Made by Me!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Gertie's Wrap Dress - Sewing Vintage Casual

Another part of my planned winter wardrobe is finally finished! I need to get a wriggle on with the rest of it otherwise it will be summer by the time I have finished! This dress is the wrap dress from Gertie's book 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual' which I reviewed in this post. I made the dress from a beautiful fabric called Gnome Pants which is from designer Rashida Coleman Hale and her 'Moonlit' collection. It is a lovely lawn fabric and is soft to touch and has a lovely drape, and also on the plus side it is super easy to sew with.


When I reviewed this book I hadn't tried any of the patterns out yet but I already thought that I was likely to encounter fit issues as I normally do with Gertie's patterns - I had to change things to varying degrees on patterns from her Craftsy courses, Butterick patterns and the ones from her previous book. It's never in a major way but she seems to fit most patterns to people with broader shoulders than myself. It was for this reason that I did a toile - although I have to say I am getting to the point of doing them for most things now if I am the tiniest bit unsure of the fit on me and it really does help. A toile also means you can check the style suits you before cutting into your precious fabric and it allows you to try out any tricky techniques in the pattern or just to familiarise yourself with how the garment is put together before you do it on the real thing. Apart from the fact that I managed to draw out pattern pieces and make up a toile for the bodice back and front in a size smaller than myself on my first attempt, when I finally did make up the correct size I was pleasantly surprised that it fit perfectly with no need for any changes. This is a complete plus point for me and I am now more likely to dip into this book to make stuff knowing it should all fit just fine.

 Gertie's wrap dress

The wrap dress was a really easy piece to sew and nothing was too difficult so I imagine an adventurous beginner with a few projects under their belt would be able to cope with it - especially as there are no zips or buttonholes needed. There is a back bodice with darts and two triangular shaped wrap pieces with darts for the front bodice. As the front pieces are cut on the bias Gertie suggests a way of preventing the fabric stretching out that is more durable than stay stitching, she suggests putting a small piece of interfacing or stay tape on the seam allowance which is cut on the grain. I hope you can make out the picture here of the adhesive interfacing I used to see what I mean. It really made the fabric very sturdy and I would recommend doing it over just stay stitching if you make this dress. You also get a glimpse of my awful ironing board. I so need a new one especially as I cut through it the other day whilst prepping some fabric - if you look closely at the orange circle you can see what I mean...!


There is a wealth of information in this book which makes it more than worth the money spent on it. Gertie has really spent time making up a compendium of information that rivals any pattern book I have come across so far. I learnt one technique whilst making this dress which is crowding (or crimping) the sleeve cap to help ease the fabric into the sleeve. It requires you to lengthen the stitch length on your machine and then for you to put in two lines of basting stitches within the seam allowance. Whilst stitching you have to put your finger firmly behind the sewing machine foot and as the basting stitches are sewn the fabric bunches up behind, releasing only when the fabric is getting too much. The result is that the fabric comes out with a crimped look about it or a concertina effect which helps with ease when setting in the sleeve. The idea is that you should end up sewing more fabric into each stitch, thereby creating a smoother sleeve than you would if you pulled the basting stitches to gather and put in place a slight puff at the sleeve cap.  I have to be honest though and say it didn't work as well as I would have liked on my fabric, it seemed to resist heavy crimping and so when I tried to set in the sleeve it didn't look too professional. I ripped it out and put in a gathered sleeve cap instead and am totally happy with it. I like the idea of crowding though and would like to try it on a more responsive fabric - or it may be that I just need more practise...who knows! Nice to learn a new skill though!


The rest of the dress was pretty straightforward and I managed to make it up in a couple of days. I went out in it last night after just finishing it and it was lovely to wear and I felt very feminine in it - and its the first time in my life I have walked out the door in an outfit (dress and coat) made all by little me! My boyfriend thinks it makes me look a little like an eighties throw back with my material choice (and I realise he has said this about other things I have made come to think of it) but I just love the design. Its a versatile dress - I can keep it wintry with a camisole underneath and a pair of thick woolly tights or I can wear it in summer easily as the dress is made of a relatively thin material.


So what do you think? I am really happy with the outcome of this dress and I love wearing it. I love the collar shape and the the overall shape of the dress when it's on. It's really flattering. I think I am having a wrap dress moment as I have another couple of wrap dress patterns lined up to make; a 1940's vintage pattern (part of a tick list of techniques and skills I want to acquire this year from my resolutions) and a beauty from Sewaholic called Yaletown. I think they are super flattering and whilst I work off the Christmas belly I seemed to have acquired they are working well for me!



Whats on your sewing table? Anyone tried this dress or recommend any good wrap dresses to sew up?

8 comments:

  1. I love your dress! I'm so happy to see someone else make it... I bought the book, too, but have been apprehensive about making the dress until I saw how other sewing bloggers felt about it. Yours is so great, though, I may have to trace the pattern and get sewing this week!

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    1. Hi Meg. Thank you so much I'm glad you like it. I understand why you hesitated, I did as well because I could only see one other person other than Gertie who had sewn it up but I think it is such a pretty dress so I hope you do make it! The collars are my favourite bit I think. If you do make it then I would love to see your version.

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  2. This is so cute on you! I love the fabric!

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    1. Thank you! I think it may be one of my favourite makes to date.

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  3. I LOVE this dress.You have such an amazing sense of style..!! They make a real style statement I’m new to ur blog and I have to say in loving it.

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    1. Hi, thank you so much! I am glad you like both the dress and the blog. More posts to come soon...just getting over a stinking cold!! In the meantime I hope you enjoy reading my other posts and I look forward to seeing what you think of my other upcoming makes.

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