Saturday, 9 June 2018

#SewTogetherforSummer Famous Frocks Liza Wrap Dress

Hi everyone!

Here is my #sewtogetherforsummer wrap dress! I was tempted to make the Trina Dress as I love the version I made for a friend, but have been meaning to try a jersey wrap dress for a while and had 3 metres of this thin black floral jersey picked up on a whim for £9 in total from Misan Textiles in Goldhawk Road that I wanted out of the stash!

The pattern is the Liza Wrap Dress (inspired by Liza Minnelli) from the Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress Book (I've previously made an Anjelica Huston blouse from the same book).  I made the long-sleeved variation (the original design is sleeveless) but kept the straight skirt rather than hacking to flare it as instructed.

Alterations: I decided to make the size S bodice based on my high bust measurement with a 1" FBA (there was a 3" difference, but I read in knit bodices you should add less than you would for a woven FBA to ensure you still have negative ease), and M sized skirt. During the weekend that Craftsy offered 48 hours of free access to all its online workshops I watched the Cashmerette FBA tutorial for knits on repeat, and used this helpful blog post to refer back to when doing the adjustments for real.

Using this fitting method seems to have worked well, but I think it may have affected what size waist ties I should have cut, as they don't reach the top edge of the wrap bodice as I feel they should, and this looks a bit awkward having an untethered straight edge poking out!

To fix this I just tuck the edge in when I'm wearing it so there's a smooth diagonal line from the bodice to the tie, it's not very noticeable in this print. Next time I'd avoid this by cutting the ties after making up the bodice to ensure that they are as wide as the side bodice edge.

This was the second time working with a border print (first was my raw silk Anna dress which I love more than that blog post would have you believe). Although I knew what I was going for on the horizontal plane with this fabric I didn't think to account for the spacing of the vertical design, so the pattern motif on the back skirt is haphazardly aligned (plus I'm realising now looking at the pictures the floral design is uneven at the hem too - so I didn't even get the horizontals quite right! Eep).

My pattern cutting was not as accurate as it should be, as it was tough managing great quantities of this drapey and stretchy knit and trying not to let the weight of it affect what I was able to cut on the table. I also made the mistake one of forgetting to alter the armscye from sleeveless to sleeved, but it doesn't seem to have caused any problems. 

The pattern calls for 5/8" seam allowances even though it's intended for a knit - I ended up using 3/8" in most seams except for bindings. It was very easy to make up but for a better result I should have used my walking foot on the neckline binding and on the hem of the inside skirt edge. Only after my twin needle stitching got a bit gathered did I bother to install the walking foot to help smooth things out for the outer skirt side hem as it's more visible, and I made sure to use it for the sleeve and skirt hem.

In a continuation of my border pattern woes I also couldn't get the sleeves quite balanced; I wanted to make a feature of the vertical design but didn't have enough fabric for them to be evenly centred. Oh well, it's not like anyone can ever see me from both sides at once!

 I didn't particularly enjoy making this if I'm honest. I think being disappointed with my pattern matching and cutting from the outset put me off, but I'm glad I experimented with using my high bust measurement as this has definitely produced a better fit. I often have gaping and too much space over my shoulders and have noticed this as a feature of most of the garments that I wore during Me-Made May, so I'm glad I've worked out how to fix it!

However I think I would make this pattern again, as it's a nice basic and will be quicker and easier now I have the adjustments sorted, especially if I make it in a solid fabric! I felt really good wearing this for photos and out for an evening of short films at Bafta the other night, although this clingy fabric does mean I need to be feeling pretty body confident to wear it!

What are your favourite wrap dress patterns? What is the secret to success with border prints?!

NorseOtter xx


  1. Your dress is fabulous, and I love that print!

  2. So much fun with this fabric and styling ;o) I think the secret to border prints, or large prints, is lots of yardage. I'm guilty of buying conservatively and always having the extra stress of trying to layout pieces in a way that makes me happy!