My Maria Denmark Rachel Wrap Dress

There hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on recently, we’ve been doing some rather extensive decorating and even though I’d hoped to get a bit of sewing time in, the house has been so full of stuff there’s not been much room to manoeuvre. Coupled with every spare moment spent with a paintbrush my me time has been seriously reduced and my stress levels have been conversely elevated!

One thing I did manage to complete was the Rachel wrap dress from Maria Denmark, I’d cut this out before the decorating but then had to abandon it:

This jersey dress features a plunging neckline, that hugs the body due to the wide ribbing, cut shorter than the neckline. It has short or elbow length sleeves and ties, you can tie around the waist or at the side.

With no darts or special details, this is a relatively fast and easy dress to sew. You can make it today and wear it tomorrow!

Make your dress in a dark wool-blend jersey for wearing with tights and boots in the colder months, and make a short sleeved version in a brightly coloured rayon-jersey to wear with great heels for the summer wedding, you are going to.

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This is the third of pattern of Maria’s I’ve tried (The Edith blouse and the Kimono tee being the others) I was keen to try another knit dress as I wanted a bit of a variation from my Lady skaters. The fabric I used was a Liberty Jersey, it was a factory second from Ebay and a third of the price of its usual selling price. The only fault I found was a slight mis-print on part of the selvedge. This was the first time I’d sewn with Liberty Jersey, they have different weights and compositions (the full selection can be seen here) this one was a Clarendon which is medium weight and quite stable. My hopes for it were high as it pre-washed lovely.

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The size range is broad, going from a 34 inch bust up to a 54 which is a 47 ½ inch bust, 41inch waist and 50 ½ inch hip.   I cut a size 44 and did a 4 inch FBA following Maria’s tutorial for doing a full bust adjustment on a knit dress. I used nearly 3 metres of fabric (and made a matching headband with some of the leftovers, then decided it was too much!)

The Liberty was lovely to work with and the construction is straightforward and quick to sew up. I only made one deviation; Maria instructs you to sew the right side of the dress (The side with the opening for the tie to pass through) on a regular sewing machine and back tack at either side of the opening. My waist is the main stress area in any garment, expanding throughout the day due to lunch, sneaky chocolate eating and an apparent hereditary water retention problem (diagnosed by my mother who kindly told me I was getting to ‘that age’) I’m also not 100% confident with the stretch stitch on my new machine as I’ve had a couple of stitches pop on previous garments. Instead I overlocked the edges of the opening, then overlocked the sleeve and bodice seam above and the skirt seam below, I opened out the seam allowance and stitched it all down. It’s now thoroughly secure and should withstand a lot of abuse.

 

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One thing to watch out for is the first step, which is to attach the ties to the neckband and then set them aside. I didn’t have a problem with my muslin but I had to shorten the neckband on the Liberty as it didn’t stretch tight enough, I think this is purely down to a difference in the amount of stretch but I would recommend waiting until the dress is constructed and just checking the length before attaching the ties.

The neckband is stretched as you would with a normal knit neckband until a point just above the bust, then the bit between there and the waist is stretched to the limit which makes the fit around the bust very secure with no chance of gaping.

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I’ve never sewn a wrap dress before and the finished silhouette is a bit of a departure from my usual style but I quite like it and feel strangely ‘grown up’ wearing it. I was initially a bit unsure about the boobiness of it but had to keep reminding myself that as I was looking down I had a birds eye view. I have worn a camisole underneath but I wanted to show you the dress in its natural state! It’s been great to wear with sandals, especially as the great British summer has provided the need for sleeves but I think this dress is really going to come into its own during the cooler months, it’s perfect for layering and will be great with boots and a cardigan. It’ll be a good alternative to my ladyskaters, I’ve already got another more autumnal version in the queue with more bargain bagged liberty jersey!

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Spots, Stripes and a Plantain Dress

There’s a bit of a theme going on with today’s post. These co-ordinating spots and stripes were part of my (quite extensive) haul from the recent Leeds meet up. I bought a metre and a half of each, I’d been planning a Breton Deer and Doe Plantain for a while so navy and white stripes were high on my shopping list. Leeds market is so good for fabric, I overdid it a bit but compared to the limited choice I have at home it was a matter of ‘get it while I can’. I kept asking myself ‘will I regret it if I don’t get it?’ the answer always seemed to be yes but I’m pleased I didn’t leave any of them behind!

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Anyway the Plantains were made exactly the same as my others, I think I have eleven now!

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I’ve been wanting to try the Maria Denmark Kimono Tee pattern for a while. The pattern is free when you sign up to her newsletter. I had a little under half a metre of each fabric left and just managed to squeeze the pattern on. The neckline is finished with either self binding or fold over elastic. I’d run out of fabric and didn’t have any FOE so I just turned the neckline and sleeves over twice and stitched them in place with a twin needle.

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The Plantains will of course get a lot of wear, they are perfect with jeans and a cardie for work, which is probably why I’ve made so many. I’m so pleased I got around to trying the Kimono tees though, they’re perfect little tops to wear with a skirt, something I realise my wardrobe is lacking. I will definitely be making more, especially as they use so little fabric and are such a quick make.

I wanted to make a dress out of the red stripy Ponte but couldn’t decide on a pattern. I contemplated making a Lady Skater but the curve of the waist would make the stripes off balance so that plan was shelved. As the Plantain fitted so well around the top I thought I’d have a go at lengthening it into a dress.

There isn’t any rhyme or reason to the following measurements, I just traced the original pattern and added a bit. I posted a picture on Instagram and was asked what I’d done so I’ve gone back, measured and taken a couple of photos and I’m hoping it makes sense!

I wanted more of a boatneck so raised the neckline by 8cm and reduced the width of the shoulders by 3cm.

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I lengthened the centre front and centre back by 24cm and followed the curve of the side seam down until it was 37cm from the centre. I also curved the hem slightly, the same as the original pattern.  I made the same adjustments to the back piece (but didn’t alter the back of the neckline)

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I added patch pockets using my trusty cardboard template and sewed the pockets on first. Once I’d sewn the shoulder seams I decided to take another inch off to widen the neckline a little more. I constructed the dress the same as the original pattern.

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I was a bit unsure whether it would work but once finished I tried it on and did a little happy dance! Like the tee, it fits perfectly around the shoulders and bust before gently skimming over the lumpy bits, the perfect little knit dress! I think it comes into the secret pyjama category as well as it’s so comfortable, without any restrictions around the waist.

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I think next time I will have a play around with the neckline, raising it higher and taking a bit more off the shoulder seams, just to make it more of a boatneck. There’s also the opportunity to vary the sleeve length which will make it useful for the cooler months.

So that’s all the tweaking that’s been going on. I’ve been planning to tweak the Deer and Doe Bruyere into a shirt dress since I made the original, I’ve got the fabric (a blue/grey Chambray) contrasting Liberty for the pockets and facings, I’ve even got the buttons and the top stitching thread but the poor thing just keeps getting bumped. Now I’ve got a stash of shiny new fabric I think it,ll be waiting a little longer. So much to sew – so little time!