The Mystery Dress

The last thing I need is more fabric for Spring and Summer dresses, but try telling that to my rational side.  She doesn’t listen. So last Fall, when I saw a cotton sateen in a large navy, orange and white floral print in the Etsy Store of Promenade Fabrics, and it was the last yardage on the bolt, I decided I had better act fast and put it in my “cart.” I certainly was not disappointed when it arrived, as it was beautiful quality, with a slight stretch to it, and the colors were just as dramatic as I had hoped they would be.

I forgot to take a photo of the fabric, so here is the finished dress instead.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I was scratching my head as to what pattern to use for it After washing and drying the fabric, I had about 1 5/8 yards.  Fortunately it was 54” wide.  I originally thought I would make a shirtdress with three-quarter sleeves, but I quickly determined I did not have enough yardage for that.  Then I thought about a skirt, but that did not excite me too much.  I kept coming back to the idea of a sleeveless wrap dress, and enough yardage or not, I was determined to try to make it work.  I pulled out this pattern which I had made a few years ago (and it is still one of my favorite dresses to wear.)

The Simplicity “version” of the Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. Obviously, I intended to make this sleeveless.

I had a very workable muslin for it, and as this particular wrap dress pattern is for woven, not knit, fabrics, I knew it would be appropriate.  I also knew I was going to have to be creative in my layout.   I almost always cut things out single layer, and of course, positioning your pattern on a single layer of fabric gives you much more flexibility and what I call “wiggle room.”  Also to my advantage was the fact that there was no right side up for this fabric, so I could arrange the pieces upright or down, without regard to the design on the print.  After much head-scratching and  many calculations, I  made a list of the changes I needed to make, thus solving the mystery of whether I could, indeed, make a wrap dress out of this fabric:

1)  reduce the flare of the skirt by about 9 inches.

2) eliminate the facings and, instead,  line the bodice.

3) forego pockets, which were not original to the pattern anyway

and the big concession, 4) reduce the length of the sashes by about 8 inches AND make the sashes with one side in the fashion fabric and one side in a dark navy blue cotton broadcloth (which I happened to have in my fabric closet, fortuitously!)

Fortunately, I was able to fit the collar pieces in!  Here’s what my pattern layout looked like:

The lined bodice, with that snap I always have to add to the front closure of wrap dresses!

The two-toned ties!

The shortened length of the ties means I cannot tie a bow, just a knot, but that’s okay!

I was so glad I managed to squeak out the collar!

Back to my story – with my fabric all cut and ready to sew, one would think this dress would speed right along. And it would have, except that about this time we were getting our porch furniture out of storage in our garage. I had forgotten that our porch cushions and pillows had looked so awful last year that I didn’t even want to use them.  This was the year I needed to do a major home sewing job and recover those cushions and pillows. So that’s what I did.  By the time I got back to my wrap dress, my momentum was definitely lacking speed, and then the mystery was just how I was going to get excited about completing it!

I have to say the only thing which kept me focused on finishing this dress was the fact that I have so many other projects in my queue.  Now that it is finished, I am so glad I pushed through!

Such a windy day – a good test for a wrap dress!

This is a good basic Summer dress!

One thing that is not a mystery – I think I am finished with making wrap dresses for a while!



Filed under Wrap dresses

31 responses to “The Mystery Dress

  1. Andrea Birkan

    You did a fabulous job as you do with all your projects! Enjoy wearing your beautiful dress

  2. Karen Mizzi

    A lovely simple dress with a gorgeous fabric. Well done! This article gave me a bit of a chuckle as I can really identify with no rationale when it comes to fabric purchases and having to push through when the excitement and motivation have disappeared. xx

  3. Mery

    So pretty! Reminds me of the some of the best of summer – Fourth of July, casual dining with friends. Your pattern layout was amazing with essentially no scraps. Home dec is so rewarding once completed but there are so many miles and miles of stitching to get there. It’s some kind of trickster magic that once the new gets off some projects they turn into work. Congratulations on both these projects. Happy summer!

    • You are so right about home dec sewing – the reward is definitely when all is complete! Those miles of sewing and making piping and working with heavier weight fabric are really not my favorite thing to do. But how sweet when the finished product looks good!

  4. This is beautiful! You were right to put that fabric into your cart!

  5. So beautiful! You’ve given me loads of great advice and inspiration in this post with how to stretch a piece of fabric to fit a pattern we have our heart’s set upon!

  6. Another wonderful dress that does you proud! I love the exuberance of the colors and pattern. And yet you are wearing this dress; it’s not wearing you. I’m not sure I could carry this off. Brava!

  7. I love the way you tell your story! I can see you scratching your head doing the math and the light bulb going off giving you the “OK” to cut this gorgeous dress out! I can also see that patio furniture coming out of storage and the cushions needing their makeover! I have NOT tackled mine yet! But you are a much braver woman than me! If I put something aside, I find it never gets finished. I have a dress I have carried with me for over 25 years that is still waiting for me to one day complete it! The real problem with it now? It would probably fit my granddaughter! LOL That is most likely who will actually finish sewing it! Love your blog so very much! It makes me laugh, smile and feel great joy! ❤

  8. I love the style and pattern of this dress! You are such a talented seamstress!

  9. Mary Lynn

    This is a beautiful dress for summer with your great tan and your hair down. Great job and I’m so impressed that you made porch cushions……. I’m trying t make summer knit dresses for my 3 1/2 granddaughter and she’s growing so fast – I’m getting tempted to make them floor length and just pull them out as she shoots up! Finally getting the hang of my embroidery machine also!
    so much to learn and dwindling brain cells!

    • My goodness, I know what you mean about the little ones growing so fast! I either make my granddaughters’ dresses too short or too long (except for two I just made… they came for a visit so I could actually mark the hems precisely. Trouble is they will be grown out of them by next summer probably!)

  10. Fabulous dress! Glad your fabric puzzle worked out, it’s such a great summer look.

  11. heather

    wonderful! really pretty! love your fabric & skills! 🙂 happy summer!

  12. This is a great looking dress, I think it may be better with the 9 inches cut out of the skirt; it really has a slim tailored look to it, great silhouette. I am in the mood to sew a dress, but I NEVER wear the ones I have even though I really like them, so I’m stalling, hoping that I get inspired by some tops or shorts instead….still stalking in the jeans!

  13. Oh how I do love wrap dresses! Fabulous, fine work, in this dress, Karen. And I do so like using lining in a bodice instead of facings, as it just makes the garment look more polished and tailored, it seems, and the insides “behave” better… This dress looks very fine on you! A wrap dress is in my queue to make, but I’m working on couture skirts at the moment (well, a bit delayed for me as well due to a recent move to a condo and renovations…). I will definitely revisit this blog post for ideas when I do get to that wrap dress!

  14. What a wonderful warm weather dress. I love your thought process and creative solutions to making the pattern work for the available yardage. I know exactly what you mean with getting sidetracked by other projects.

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