vintage pattern (yet), which commands high prices when it comes on the market.  And second, even if I did own it, my woven silk fabric would not be appropriate to use for it.

Well, this second part of the equation was beginning to be a problem.  Then, quite by luck, I stumbled on a Simplicity pattern from 1976 in an Etsy store.  The pattern  is obviously a knock-off of the classic Diane von Furstenberg dress I like so much.  However, it is for woven fabrics!  It was in my size, which I took as a “sign” that I was supposed to buy it – which I did.  I thought my search was over.  With a few minor adjustments to the “extreme” points on the collar and the cuffs, I felt sure this pattern would work.

I really don't think there is anything "JIffy" about this pattern . . .

I really don’t think there is anything “JIffy” about this pattern . . .

A few weeks passed as life took me in other directions and with other projects. Then, finally, I eagerly started on the muslin for this dress.   I was eager, that is, until I realized that the pattern piece for the sleeve is missing –  and the pattern is going to require many more alterations than I usually have.

This is not fun.

There – I feel better now that I have said that!  So my quest for the perfect pattern has been a challenge, but it’s not Fall yet.  By hook or by crook, I’ll be wearing a new silk wrap dress before the trees gently release their leaves into the cool, crisp autumn air.

 

 

15 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns

15 responses to “Wrapping My Mind Around a New Dress for Fall

  1. Good luck with your quest. That fabric will make a gorgeous wrap dress. I have made the sleeveless version of Vogue 8784 with good results, I think the straighter skirt design on that one is very flattering for a petite frame. I wonder if you could tweak the sleeves on a muslin?

  2. Fashionista

    A DvF wrap dress is my fashion holy grail, but, being a sewer I just can’t justify the retail spend required for me to have one in my hot little hands. Much as I sigh and fondle them in our local international designer emporium. So I have made a few wrap dresses. I used Vogue V8379 and when I got the ease right (because lordy me there is a LOT of ease in it), it works well. I have used stretch and wovens and just been a little more generous when cutting the wovens. I haven’t lined any of them though I think the pattern would lend itself to this. There is nothing like a fabulous wrap dress (as Ms von Furstenburg would no doubt concur). I’m looking forward to seeing your lovely silk.

    • Well, that is interesting that you have had success using wovens for 8379.
      For some reason I really want to line this dress – maybe because the silk is so lovely. I think it deserves a lining!

  3. Your wrap dress will be great in that fabric! Good luck in your search for the perfect pattern!

    I’ve been working on a wrap dress for myself using a pattern from 1960 that wraps in the back like a Swirl dress. It’s sleeveless but I’m going to draft a sleeve for it, since I plan to make multiple of versions and don’t want them all to be sleeveless. Here’s the mockup that I haven’t blogged yet: front view and back view.

  4. Wow, some beautiful patterns there. I also have a Diane Von Furstenburg wrap knit dress pattern from the 1970s but have not sewn it yet. It is a few sizes too big so I would have to grade it down first.

  5. Carol

    Maybe a Simplicity blouse sleeve from the same era will match your dress pattern? I have a wrap around blouse pattern from about 1979. It has long sleeves and a forward shoulder seam into which a little extra fullness is gathered. Thanks again for writing your blog.

    • I am still trying to figure out what to do (and have also been away which has kept me from working on this project!), but I may end up using a sleeve from a blouse pattern. Thanks for the suggestion – and thanks for reading my blog!

  6. Zoe

    I really like the Vogue 50s style wrap dress, so elegant. What a shame your pattern it is missing the sleeve piece! Like you said, you still have time and I hope you can find something that will do that beautiful fabric justice 🙂

  7. The missing sleeve pattern is not the worst thing that could be missing, but it is an annoyance! I want to make sure to get this right before I cut into that silk!

  8. Wow. What a great selection. Love that Vogue 5033 pattern, the way it wraps all the way to the front. I could sit and rifle through vintage patterns for hours!

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