This is my Seahorses dress. Otherwise known as the Watch Me Chase Decent Lighting Around My Yard dress. Or maybe it’s the Dress That Doesn’t Want to Be Photographed. It’s also the Dress That Nearly Did Me In. It’s a dress. It was a bitch to sew. The end.
Okay okay, not really the end, obviously.
You’ve actually seen me sew this pattern before, it’s Simplicity 1523 from 1945. I used the bodice and front skirt piece to make my Singin’ in the Rain dress. I absolutely adore that dress and love the skirt in particular (an A-line with not-too-much-gathers, just perfect!). So I’ve tacked that skirt onto a couple of dresses since. But when I sewed those, I was ignoring the back of the original pattern, because hey, this is actually a wrap dress pattern!
And so I knew one day, I’d make the full wrap dress. But what. a. pain. The sewing wasn’t necessarily so bad. More facings, more hems to deal with. Buttons and buttonholes at the waist and a snap at the back neck. And you know what? A wrap dress is a lot of dress. If you don’t believe me, here’s what it looks like laid out on an ironing board.
The most painful part was getting the back right. And frankly, it’s not right. First, I attempted to match the print, which laughably isn’t even close. (Well actually it’s close enough to think, “I bet she tried to match that up, but nope”.)
Second, wrinkles. Now shoulder wrinkles are a given with cut-on sleeve styles, but everything else just went all wonky on the back. (Although that photo above isn’t half bad… maybe I’ll just walk around with my hands on my hips when I wear it?) I don’t really understand how it happened, as it was based on my slightly-modified and very-non-wrinkly back piece that I used in previous versions. But nope. It didn’t matter what I did (and I tinkered with it a lot), I could never get it just right.
And gawd, those buttonholes. Buttonholes are a one shot deal where you place them. Not such a big deal on a blouse, but on a waistband? I seriously fretted over them. There’s two, so they had to visually be about the same distance from my sides as one another, obviously. You can kind of see how that works below.
And I got them pretty close, except the dress felt a little tight, the wrinkles were worse than when I was pinning and testing the placement all out with Mel’s help, and the left back side was pulling badly at the button.
In the end I moved the buttons at least once (that’s why the tab on the right of the right-hand photo above is longer than it needs to be), added a small button to the inside to stabilize the left button, which reduced–but didn’t completely eliminate–the pulling. And the wrinkles… whatever. I just can’t even be mad about them any longer. It’s a wrap dress, I’m telling myself it’s the nature of the beast because essentially it’s two big flaps of fabric that aren’t connected between your neckline and waist. As soon as you move, so does the fabric. You can even tell there’s not just a bad wrinkle I could pin out of the pattern piece, because in every photo I took, they wrinkles move and are different.
It’s a good thing I’m planning a hot pink cardigan which will just cover it all, anyway.
But I think the fact that I used THE most amazing vintage pink glass buttons with red rhinestones kind of diverts your attention away from the wrinkles. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
Unless you have a wrap dress in your closet that buttons at your waist, you’ve probably never given much thought to what it’s like to button a dress like this, either. I only have wrap dresses that tie, so I know I certainly hadn’t thought about it. Guess what. It’s hard! I know, it doesn’t look like it, but trust me. Not. easy. Kind of defeats some of the convenience of not pulling it over your head when you’re doing a dance behind your back to close the buttons.
But hey, I love the look of this dress from the front, and the little details like the pointed end of the waistband, the placement of the print along the bodice, and the print matching on the pockets.
So I’m sure by this point you you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned that there are hot pink seahorses on my dress. I know, aren’t they amazing??
The fabric is from Mo Bedell’s Full Moon Lagoon collection. I bought it in late winter when there was no sun, acres of snow and sub-zero temperature for days, and all I could think about was bright colors. And you don’t get much more bright than pink seahorses and a chartreuse background. If you think I’m the only one who would wear hot pink sea creatures, think again–Roisin sewed an amazing dress using another fabric from this same collection!
Gah, I love these seahorses. I really do. They trump all my annoyances with this dress.
And they’ll match one of my soon-to-bloom peonies! I was actually trying to stand by them for these photos but the lighting was totally crappy. Ah well, maybe once they’ve bloomed!
