There’s something so charming about a wrap dress. I designed one in my very first collection, and even now it stands out as one of my favorites. It had short sleeves and a layered, asymmetrical skirt and a sash belt, and I loved it. (See the bottom of this post for photos.) It was part a spring/summer collection, so we made it in a delicious linen/rayon blend that moved so elegantly and felt even better on. The dress was sold in a sample sale at some point, and I never got around to making one for myself. I’ve never forgotten about that style though, and I finally had some time last spring to make one–and I didn’t have to draft a pattern!
The thing about drafting a pattern for a wrap dress or top is that there’s contouring involved–a process whereby the pattern is manipulated to lie against the body without gaping open. It’s a consideration for any garment with a low neckline or cutouts, and it can be tedious and a pain. There’s a reason why so many wrap dress styles are done in knit fabrics; the stretch factor helps ensure a better fit. That said, I still love wrap dresses in woven fabrics–I just didn’t want to invest all the time required to draft the pattern myself. In my search for one, I got really, really lucky.
Butterick 5030 is the ultimate wrap dress pattern for wovens, and when I make it in red for the holiday season, it will be the third time I’ve made it. The fit is excellent (no adjustments needed), but I did make a few small design changes: I added a cuff to the sleeve, increased the flare in the skirt, and drafted a lining. I have a hard time not lining things, especially dresses like this. It just looks more professional and polished to me. I made it in blue cotton for spring and navy for fall.
I added fullness to the skirt using the slash and spread method by cutting from the hem to, but not through, the waist in more than one spot. Only adding fullness in one area will show up in the garment. Fullness must be added evenly across the pattern piece. It’s also important to spread an equal amount in each spot, and I added about 6″ in each of the three areas that I slashed. Once you’ve done this, it will look like this:
Any time I adjust a pattern like this, I like to trace it onto paper. It’s less messy and easier to work with.
This is what my sleeve pattern looked like after I shortened it and added a rolled cuff. I’m sorry this picture is so out of focus. We had four straight days of rain so light was low in my studio, making photography a challenge. I will post a how-to for drafting this type of cuff soon. Better pictures then, promise.
One of my favorite elements of this dress is the collar. It’s simple, but it looks so sharp and it’s super easy to sew. (I love couture sewing as much as the next gal, but sometimes efficiency and simplicity beats time consuming and complicated, am I right?!)
Things to know about this pattern:
#1. The fit is great, the design is flattering, and you’ll want it in lots of colors.
#2. Easy to sew.
I spent less than $50 on supplies for each dress, which is always a plus in my book. I can’t decide which one is my favorite, but if I had to pick it would probably be the navy one. You know I love, love, love navy!
Finally, here’s my design from 2010, the Mabel dress:
Have a great week, and don’t forgot to vote tomorrow!
I made my own patterns for a long time. I drafted and tweaked and tested…
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