Tutorial: Wrapping up a Wrap Dress

As promised, here is a tutorial on how to make your very own wrap dress. This is the final dress but you can make it your own depending on your fabric choice and sleeves/cut/length preferences.

Project: The Wrap Dress

Materials:

  • 2 metres 60″ width fabric ( I recommend using jersey knits or other stretchy fabric with good drape)
  • matching thread

Skills: Intermediate

  • Bodice drafting
  • Sleeves drafting and construction
All the pieces you need to make a Wrap Dress

Construction:

Step 1. Draft the front and back bodices.

If you don’t have a basic bodice sloper yet, you should really consider making one.  Drafting your own bodice takes time and patience but having one will make your sewing life so much easier. For a complete guide on drafting your own bodice sloper, please click here. For now, since we are working with jersey knit which doesn’t require darts to adhere to the human form, you may use a fitted top that fits you like a glove. Trace the front and back patterns onto a large craft paper or old newspapers, as I do. Include a 1 cm seam allowance.

I made a few bodice blocks when I started sewing but for this project, I used my latest version drafted using Dennic Chunman Lo’s Pattern Cutting. This book is a must for every seamstress out there, novice or otherwise.

Measure a slightly curved diagonal line from the point where neck and shoulder meet to side of the waist (left or right, depending on where you want the knot closure to sit). Cut along this line. The photo below (right) shows the front and back bodice blocks.

Back and front bodice blocks

Step 2. Cut out the skirt parts (no pattern required).

With bias-cut designs, it is important to find the true bias grain when cutting the fabric (see diagram below).

Grains and Selvedges

We need to cut three pieces of fabric for our skirt – two front pieces and one for the back.

  • Fold your fabric along the bias (45 degrees) and again until you end up with a cone shape, as shown below. Divide your waist measurement by 4 and plot it on the cone piece as shown by the slightly curved red line. Measure down to your desired length as shown by the yellow line and across your hem width as shown by the blue line. Cut along the red and the blue lines.
The skirt cone
  • Open up your skirt cone and cut in half. These two pieces will form the front skirt panels of the dress. Use one piece as guide to cut out the back skirt panel.
Front skirt panels. A third one should be cut for the back skirt panel.

Step 3. Cut the bodice.

Transfer your pattern to fabric and cut out the following:

  • Front bodice : cut 2 pieces (arranged to form the whole front bodice at the bottom)
  • Back bodice   : cut 1 piece   (shown on top)

Tip: When cutting the front bodice, fold the fabric right sides together and lay the paper pattern on top. Pin and cut through the two layers. This saves time and ensures that your two pieces are identical, with right sides facing the right way.

Back (top) and front bodices

Step 4. Draft and cut out the sleeves.

A sleeve block is another weapon you should have in your sewing arsenal. Like the bodice block, drafting a sleeve sloper requires time and patience but well worth the effort. For a complete guide on drafting sleeve slopers, please click here.

The Sleeves

Step 5. Join the bodices to the skirts.

Stitch the bodices to the skirts at the waist. You should have three dress panels – 2 front, 1 back.

From left to right: The left front panel, left and right front panels together, and the back panel

Step 6. Stitch panels together.

Join the front panels to the back panels at the shoulders and along the sides, leaving a gap for the wrap-around belt to go through. The gap is located at the side waist, opposite where the knot closure would be. Secure this gap by stitching around it.

Forgive the wobbly stitches! Make yours straighter, please….
Front and back panels are stitched together to form the dress

Step 7. Make belt straps and attach to dress.

Cut a strip of fabric with the following dimensions:

  •  4 inches wide
  •  length:  measure from the side waist (where the hole for the belt strap is) and go around your waist twice, ending up where the knot closure would be + 17 inches allowance for the knot. Mine was 64 inches long.
  • Snip one short edge to form an open triangle. Make a tube of the fabric by folding it in half lengthwise and stitching along the edges, leaving one short edge open. Turn the tube right side out through that opening.

Cut another strip 4 inches wide and 18 inches long. Make a tube using the steps above.

Belt straps

Attach belt straps to dress as shown below:

The long and short of it

Step 8. Facing.

Measure along the front edges of the dress from the hem, around the neck, all the way to the other hem. Cut a strip of fabric with length equal to that measurement x 2 inches width. This will be your facing.

We will now attach our facing to the dress. Please refer to the photos below:

Attaching the facing

Results!

The finished edges, right sides and on the reverse

Step 9. Attach the sleeves.

Refer to the photos below to complete this step:

Steps in attaching the sleeves

The finished sleeves:

Sleeves hemmed and finished

Step 10. Finish the hem.

All that needs to be done is the hem. You may finish the dress with a rolled hem or simply fold the hem twice into the wrong side and do a straight stitch. As I didn’t have my overlocker when I made this, I opted for the latter.

Hem finished with a not-so-straight stitch
The finished dress

———————————————————————–END OF TUTORIAL——————————————————————-

Ta-daaaa!!!! Your very own wrap dress! Wear and work it!

Happy stitching and see you next time!

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