A Wrap at Last

1 Lea Wrap Dress by Stylearc Patterns The wrap dress appeared on my radar some ten years ago when Boden started making them in their beautifully-coloured print jerseys.  I’d have bought one but they were expensive.  Besides, I was wary of the style clinging to my mummy tummy – in fact, friends wore such dresses over pull-all-in jeans for the same reason.  I instead picked a sewing pattern for a faux-wrap that most closely resembled the style but was rather underwhelmed by the results.

As the years went by, my mummy tummy went while many not-quite-it sewing patterns for wrap dresses became available as something of a revival ensued.  I discovered that the designer who’d popularized the dress in the 1970s, Diane Von Furstenberg, had once produced a sewing pattern for her iconic creation in collaboration with Vogue. Lea Stylearc Pattern envelopeThese are much sought-after and crop up on Ebay from time to time: once again, out of my price range.  Then Stylearc Lea came along: so slinky, simple, sexy.  And so affordable!  £8, plus £6 for the 2 metres of fabric.  And so quick to make, and that’s including the time for the pattern to be flown over from Australia!!  Finally!

Stylearc Lea Side and Back

Fabric: Goth-friendly, tye-dye lightweight jersey from Simply Fabrics with a 30% stretch, meaning a 10cm square will stretch to 13cm.  But it doesn’t give easily.  My guess is it’s all cotton.

1 InstructionsLikes: a very easy make, cut from a few pattern pieces.  Two of the strip-like pieces you see on the right are meant for paper only, not fabric: they’re a sizing guide for the neckline so that you can check if it’s stretched out of shape in handling.  But my biggest like is the 70s vibe of this, with the big collar and hip-skimming silhouette.1 Collar

Size: If you’re unfamiliar with Stylearc patterns, they come in one size only, the size you order.  Which means you can’t make this for your mama, your papa and your sister too (and they will all want one).  I bought a 10.  The fit is just right; with none of that ease I’ve come to expect from other patterns.

1 cutting cuffsModifications: I added cuffs  Their finished height is 7cm but I now see that 5-6cm would be more in proportion.  If you need a turnback cuff tutorial, I’ve written one here for a woven fabric which should give you an idea of how to attach; for a jersey cuff, use 4cm binding strips folded to 2cm instead of facing.  Also, I shortened one of the ties to 75cm (from 100cm).

Dislikes: to admit to any dislikes would just be ungrateful, wouldn’t it?  Let’s just call them…. reservations:

Well, firstly, buy a bit more fabric than advised on the envelope if you have pattern-matching, just to be on the safe side.

1 Tie attachmentThe ties are a good inch higher than my natural waist which makes the dress feel small.  But to lower position of the ties would also lower the line of the v and be more exposing.  Wrap dresses are notorious for being revealing which is why in all of these big pictures, I’m wearing a pin.  Except this one: Lea, Without pin

I guess this style just isn’t for shrinking violets.

Finally, the small seam allowances.  0.6cm doesn’t give you any leeway if the dress is too small in places and it meant I couldn’t use my Elna overlock stitch as the fabric disappeared into the throat plate.  Instead I used a straight stitch with zigzag to finish/reinforce and it worked just fine.

I have yet to wear this out but my loved ones harshest critics have given it a thumbs up so provided this skimpy number manages to contain me, it might even make it into my all-time top 10!

Lea Stylearc in Tye Dye Jersey

25 thoughts on “A Wrap at Last

  1. You look absolutely lovely in this. Great fit and I love the sleeve length.

    It’s funny – I gave away all but two of my DVF vintage wrap dresses just this weekend because I haven’t worn them in years, mostly because the colours and patterns didn’t suit me particularly, they are not appropriate for my conservative office environment (I work in public finance and there is a lot of blue and grey suiting going on :)), but also because I am a shrinking violet when it comes to cleavage and I was always adjusting the wrap as a result. I love the dress and the style in general though, and one of the ones I kept is a 1970s one with a very 1970s collar. I wonder if I will wear it sometime.

    • Thanks Stephanie. What a coincidence, and shame you couldn’t make the dresses work though it must have been nice to have them in the collection.

      Public finance doesn’t sound like the best place to work if you love dressing interestingly. In the 90s I worked in the exact opposite environment, a theatre company where a memo went around telling employees to refrain from shorts which display a section of the buttocks (the underbum, I believe they now call it). And that was the blokes!

  2. Gorgeous. I love the style and fabric and you should be proudly out and about in this dress! Your hair is also looking fantastic. Go girl!

  3. I had a couple of the Boden wrap dresses – one in chocolate brown and the other in a teal blue and brown ‘cherries’ design. I did wear them a lot at first but, after quite a few years, came to find them too ‘heavy’ – I think they were good quality viscose which can feel a bit like that sometimes so I sold them on Ebay. I love your fabric! The collar is a nice touch.. I think you get away with the cuffs because of your fabric choice but, if it were slinkier fabric, I think the dress would be better without. I can see by your face that you are going to enjoy wearing this – will it be one of those dresses you want to make more of?

    • Oh definitely! I’m looking out for Aztec-print jersey for the next one.

      I imagine the dresses would have really suited you, the same way your own-made jersey dresses do. Sometimes viscose jersey also has a ‘cold’ feeling, doesn’t it? But isn’t it great how with Boden items you tend to get back some of the outlay as they always sell on Ebay!

  4. I must admit to reservations about the wrap style; too much exposure all round! But I guess with the right sort of slip they are fine. I like your version, lovely fabric and fits you perfectly. Great shoes too!