By the way, this is the first appearance on this blog of my amazing shoes (you know I couldn’t not mention them!), courtesy of Sven Clogs. Although I’ve already worn them a million times because I love them that much. These are camel-colored peep toes with an adorable little bow. They’re seriously the perfect match-everything vintage-inspired shoe for me. You know I love clogs and I love color but having a few varieties of neutral shoes is indispensable.
(But OMG, wait until you see my other pair. They’re going to need a dress designed specifically for them.)
To wrap up (har har)… in theory, I love wrap dresses. In theory, I loved the idea of a wrap dress that buttoned at the back, too. In reality? Not so much. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to give up wrap dresses though, but I think next time, I might convert them to tie at the waist. We’ll see!
1945 dress – made by me
Bakelite bangles – Brighter Bakelite
bamboo bangles – misc.
lucite earrings – misc.
shoes – courtesy of Sven Clogs
This is CUTE! I betcha you’ll forget completely about your irritations with this dress after a little while and it will become one of your favorites! You just can’t get a perfectly smooth, tight fit in a wrap dress- it’s just not the way it works. This really looks great! I love the shape and the colors on you.
Also, I’m kicking myself for being too unorganized last year to plant a peony bush in my flower bed (I couldn’t find one locally and didn’t make the time to trek out to a garden center). Yours is going to be gorgeous!
Thanks so much! I’m really enjoying this shape, obviously. 😉
I’m not a huge gardener, and our yard is tiny and has a lot more “ground cover” (um, weeds) than plants, but one thing we inherited with our house is several gorgeous peonies. In the first photo you can’t even tell, but that big white one behind me is chest-height…! I hope you get a chance to plant one this year! 🙂
aargghhh, sounds like a lot of trouble…but in the end….i like it….and yellow isn’t even my color..;-)
the front looks great..and the back..ah well, just move around a lot..cardi’s do the trick, but please wear it…it is really cool!!
Oh I promise I’ll wear it without the cardigan, too! 😀
please do!! 🙂
my first project EVER was butterick 4790, some sort of wrap dress, last year (feb 2013) i never sewed a thing and butterick 4790 seemed like a nice way to start, no worries about setting in sleeves and difficult stuff like that…well…i went crying to my mum…she did know what she was doing and saved the dress, love to wear it.. in fact i am now so sure of myself i am going to make another one…in cupcake fabric..but for a first project…not nice…since then i made pencil skirts/circle skirts/pencil dress, circle dres, i set in sleeves, did capsleeves, made a blouse with sleeves, halter dress, so i have the courage to do it again…alone this time, make my mum proud :-)…and i love this seahorse dress of yours..:-)
So cute! I’ve been loving all of your cute 40s dresses that have been popping up on the blog lately. I think I’m going to have to sew some of my own!
Thanks, Stephanie! You totally should. Your summer dresses are always adorable.
Well, first, let me say, that if I had only looked through the pictures, I wouldn’t have had any sense that this dress was such a P.I.T.A. to sew. It does look really, really amazing from the front. And, those buttons are magnificent; it’s a shame their destined to be hidden under a sweater.
I think it’s really tricky to get a wrap to lay right. I know it’s possible, because I have wrap dresses that fit without any wrinkling or pulling. I don’t, however, think it’s possible without a more complex pattern and careful pattern drafting. At least, that’s my conclusion after recent exploration. It’s trade-offs, I suppose.
At any rate, HOT PINK SEAHORSES!!! 😀
Oh man, you had to say that there -can- be a smooth back wrap dress? I’m going to ignore that fact. lol Honestly though much as I love it, I’m not sure I think it would be worth feeling like I want to bother trying to perfect it for future versions, but we’ll see– I could be singing a different tune in several months once I’ve worn it more. Or maybe I’ll luck out an an indie designer will make the perfect pattern for one someday. lol
And a big hell yes to HOT PINK SEAHORSES! 😉
It’s all the pattern. I wouldn’t fuss with it either if it wasn’t fun to start with. I think a lot of these ‘day dresses’ were designed with a focus on function over all else. As far as indie wrap dresses, Colette has the Crepe dress that can be worn as a back wrap dress. I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure it’s better.
I think it’s gorgeous regardless, 😀
I think it turned out really well! I am always very impressed with your pattern matching and placement. I’m about to start work on some novelty pattern dresses and I think after seeing all the ones you’ve made they will turn out a lot better than if I hadn’t.
