#sewtogetherforthesummer – Erica from Seamwork

Well, after leaving things till the 11th hour, I finally got my act together and made a wrap dress for the #sewtogetherforthrsummer sewing event.

I had started out nice and early, picking and buying the Orsola pattern from By Hand London way back in April. I made a proper toile (go me!), marked it up and adjusted the pattern, made a second toile of the bodice. And then stopped. I don’t really know why. A combination of other things jumping the queue that I wanted to sew more or needed sooner, plus a feeling that the Orsola just might not be the best pattern for me. So time ticked on, I occasionally popped onto Instagram and saw beautiful wrap dresses appearing in abundance, but still couldn’t motivate myself to make my proper Orsola.

(Look, an actual muslin! Which is as far as my Orsola got)

Ah well, I thought, I’ll join in properly next year, best laid plans and all that.

But then at the weekend I saw the message that there were five days to go till #sewtogetherforthesummer ended. More stunning wrap dresses adorned my Instagram feed. I thought sod it, I’ll just choose another dress.

After a bit of searching I found a fab looking wrap dress which had floaty frill around it, view C of McCall’s 7745:

That looked more the ticket, the extra bit of detail that I felt I needed. As an hourglass shape wrap dresses really should work on me. But so often I find they make me look all pointy and even larger busted, as a result of the position where the crossover sits. Or they just feel a bit plain. Or they don’t give enough definition just above the waist, which is my smallest bit. Or they gape. And the list goes on.

But that is the point of sewing of course, to learn to make (and adapt) the right pattern in the way that fits me and deals with all of these things.

The problem was that having left it so late, the M7745 pattern being hard copy only, wouldn’t arrive in time. Boo. (Of course I ordered it anyway to make another time 😁)

So plan B (actually we are up to plan C now, aren’t we) was to use one of my Seamwork credits on the PDF Erica dress.

I didn’t want the midi length though, or long sleeves, but these are easy enough to change.

I also needed to do a full bust adjustment and decided to do this by leaving in the dart, in the hope this would give the shaping that works best for my figure.

Finally, a sway back adjustment and a small bit of grading out at waist and hips and my list of pattern adjustments was complete.

When it came to the sewing, there are a few more fiddly-ish details for the Erica than a ‘standard’ jersey sew. The method for sewing the neckline involves sewing elastic to the finished seam allowance of the neckband piece before it is sewn to the dress. I gave it a go but am not sure I will do it this way again. I would probably use clear elastic next time and serge / overlock it straight on when sewing, to save a step or three. Or just use the method for attaching the neckband on the Coppelia cardy (Papercut Patterns) where you stretch the band slightly as you sew it on, which has the same effect of stopping gaping at the neckline.

I also made a couple of annoying mistakes when sewing this dress, probably related to the aforementioned 11th hour! I realized that I had sewn one set of the front neckband pieces to the back neckband with the shaping swooping outwards rather than the horseshoe shape it should be. I had to unpick and resew that. I also cut and sewed the waist hole bit on both sides of the bodice rather than just the one. Sigh. More unpicking using a larger seam allowance when sewing that seam to get around the superfluous snip I had made up to the circle on that side.

But once all assembled at last, I tried it on. And it looked awful. Possibly as a result of my FBA on a wrap piece not being done the right way (I winged it 🤣) or just the pattern needing further adjustment for my shape, there was a huge flappy pouchy bit hanging down from the bodice between bust and waist. Not flattering at all.

In an attempt to fix this and save the dress I pinched out and pinned two waist darts and also the excess bit of bodice fabric along the waist line. I basted them to see if they were roughly right (by this stage “finished and wearable” was all I was aiming for!), tweaked them a bit more then sewed them up.

Unsurprisingly, given that I made these last changes once the dress was already sewn up (save for the hemming), the fit still isn’t quite right but it’s not bad and I think this dress will still be useful as a functional work dress.

Here are a few photos of the finished article:

And I may try this pattern again once I’ve fully worked out (and worked on) the problems with the bodice.

But what I am really looking forward to is my floaty frilly pattern arriving!

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