SEWING A JERSEY WRAP DRESS WITH SO WHAT IF I SEW
Hello! I’m Jess from So What If I Sew and I am a blogger, youtuber and instagrammer of all things sewing and stitch related. This is my first blog post for The Rag Shop and today I’m going to take you with me on an epic sewing journey as we make a wrap dress from the most stunning bright yellow viscose jersey courtesy of The Rag Shop. Its sunshine yellow with white spots and little blue flowers and honestly the second I saw this fabric on Instagram I knew I had to get some! And when Steph asked me if I wanted to do a blog post I almost actually yelled “yes” out loud on the train. Now I’ll tell you a secret, I’ve actually never sewn with viscose jersey and this make was certainly an experience. On the one hand it flowed through the machine absolutely beautifully on the other hand using it to make bias binding was a very tricky task as it’s so lightweight.
The Wrap Dress pattern I’ve used is from The Great British Sewing Bee book, “Sew Your Own Wardrobe”. It’s a simple pattern designed for light to moderate stretch fabrics, no complicated techniques and if you were in a hurry you could probably make it in half a day, what’s not to love! I’ve had my eye on this pattern for a long time and I’m so happy I’ve finally had the time and the fabric to make it. As with every garment I make, I wanted to ensure it has the maximum number of uses so this dress has to transition well between seasons and it’s got to be work appropriate. In the summer this yellow jersey will look bright and feel great in the sun, in the winter I can wear it with tights and for work I have a blue blazer exactly the same colour as the blue accent flowers in the fabric.
This first thing I would like to highlight is that the sizes in this book are completely mad. Normally I am a size 8/10 and then I add a bit of space for the bust however with this pattern I’ve come up between a 12 and 14. I decided to grade between the two sizes giving myself a 14 in the top down to the 12 at my waist and hips and I’ve used a 12 in the back as well. I want this dress to be form-fitting but not too tight so I’ve worked hard to make the grade as seamless as possible and it has come out well. In future I think I would actually go down two sizes and grade between a 10 and a 14 for the top and do a 10 everywhere else. The pattern block for these books has quite a long torso, or at least it does compared to me, so going forward this is something I will take into account. Pattern cutting with viscose jersey was a little frustrating as it moves so much under the scissors. I rang my mum to complain about this and she suggested that in future I place the viscose jersey on a towel as the pile will keep the fabric in place. A bit late for me but I tested it with some scrap fabric and it works really well so good advice for anyone wanting to take on a new project with viscose jersey!
Garment construction was an absolute dream, this pattern is very simple and the fabric slides through the machine easily. There’s always a concern with jersey that it will stretch as you sew it but I found this fabric easy to work and with good recovery. I used standard Gutermann thread(417) and a ballpoint needle with an ordinary straight stitch. The first step is to sew the box pleats into the front wrap top pieces then attach the fronts of the tops to the back leaving a small gap which is reinforced for the waist tie to pass through. At this stage I quickly tried on the top to ensure the fit and I was really impressed, it’s a comfortable and flattering fit and it’s the perfect length for my torso. Then it’s the same steps for the skirt, sew the box pleats into the front and back of the skirt pieces then attach. Finally attach the top and skirt together and you have the shell of your dress. It really is that simple, I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to sew their first stretch garment.
The final stages are to enclose all of the front raw edges with visible bias binding made from the same fabric and tuck the raw edges of the waist ties into the waist seams so they are enclosed. This stage I found tricky as it can be hard to cut bias binding evenly and it slipped around constantly but I think that is more down to my inexperience with stretch bias binding than it is the fabric itself. However as bias binding is definitely not my best friend , this is still an achievement, even if it is a touch messy!
I’m proud of the final result and I learnt a lot from this make. I learnt that viscose jersey is gorgeous to sew with but a pain to cut. I’ve also found just using this fabric generally a pleasure, it’s so sunny that it brightens up the room when I take it out of the project bag. This blog and the accompanying vlog are not just a sew-a-long but also a bit of a hymn to bright colours. It’s fun to sew something bright now and then, it’s the reason we sew our own clothes, to make things that are uniquely ours and that reflect our personality. The fact is, I won’t find another dress like this anywhere. In my opinion, yellow is a deeply misunderstood colour. Personally I find myself feeling more positive and genuinely just smiling more when I wear a sunshine yellow and right now, even if I just wear to work from home, anything that lifts spirits sounds good to me! Now I’m off to find an excuse to wear this dress outside, thank you for joining me and check out my vlog over on the So What If I Sew YouTube channel to find out more about my making journey for this dress. You can also find me on Instagram @sowhatifisew and if you just can’t wait to read more blogs from me then head to sowhatifisew.co.uk!
Looking for the Viscose Jess has used? You can find it here!
Check out Jess' Vlog here!