    • Thanks Jane; the shoes are something of a discovery. Yokono from Bullfrogs in Greenwich. I spotted them in the shop window from the other side of the road! I wouldn’t have bought them though if they weren’t so comfortable.

  5. Excellent match of pattern, fabric and sassy attitude. I still have several 70s tamed ripoff patterns of the DVF dresses; properly improper is better than overwrapped for this style.

  6. This one’s on my summer sewing list – love it! Yours looks really flattering and the fabric is just perfect. Does the front split open when you walk and sit?
    I like your cuffs too – makes it look like you’ve just rolled your sleeves up and are ready for business.

    Any idea why StyleArc have us cutting a single back piece instead of on the fold?

    • Now you mention it, there is the single back piece: I’ve two other woven patterns that came with Lea (one was free) so will look out for other Stylearc idiosyncrasies!
      And I’ll email you to warn you if the dress flaps open. So far I’ve only strolled in it in the ‘house and grounds’.

  7. Great that you have got such a good fit on this. It will be so easy to make another one now. I tend to buy my fabrics from Goldhawk Road or Walthamstow, but can’t always find good knit fabrics especially “prints”. The one you have used here looks really nice. Would you say Simply Fabrics is worth a trip. By the way if you want a faux wrap dress ( no problems with gaping) I found New Look 6097 to be successful.

    • Thanks for the tip Sheree: just looked up NL6097 and it seems very practical with a similar silhouette to this one.

      Goldhawk Road remains my favourite still, as there’s so much choice but I would say if you can get to Brixton cheaply, then yes, do pay SF a visit. I wouldn’t come expecting to find what you’re looking for but you’ll find something there that you want to take home. Also, bear in mind that there are two shops called Simply Fabrics a stone’s throw from each other. I wouldn’t like you to go to the one nearer the station and be disappointed; the jerseys are in the shop that’s a bit further.

      Also great for jerseys, sometimes: the Jeff Rosenberg’s travelling fabric show (he comes to Hayes in Kent which is very near me) or his ‘Stitch’ shop in Wanstead? I also love Rolls and Rems in Lewisham but didn’t see great jerseys there yesterday.

      The website for Jeff is http://www.stitchfabrics.co.uk/about and his travelling fabric show dates are on the top menu ‘events and roadshows’.

      • Thanks for such a detailed reply. I have been to the Jeff Rosenberg shows a couple of times and his shop once. He used to show at Ongar in Essex which is very close, but it seems that this is no longer on his list ( at least not for this year). Thanks for reminding me. Will venture also to Brixton as well.

  8. Love your version, the fit and the fabric are fabulous you should definitely wear it out. Jealous of the choices you have for fabric, it’s much harder here in Cumbria. I buy a lot on the internet but it means you do end up with quite a few flops!

  9. Hello
    I share the same problem with Stephanie ( a shrinking violet ) and that is my always adjusting the wrap to hide my modest cleavage. I have a beautiful Charles Tyrwhitt’s wrap dress tucked somewhere in the back of my wardrobe but can’t pluck up the courage to wear it.
    Gordana ( no longer a spring chicken )

  10. Woah! Super dress Marianna. I love the fabric and it just looks very streamlined and comfy and just right for a nice day. I personally love all the DVF looks – she does feminine jersey better than anyone I know of and generally gets fullness into the skirt with a slim fit at the top – ideal for pear shapes and hour-glass figures. The problem with the wrap around, for me, is the darn facings. They curl, flap and generally unravel whatever you do. This version avoids that to some extent.

    The other issue is how it fits over the bust and how much it reveals. A T shirt or camisole under is the best solution, especially as it is often cold in the UK. But in summer we want to wear it over skin. And any kind of surplice risks exposing the bra. I don’t really like having to wear a brooch or pin in a garment. I wonder if you or anyone else has a solution on this.

  11. Lovely. I had quite a few wrap dresses in my wardrobe until my latest clear out- still love ’em, but just not wearing them right now. I always wore a vest top underneath in matching/toning colours, which at least prevented TOO much bra exposure. They are a pain when you don’t feel in the mood to flash your drawers though, and you find yourself walking around gripping the skirt, which can give a bit of a Quasimodo effect. Hmmm. Big fan of Style Arc though…

    • Oh, you’re so right; I road-tested this dress the first time walking from the supermarket carpark and felt very exposed. Luckily I could put my bag over shoulder, messenger-style, which weighed it down! It’s a good idea to wear indoors only before progressing to windy, public spaces.

      Did you make your dresses or buy?

  12. I still haven’t found a wrap dress I like to wear. They look good on others and on paper but end up just too fiddling and high maintenance. But I keep buying them. Hope springs eternal. I love your fabric and yours fits splendid!!

    • Thanks Jilly.
      You’re right, I’m finding this ‘high maintenance’ too as I keep wearing it when the weather is prone to gusts of wind. But I love it, one of my favourites. The lovely jersey is prone to bobbling (already) where my bag rubs against me. Will have to remake soon!!

  13. Pattern arrived this morning with a bonus – a freeby, a box/Chanel type Jacket pattern. Now just have to find the material for the dress, thought I might use a coordinating plain colour for the collar, and cuffs if I add them.

    • Great idea, though avoid the following colour combinations: coffee/ochre/brown (barista) and blue and white (sailor/air hostess). These are mistakes I have made in the past!!!

      I can’t wait to see it.

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