Wrap dress construction details

I thought I’d post a few construction details about my wrap dress project because I think the design has some nice finishing touches. This is a copy of a Vivienne Westwood style from many years ago. I think it was from her Red Label line. I wore the original dress until it wasn’t much more than a rag and the style’s long since been discontinued, hence the attempt to replace it by sewing my own. Here’s my attempt at a technical drawing of the original.

Here’s what it actually ended up looking like.

Deathstar dress

There is very little shaping. The left front panel has a fisheye dart (hidden by the right front panel) and there are fisheye darts in the back, which is cut on the fold so there’s no opportunity for shaping at the centre back. The skirt is very slightly pegged. The belt does most of the work.

There are facings all the way around the dress to finish the edges, including the hem, and form the collar. The lines of top-stitching you can see on the technical drawing are holding the facings in place. The edges of the facings are finished with a neat technique I first encountered on Vogue 8633. You cut out iron-on interfacing in the same shape as the facing and sew them together down the edge you want to finish, right side of fabric to the non-glued side of the interfacing.

Trim and clip round any corners and curves, and finger press the seam open.

Then fold along the seam so that you place the wrong side of the fabric to the glue side of the interfacing, rolling the seam slightly so that the join lies slightly to the wrong side of the fabric.

Fuse the interfacing to the fabric in the normal way. (Is it just me or is fusing a really boring job? Several times on this project I melted my interfacing by not paying enough attention while fusing!) This leaves a really nicely finished edge on the facing. None of this fiddly business of pressing the seam allowances under and hoping they’ll stay pressed while you stitch them down – the glue on the interfacing holds it all in place.

You sew all the facing pieces together in a loop and then sew them to the edge of the dress in one continuous seam, then turn and top-stitch down the fronts and the hem. Around the back of the neck and along the shoulder seams you stitch in the ditch of the collar seam so that the facing is caught over the seam and hides the seam allowances. I really like the fact that the seam allowances on the dress are mostly hidden. The only seams you actually have to finish are the side seams and the shoulder seams, which show for a short way between the neck and arm facings.

The belt pieces are attached to the dress by catching them in the facing seam. The holes that the belt and collar pass through are just large buttonholes. The one on the right panel is reinforced by top-stitching a small interfaced rectangle of fashion fabric to the back of the panel to give it strength. I didn’t bother doing the above finish on the rectangle edges as short straight edges are easy to control; I just pressed the edges under and sewed it on quickly before it had a chance to change shape.

OK, enough with the details. For my next project I’m going for a complete change and not only using a ready-made pattern, but one I’ve made before. That’ll be a nice change of pace.

4 thoughts on “Wrap dress construction details

  1. You really did a great job, and it sounds like making the pattern might have been a little crazy! But the details are really cool!

  2. I’ll be trying that technique to interface. Yours looks so neat. I wish I could put in as much work as you do with your projects. You always do really cool things….but hellas, I am much too lazy.

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