That’s no wrap dress, it’s a space station

I finally finished my wrap dress. It is a copy of a Vivienne Westwood dress I had for many years and wore until it wasn’t fit to be seen. The style is no longer available so the only solution was to make my own version. It has a lovely asymmetric collar detail. The left collar extends into a flap which tucks though a buttonhole on the right collar. If you wear it tucked, as below, you get a keyhole effect.

But it also works well worn open.

Here are some side views. Hopefully you can just about see that the front hem corners are curved and that there’s a wide line of top-stitching around the edges holding the facings firmly in place. Installing the facings was a bit of a nervous moment as they go the whole way round the dress, including the hem and the neckline. You sew the facings together in a loop and hope you were accurate with seam allowances and it’ll actually be the right length to fit onto the dress. I was very relieved when mine went on smoothly.

The back of the dress is fairly plain by comparison.

If anyone’s wondering about the post title, the Liberty print this dress is made from resembles the Death Star when viewed close up.

Despite the science fiction inspiration, I think the final effect is more vintage than modern. I’m no fashion historian but it it feels a bit 1930s to me. The sort of thing you might wear to take tea with the vicar in Agatha Christie or PG Wodehouse. Not the kind of event I regularly have to dress for! But this will get plenty of wear for fixing computers and teaching maths.

Coat conundrum

Well it turns out I don’t need to make curtains for my sewing room after all. My mother has very kindly offered to make me some. Thanks, mum! So we shall be doing some mother-daughter fabric shopping in December for curtain fabric and hopefully also for the kimono I said I’d make for her. I’d better hurry up and work out the layout for it.

In the meantime I’ve been thinking about making a coat this year. I have two very different potential patterns for it: Colette Patterns’ Lady Grey and Vogue 1276. The Vogue has two views but the one I’m thinking of is the long grey one. I’m not at all convinced by the short multicoloured one.

Or rather, I had two patterns to choose from. The December Burda arrived today, which was a completely unexpected surprise as I haven’t had the usual email to say it’s been shipped. There’s a great coat pattern in that, model 104. And it only needs a little over two metres of fabric. The Vogue and the Lady Grey want something like four or five metres, which is a little nerve-wracking when you’ve never sewn a coat before.

So now I’m trying to choose between three patterns. Decisions, decisions. I’ll just have to make my mind up fast before the January Burda arrives!

Disgraceful curtains

Recently we rearranged the house to make better use of space. My office/sewing area moved into what was the very small spare bedroom. It’s been great having dedicated space to sew in. But I don’t think I can put off doing something about the curtains much longer.

That isn’t an optical illusion. It is an enormous tear in the curtains held together by a few pins. I can’t remember how it came to be there, which should give you some idea of how old it is. The curtains themselves are ancient; I think they came with the house. The tear is probably of more recent date.

The trouble is that I find curtains deeply unexciting. I can browse fabric for hours, even furnishing fabric, but the thought of actually sewing curtains is completely unappealing. All those long straight seams. All that hemming. I’m going to have to find some seriously special fabric if the curtains are ever going to get replaced.

Taking the plunge

Thanks everyone for the encouraging and helpful suggestions about my cutting mistake. Alas it’s too late for that dress, which went in the bin shortly after I discovered my mistake, but it’s all good advice to remember for next time.

So I finally cut the Liberty fabric. Although to be perfectly accurate, what actually happened was that I laid out the pattern pieces on the Liberty fabric and then suddenly found all sorts of things that Had To Be Done around the house before I could go and start cutting out. After the horrible mistake I made with the test run fabric I was more than a little nervous about cutting into the good stuff.

But it is done now, and the picture above is the little pile of scraps I have left. Is it possible that for once I bought the correct amount of fabric, you ask? Well no. There’s an uncut metre and a half left over too, but I didn’t photograph that. At least if I go wrong I’ll be able to recut a piece or two this time.

The little pile of scraps will go in the bin once the project is finished, unless there any pieces large enough to be of use to my mother, who quilts. But I find it quite useful to keep the bits around for a while to test things out on. This particular project calls for buttonholes, never my favourite thing to sew, so I think the scrap pile is going to see quite a bit of use.

One of the buttonholes is a little bit unusual – at least I’ve not noticed this particular finish before. The project is a copy of a wrap dress I own, and the buttonholes are for the ties to pass through rather than actual buttons. The buttonhole at the waistline is placed in an area of the garment that’s just a single layer of fashion fabric. The buttonhole therefore requires quite a bit of reinforcing. On the original dress a small rectangle of fashion fabric has been top stitched to the back of the buttonhole area with its edges neatly tucked under. It’s very nicely done. Here’s the view from the inside of the dress.

You can’t see from this picture but it looks as the short edges of the patch were folded under first and pressed, then the long edges. I’m not sure if it’s been interfaced or not. I shall have to make a couple of samples out of my scraps and see what works best. Wish me luck.

Disaster strikes

Disaster has struck my wrap dress project. As I posted on Sunday, I managed to cut the body of the dress out wrong side up so it would wrap the wrong way. That was recoverable from – as people kindly said, it’s likely no one’s going to notice. But when I came to sew the collar I found I’d cut the collar pieces the ‘correct’ way up, so they will have the wrong side of the fabric on the outside when I attach them to body. I haven’t got any more of the fabric so that’s the end of that. At least I only wasted the polyester and saved the red swirl print fabric for a better fate.

I am still intending to make the final version of the dress out of my Liberty fabric, but before I cut that out I’m going to remake the pattern with seam allowances included and the pieces marked ‘this way up’!

Do you notice which way a wrap dress wraps?

Do you notice which way a wrap dress wraps? As you’ve probably guessed, I have managed to cut out my wrap dress the wrong way up so it’s going to wrap left over right instead of right over left. I thought I was being clever by cutting it out with the wrong side of the fabric up. The idea was that it would then be easy to mark the darts onto the wrong side of the fabric with chalk as I wouldn’t need to turn the fabric over. This fabric is slippery and creases as soon as you look at it so the less handling it gets the better. Then I forgot to flip the pattern pieces as well as the fabric and didn’t notice until it was too late.

Personally I don’t think this is the end of the world – I had to think a bit to work out which way round women’s clothes normally do wrap in the first place. In addition, the fabric I’m using makes the detail of the pattern almost invisible.

I guess this is something most sewists manage to do at some point or another. I shall finish the dress and see if I notice it’s ‘wrong’ when I’m wearing it.

Revenge of the stash gods

Remember the other day I was moaning about how I always buy too much fabric and end up with lots of little lengths left over? Well the stash gods heard me, got in their time machine, and went back two years to my very first visit to the fabric shops of Goldhawk Road where they caused me to buy a very sensible two metre length of this swirl print cotton. Normally I’d buy two and a half metres to be on the safe side, and end up with half a metre left over. So buying two metres was obviously the appropriate and responsible decision, and if I’d used it to make the McCall’s 5799 minidress I’d originally intended, two metres would have been the perfect amount.

red and white swirl pattern fabric

And now I want to use it for my wrap dress project instead, and it’s about 10cm too short! No matter how I arrange it, the pattern will not fit on the fabric. If you’re wondering about the big space on the bottom right, that’s because the back piece is cut on the fold so it’s taken up by the other half of the back. The pattern has no seam allowances and a few of the other pieces need to be cut twice so it’s even worse than it looks. No way can I arrange the three big pieces without something overlapping. And all I need is a tiny bit more length.

I have learnt my lesson. And now I’m off to cut the wrap dress out of this gloriously 70s polyester bought on the same trip. Another two metre length – but 150cm wide.

orange and black hexagon pattern fabric