Wrap Dress Hack, Part 1

Wrap Dress

Seems like everyone is talking about wrap dresses right now… The Curvy Collective is about to do a sewalong, Jenny from Cashmerette has made approximately 100 cute wrap dresses this summer, and Style Arc came out with some cute patterns… so of course, I had to give it a try myself! Could wrap dresses really be a magic all-flattering style?

pattern piece

Of course, I’m cheap, so I wasn’t about to buy a pattern… instead, I altered my already-hacked Renfrew bodice pattern that I used for my cherry print top here. The cherry tee wraps over to the wide seam… but to make this one look more like a real wrap dress, I wanted it to only cross over at centre front. The back and sleeves are Renfrew-as-drafted, and the skirt is (what else?) the Kitschy Koo Comino Cap! (I know I’ve used this skirt about 6 times this summer… I just really like how it is less full than a 1/2 circle skirt, but still forgiving over the hips! It’s basically like a shorter Mission Maxi, and I love that skirt shape too.)

Wrap Dress
I did consider making a really wrap dress… but for teaching, a faux-wrap is much more practical!

Technique-wise, I did a folded-band at the neckline, pulled snuggly but not reinforced with elastic or stay tape. As I sewed it the bodice was looking far too short, so I thought about doing a waistband… but I hate trying to align parallel stripes, so I skipped it! (Besides, then I would have put all this work into basically recreating a Tiramisu, and that just seemed depressing.) Instead, I serged a hefty 1″ elastic band to the waist seam, which acts as a waist stay to pull the bodice down and keep the front overlap seam straight.

Wrap Dress

In terms of placement, I tried to use the wide navy stripe to my advantage. I cut it so the neckline band would be navy attaching to navy, thereby hiding any uneveness in the width of the band as I stretched it… and cut the top of the skirt and bottom of the back bodice to both end on navy, to hide any crookedness on that seam too. I wish I’d lined the sleeves up better though – they *almost* match, which is somehow worse than if they didn’t match at all!

Wrap Dress

To be honest, my first thought when I tried the dress on was “That’s unwearably stripey!” but I have to say it’s growing on me a little. Especially in winter with leggings and a cardigan to balance it out, I think it’ll work! It’s the first thing I’ve sewn in quite a while that actually has a waistband right at my natural waist (instead of a slightly empire cut) and I have to say, I rather like it! The firm elastic inside helps define the area, and I think if I can find matching navy jersey to make a tie belt it will be even better.

I’ll leave you with a pic of my eternal helper, Frank…

cat in a hat

This version was intended as a muslin, so my next post will be the same thing in a more “me” fabric. Until then: How do you feel about wrap dresses? Do you find them flattering and easy to fit/wear? Or do you feel like they work better on other people?

 


44 thoughts on “Wrap Dress Hack, Part 1

  1. I like Frank’s turban! I made one wrap dress and while it fit beautifully, I never wear it. It was also a fake wrap, but it was in a drapey rayon and it made me feel lumpy, not lovely. I made have to try another one in a heavier knit! Lovely dress. Great work!

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    1. I totally understand the “lumpy” feeing… I wear bike shorts and a half slip under all my dresses, so adding a camisole for modesty to this one suddenly makes it feel like an awful lot of clothes under my clothes! You like Tiramisus, though, and that’s basically a wrap dress… I’m debating doing an overlap on my next faux-wrap to make it more authentic looking – maybe you could try that on a tira?

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    2. Hahah – don’t forget that I frequently sit on a chair with 20 kids sitting on the carpet looking up at me! Bike shorts are a necessary evil!😉

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  2. I like it, don’t think it’s too stripey at all! 🙂 I’m a fan of wrap dresses, I have a few RTW ones that get a lot of rotation. Sadly I haven’t sewn one yet, but it’s on my list of things to make.

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    1. I can definitely see you rocking a wrap dress! And if RTW ones fit well, then why bother sewing? Sometimes buying is nice too.😉

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    1. THanks Sarah! The first day was relatively good – Is your husband LTOing or supplying this year? Hope he had a good first day too!

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  3. OK, I don’t think this is too stripey (though it isn’t subtle! :-)) and I do love how all of the striping intersects. By way of a bit of constructive criticism: I do think it would be even better if the waist band started a bit higher. That would highlight your small underbust, play up your assets and take the widest part of the striping away from the full part of the abdomen. Also, I think the bodice could be a bit smaller…

    On the topic of wearing wrap dresses, I love them. I generally wear the real kind, vs faux, cuz those are the ones I’ve come across and I kind of like the element of adventure in walking with a dress that could blow open at any moment🙂 I do find that they have to be cut deep in the bust, and narrow in the shoulders (a tough combo) or they pull open at the surplice, which is a no go, of course.

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    1. I love constructive criticism, so keep it coming! You’ll be happy to know that the dress rides up over time, so the waist does end up a bit higher. I really struggle with waistline sometimes … my comfort zone is a very high waist, but then I start to wonder if it’s TOO high and I just look pregnant!😉

      How was your daughter’s first day at school???

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      1. Oh, it was something. Let’s just say there’s been a lot of drama and nerves in this house over the last couple of days. I’ll email you when I have a moment to clear my head and write more about it. It’s not a problem with friends… In fact, my kid may be more adaptive than me.

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    1. I kinda fudged the neckband… cut it longer than I needed, then just pulled it pretty snug and cut off the extra. It depends so much on fabric too… I don’t pull to the maximum stretch of the fabric, because then the spandex in the band kinda shines through (Do you know what I mean?) I pullto where the fabric band starts resisting, but not as tight as possible. Hope your dress turns out well! : )

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  4. I can’t imagine how much work goes into the first week of school. I bet you are beyond exhausted. My sister, at the beginning of the school year, is like a zombie at the end of the day.

