An Easy, Breezy Dress

On a recent windy day, I was thinking about Christina Rossetti’s poem “Who Has Seen the Wind?”

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you;

But when the leaves hang trembling

The wind is passing thro’.

I did not remember it verbatim, coming up with this instead:

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I;

But when the leaves go to and fro

The wind is passing by.

Either version seems to fit my new Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress – it reminds me of a breezy Spring day:

Easy, breezy dress

The pattern itself is shown here in diagram form, for those of you who have never seen, nor sewn with, a DvF Vogue pattern. As you can see, there are minimal pieces.

Easy, breezy dress

I don’t believe you get the sense of how long the ties are from this diagram. Each tie is 50” long, giving the wearer plenty of length to go around her waist, doubling up for part of the front, and still have enough to make a bow or loop with long ends.

I made two minor changes to the pattern from my first version of this dress three years ago: I cut the shoulders in about an inch, which I think is a more pleasing and up-to-date look. I also added ¾” to the bodice in length. For some reason, I find that wrap dresses tend to be either short-waisted or they do not allow for the fact that the ties are going around the waist twice, pulling up the skirt a small amount.   Whatever the reason, the extra ¾” seems to fix the problem. I also decided to try finishing the interior seams with Hug Snug rayon binding – and it worked beautifully. I love the clean, neat finish on these seams, and the soft tape helps to keep the seams from curling in.

Easy, breezy dress It was fun and rewarding to sew with genuine DvF fabric from the mid-1970s. Although I have never been a fan of sewing with knits, this knit was lovely to work on. It sewed like a woven fabric, but cooperated in easing just like a knit should. Very well behaved! I found this quote from Diane von Furstenberg especially apropos: “ Fabrics are key, since they’re like a second skin, and should always be soft to the touch and breatheable. Colors should be beautiful and harmonious, and silhouettes simple, allowing the body to move freely…” (The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia: A Survey of Style from 1945 to the Present, by Richard Martin, Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI, c1997, page 403)

I might need to put a snap at the top of the under skirt panel to hold it even with the hem...

I might need to put a snap at the top of the under skirt panel to hold it even with the hem…

Easy breezy dress

DSC_0504

Easy breezy dress

I made one last addition to this project: a simple hand-inked label to indicate when this dress was made, sewn onto one of the pocket selvedges. With vintage fabric and made from a vintage pattern, this dress could be mistakenly attributed to having been made in 1976. This label will help to insure that that never happens.

Easy breezy dress

Every Spring deserves one easy dress, but now it is time to move on to something a little less breezy, and a little more complicated. What will that be?

28 Comments

Filed under Diane von Furstenberg Vogue patterns, Vintage fabric, Wrap dresses

28 responses to “An Easy, Breezy Dress

  1. What a great summer dress! The DVF is just lovely 🙂

  2. A timeless dress, you could have owned it for years and you can wear it for years. Love the color and print, I’ll have to start watching for DVF fabric on etsy/ebay.

  3. Mary Lynn

    I just watched the last episode of Mad Men and then found your lovely DVFwhen I checked my mail. 2 different eras with 2 very different styles – one so structured and one so flowing, but both lovely and appropriate for their time. It’s a charming, flattering dress and, as always, beautifully and thoughtfully made.

    • Thank you, Mary Lynn. I was watching the final episode of Mad Men, too, last night. So much happened in fashion during those periods of time and I find it so fascinating, especially as I lived through it!
      I think I’ll enjoy my new DvF dress!

  4. Pretty dress! I love how easy and cool it looks. The hand made label is a nice touch and so special too. Enjoy it!

  5. Lovely dress! Although I love making wrap dresses, I’ve never used a DvF pattern. My daughter, who started collecting designer patterns a few years ago, just bought one. I will soon take a look at hers, it will be interesting to check the diagrams and instructions. Your label is a nice special touch for this timeless dress!

    • I think most of the wrap dress patterns are very similar, but the extra long ties on the DvF patterns are worth taking notice of, I think. The instructions on the vintage patterns always seem more complete to me than on modern patterns.

  6. Thank you for the pattern layout — This dress ought to stay wrapped. Remember those dresses with a small tie inside? I think a snap makes more sense on this custom dress. Timeless style!

  7. I am so envious that you have original material to work with. I lino printed something similar but it definately wasn’t the same. I love the light blue which I had not seen before.

  8. Delightful. And so thoughtful of you to add the construction year to the dress.

    • Who knows what will become of all these things we make for ourselves? I wouldn’t want someone thinking the whole dress is from the ’70s, although I guess it is in a way!

  9. Jackie

    Your perfect summer dress is very lovely and I appreciate you showing some of the construction details. I am constantly learning something from your posts!

  10. Such a pretty dress! It suits you very well! I really want a DvF pattern now, hehe:-)

  11. Cissie

    Love your dress. It looks so cool and comfortable. Now if I could only find that fabric! I’m sure you’ll be on to something complicated with lots of couture elements next! Can’t wait for that.

    • Thanks, Cissie! I wore it yesterday for the first time and I am sure I was the coolest person in what was a very warm room. I am off to Baltimore in early June to sew with Susan, so, yes, there is definitely “couture” in my near future!

  12. That style is just a classic. Looks great on you!

  13. Marguerite

    I was so excited to read this post! I have that issue of Vogue Patterns Magazine and several of the DVFs featured in it. I never made up any because I felt I needed the original fabric! I’m going to start checking eBay and etsy now! Your version is wonderful! I’m sure with the rayon content it’s super comfortable on. Her styles are as fashionable today as ever. Beautiful!

    • After making up this pattern once in non-DvF fabric and now this time in the authentic fabric, I am convinced that the authentic stuff is the way to go! I hope you find some – it really is lovely to wear – and to sew with!

  14. Sharon

    Beautiful dress. I too have a 70’s DVF wrap dress with a shawl collar and ruffle. Made it many times. I’d also like to compliment your gorgeous hair! I have let my true colors, white, silver, come out and love it!!!

    • Thank you, Sharon, for your compliments on both the dress and my hair (which is so easy in its natural state!) Isn’t there something truly enduring about these DvF designs?

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