I couldn’t resist purchasing the Pattern Emporium Follow Me Wrap Dress when it first released, even though I am not a flounce or ruffles kind of girl. A girly girl, absolutely! I love dresses and all sorts of womanly things. But frills, flounces and ruffles? Not my gig. The pattern includes a plain wrap version, and four lengths from mini to below knee. But the flounce version just spoke to me, and I knew a knee length sleeveless dress would be the most worn.
When I traced the pattern in my size, I originally added 2″ to the length of the skirt because a lot of my height is in my legs. And I wanted it a flattering knee length that could also be worn to church. Then I tried laying the pattern out. No matter how hard I tried to Tetris the pattern pieces, I could not make them fit on a two yard cut of fabric. After debating whether to skip the flounce, and deciding not to, I set the pattern aside for a while.
Most of the knit fabric in my stash is a one or two yard cut, depending upon the weight and intended use of the fabric. I could have just ordered two and a half yards of fabric, but I prefer to place a larger fabric order to save on shipping costs. Then the pandemic hit, and I kind of lost the desire to sew for myself. I made masks for family members, and found sewing joy making clothes for my granddaughters. It was fun to upcycle unworn clothing and to use some of the older fabric in my stash to make cute toddler and baby clothes. Finally, it sounded fun to sew something pretty for myself.
So I pulled out the pattern and decided to just go for it as written. I cut the added length off the traced skirt pieces, and kept the only other pattern alterations. The seam on the back bodice bugged me, so I folded over the center back seam allowance and cut the piece on the fold instead. To slightly widen the straps, the low round neckline was traced and cut one size smaller than the rest of the pattern.
The ingenious design of the wrap means that even when taking a walk along the windy shoreline, I didn’t have to worry about accidental undie exposure. The wrap crosses over far enough that even when the top panel is lifted by the wind, you still have full frontal coverage.
The dress feels fun and flirty, sexy and yet modest. You can also increase the modesty factor by using the higher neckline, and adding the cap, short, flounce, or long sleeves. The below knee length would change the look as well.
The dress was sewn entirely on my serger, and the actual sewing time was much faster than the pinning time! 🙂 It takes more than a minute to pin all that flounce to the bottom of the skirt. But it is such a fun touch that I definitely plan to use it on the next one. I also figured out a way to make hemming the flounce simple and easy.
Although you may be tempted to skip hemming, especially when using a high quality knit that doesn’t curl, if I’ve taken the time to sew a nice garment, you can bet that I’m going to finish it off nicely! Hemming curved skirts, or in this case a very curved flounce can be challenging. When you pin the hem up, there’s all this extra fabric (due to the curve) and it can get “bunchy” and wrinkly. But, if you serge along the bottom edge of the hem or flounce, and up the differential feed, it will very neatly, slightly “gather” the edge. I upped the differential to 1.3 on my machine, which is one click up from N(eutral) on most of the curve. On the more curved ends, I upped it to 1.5, which is two clicks up.
As you can see on this inside view of the flounce, I used a four-thread overlock stitch. The darker gray thread is my overlock, and the light gray thread is the looper thread of the coverstitched hem. On the bottom left where the flounce has a slighter curve the 1.3 differential made slight gathers. At the center bottom where the curve is sharper, upping the differential to 1.5 kind of gathered it a bit more, while still keeping the fabric smooth and unwrinkled. All I had to do at that point was take it over to my ironing board and press the hem up into place. I used a few clips to keep it in place while the fabric cooled, but it was super easy to coverstitch (or topstitch with a single or twin needle if you don’t have a coverstitch machine) at that point.
Once you start playing with a coverstitch, you tend to coverstitch everything. The binding at the neckline and armscye was coverstitched, the hem was coverstitched, and the seam where the flounce was attached to the skirt got coverstitched. I did not coverstitch the waist seam, because who wants to draw attention to that area? 😉
Technically, this is my “muslin” or “toile”, as I went straight to my nice nylon/spandex tricot from Phee Fabrics, rather than making a test garment. But I know that Pattern Emporium patterns are a good fit with only minor tweaking for my body shape. And sewing with high quality fabric is so much easier than wasting time with flimsy fabric.
I really like my dress, but as with every garment I make, I’d like to perfect it. I’m thinking of raising the waist seam on the next one by approximately 1″ to hit closer to my natural waist. I’m also considering going down a size in the bodice, but doing a full bust adjustment to address the wrinkling across the bust and pulling up into the armpit area. Should I add an inch of length to the skirt to make up for the inch I plan to take out of the bodice? Do you think I’m on the right track with a smaller size and FBA?
Because I need more of these easy breezy summer dresses! Hmmmm, maybe some soft rayon spandex for the next one?
I hope you have found your sewing joy. But if you’re struggling, take the time to breathe deeply, then dive back in to a project that sounds fun to you. ❤