Birds of a feather: the Ultimate Wrap Dress by Sew Over It

This is me, SO not over the ‘Sew Over It’ patterns.

ImageDuring an unprecedentedly spectacular week of sewing (not sure if that is a word, but I finished four dresses!), I made the “Ultimate Wrap Dress” from the UK company, in a cotton-viscose knit from Girl Charlee, a really lovely feeling fabric.

To be honest this is a rather “rough” version and a bit unfinished – I squeezed the whole thing out of 2 yards of fabric (not even metres) and had to choose between the sleeves and the neck facing; I chose sleeves.

ImageYou can see I JUST fit it on after shortening the sleeves (the last bit at the end is for the second tie), and you can see the facing piece on there competing with the sleeve piece. I’d also like to point out that my fabric almost completely matches the fabric drawn in the instructions! Woot.

I did have just enough fabric to make some binding for the neckline, which saved my bacon. Because the pattern was designed for a facing, the ties aren’t all neatly tucked away and are just sewn on. This is partly the reason why the whole thing has been left unhemmed – as well as laziness, and because I was nervous to try a knit hem on the curved hemline. Because it’s a knit I can get away with not hemming it, and I may just be trying to convince myself here but I think I like it better without the bulk of a hem.

Also, because when I tried the dress on for fit, I didn’t want to take it off again! Srsly, for four nights last week as soon as I got home I took off my work clothes to put this on. I know a lot of people say this, but knit dresses really are like wearing pyjamas, that you can wear outside.


This was an extremely quick make – it took me about 2.5 hours all up from laying out the fabric (and, obviously, excluding hemming), and next time I imagine it’ll be even quicker It fits remarkably well – I merely did my usual trick of grading out at the hips, and the only changes I’ll make next time is to take a tuck out of the front neckline, shortening the wrap bit as it’s a touch gapey, and I’ll  try to adjust the lower back a bit for my “sway-back” (I do have a true sway back but it’s accentuated on my clothing by my large bottom) using this excellent tutorial.

ImageThe lower back pooling isn’t too obvious, particularly with the tie wrapping around the waist.

Speaking of the tie – be warned that there is a mistake in the pattern: the grainline on the waist-tie piece (which runs along its length) is perpendicular to what’s shown on the cutting layout (across the grain). I cut it out across the grain (as in the photo above) so that it would have the stretch but THIS WAS WRONG – the waist ties have now stretched out so they can lay on the ground if I undo them!! It also means I occasionally need to tighten them during the day – I think this would be avoided if the tie was turned the other way (grainline running the length of it), although this may use more fabric. I’ve emailed Kate about this and she was very gracious.ImageIn terms of a review:

  • Design: like the 1940s Tea Dress, the packaging is cute. The tissue paper is the thin stuff that the Big 4 companies use. The instructions are clear and nicely illustrated.
  • Sizing: good for me. I found it a bit odd that there was a few inches of positive ease in the waist and negative ease in the hips (based on the finish garment measurements) but decided to go with it (after giving myself more room in the hips, something I do every time) and it worked well.
  • Instructions: clean and good for beginners. They are written for use with a regular sewing machine so those without an overlocker don’t have to worry – however they don’t include instructions for sewing it with an overlocker – on one side of the dress, you leave a hole for the tie to pass through, and I had to fudge that a bit as I used my overlocker to do the whole thing. I’m somewhat nervous to do a facing on a knit garment but next time I’ll try it out, as it’ll at least give me a clean finish at the waist.
  • She suggests gathering the sleeve heads in order to ease them into the armholes, but when using knits I just stretch the armhole to fit. There is also no mention of stabilising the shoulder seams which is a good idea in knit garments: I used a piece of leftover gingham fabric, sewn into the seam.
  • I also lengthened the skirt by 10cm (again, I lengthen every new pattern I use as I’m tall (178cm) and like at- or below-the-knee)

Overall, I highly recommend this pattern, including for beginners. It was quick, it’s comfortable and it looks great (I think, anyway).


Pattern: Ultimate Wrap Dress by Sew Over It (sizes 8-20)

Fabric: 2 yards of cotton-rayon, about $30 after all shipping costs

Notions: Thread, stash

Total: $30 as is, $55 with pattern.

ImageThis is me, showing off my unhemmed skirt. And is also just after I realised I haven’t hemmed the sleeves, either.

So, have any of you sewn with these patterns, or are you tempted to? I’m still trying to decide about the shift dress – after using these two patterns I’m tempted to try it, but just don’t think the shape would work very easily on me.

ImageBonus puppy photo, because Mr. Guy took way more photos of her than of my dress.


The Great Spotted Duck: Sew Over It 1940’s Tea Dress

So, the winner of my Miss Bossy Patterns poll is: the Colette Crepe! (Thanks to everyone for voting). This is good, because I’ve had that pattern for so long and haven’t made it up, despite knowing it will be so nice to wear. I was all set to start making it yesterday, when I realised I had WAY less of the fabric than I thought (I only had 2m, rather than 3-4m); so this is a present for those who voted for the Tea Dress:

ImageThe boat mentioned in my last post!

