Thursday, May 04, 2017

Simplicity 8186: Dottie Angel Wrap Dress

I'm always on the lookout for a good wrap dress. I've made some spectacular fails (now living as quilts or skirts) so I approached this pattern with caution.

I'll skip to the end--it made a very nice garment. No facings or collar, and very simple styling, which is just what I like. 


Oh my word, as my niece would say. This was the poorest pattern ever. 

1. The front of the bodice at the shoulder is ruched, and has a rectangle of fabric stitched on behind it as a stay. Three of the stay's edges are hidden in other seams. But the fourth, free-floating edge? You are never instructed to finish it. Folks, finish it.

2. The ruching is formed by running several rows of gathering threads across the piece of fabric, and then topstiching over them. The gathers begin and end in plain sight--they are not hidden in a seam. And yet the pattern does not instruct you (as it should) to leave long tails on your threads, and thread them into a needle so you can pass them to the wrong side of the dress, tie them, and cut them off.

3. The bottom edge of the sleeve (where there would be a cuff) is pleated. Fair enough. But you are just supposed to baste the pleat down at the raw edge, then turn it under for its inch of hem. Don't do it! Topstitch the pleat down. You don't/ can't just turn a pleat over and hem it uncontrolled.

4. Last bit of nonsense: the front edge of the dress is finished with bias binding which is turned over to the wrong side and topstitched down. The pattern (ridiculously) has you understitch the seam allowance to the bias binding before turning and topstitching. This is totally unnecessary--understitching is for when you have a lining or facing that might want to roll to the right side, NOT for when you have a binding that will be stitched in place.

With those caveats, I recommend the pattern because it makes a nicely-shaped housedress. It doesn't need to look like the baggy garment the pattern cover shows--just choose a size that has the right amount of ease for you.


Anonymous said...

Oh my word - and - sakes alive, Anna.....where oh where did you learn all these things - a particular book? practical experiences? Oh, let me guess - both! I'm really asking, not just exclaiming. I bought this pattern but am in a season of no sewing. (long story) Do advise. Thanks. ~ Diane

Anna said...

Diane, it was from lots and lots of sewing. Particularly, sewing from 1940s patterns that also used ruching but instructed the user on proper finishing. When you do start sewing, I really do like the way the pattern turned out (with my tweaks).

Just Because said...

This is why I stopped making dresses. The patterns were not helpful enough or just plain wrong! My skills were not up to yours and I just did not know enough "fixes".

Wendy said...

Thank you, Anna, I have this pattern but haven't made it yet. Appreciate your expert sewing advice!!

jlknit said...

Please do show the finished product. I have this pattern but haven't attempted it yet. Thank you.

Judy said...

Dottie Angel first became well known for her bohemian style creativity - sewing for herself, and has transitioned into pattern making without a background of formal training in it, as I understand. It's a little surprising to find her working for Simplicity. I'm not sure if she, or a behind the scenes pattern maker is responsible for taking her idea and sending it out into the world as a dress making pattern for the masses. Like you, I probably have enough sewing experience to make my way through to a properly finished garment, but many wouldn't, which makes selling it seem unfair. So glad you persevered and are happy with the end result.

Corinna said...

That's a lot of corrections from a bought 'professional' pattern. I hardly ever look at instructions because my Grandmother and Mother taught me their tried and true methods of sewing and I have found often pattern instructions to be seriously lacking. It does make me wonder how beginning sewers manage to learn.

I'll just add that under stitching the bias binding to the seam allowance before turning it to the wrong side and topstitching down is something I always do. It is a fairly quick and simple process to under stitch and it makes the bias binding turn in and stay hidden on the inside very easily and neatly. Otherwise some fabrics can take a bit of pressing to make sure the bias is sitting nicely on the inside and not showing through on the outside. I notice that Grainline Studio also uses this method in her tutorials and I have found her patterns and techniques very well drafted and thought out.

I would also be very interested in your best patterns for a wrap dress. I remember you doing a post of your favourites a while back, would you still say they are your favourite dresses to wear? Which ones did you blog about that didn't wear very well? Please do tell so we can all learn from your sewing experiences.

Lisa said...

To hear you admit to spectacular fails is heartening, Anna. :D


Lisa said...

Corinna, when the biased edge is stitched down, it isn't really necessary to be understitching it - it's just an extra thing to be doing. But I'm sure you are a better sewist than I am! I am constantly doing dumb things (distraction) and having to fix them. :)


Corinna said...

Lisa, I agree completely that it isn't necessary to understich the bias when it is being topstitched down. It doesn't help hold the bias once the topstitching is completed. I'm very sorry if my comment wasn't clear and I didn't intend to contradict Anna's experiences with this pattern at all. I just personally find it easy to understich and by doing so the bias binding nearly always folds under nicely, creating a nice finish without wrinkles or having the bias showing through on the right side. But that's just my personal experience whereas before learning this technique I would avoid bias finished edges because I often struggled to get a nice finish.

And I'm sure every sewist (myself included) learns valuable lessons by making mistakes and quickly becoming great friends with the quick unpick. It's the journey of learning and continuing to develop skills in our hobby/craft/art which is rewarding.

Lisa said...

Well, I will keep that information in the back of my mind, and it may be helpful to me in the future! (although I am rather lazy about finishing things off nicely on the inside - ahem) When I understitch at necklines or armholes, I like to do it by hand. It's a nice, quiet thing to do, and I can pretend I'm a Parisian seamstress (they would never hire me!) who knows a thing or two. ;-)


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