Actually, this post title should be Nancy Drew and the Clue in the Wrap Dress and Cardigan, but that’s a bit of a mouthful, don’t you think? 😉
This post is brought to you by a dress I finished 8 months ago and a cardigan I finished at least a month ago, to put together an outfit over a year in the making!
(By the way, I’m still super loving my new haircut! Lots of outfit photos with it have made it to Instagram even while I’ve been bad at blogging!)
I do love this dress but it’s far from perfect. I also have a thing where I sometimes won’t wear an item until I blog about it… and in this case I kept forgetting I’d even made this, because I was a little bit mad at it after finishing and then put it away in the closet, and basically forgot about it. So in the back of my head all autumn I knew I’d made another vintage pledge challenge item, but just couldn’t remember what.
The other day it dawned on me: my Nancy Drew-themed wrap dress. That was the missing item! How could I forget?!! I was so, so excited when I bought this fabric as I LOVE Nancy Drew! It’s from a collection that Moda did that sold out about two years ago.
I used Advance 2944, a wrap dress pattern from 1963. For some reason that’s lost to the fact that I made this in May, I decided to use the sweeping gored skirt from McCall 1596, a wrap dress pattern from 1951. The whole thing took a massive 4 1/2 yards of fabric and it’s not even a circle skirt! Okay, I did have a misstep and accidentally cut one skirt piece upside down so I wasted a bit, but this project was definitely a yardage hog. And since lately I’m really loving big full skirts, I might need to get used to that.
To get the bodice and the skirt to line up, I took an extra 1″ in the center front darts, but otherwise constructed the dress pretty much as written. The front neckline is a bit odd as you sew on a neck stay and then bias binding. The way it has you do it means you see the stitching on the neck stay on the inside, and it all felt a bit excessive for a simple cotton day dress, so I’d probably change that up next time.
I also did the cute patch pocket (gathered at the top) which gets kind of lost in the print and by the time I realized I didn’t get a close up, it was raining. (Raining, in December, and I’m standing outside and wasn’t entirely dying of frostbite or anything! Nuts.)
There’s some issues with this dress, some of which could have been worked out if I’d done a muslin but let’s face it, this project took nearly 4 1/2 yards of fabric and I just didn’t feel like doing a full (or even partial) muslin. For one, the bust darts come up a bit higher than the apex of my bust, which an easy fix next time. But hey, closeup of the amazing polka-dot-with-hidden-Nancy-Drews print!!
Not so easy fix is the back. Originally when I tried this on, the back gaping was bad. Bad bad. Like big ol’ folds of fabric. The fabric had to go somewhere, so I had Mel help me pinch out what I could (really hard when the other person doesn’t sew!), and the result was a 2 1/4″ wide diagonal dart across the upper back. And frustratingly that didn’t even resolve all of the back issues, as you can see, as there’s still a kind of horizontal-ish fold below the underarms. I think the neckline might be too wide in the front, causing it to slide down on my shoulders a bit in the back, but that’s not where anything ‘wants’ to sit on me and have it look right in the front too, if that makes sense. At least I do really like the v shape in the back.
There’s some ways I can actually stand and have the back not look nearly as weird, as the evidence below shows, where you can also see the left side is higher up on my shoulder, which is why I think that might be related.
I know it can be part of the deal with wrap dresses… business in the front, WTF in the back. I recall being so pissed off about the back that I apparently needed 8 months to forget about it, because by the time I pulled this out to finally blog about it, I quite liked it again and figured what the hell, I can’t see the back, anyway.
But honestly, I think the shape of this dress is great and I’d love to sometime work on the back issues. Since it’s a cut-on sleeve, I feel like maybe I could rotate out the dart I took in the fabric and also try to pin out the extra folds I’m getting around the armhole level and rotate that out, too. I’m not sure, the upper body shape perplexes me a bit. Maybe someday!
So moving right along to the cardigan! I loved the print of this fabric when I bought it way back in March 2013—intending all the time to make a wrap dress—that I think it subliminally influenced my decision to knit this perfectly matching blue cardigan 10 months later. If you follow the math, you’ll realize that means I started the cardigan in January 2014. I knit on it a bunch, then put it away for more than a year.
In the intervening time I changed my opinion on how long I wanted to knit it, then changed it back after it was too late, and the result is a cardigan that’s actually about 2-3″ longer than I really wish it were. But I’m really just glad to have it off the needles. It’s another sweater in Wollmeise dk from my stash, what can I say, I just love this yarn a lot (and have also been trying not to buy new yarn unless I’m specifically going to knit it right this second, which I’m currently doing with a pair of black gloves).