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    1. Jamie fell asleep by 7:30pm… I lasted until almost 9!😉 And now it’s the second day, and I’m already wanting to up my coffee intake…

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  5. I like the stripes! I think a solid navy belt will be nice with this dress. =)

    I do have to admit I was wondering whether you had the waist a little low (it may also be a slight illusion of being too low because the stripes on the skirt are not following the seam exactly the same all the way around). You say you put it at your natural waist but it tends to ride up after a while. Try this trick for determining where your actual waist wants to be: tie a piece of elastic around your waist and move around (bending etc). Wherever the elastic ends up wanting to live is your “natural” waistline.

    Personally, I don’t like wearing wrap dresses or tops, but I think that’s because I’m a bit lacking in the bewb department and gapping usually results. I have, however, been playing with a back wrap dress vintage pattern and that seems to be better for me.

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    1. By that test, my natural waistline is up on my ribs, about 2″ below my bust… which is where my Camino Cap skirts sit. That’s basically where my gut starts… which is why things ride up to there. This skirt sits below that by an inch or so, right at the point where at the side of my body there’s an indent before my hips start.🙂

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  6. I like the stripes on you and on this dress. I think because the direction changes in the bodice, it’s not too stripy at all. I almost made a moneta out of this same fabric but was worried it would be too many horizontal, but I really like it in your wrap dress. I think the sleeve stripes look just fine and when you are moving about who will ever know that they don’t match up perfectly? Don’t be so hard on yourself! I think a navy belt would look great too. Hope your first day of school went well!

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    1. Yeah, this would be quite a lot as a Moneta… but would work as a Myrtle, I think? The drape would provide the necessary change in strip direction to break things up!🙂

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  7. I love, love wrap dresses! They are one of my favourite things to make and to wear, what else feels like wearing pjs whilst looking all well dressed and put together🙂 Looking forward to seeing your next versions.

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  8. Definitely not too stripy. It’s great. You’ve done a brilliant job stripe matching, I love the way you went navy to navy on the bits that would be most noticeable, I don’t know if I’d have thought of that.

    I love wrap dresses, but have strangely never made one. I do however have a wrap dress pattern on its way to me, so that might change fairly shortly.

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    1. I hope you do give your pattern a try! The great thing about wrap dresses is I feel like they’ll never go out of style, so we can all just keep wearing what we’ve sewn for years and years!

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  9. I like the stripy, especially using the navy stripe as your edge. It’s very pleasing to the eye. I say for the next version add a little more length to your bodice so you don’t have to worry about it riding up.

    I love the style of wrap dresses but my boobs want to escape from them all the time.

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  10. Turbans for cats! What a great use of scraps🙂
    I love wrap dresses but haven’t made any. I prefer ones that I actually wrap & tie as I find they fit better & gape less… I really should sew one… Too many things to sew. I look forward to your next version!

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  11. Um, there is no such thing as “un-wearably stripey”, at least in my book! I like it! Of course, I love a wrap dress. It is the blessing of the small-busted that we can wear a deep crossover neckline and not worry about anything popping out🙂
    I’ve been on a bit of a crew and round neckline kick this summer, but you make me want to whip out a crossover neckline right now!

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  12. I love the stripes, can anything be too stripy?! It looks really great on, I’m looking forward to seeing your next version! I haven’t ever got on with wrap dresses being large busted but maybe I should try again now I can sew my own!

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  13. I’m actually working on a faux wrap dress right now (the dress version of http://sewliberated.com/products/sunday-picnic-blouse-sewing-pattern in some black satin). I always hated wrap dresses before, ironically for the opposite reason of a commenter above! I had a rack of Armageddon and hated the way the wrap looked on me whether the crossover was under my boob or across it. Now I’m significantly smaller chested and figured I’d give them another shot.
    The dress seems promising so far even though I was extremely sloppy in cutting out the pieces (combine satin with an already lackadaisical attitude about precision) and have made pretty much every rookie mistake you can think of despite not being a rookie.

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    1. You know, there’s something cathartic about making a project with tons of mistakes, and just freely working on it without any fear or making more mistakes! Hope it works out in the end, or is at least fun to sew!🙂

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  14. Ooh, the stripes are so cute! Not too stripey at all! OK, I know I’m in the minority here… but I hate wrap dresses! I don’t even think I can articulate a reason why, I just kind of hate them for no reason at all! They look nice on other people, but I feel kind of weird and ugly in them.

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    1. I”m sure you look just fine in wrap dresses, but I understand exactly how you feel! They are maybe a little more body con that most of what you wear, and way more girly/traditional than your wardrobe! I bet you end up feeling like you are dressed as your mom or middle-aged teacher!🙂

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  15. Ooh, nice! I love how you used the navy band, I always have issues with successfully adding neckbands to striped tops.
    I really like the concept of wrap dresses, but I hate how they always seem to gape on me (at least the two jersey ones that I’ve made). For this summer, I’ve bought a little lace bustier to give me gape coverage, because when it’s hot, I really don’t want to wear a tank top underneath. So far that has worked out nicely. I’d like it better if I could get the dresses to not gape, though…😉

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    1. Yeah, having to layer a camisole underneath is kinda annoying with these two dresses. I find they tend to roll up around my waist and show through the dress… and who wants that? I thought about sewing in a bit of lace as a mock camisole, but that seemed too old-lady… If I wasn’t spending my day with kids though, this would be modest enough on it’s own.

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  16. I really like this dress- not too stripey at all. Like others, I like the navy to navy at the bands- and your sewing looks great- no wrinkles or too stretched out bits! I’m just starting out with knits so good to see it can be done so successfully.

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