Lisa here from Not Sew Selfish, with a review of the Pippa Wrap Dress from Designer Stitch. I love a dress pattern which is a two-in-one – with both a dress and a peplum top option, so I decided to make both. As always, when you sew for yourself, it’s important to make a muslin, and starting with the top version is a good way to do that. I don’t usually have to make a lot of changes, so I actually started my muslin with quite nice fabric, and my retro cherry top here is the very wearable result.
One of the reasons I love being able to sew for myself is that I can make and wear styles that just don’t really work for me in off the rack sizes, and the wrap dress is one of those styles. Because I wear one size bigger for my hips than my top, I always find that wrap dresses either gape around the bust, or just don’t wrap far enough around the bottom. I’ve graded out a size between top and bottom when making this pattern, which I do for almost everything I make for myself, and the result is just perfect. There is plenty of overlap in the wrap with this pattern and the fit around the waist is a little forgiving because you measure the place to fix the underneath layer by where it sits when you try it on.
Before I dive into the details of the pattern, let’s talk fabric and fabric selection, which is really important for this dress. Let’s get this out of the way first - yes, you need a lot of fabric for this style - between 4 ½ and 5 3/8 yard for the dress depending on your size, if you’re using standard width fabric. Don’t be put off – it’s worth it.! You also need to go for a plain fabric or multi-directional print, because the skirt pieces are cut selvedge to selvedge. For the top version you could get away with a directional print because the peplum pieces are small enough to cut in the direction of a print. If you use pre-cut bias for the neckline binding, you won’t need as much fabric for the top as the fabric allowance suggests (I saved a yard on my top version by using pre-made bias tape, which I then chose to leave exposed for a different look). The neck binding piece is long, and cut on the bias, so as the pattern describes, it’s very “fabric hungry”. In the dress version it fits between skirt pieces, so doesn’t make much difference to the overall fabric needed.
The other important thing to know before you start is that you are going to need to break out from sewing with quilting cotton! The pattern suggests you choose light to medium weight cottons, linens, silk or satin type fabrics, depending on your ability. I’ve chosen a very light weight cotton poplin for both my dress and top here, and I don’t think it achieves the lovely drape that really makes this dress shine. In particular, the sleeves didn’t drape nicely in the poplin, and I ended up taking them in quite a bit so they didn’t stick out. While I’m very happy with the finished result, and very happy with the style and fit of the pattern, I now plan to go back and make the dress again in a drapey rayon fabric. Stay tuned… I’ll be back with a follow up post in a couple of weeks to talk about working with more “intermediate” fabrics for this dress, so you can see the difference it makes.
The pattern offers two sleeve lengths (I’ve made one of each), peplum top option, and dress in either knee length (which I’ve made) or tea length. It is marked as an intermediate skill level, but the instructions are very clear, and have a logical step by step flow, with great diagrams and reminders about seam allowances and pressing at every step, so if you have some sewing experience but haven’t made this style before, you’d have no trouble following the instructions. Sizes are provided in US, Australian/UK and EU numbered sizes, which are all converted into a simple numbered sizing from 1-11, to avoid confusion, which I also love because it liberates you from that off the rack number and lets you focus on making the right size for your body.
This is the first pattern I’ve sewn from Designer Stitch, and I’ll be looking into the rest of the range there now to find more things to make for myself. And I’ll definitely be making more of this one.