Saturday, September 8, 2012

Finished Project : Simplicity Wrap Dress --- and Help!


I'm back and I've taken a crack at both of the projects I mentioned in my last post. One is now done, and one has been thrown on the floor in frustration.

I'll give you the good before the bad.

I finally used up the blue/green abstract floral rayon challis that has been sitting in my stash for probably a year...maybe longer? I've totally lost track. Anyway, it's lightweight and soft and drapey and I'd thought I would use it for a blouse. The thing is, I had something like 3.5yards...maybe 4. This made it seem more suited for a dress. When I made my gathered skirt a few months ago, it popped into my head that the rayon in my stash would look great as a gathered skirt, since it's so soft and flowy. Fast forward to a week ago and I found myself cutting out Simplicity 4986 from it. There was just enough fabric.

Simplicity 4986


I self lined the bodice and omitted the facings prescribed by the pattern. I also decided to make the sash/ties double sided (instead of single-sided as the pattern laid out) and thought I was being sooo clever throwing in some leftover fabric from Tom's shirt. The blue seemed to match the lightest blue in the rayon print. I'm not sure I'm pleased with the final look, though. Sigh - what's new.


I definitely appreciate that this pattern does not have sleeves to set in or any closures to insert. It certainly did use a lot of thread, though!

I didn't make any adjustments to the fit, other than shortening the skirt (the girls in the illustration must have either 6-foot long legs, or 17" hems), though next time I think I would make the waistline a little higher.

I'm glad I used this fabric, even though it sometimes made sewing a little trickier than if I was just using cotton. I think it gives a different look/feel to the dress than the pattern envelope depicts and it feels so nice and soft and slinky. The top does seem... blousier? rather than as fitted/structured as the illustration.


This is really a great pattern that I plan to make again. A gathered skirt on a wrap dress seemed unusual (or maybe just to me) and I love that the skirt also included pockets! I think next time I would make the pockets a little bigger, so I can fit more than just my crumpled hand in there, and also make the ties longer so I can do them up in a bow, if I'm so inclined.

I opted to finish the waist inside with some dark green ribbon that came off of one of Tom's birthday gifts from a friend, and I rather like how it tidys everything up inside.

self photo-shoot

Lastly, for your viewing pleasure: some awful photos of me in the dress. Better than nothing, I figured.

And now, on to the bad.

Like I mentioned earlier this week, I had Tom's shirt all measured out and knew just want I was going to do to make my alterations. Everything was basically too big in different ways - except the collar, which fit nicely, thank goodness. I was all set to move the sleeves 3/4" in toward the collar, take the sides of the shirt in by 1 1/4" tapering down from the hip to the hem, and make the sleeve seam about an inch narrower, so the sleeves fit a little tighter.

above left shows post-alterations, above right shows pre-altering, with the pins barely visible going down the side, to mark where to take it in.

My plans sounded great (to me) on paper, but when I took out the sleeve and moved the armhole closer to the neck so that the shoulder seam would actually lie where it should on his shoulder (but I've now noticed it STILL DOESN'T), the sleeve freaked out and got all tight and bunchy. Now the armhole is bigger than the sleeve, so I'm assuming I need to cut a new sleeve...but how do I know if it needs to be a different size/shape than the original pattern piece?

closer look at both sides of the shirt, <after (bunchy) and before (loose) > alterations


sleeve too small for armhole
Any thoughts on how to proceed? I only worked on the one side of the shirt, so once I figure out how to make it work, I'll tackle the same alterations on the other half. Hopefully, Tom will finally be able to wear this shirt by the time his next birthday rolls around.


  1. I love the fabric on your wrap dress, just lovely. Good luck with Tom's shirt, (I'll add this to my list of reasons why I should only just selfishly sew for myself, ha!)

    1. Haha, I know what you mean about selfish sewing! This is the first non-basic thing (like pj pants) I've sewn for someone else...and it was a little nerve-wracking!

  2. Gorgeous dress, and I love the two colour belt - might be influenced by (copy)that sometime!

  3. The wrap dress is lovely. Is there any seam allowance at the underarm part of the sleeve that you could let out to allow for taking in the shoulder seam? You could still taper the sleeve as you get to the hem that way. That's just a thought. I've only fiddled with sleeves on women's dresses and blouses never men's clothing.

  4. I'm sorry I can't help you with the shirt but I just have to say that I adore the wrap dress!!

  5. Wow- I'm nopt clever enough to help shirt-wise, but that dress is adorable!

  6. I love the fabric! Personally I'm a big fan of rayon as it's the most silky (obviously not true as it's not real silk - d'oh, but you know what I mean) and comfy fabric ever! It's a lovely dress you've made :D

  7. lovely dress! i don't think you'd need to cut a whole other sleeve. perhaps you could get away with shaving the the sleeve cap closer to the side seams. So, leave the top of the sleeve cap alone. Cutting into the lower part of the sleeve cap would make that seam line longer, hopefully helping it to fit into a bigger armhole. Other than that, though, I think the "after" hits pretty well on his shoulder. Then again, I've never made a men's shirt so you could totally just ignore everything I just wrote. ;)

    1. Thanks, Dixie! I'll see if I can give that a try. I really appreciate the advice. :)

  8. Replies
    1. Thanks, girlfriend! (glad to see you on blogger:))

  9. Ooh dear, the sleeve/armhole conundrum is way beyond me at this point. Sorry :(
    You could try making a topic on the Pattern Review forums. Lots of people will give you advice there. Good luck.
    Also your vintage dress pattern is so cute! Great job :)

  10. Wow! I really love your wrap dress - the contrasting fabric at the tie is such a beautiful touch.
    The sleeve/armhole situation...hmmm - Maybe you already did this, but I would take your flat pattern pieces - front and back - and align them at the shoulder seam, tape in place. Then take your sleeve pattern and "walk" it around the armhole opening (start at one end and stick a pin in it then slowly rotate the sleeve, moving the pin as you go) this will show you how much smaller your sleeve cap is from your armhole opening. Then slash and spread the sleeve cap that amount to make it bigger (while keeping the sleeve seam the same) I would try to mimic the shape of the original pattern piece.
    Good luck! I'm sure you'll figure it out!

    1. Thanks, Sallie! I'll try what you suggested...I think I'll be needing that good luck for sure. :)

  11. The wrap dress is beautiful! I love the drapey look of the rayon-- great choice! As for Tom's shirt, I know you'll get it worked out, but I'm sorry the process has been so frustrating. :(

  12. I love the wrap dress. It's really cute on you, too!


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