Hey, it’s a new year! What’d’ya know. So do I have any profound thoughts on last year? A look back at my year in sewing, a cool collage, goals for the new year? Nope. I just can’t get excited about any kind of summing up this year. The second half of the year was so crazy and stressful and simultaneously flew and crawled by, and I really don’t know what to say. So instead, here is a thing that did get me excited: a wrap dress.
Yeah, I know, right? A wrap dress? Not the most exciting thing in the world. But hear me out: on New Year’s Day I went to see David O. Russell’s new film American Hustle, and I got bitten by the wrap dress bug. Hard. Now, I’m the last person in the world to like or appreciate 70s fashion. Because, wow, so much of it was so very, very ugly. But! In this (expertly costumed) film, Amy Adams wears a series of fantastic wrap dresses (and exposes so. much. side boob. Amy Adams’ side boob should get co-starring credit on this movie). It was like they (the wrap dresses, not Amy Adams’ side boob) were talking to me: “Hey, you like wrap dresses! Like that one there! You should make a classic DVF wrap dress right this instant!”
So I went home and skulked through my pattern stash, and nothing was quite right. Amy Adams’ dresses would not be satisfied if I pieced together a classic DVF wrap dress from random other patterns (like, for example, Buttericks 5454 and 5030, both of which I own and could have been cobbled together with little issue). Oh no. I was mysteriously compelled to drive 40 minutes to our nearest JoAnn the next day and buy the Vogue DVF ripoff pattern, 8379 (at least they were having a Vogue sale. Even Amy Adams can’t convince me to pay full price for a Big 5 pattern). Happily, I had the perfect 70s jersey in my stash already. This fabric has been cleverly avoiding being made into anything for quite a few years now. It was a very early internet purchase from FFC, one of my first fabric buys without a project in mind, and I’ve been pulling it out every fall since then, trying to match it with a pattern, but nothing has stuck. Clearly that’s because it was destined to become an awesome 70s wrap dress:
Whoa, print overload! Sorry about that. Though it somehow seems appropriately 70s to mix loud prints like that. (I’m still experimenting with photo backgrounds at our new house. This geometric print is home dec fabric that I covered one of the mirrored closet doors in the sewing room with, but I’m not sure it’s the kind of neutral photo background I’ve been looking for.)
Some notes on the pattern: I’m pretty sure I would have been better off with the Butterick hybrid. Sure, this is the closest pattern out there to the original DVF dress, but it’s not perfect. As many reviewers have noted, the bodice seems a bit short. I don’t generally make bodice length adjustments, as I seem to have a totally average torso length, but this waistline hits me just slightly above my natural waist. Not helping matters is the fact that I pinched a wedge out of the crossover length on the bodice as an SBA. It seems that whenever I do that the pattern didn’t need it, and whenever I leave it as drafted I have gapeage. Actually, if I make this pattern again, I will likely leave the wedge pinched out and just lengthen the bodice at the line indicated. I also folded out a little bit from both pleats, as I was afraid there would be too much excess fabric there for bust I don’t have (although I, unlike Amy Adams’ character, will be wearing a bra with my wrap dress. Clearly, the 70s were a looser time in more ways than one).
I also de-70s’d it a bit by eliminating the facings. On the bodice I zigzagged clear elastic along the neckline then folded over and twin needled (as is my wont), and on the skirt front hems I just folded and twin needled. I folded out all but 5/8 inch of the self facing on the skirt pieces before cutting. This makes the tie attachment a bit less elegant on the front, but it’s better that than the dreaded facing-flip-out. I’ve no idea how that was supposed to work. Oh sure, facings will totally stay put with just a little understitching on a thin, flippy jersey. Was poly jersey somehow more well behaved 35 years ago? Because this stuff was totally impervious to ironing. (Also to wrinkling, though, which is why I love it!) I further de-70s’d the dress by not using the collar or cuffs. I know, it’s much less authentic this way, but I finally (maybe) am strong enough to resist cool fashion details that just aren’t me. Finally, I took an inch off the bottom before hemming, to get a more flattering length (with the shortness of the bodice, before shortening the hem it looked like all skirt and no torso).
And in the end I think I like it. I’ve scratched the wrap dress itch for now, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be back. It’s just a silhouette I like, and it’s pretty easy. I know there’s been a lot of chatter out there about the potential for… wind-related accidents with true wrap dresses. I get that. I certainly wouldn’t ride a bike in this dress without leggings, but for everyday walking about it feels pretty safe. There’s quite a bit of skirt overlap in front. And while it might show a little leg if you, say, stood like Angelina Jolie at the Oscars, well, I think that Amy Adams’ side boob would approve of that.