Yesterday, I finished a happy dress. A dress that hugs, but doesn't squeeze. A dress that drapes but doesn't gape.
Today I tried to photograph it, and my happiness turned to ANGRY TEARS.
Our new apartment faces an alley. So even squeezing myself against the window on my tip-toes at the brightest part of the day, I can't get enough natural light to take a proper indoor picture. So I covered my flash with some white interfacing to soften it, with mediocre results.
Also, my old Canon Rebel XSI hates me and refuses to autofocus in self-timer mode.
Also, I have covered every wall of our apartment with bright paint, cartoons, and sci-fi art, leaving no neutral backdrops to be found.
But I digress. You're here to make yourself an amazing happy dress, not to pity my photographic incompetence.
Diane von Furstenberg-style wrap dresses—a cornerstone of my Personal Style Uniform #1: "The Dress That Always Fits."
Pattern: Simplicity 1653 Amazing Fit mock wrap dress, picked up for free at a Brooklyn Sewing Club pattern swap.
I stand in awe of this woman's ability to stand in such shoes. I can barely handle kitten heels for a few hours.
Fabric: $6/yard ITY jersey from Spandex House (where else?)
Notions: foldover elastic (to bind the neckline and crossover for a snug, no-gape effect), 1/4" Steam-A-Seam Lite (to hem the sleeves and bottom).
Sizing: This is one of those heavenly patterns with multiple cup sizes in the package. I made the size 12 with a D cup bodice and the "Slim" skirt based on the stretchiness of the fabric, my love of negative ease and my hatred of gaping loose necklines. (By my actual body measurements, I would have made the 16. Also, I may not be actually "Slim" but I have narrow hips in relation to my frame).
I bound the neckline with tightly stretched foldover elastic (FOE) instead of just folding over and stitching, which would have been a sure recipe for gape disaster.
I'm not sure FOE is the best elastic for this, but it's what I had lying around. I serged and stretched it, then folded it over and topstitched with a zig-zag. Here's the underside—kind of hard to see, as the FOE is gray.
Even my FOE wasn't quite snug enough at the back neck—I ended up making a giant (4") dart in the center back to make it lie flat. (Husband helped me pin out the bubble, since I couldn't reach).
I also found the order of construction in the pattern baffling. So I came up with my own:
I extended the self-fabric waist belt around the back for extra waist-hugging points as recommended by the Slapdash Sewist in her review.
- I used my sewing machine to baste, top-stitch and sew darts, and my serger to sew the final seams.
- I basted the sides and back to check fit as instructed (it is an "Amazing Fit" pattern, after all). It felt like Too Much Work at the time but I'm glad I did—it was just a smidge tight, so I went with 5/8" side seams instead of the 1" built in.
...And occasions on which you randomly jump up and down in hopes of getting a funny photo...
In sum: make this dress for yourself!
If wrap necklines are your thing, please go make yourselves this perfect knit happy dress right now. It has a great flexible fit system and fun details: raglan sleeves! a self-fabric belt! cool waist pleating!
Plus it's as adjustable as a wrap—minus the risk of your skirt blowing open in the middle of a crowded city crosswalk (ask me how I know).
Bonus photo: Z helps me with some pinning!
*Mock wrap, actually.