Criminy– your *dress* matches your *peonies*!!! The impressiveness never stops…
You look fab from all angles! Who cares about the back. How often do you look at your back! Am I right!? 🙂
Emileigh R. says
I really wouldn’t have noticed anything wrong with it unless you had pointed it out. I think it looks great! And I actually HAVE done a wrap dress (“a” as in “one” because, I also found it difficult and haven’t had the gumption to do another since). I can TOTALLY appreciate your button troubles! My pattern had four buttons on the back, and I was terrified to cut the buttonholes because, you’re right, they have to be just right and there’s no going back!
Great work on this though, despite the things you’re unhappy with. It looks fabulous and perfect for a comfy day dress!
Love the seahorses. So cute and the colours are great! The dress looks good, you are probably the only one to see all the wrinkles. Plus I’ve seen worse patterns matching on RTW, so I wouldn’t worry about that either. I love this!
Love this wrap dress. I think you did an awesome job of putting it all together. I’m very impressed at how you fit the front of the dress. Lovely darts and great match up on the front bodice. I’d say this is a winner!
Hannah Smith says
Argh!!! there are seahorses on your dress. I never knew it until now, but I want a dress with seahorses on it too!!!
I really do hope you get some wear out of this dress, despite your grievances, because you look fantastic in it… and it has seahorses on for goodness sake!
Ines Castelo says
wonderfull! the fabric is fantastic (i loveeeee seahorses!) and the dress is beautiful! loving the back!
I wish I had more time to sew 🙁 well, I sew everyday (I make and sell turbans) but then I don’t have time to sew something for me…
Miss Crayola Creepy says
I think this is my new favorite make of yours. Honestly, I don’t see any of the problems that you pointed out, seriously! I think it looks great!
It looks like it fits you perfectly! But I have made a wrap dress before too and I know they are deceptively gigantic and NEVER really fit or lay right. But you’d really never know by looking at these photos!
And hey, are those new specs?
Adorable as usual! I think the buttons are so sweet. Isn’t it weird how things that ought to be simple in sewing, sometimes just aren’t.
Helen Snell says
Oh you are sooo hard on yourself – the dress looks gorgeous, I would be so happy if I had sewed it as well as you have!
Love those shoes too!
Person hinter den Worten says
I wish I could sew something like that, it looks absolutely gorgeous!!!
So darn cute! I just love that fabric and all the little details. I have a love/hate relationship with wrap dresses as well and yet I continue to make them…. 🙂
This dress is so pretty. It was definitely worth all the hassle, and I think it looks lovely on you. I totally agree with you that a wrap dress is a lot of dress! I learnt that when I made my Colette Crepe dress; and re the non-matching print on the back – no one will notice! They’ll be too busy saying, “You made your dress? It’s fabulous!”. I absolutely LOVE the fabric, those seahorses are great, as is the pattern matching on the pockets.
Beautiful fabric! I love the back of this dress!!
I can not get over how impressive your pattern matching skills are. Those pockets are inspiring!
Wow! You seriously find the best fabric!! Great job as always, you have made me want to sew now.
I’m not a seamstress and I think this dress looks spectacular! I’d wear the heck out of it!
You have such great taste in clothing and accessories! 🙂 You don’t happen to ever sell dresses that you make do you? I very much want to learn to use a sewing machine.
Thanks, Jen! No, I never sell anything I make and I don’t plan to. Mainly because I know as soon as it was a job, I’d hate it. 🙂
May have been a bitch to sew, but wow, looks amazing!
Wrinkles schminkles! You can’t even tell my lovely. What an amazing print! Those buttons! The green and hot pink! I love it 🙂
Rochelle New says
Aww crap, I’m so behind on blog reading and I can’t even remember if I officially commented on this post or not but HOLY CRAP AMAZING!!!! I’m dying over the pink rhinestone button and the fantastical print!!! You always make the most amazing dresses.
Amy y says
While I’m sure it was a pain to sew, it’s absolutely gorgeous! I love it!
Samantha Rolfe says
I love it when the emil has arrived to let me know you have made some amazing item. I’m not sure quite what I am more envious of your talent, material, patterns or your wardrobe i general. Keep posting. X
Love the dress, so glad you are honest about the problems you had making it. I am just looking into starting to sew clothes. I have been quilting for 5 years now and just started to make bags, you can only make so many…so now looking to branch out to sew some skirts and dresses. Looking forward to reading more of your blog.
Sarah Heat says
It looks amazing, you look great!