An Animal Print Wrap Dress
Good evening, friends! If you’re in the States, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. For those elsewhere, I hope you capped off November in style. My own week was filled with dozens of pies, too much turkey, and a house stuffed to the gills with family and friends. It was noisy and wonderful and, I’m going to be honest, I feel like sleeping for years. However, that can’t happen before I share my latest MSN project. Once again, this is an indulgence of my continuing obsession with knitwear.
Thanks to changes in both lifestyle (working from home) and measurements (battling the effects of working from home and all that pie!), knits are a really good fit for my current wardrobe needs. Dresses that look professional for the odd conference call, don’t terrify the UPS man, and feel like super cozy pajamas are getting a lot of wear right now. One of my favorite patterns that fits this niche is the Appleton Dress from Cashmerette Patterns, a new plus size pattern company, specializing in sizes 12-28 and cup sizes C-H. This simple wrap dress, with a cleverly banded neckline and cinched waist, is so comfortable to wear but looks super posh, at the same time. Win!
Even better, Mood Fabrics has an outstanding selection of knit fabrics right now. I couldn’t resist this Cheetah Printed Cotton Jersey, a moderately stretchy cotton knit with a classic animal print in shades of brown and cream. With great recovery and soft drape, this jersey became an ideal wrap dress. It skim over curves, stretches where it needs to, and is sublimely cozy to wear. The Appleton Dress requires 40% stretch, which this fabric just meets, so heads up if you need more give for a project. I’ve also snagged a couple of dreamy wool jerseys, like this glorious green one, for a few wintry Appletons.
If you’re comfortable working with knit fabrics, the Appleton is a cinch to sew up. There are three main body pieces–two overlapping fronts, and a solid back–with all-in-one neckbands and waist ties. Because of the control required in adding the neckbands on, I sewed this entire dress on my sewing machine. I’m partial for the lightning bolt stitch, when constructing knit seams, and a straight twin-stitch for hems. After sewing each seam, I finished it with my serger. There’s no real practical point to this, as knits won’t unravel, but it does look nicer. For the last little flourish, I also top-stitched the neckline all the way around, using my edge-stitching foot and heaps of patience
If you’re going to sew with this jersey, or any knit, I suggest going above and beyond the directions. Otherwise, your garment might not wear well over time! With the deep bands of the Appleton, this meant lightly interfacing the neckline seams with stay tape to prevent warping. Additionally, I used lightweight fusible webbing to stabilize the hems of both the sleeves and the skirt. This is, hands down, the best method I’ve discovered for fighting wavy seams.
In the end, I love the fit of this dress. With the right kind of fabric (lighter, stretchy jersey for sure!), the Appleton fits like a dream. Despite the negative ease at the bust, the final dress feels both comfortable and secure. This isn’t a wrap dress that will blow open with the slightest wind or cause other wardrobe malfunctions, thanks to the placement of the bands. Thank heavens for clever designers!
My next projects are a bit more involved–jeans and a velvet blazer are both on my radar for December–but my love for knit dresses endures. This particular dress is ideal for the various occasions I have coming up, like date nights and holiday parties. Maybe it’s my southern roots showing, but I firmly believe that every woman needs a classic animal print piece in her wardrobe, whether it’s a pencil skirt or wrap dress. With the right fabric, like this perfectly chic jersey, it lends both whimsy and style to any outfit.