Sunday, 16 February 2014

Vogue 8379 - Snake print wrap dress for SWAP 2014

I adore wrap dresses. I can´t think of any other piece of clothing that is so easy to slip on in the morning and instantly feel dressed. I have them in a number of varieties, but until now, no animal print, so I thought I´d make one for a shot of 1970s glam. I´m including this dress in my Sewing With a Plan collection (SWAP).

This is one of the least intimidating items in my SWAP. I am using a pattern I have made up five times before and this is one of my favourite dress styles. (See here for a blog post about my other beloved wrap dresses.)

I have had this fabric in my stash for a couple of years now, after buying it on a trip to Rome. The fabric shop (though shop seems somehow inadequate to describe it) is Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti, on Corso Vittorio Emanuele, near the Pantheon. It is a sewers dream, and one of my favourite places in the world. 

It is aboslutely massive, and (treasure) cave like, eight big rooms with the most beautiful fabrics from floor to 6 m or so high ceiling. It can be overwhelming, and when I have been there, I have actually gone twice, either in the same day or a couple of days apart: Once to browse and take it all in, then come back later having planned my purchases and projects. There is a virtual army of Italian men working there and they have been extremly helpful every time I´ve been there.

Not being big on animal prints generally, I guess I´ve been a little bit apprehensive about what to do with it. What seemed to make sense in the haze of appropriated Italianess, felt slightly different in the cold Northern winter. But then again - maybe a shot of animal print is just what I need.

I think the pattern is not too crazy, and I could even see it dressed down with a cardigan and opaque tights to work in an everyday setting.

I´m sewing a fairly straight 14 out of the envelope, but dropped the interfaced facings and added my customary 15 cm or so at the hem. This is a one day project, all pattern pieces are prepped and I figured out my own cutting layout a long time ago. The fabric is also really stable and easy to work with, so this was a breeze. The only thing I gave a bit of consideration was the pattern placement across the bodice, as I wanted it to be fairly similar on both sides.

I started with draping the fabric across my dress form to decide what to do with the distinctive lighter stripes going lengthwise. My options were to either have the light stripe follow the neckline, or the darker panel.

I decided that I wanted the darker panel on the neckline - I tend to prefer darker colours near my face. In addition, this way I used less fabric, as I could place the front pieces on either side of a light panel, which is more narrow than the dark panels.

From there on, it was pretty smooth sailing. I cut everything in one layer due to the stripes in the pattern, that demanded some matching. I had just enough to cut out all my pieces. I did my usual modification of the pattern - dropped the neckline facing and added full length sleeves. And here is the result:

There are some places where I wish I could have matched the print better, like between the front bodice and the skirt:

Then again, in other places the pattern matched completely coincidentally - magic! Like here, between bodice and sleeve:


And in the side seam:

In short, I am pretty happy with the way the dress turned out, and I can change the styling so that it works both for day and for evening. So that means, two SWAP items down, seven to go!


  1. Anna, your wrap dress is really pretty. I like the thoughtful way you draped the fabric to decide on the pattern placement. In general, I tend to bring the light up to the face, so as to make the face the focus of the garment. It's interesting, therefore to see the shading done in the opposite way. It works nicely on you. You did a lovely job in matching all of the snakey stripes at each seam and coordinating them for each pattern piece. As I said, it's so thoughtfully done that it is a pleasure to behold. Congratulations!

  2. Hi Kathryn, nice to see you here, and thank you for your kind words! I am interested to hear that you usually go for the lighter colours near the face. I think that if I had a chance to make this dress again, I would actually reverse the order - there is something about how it now divides up the upper body that I am not completely in love with and did not quite foresee when draping. But hindsight is 20/20, and all in all I am very happy about the dress.

  3. Anna, it's lovely--so sophisticated. The print matching looks completely intentional at the side seams. You should just start taking credit for premeditating that! This is such a wonderful pattern. I've used it myself, and you have just reminded me that I should make it again soon. It never goes out of style, flatters the figure, and feels comfortable to wear.

    1. Thank you, Mary, and of course you´re right, what I *meant* to say was that I worked very hard on how to match the pattern and in the end came up with a very difficult solution that worked perfectly, ha ha! If you make another wrap dress I hope you post it on Stitcher´s Guild, as I said, I love wrap dresses and to see how others make them!