The pattern is Effevescence by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (Ravelry link). I made a bunch of changes, most of which I don’t even really recall, it’s been so long. I know I shortened it, added waist shaping (I’m hot/cold about waist shaping and after this I’m currently cold again), made the armhole depth a bit longer (6″ is too constricting on me, 7-7.5″ is best), made the neckline less wide, and figured out that I’d have enough stitches at the shoulder to fit one more pattern repeat.
I like the finished cardigan but I’m not in love with it, if I’m honest. Even though I loved the hole-y stitch pattern obviously enough to knit it, once I tried the finished cardigan on, I felt like I was wearing a cardigan made out of blue Swiss cheese. That combined with accidentally knitting the sleeves too long (not a big deal, I just folded up the cuffs), and the too long body, means it’s a very pretty cardigan but I’m just not gaga over it for some reason. That might be part to due with it being a project I started so long ago, and then by the time I finished it I just wanted to stop ever thinking about it or looking at it. Because really, there’s nothing wrong with it, obviously!
So, it’s a lovely cardigan and I’ll wear it, but it’s not one of my favorites. But hey, makes a smashing top to my Nancy Drew dress, and I do love that! I feel like Nancy (or maybe Bess) would approve of my matchy matchy outfit! And now that I’ve re-remembered this dress, I suspect I’ll be wearing it plenty, back issues or not.
Last but not least, I also made my buttons for the sweater and matching Nancy Drew themed brooch way back in May, too!
Sorry I don’t have better photos of those but this was the point when I had to run inside due to rain. So that’s all she wrote on this outfit! Overall I’m quite pleased with the whole outfit, even if the individual elements aren’t 100%. Sometimes that’s how it goes!
Oh yeah, one last thing… that fence I’m standing by that you’ve never seen before? That’s our new fence that my dad built last month! I’ll leave you with my “now I can take blog photos in my yard without anyone watching meeee”* happy face! 😉
*except possibly the people in the two-flats across the alley if they’re being peeping toms, ha ha
dress – made by me
cardigan – made by me
brooch – made by me
Bakelite earrings – misc.
shoes – ModCloth
Toni J0 says
I think most people would be thrilled if their sewing and knitting projects came out half as lovely… you really are your toughest critic. I personally think both are incredible and you really do look fabulous. Love the new hair as well!
Thanks, Toni! We are definitely our worst critics. 🙂
Kira Brennan says
I love everything about this.
Amanda Thomas says
So cute oh my gosh. Love it! All your posts really inspire me to sew more vintage stuff 🙂
Thanks! I love sewing vintage and vintage-inspired stuff, there’s definitely room for it in lots of different types of wardrobes, too!
sew little time says
i love that cardigan! and i really don’t think the back of the dress is as bad as you think.
can’t believe you made the buttons and brooch too! such skills!
Ha ha, thanks! 😉
Agree with Toni Jo. Fab outfit and your cardigan is so much more stylish than the original. Love that blue. The new hair style really suits you.
Thanks, Val! I’m also still really enjoying the haircut. 🙂
Absolutely stellar work on all fronts! Including that beautifully built fence. 😉 It’s funny, I’ve often tossed a dress in the closet after being frustrated with how it turned out, only to take it out months later and wonder why I was so down on it. I guess sometimes the frustration of making something can cloud our perception of the finished product. I’m glad you were able to come back to it and find something to love about it.
Right, that fence is awesome, isn’t it!! It’ll have a starring role in many a blog photo I’m sure… well not winter ones, I was lucky I could stand outside. 😉 I completely agree about how your opinion can be clouded when you just finish something… in fact I often find I’m not as excited about the finished item until a lot later. That happens with knitting a lot, too, probably because it takes so much longer so part of finishing is excitement but also a dose of “I am sick as hell at looking at this thing”!
Great fabric and it makes a fab combination with the cardigan! 🙂
Oooh no, the cardigan is the perfect length for the dress. I love the fabric, it’s great. I read a lot of Nancy Drew when I was younger and have recently rediscovered the books on kindle. I used to love the way Nancy’s outfits were described so you always knew how chic she looked solving mysteries!
Thanks! I read tons of Nancy Drew as a kid, they were my favorites for sure. I did always think she sounded so chic although George often seemed a little more appropriately dressed for the occasion at hand– but they always made it work. 😉
ThatCleverClementine (aka "mom") says
I’m trying to remember how many times I’ve written, “I also made the buttons for my sweater.”
