There are certain garments that have many of us searching for ‘the one’ …. the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect bra, the perfect jacket that goes with *everything* …. I think this gets worse when you start making your own clothes! I am currently searching for the perfect dress. I haven’t done brilliantly at sticking to my resolution of wearing more dresses (in my defense .. it’s been a COLD winter) but I have been *thinking* about wearing more dresses! Obviously I’m not going to swan around the house in a fit-and-flare like Betty Draper, I work from home so often my daywear is scruffy to say the least, but if I can find a dress that is comfortable and casual enough and doesn’t look like a sack I think I might make the effort …. so I am experimenting with wrap dresses. This iconic style, usually attributed to Diane von Furstenberg, seems to tick all the boxes; it’s stretchy (so comfy) it’s adaptable (long sleeves, short sleeves, knee length, long etc) it’s tie fastening gives it a casual and beachy feel but in a fancy fabric it can look glam and sexy plus it’s easy to fit. There are lots of wrap dress patterns on the market and so far I’ve tried these two. In the photos they look very similar but there are several subtle differences.
The first is Butterick B5454. This may be a vintage pattern, I think I got it off ebay and the models and illustrations look ever so slightly retro.
I was attracted to this one because of the bell shaped sleeves (my 70’s soul again) but in the end I didn’t do those sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric ( I don’t know what possessed my to buy the jersey fabric I used … my two worst colours to wear are black and yellow) but it was a good test of the fit and technique.
The second pattern is the Style Arc Kate dress. I really like Style Arc – I don’t mind the two week wait for the delivery from Australia (you can buy them in .pdf format on Etsy but they are so reasonably priced that even with the postage I think it’s worth not having to do all that sellotaping!) The patterns are really modern and cute (although I find it a leeedle bit cheesy that they copy all of Kate Middleton’s dresses with such pride, I’m a bit embarrassed that this is advertised as her ‘engagement dress’ haha!)
Both of these fabrics are from Girl Charlee who only recently opened up a UK online shop – and they’re fab! Loads of choice, really quick delivery, good info on the site and regular special offers. The black and yellow flowers is cotton/rayon/spandex and is lovely and smooth and flowey. The green one is advertised as a ‘Cotton Jersey Poly Blend’ and is soft but not too stretchy.
The thing I like most about the Style Arc pattern is the instruction to put swimwear elastic all around the neckline hem. This makes it sit really nice and flat and and not gape at all. (It was a bit of a faff to put in but really worth it I think)
The Kate dress ties at the back whereas the Butterick wraps all the way around to tie at the side.
The Kate dress has gathers where the tie is inserted and although this means you don’t get a streamlined look in the front I think it’s a nice design flourish. It also has optional gathers at the bottom of the sleeves.
Weirdly, as I’m posting these pictures I really thought I preferred the Kate dress but now I’m not sure…. it definitely fits better at the shoulders but maybe the narrower skirt is more flattering?
The construction of both is very similar as you can imagine and I’m sure you can mix and match elements from both. I didn’t use the Vilene suggested in the Style Arc instructions, I read some reviews from other sewists who didn’t use it and it was OK.
I wore the Kate dress on a night out this week and it was super comfy, warm (because of the long sleeves) and got some compliments. I will never wear the Butterick dress out because it’s black with massive yellow gerberas all over it and looks like a 1960’s dressing gown (imho)
Which one do you like best?