Allie Olson Highlands Wrap Dress

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This is a rescue project. It got tossed into the infamous bin twice. I think of it as another nod to my persistence and reluctance to give up 🙂

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This woven wrap dress was part of Allie’s 2017 summer collection, but I just caught on recently when I joined the Indiesew community. My experience with knit wrap dresses has been disappointing, so I was very happy to find one for woven fabrics. Inspiration – Check out the lovely and spirited version by Sue at Colourful Canvas. I love it!

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I had a nice rayon challis in my stash, one with a vertical pattern, that I chose for my muslin. Not my favorite colors, but, it’s a muslin and a vertical element is proof of the pudding. Plus I wanted to try it out with a lightweight fabric.

Challis is shifty, but I was very careful to pin the selvedges and folds to my cutting board, intending to best the fabric. And I’m pretty happy with my drafting and cutting workout (which followed an entire day of taping the 64 pages of the PDF pattern).

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So why a rescue? Because when I had most of the dress assembled and tried it on, the front edges, where they connect to the side seams, fell about 3″ below my waistline, both sides, and both fronts were off vertical. Plus, I was left with a big gaping upper front bodice. That was the first time this dress was binned.

I slept on it, thought about it, and decided to hike up that front edge to see if it would help. Yes! I took about 3″ of the lower edge into a fold. If you look at the pic above, you can see that this brought the vertical elements of my fabric in alignment.  But it was not fun.

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As consolation, I recalled that the wrap dresses I tried in the past all had gathers or folds in this area. Example, Vogue 8379.

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Back to happiness, the back is so pretty.

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Sewing notes:

  • Based on Allie’s sizing, I drafted the size 8. Since she drafts for a 5’6″, B-cup model, I didn’t make any changes to the length or the position of the bust darts.
  • The pattern comes with 3/8″ seam allowances, but I drafted mine with 5/8″ allowances. No way am I going to deal with linen or challis with such a narrow allowance.
  • A minor change, I trimmed 1/4″ off the front facings. These are topstitched in place, and I thought the 1 3/8″ facing was a bit much.
  • LOVELY mitered slits on the sides. Great drafting and instructions. I lowered my slits by 12.5″, since they are intended to be above the knee. Nope!

mitered slit

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  • The length of the ties is perfect! Because challis is so light, I did not trim the seam allowances inside the ties. I wanted enough weight that the ties would not collapse.

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  • The back waistband is inspired. With just a touch of elastic (I used 7/8″ wide knit elastic), it’s a nice design element that provides ease without a bunch of gathered fuss. Did I mention that the sleeves are also perfect?

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After all that enthusiasm, will I sew it again? No. The second bin event was to trash the pattern, instructions, and all that taped paper. I did save a few elements: the sleeve, back waistband, mitered hem, and ties.

I’m really glad I persisted, because this dress caused me enough angst that I browsed my patterns. I want a woven wrap dress this summer. And found a great one, sewn twice in 2012, and actually a vintage housedress pattern, that I can adapt.

Bye for now! Coco

8 thoughts on “Allie Olson Highlands Wrap Dress

  1. Thank you for pointing me toward a woven maxi which I MIGHT have fallen for. Life is too short for fiddling with problems in the draft.

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  2. Well, all I can say is that the hassle may have been frustrating but the end result is a definite success, it fits lovely and is so pretty. I admire your persistence, I’m such a quitter when things go wrong and it’s inspiring to see how you problem solved and won out in the end.

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  3. The silhouette is really lovely- long skirts suit you so well! Sounds like it was a frustrating project though. The elastic in the waistband would have put me off but I’ve read a few reviews of this one and everyone who’s made this says what a good idea it is.

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  4. Excellent save! Very elegant look. I think I need a maxi in my life. Of course, since I’m 5’2” it will take some magic to match your look here.

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  5. Wrap dresses can be such beasts when it comes to fitting!! It’s ironic…generally speaking they are pretty quick to sew…but, like bras, the fitting can be fussy and you kinda have to finish the garment before you know if the effort was worth it.

    I too love the mitered corners on the hem. I’ve already used the technique on a Charlie Caftan. And who’d-a-thunk that the sleeves would be so perfect. (They are!) I will try 7/8″ elastic in the back waistband next time I make one.

    Your finished make looks lovely. That being said, I totally get it….if it doesn’t fit well in the bodice, the enthusiasm to sew another is gone.

    I am looking forward to seeing the vintage housedress pattern.

    Thanks for the shout out Coco!

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