Bwhaha! Well there were the polymer clay years but I’m not sure they overlapped with the knitting years soooo…. 😉
wow, I think this is one of the nicest outfits I have seen on you.. yes, the rest is nice too but this is simply wow… everything fits and the hair color is just the dot on the i for this outfit…
All the best from Switzerland where by the way no blue Swiss cheese is offered.. hahaha.. but the Emmenthaler.. the one with the holes in it is really good…
ciao ciao Christa
Thanks, Christa! Yes I think I might be scared of actually blue Swiss cheese, lol! I looked up Emmenthaler and that’s what we call Swiss cheese in the U.S. (still not blue 😉 ), I never really used to like it growing up but I’ve grown to like it! 😀
Terrific outfit! Love the gored skirt, the print, the sweater with it is adorable! And the shoes! Love your haircut also! So…wear this combo!
Thank you!! I’m pretty pleased how the combo came together. 🙂
Absolutely stunning outfit!
A good cardigan is the perfect bandaid to a poor fit in the back of a dress! Love the Nancy Drew fabric!
How true! Thanks!
We are our own worst critics. This outfit is to die for despite the perceived imperfections. I’m not sure that you can entirely remove the folds on the back and still be able to lift your arms. You could muslin just the top and try taking a wedge out of your pattern. Oh kimono sleeves I have such a love/hate relationship with you!
Ps. Your mom is super funny!
We definitely are our worst critics, I know I am! Thank you! That’s kind of what I was thinking on the muslin front but I agree about arm movement. What I could try to do is pin it out on the dress and then walk around and see if it’s okay!
And yes… my mom is a hoot! 😉
Claire Gittins says
I think this outfit is amazing, right down to matching shoes. Gorgeous colour blue. When you’re wearing the cardigan no one can see issues on the back of the dress ?
Thank you! It’s a shade of blue I don’t wear much of but now I’m seeing it in lots of places, and then realized the sapphire in my engagement ring is that kind of unusual shade, even! 😀
Wonderful outfit! I love your cardigan!
Greetings from Germany
Veronica Darling (@veronicadarling) says
The darts are perfect! I’ve never seen this wrap pattern before (not that I’m counting all the vintage dresses in the world ever) so it’s lovely to see it and sewn!
Thanks!! I really like the pattern, so I’d like to try and perfect the fit a bit better in the future… although I’d probably be perfectly happy sewing it up again just like this! 😉
I get SO excited when I find patterns like that, though they are few and far between. I don’t think the sweater looks like swiss cheese at all!
Ha ha, thanks!
I love this outfit! And these colors are so great with your hair.
Thank you! 🙂
Another +++ on the dress, the sweater, the hair, the buttons and – where did you find those adorable charms for your pin? It all goes together SO perfectly. Now you have to find a Mystery Dinner train to wear it at! 100% appropriate to celebrate this winning outfit!
Thank you! I picked the charms up on Etsy, I think (it’s been many months!!) searching for keywords like magnifying glass, etc. I tried to think of things that Nancy might use! 😉
You look lovely as always 🙂
Fraulein Nina says
Oh my gosh! That super subtle Nancy Drew fabric is a dream come true. Amazing! I just arrived in Germany and popped this up to show my mum, who couldn’t help but exclaim, “She made the dress, the cardigan, the buttons AND the brooch?! She is wonder woman!”
You are Wonder Woman!
Ha ha, thank you to you and your mom! 😀
ANN M. says
I love them both. You look great in this outfit and did a beautiful job. I too love Wollmeise yarns, it can be a terrible addiction.
Thank! And you’re right about the yarn. 😉
Jessica Cangiano says
This whole vibrant, delightful outfit made me beam ear-to-ear. Beautiful, nostalgic (I grew up on my mom’s original hardcover Nancy Drew books), and cute as a button, what’s not to swoon up a storm over?
Big hugs & happy holiday season wishes,
Thanks, Jessica! Happy holidays to you!
I also get quite frustrated over unexplained wrinkles or bumps of fabric, but this dress looks so perfectly fun to wear, and really cute that I hope you still enjoy it anyway! It’s so perfectly coordinated with your cardigan too; they really look like they were made for each other! 😀 ❤
bonita of Lavender & Twill
Thanks, Bonita! It does sometimes get to the point where you can only obsess over wrinkles and bumps and lumps so much before it takes the joy out of sewing or clothes. I do definitely enjoy this dress! 🙂
amanda arkebauer says
Love love love the dress, I have Nancy Drew dress envy in a major way. 🙂 I have some Nancy Drew fabric, but I only had a Hawaiian shirt made from mine….I think I need a dress now 🙂