Friday, August 12, 2016

1970s Ikat Wrap Dress

So remember this fabric I bought at my favorite fabric store back in December?

I felt that it had such a 1970s vibe that I needed to find just the right pattern to make a dress from it.  (I actually don't know why this particular fabric called to me - it's really far out of my usual comfort zone, both in color and in print.  But for some reason I love it!)

I got Simplicity 8013 at a JoAnn's pattern sale, and thought it was perfect:

The pattern is for a faux-wrap dress, with a separate sash and a center back zipper.  Of course, I hate sewing zippers (which is part of the reason I love historical costuming so much) and felt that, with a few tweaks, I could make the faux-wrap pattern into a true wrap dress!

I also didn't have as much fabric as the pattern envelope called for, but since when has that ever stopped me?  :p  I figured that by omitting the separate sash (which takes up an incredible amount of fabric all by itself) and occasionally fudging grain lines and tapering the wide ends of skirt panels to fit, I could get the shorter-length dress from my 3 5/8 yards of 55" wide fabric.  I was right, but more on that later.

I started with a bodice lining/mockup cut from an old sheet:

Notice how the side bust darts are in two different places?  The left one is as printed on the pattern:

And the right one is where my mom pinned it for me, so it actually fits me:

We made some other adjustments to the fit, like taking in the back neck, the tops of the shoulders, and the top of the underarm seam.  I have very narrow, sloping shoulders, and I'm finally learning (with Mom's help) how to cut patterns to fit me better in this area.

Since the print is too big and busy to be obviously directional, I was able to cut for best fit of the pattern pieces:

I transferred the alterations from the mock-up to the tissue pattern pieces, and cut the center back piece on the fold:

The center back is taken in more at the neck than at the waist, where it's just 5/8" to account for the seam allowance.  

Then the shoulders are tapered down from the neck edge:  

I may have to start doing that with all of my future bodice shoulder seams.  

I cut the sleeves next.  Of course the pattern piece was too large to fit on my fabric folded in half:  

So I measured the width of my folded fabric:

Then measured the widest part of the sleeve piece:

Since the sleeve was five inches wider than the fabric, I measured in 2 1/2" from each side, and tapered the sides of the sleeve in by that amount at the lower edge.  Simple.

I measured my remaining yardage, and found that I easily had enough to cut two of each skirt panel piece.  First the front and back pieces - center front on the fold, center back on the selvedge:

Then I realized:

Cut 4.  Oops.
I needed four copies of the widest skirt panel!  Oh no!

Would I have enough?  I knew I would have to cut them individually from the full width of the fabric.  I unfolded it:

Since I wanted to make it a true wrap dress, I would need some overlap.  I left the extra fabric on right-hand side of the pattern piece uncut:

Then removed the pins and flipped the piece around to get a second copy:

Where it went off the edge of the fabric, I tapered it in the same way I had done the sleeves:

Just folded the tissue paper and cut along the fold:

And there was enough!  *Whew*  I moved the pattern piece down to the end of my remaining fabric, so I could leave the largest scrap piece possible along the edge:

This was later cut into strips that then became the attached self-tie that keeps my dress closed.

Construction was pretty straight-forward.  I followed the directions for the most part, just omitted the zipper and left the front edges open.  That extra fabric I left on the one side-front panel is the only part of the skirt that isn't gathered into the waist seam, and it's covered by the overlapping right side of the skirt.

Instead of cutting the skirt lining using the included pattern pieces, I just measured the length and width I wanted and cut one big rectangle from the same old sheet that I used for the bodice lining.  It is also gathered to the waist, and the waist seam is sandwiched in between it and the outer skirt.

My one complaint with this pattern is that it has a tendency to gap at the bust, even with my alterations.  I think I'm going to need to add some elastic to the front edges like I did with my 1940s Halter Dress sides.  I should have enough space between the seam edge and my understitching on the lining to insert a length of narrow elastic.

Of course there wasn't enough time to do this before I wanted to wear the dress.  I had a slight fit of crazy and made the whole thing in one day.  Actually 13 hours from start to finish, including a couple hours to eat and go for a walk with Mom.

And why was I in such a hurry to get this dress done?  Oh, because I was going back to my favorite fabric store the next day!

*happy sigh*
And here I am wearing it back to the store where I bought the fabric! Although not the same location... details.   
My sister Gretchen was kind enough to brave the mosquitoes and take these photos for me after we got back from Minneapolis:

Clover the cat photobomb!

The dress is very fun to wear, and quite comfortable.  And as long as I keep my posture the gapiness is not terrible.  Just to be safe, I wear a tank top underneath.

The sleeves are quite fun.

And that's a wrap!  Will make again.  :)


  1. Oh the satisfaction of squeezing a dress out of not enough fabric! I would never have thought of using that print for a 1970s dress, but it's perfect.