The pattern is the 1940’s Tea Dress by UK brand Sew Over It – Sew Over It is a fabric shop in the UK who started printing copies of the patterns they use in their sewing classes. I’ve decided to imagine the name like “what do I do with this?” “Just sew over it!” rather than being a play on “so over it”. It’s described as an advanced pattern with an invisible zip down the centre back, with facings around the neckline and sleeve hems, a fluted skirt with a machine hem, a yoke at the waist and three decorative covered buttons at the front.

1940s Tea Dress

Seeing as I haven’t seen many versions of this dress around, I thought I would try and do a detailed review.


First impressions

  • Cute packaging – nice drawings on the front and polka dots :D. Unfortunately no clasp to hold it shut but that’s no biggie.
  • The line drawings are slightly less inspiring (more boxy), and actually have an error – the darts are on the back skirt and the front has the gores.
  • The pattern paper is really nice – thin but sturdy which is good for those of us who trace our patterns as well as those who use the paper itself. I also own the wrap dress pattern and it has the more standard, brownish pattern paper
  • Hand-drawn instructions are a nice touch!
  • The instructions are detailed (and are more aimed towards an beginner/advanced-beginner, I would say) but rather wordy, as you can see below.


  • The design itself is very cute, I think you’ll agree.
  • The pattern pieces have the corners snipped off to help everything line up (Sewaholic does the same), except they don’t always line up. Some of the notches are only 1cm despite a 1.5cm seam allowance, and the bust piece and side-front-bodice piece lined up quite oddly.
  • Good amount of notches for matching pieces
  • Once cut it all went together pretty quickly, despite the number of pieces.
  • It does mention understitching the facing after ironing but doesn’t suggest notching the seam to help it lay flat, which I really recommend doing.


Things I changed

  • I actually used my own sleeve pattern because I know it fits well (and I left off the sleeve cuffs because I didn’t think they’d work on the polka dots – I would have loved to have used a white contrast here).
  • Likewise, I used the back bodice piece from my La Sylphide dress, because I knew it fit well and I didn’t want to have to faff about. I forgot to change the sleeve seam on the bodice pieces again!!
  • Changes from my muslin – I took 1cm out of the central front seam in the top/bust piece, and tapered that out on the waist piece (so the waist seam was the same length)
  • I lengthened the skirt by 10cm – I’m 178cm tall and this ended up just above the knees/at my knees, so many wont have to do this. I prefer my skirts just below the knee so I may add a few more centimetres next time.
  • I cut the back skirt piece on the fold rather than having a seam (seeing as the La Sylphide back piece was cut on the fold) – which worked well except I forgot to take away the seam allowance! So had to ease the fabric in quite severely.
  • Invisible zip went in the side rather than center back
  • Didn’t put buttons on (because I didn’t have any, and again not sure if it would look right with the spots.
  • I used Zara’s tutorial on how to get a crisp triange on the front bodice, which worked really well.
  • http://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/p1060442.jpg

Standing wonky + loose thread on my shoulder, whoops

As for the fabric – ahhh. As soon as I saw this pattern I thought it would look amazing in navy rayon with white polka dots, but of course I couldn’t find it. After moving up here last week, I realised that I hadn’t brought the bag of fabric I bought for the trip (the bag also contained a hammock, which would be perfect between the two orange trees on the property), nor any threads but one spool of black, so I convinced Mr. Guy to take me on a “detour” to Kerikeri (a large-ish town 50 minutes away in the Bay of Islands).


Depsite not having looked up whether there would be a fabric shop there, I lucked out by parking near The Sewing Shop. None of the fabric was what I was after, until the owner said she’d just had a new shipment of fabrics arrive – polka dot rayon! She took me out the back so I could stroke it all. Given my so far unsuccessful hunt for this fabric, I chose the navy colour. Which wasn’t much of a sacrifice because I’m going to go back this week to buy aaalllll the other (three) colours.

ImageI’m picking an orange! Except that all the oranges are on the ground.

I’ve been wanting a pattern to use with drapey fabric for a while and this dress is perfect for summer, despite the long-ish sleeves, and is work appropriate. I would recommend this pattern for advanced beginners as well as more those who are more experienced: although it’s classes as an advanced pattern it really wasn’t that hard.

In terms of construction, I sewed it on my machine (which is playing up like crazy. Perhaps she knows that I’m planning to buy a new machine very soon… or I should just get her serviced) and finished the seams with my overlocker. The pattern is mainly written for people without overlockers so it’s only casually mentioned, and there are a few edges that ended up not being finished.

As always I used interfacing strips down the edges where the zip goes. The sleeve hems are turned and stitched to hide the overlocked edges; the bottom hem is just turned once. I would have preferred to use hem binding but, of course, don’t have any.


All in all – I’m very happy with this pattern. I feel it’s definitely aimed at beginners which is probably good – I can follow my own construction when the base pattern is good, and this is.


Pattern: Sew Over It: 1940s Tea Dress, $23.50 NZD from SewSquirrel

Fabric: Navy rayon with white spots from The Sewing Shop (Kerikeri), 2.5m at $18.50/m = $46.25

Notions: invisible zip, interfacing and thread from stash

Total: $69.75 including pattern, $46.25 without.


Just wanted to share this cool comic for anyone who reads to the bottom :) Something that I fully believe in.