I adore wrap dresses. I find them very versatile and flattering. So a few weeks ago I embarked on a project to create my own pattern for a Diane Von Fustemberg-inspired wrap dress. In the end it took me longer that initially foreseen, so I think I will take it easy for my next project.
As you may know the original wrap dress dates from the 70’s and was meant for jersey fabric and began as a cotton jersey shirt dress similar to a wrapped dancer’s sweater. From this initial concept, the shirt prototype was elongated into the frock commonly known as the wrap dress.
But I wanted to use a 70’s style flairy fabric I bought last year at a fabulous Marché du Tissu – Stoffen Spektakel event (I absolutely reccomend this place and wish they had one event close to where I now live). The problem is that the fabric has no stretch whatsoever. So, I went on and modified my front basic bodice block to create a wrap style. You can achieve it rather simply by prolonging the waist line to the right (on the fold side) until you reach your half front waist. Then you raise a vertical line by 1 inch. Finally you connect that point with a diagonal line reaching the neckline. This allows you to create the diagonal line you need to make the dress wrap. There’s a bust dart on the front bodice and a waist dart at the back.
The skirt part is a simple A-line skirt. For the wrap part, you need to cut out the front twice. Then you choose which side you want to have on top…mine is to the right, which is the opposite as most wrap dresses. Definitely unique :o)
The skirt part that will go on top is finished with a straight side line instead of a diagonal. But of course you could get creative and design all sorts of shapes. I chose a simple one since my fabric pattern is already quite loud…
Next thing is designing the ties… mine were 3 inches by 45 each. But you could also go for a button closure if you prefer.
So, that’s all there is to the wrap dress in terms of patternmaking.
In terms of finishing, you will notice that my neckline is sewn with elastic thread and you are probably wondering why… Well, I must admit it wasn’t planned. When I tried on the bodice I noticed something awful… the fabric is so drapey that it wouldn’t hold in place. After loads of pondering (and getting quite annoyed) I decided to sew three lines of elastic thread so that the fabric would stay in place.
As a result, here is what I learned with the wrap dress project
- Do a muslin with a fabric as similar as possible to your final one (I tested the bodice wrap with cotton!)
- A drapey fabric will need some reinforcing at the neck or some gathers or….some other clever solution to keep it in place
- A fabric with no stretch will need extra width at the sleeves to make sure your hand can go through
- Cotton jersey will be a better fabric choice… duh… that probably via Diane Von Fustemberg made her original wrap dress using jersey…
If you are interested in making a wrap dress, here are a couple of resources:
- Hope Wrap Dress Pattern this pattern is also posted on Burdastyle and is for a jersey dress
- Little Black Dress, The: How to Make the Perfect One for You has one chapter dedicated to making a wrap dress pattern
Have you ever made a wrap dress? I would love to hear your thoughts, tips, etc.
Have a great Sunday.