|Pattern Description: This pattern has one main pattern piece that wraps from front to back and back to front, similarly to the notorious Butterick Walkaway dress. (Imagine you have a flat piece of fabric, like a serape, with a hole for your head. Then suppose you put this on, wrap the sides of the front part around to the back, then wrap the sides of the back part around to the front. That is basically how this pattern works, though there are cutouts above the waist on front and back to remove some of the excess fabric you'd get under the arms otherwise.) The sleeves are formed by the width of the fabric falling over your shoulders; they are not sewn together under the arms -- except for the extension that you sew on if you make the long-sleeved version. Tie ends can be sewn onto the back to tie in front, or a pin or buckle can be used. If you make the high-necked version, you will have to make a placket in back to get it on over your head.|
This pattern is not currently on Decades of Style's website, so I assume it's gone out of print. I wouldn't have bought after I was living outside the US, so I must have had it stashed for several years now.
Pattern Sizing: There are four separate lettered size groups listed on the back, each one having three different sizes. If you click on most patterns on Decades of Style's website, you will find a chart for the A, B, and C size ranges. My particular pattern back lists a larger D size range as well, but on cursory inspection I don't see any current patterns on the site that have this.
At any rate, the complete size range for this pattern appears to have been 30-55" bust, 24-49" waist, and 33-58" hip, with three sizes per envelope. I had the B group, covering B36-40"/W30-34"/H39-43". I am very close to the 36" size, but I ended up making my dress wider (closer to the 40" size) only because I modified the pattern to use the full width of my lace -- about 39-40".
The pattern claims to have 4" ease in the bust and 2" in the waist. I think this isn't all that well-defined, because it doesn't even really close completely around the bust (there are, shall we say, "airy" places under the arms) and you could adjust the waist measurement by tying it tighter or looser.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Not really, partly because I rather drastically changed the sleeve shape, and I used a completely different fabric. I also prefer to tie it in reverse, with the front on the outside. I guess I could have shortened the shoulder-to-waist distance, rather than the hem length, if I'd wanted to fake a similar long-legged (HA!) proportion as on the envelope, but I didn't think to do this at the time.
Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn't really follow them. There isn't much to this dress. All you really have to do (famous last words) is finish all those cut edges... a particular quirk of this pattern is that there's an inward corner under each arm on both front and back; you are supposed to just staystitch and then taper your hem width up into that corner, which IMO could end up being a really significant weak point, especially if you have fabric that tends toward seam slippage.
What did you particularly like... This design works well if you scarcely want to seam or dart your fabric at all. I didn't with this lace, because parts of it are extremely open and would be hard to seam together (short of adding a backing or sewing on some sort of tape/binding, which is what I ended up doing in places). Besides, the wavy stripes would have been a pain to match. I did make some modifications, but the pattern was a good jumping-off point.
or dislike about the pattern? I didn't like all the edge finishing, but I avoided a lot of it because my lace has its own selvedge finish. I also didn't like the elbow-length flutter sleeves, since those just tend to make me look blocklike and shorter. (Now, if I were wearing stilts like the cover drawings....) Finally, I don't like how this type of dress looks when the back is wrapped over the front, so I wrap the front over the back instead -- problem solved.
Fabric Used: A heavy, sort of springy/spongy-feeling lace that I got from Emma One Sock several years ago. This might have been from Anna Sui, if my information is correct. I don't know the fiber content, but from the hand and from having experimented with dyeing it, I would guess it has some synthetic content. Maybe it's cotton/polyester, or maybe nylon. It does take (tea) dye to a significant extent, and it wrinkles. The lace also has some slight give, which I would guess is due to its structure rather than the fiber content. This helps the dress fit OK despite not having any darts.
The envelope says: "Any dress weight fabric would work. It is particularly smashing in silk or other fabrics with a nice drape. Knit fabric would work too. Suggested fabrics: Light to medium weight dress fabrics." Personally, I wouldn't use any crisp fabrics whatsoever. I'd want to use something that's much heavier (in weight, not thickness) than it is stiff, and wants to drape under its own weight, if that makes any sense. I do think they're right that knits could work, but I'd stick to something that had only moderate stretch and not too much thickness.
Finally, there is no shoulder seam; you'll want to (a) use fabric that has no visible nap/directional pattern; (b) add a shoulder seam so you can cut the front and back in the same direction; or (c) decide not to care about any directional pattern going the opposite way on the back vs. the front. I did (c).
Pattern Alterations... No significant fit alterations. I probably did change the length to some extent, but I didn't pay all that much attention to the length of the pattern when I was laying out my fabric. I put the neck-hole just about in the middle of my yardage, marked the cut-outs for the underarm areas, and went from there. My finished length is almost certainly shorter than the pattern's just because that's usually how it works for me, but I haven't taken the pattern back out to verify this.
or any design changes you made: I contemplated making the neckline backwards, i.e. with the round side in front and the V in back, and I actually cut the pattern that way originally, but I ended up having to wear it backwards because the weight of the dress pulled the front neckline into my throat otherwise. So the cut edges of the wraparound parts are backwards -- I have the "front" shape on the back and the "back" shape on the front. That doesn't seem to matter in practice.
I expected, correctly, that I wouldn't like the sleeve shape. So I sewed the underarm edges of the sleeves together, taking them in significantly, to end up with more fitted, elbow-length dolman sleeves. They are a little bit batwingy under the arms, but I didn't want to risk taking more out. The dress has to pull on over the head -- and I didn't want to try adding a closure -- so making it really fitted in that area might just mean it would end up torn.
Because of the lace fabric, I used very different finishes from what the pattern calls for. First, I found that my fabric has woven-on selvedge pieces that can be cut off cleanly. They are not exactly gorgeous compared to the body of the lace (they have tenter holes in them, for one thing) but they do match perfectly. I cut these strips off of both sides and used them to finish my neckline, hems, and other cut edges, and to make little tie ends for the wraps (instead of the bigger piece included in the pattern). I'll leave the description of the finishes for the photo album.
Would you sew it again? I don't know. It depends on if I found another fabric/use for it. I think it could be made a lot more casual in a different fabric.
Would you recommend it to others? Well, it is out of print, so it sort of depends on whether you find or already have a copy. If you have enough experience, and a dress form, it might not be all that hard to drape your own. Also keep in mind that as drafted, this dress won't necessarily give as much coverage under the arms as you might want.
Conclusion: An interesting wrap dress pattern. I think under other circumstances I might have been disappointed by how simple and unshaped the cut turned out to be, but for this lace, it was very helpful.