Ladies Wrap – E0291

VPLL Checklist:

  1.  Pattern Name: Ladies Wrap – E0291
  2. Sewer’s Skill Level: Intermediate
  3. Pattern Rating: 1-Not a Fan, 2 – So-So, 3 – Good/Average, 4-Better than Average, 5-I LOVED IT! and why?: 3 – Good/Average  This pattern included some interesting techniques/tricks that surprised me and that I enjoyed but overall, the final result is quite fiddly to wear (maybe I used too slippery a lining?) and since the pattern layout was incorrectly illustrated, making up what would have been a very simple pattern, was filled with challenges and endless frustration.  Of course, if I hadn’t been in such a rush to make my first 1912 Project pattern, all the people who cleverly noticed the incorrect illustration and quickly informed our group would have saved me from my struggles.  Since my biggest issue with the pattern is a personal styling preference and an illustration mistake that has since been corrected, this pattern is a Good/Average pattern in my opinion – especially since I thought the ‘bow’ detail used to decorate the belt buckle is so pretty and will probably be using this simple but effective idea on future projects.  I also found the process of applying the trim very interesting and easy to do.  My instinct would have been to apply the trim folded over double to enclose the lining and fashion fabric as though it were bias binding so I found the quick and easy application that the pattern called for to be a nice surprise.  Instead of applying it folded over like binding, the trim is simply sewn on top of the fashion fabric, right side facing out, and then trimmed so the edges of both fabrics match – so easy!
  4. What skill level would someone need to sew this pattern and why? Beginner/Novice with possibly a little assistance or patient trial and error to figure out the unusual pattern shape/dart placement.  Since there are no buttons, zippers or other closures required (the belt fastening method is left up to the choice of the sewer, so a novice could make the belt into a sash or attach ribbons as ties as I did.  They could even use easy to apply snaps if they desired) the only technique with assumed knowledge is how to sew a dart.  A novice could choose to sew their wrap without a lining to even further simplify the project.
  5. Were the instructions easy to follow? If not, what needs to be changed?  The instructions were easy to follow and I don’t think any of the actual written steps need to be changed.  Obviously, the pattern layout needed to change and as far as I know, has already been updated.  I think that the pattern itself could benefit from more detailed labelling because the pattern pieces themselves are a very unusual shape.  For me, at least, it was not immediately apparent how the two pieces would be assembled, and thus, although I found it odd that the two pieces were not mirroring each other in the illustration, I didn’t listen to my suspicions and cut as the diagram illustrated.  I thought that perhaps I was imagining the pieces sewn together incorrectly and that the garment was not symmetrical.  I think this confusion could be solved with a line drawing of the two pieces assembled over a person (similar to the picture I have in my post of me standing with the one piece right side out and the other inside out).  The illustration would allow the sewer to understand the assembly before beginning to sew.  Also, the darts could be labelled on the pattern pieces as “bust dart” and “shoulder dart” and the “wings” could be labelled “front wing” and “back wing” while the body pieces could be “front body panel” and “back body panel.”  These extra labels, along with the already included seam numbers and center back/center front labels would make the cutting and pinning of the pieces very clear to even the most novice of sewers.
  6. How was the fit/sizing?  Did it correspond to what you thought?  The sizing seemed very accurate and fit me well.  This garment is not very fitted so there was no need for adjustment.  The only sizing issue was the belt – it did not allow enough extra room to overlap for a button, snap or front buckle.  As I do not have a corseted waist it was too tight a fit to add any sort of closure that requires extra length.
  7. Did you make any pattern alterations? If so, what alterations did you make? Where they fit or design alterations?  The alterations I made were quite substantial and certainly not by choice!  I describe them quite thoroughly in the blog post below.  Basically, I cut out one piece so that the ‘right side’ was actually the ‘wrong side’ of the fabric.  I had to flip this piece over, ignore the darts I had already slashed and sewn and trim the pieces to match when mirrored.  This trimming resulted in shorter, square ‘wings’ and the lovely bias pieces no longer fell and draped the way they were intended to.  I had to shorten the body panels as the back panel that had originally been intended as the front panel was very short and thus the rest were trimmed to match.  I added more trim to these panels for a bit more length.  I attempted to cover the stray darts with a panel at the back along the neckline.  The alterations produced a wearable result but it certainly doesn’t have the elegant drape and length seen in the pattern illustration.  Oh well!
  8. Other notes:  I had hoped that the wool blend I chose would produce a wrap that could act as a fall cape but I think, if I ever made the pattern again (I don’t think I will as the ‘wings’ are not a style which I prefer) I would choose a soft and light silk or something else that could fall smoothly.  The wool I chose had too much body and the trim is very stiff so the sleeves flare outwards instead of following the contours of the body.

Original Description (not in VPLL blog format):

Yesterday, Saturday morning, I woke up eager to begin my day of sewing – I planned to begin my first pattern for the Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s ’1912 Project.’  It arrived in it’s PDF format on Wednesday and I raced to the fabric store after work the very next day, eager to share my excitement with the ladies at the cutting tables.  One woman thought the wrap pattern was beautiful and remarked that it looked startlingly like a Jedi uniform!  I must say, this was a thought that hadn’t crossed my mind!  I picked out fabric that looked nothing like a Jedi’s clothing and I think will look quite elegant while providing enough warmth that the wrap can act as a fall or spring cape (if it turns out to look ‘modern’ enough).  I spent more than I was budgeting for because I had planned to just buy muslin or at least some of the cheapest of the cheap sale fabric from the bargain area at the back of the store.  As I walked quickly to the back, upon first entering the store (I always walk quickly so I don’t risk falling in love with any of the pricey fabrics beckoning from the displays at the very front) I was way-laid by a 50% off table upon which sat a bolt of the prettiest wool blend on which I had had my eye since it arrived in the store, in it’s full-priced glory back in September or October.  Soon, I had picked enough fabric, lining and notions that my budget for muslin had been completely spent and then some.

As I cut out my pattern pieces yesterday morning, I was blissfully unaware of the timely and thoughtful email sent out by Allison Venables, a fellow group #34 member.  She was warning group members of the very same thoughts that were crossing my mind – the pattern layout for the wrap had been drawn incorrectly – the second front/back piece needs to be mirrored to the first one.  When I first received the pattern, these thoughts had crossed my mind but I had assumed that I simply didn’t understand how the wrap would come together and should trust the diagram, at least until I had completed a muslin…and then I spent my muslin budget and found myself cutting directly into my precious fashion fabric as the doubts continued – an awful feeling!

I carefully serged all the raw fabric edges to protect the biased edges from stretching and the loose-weave trim fabric from unraveling.  The darts, the bias trim (my first time cutting fabric on the bias) and the fit all appeared to be coming together suspiciously flawlessly – and then the big moment came – I tried on the two pieces together, preparing to sew the tucks and the centre back seam only to find that the pieces were completely identical!  Needless to say, I ran to my computer to check for blog posts and emails and there was Alison’s warning email – if only I had checked sooner!

I left my project to be completed another day (today – Sunday – I hope!) and have since brainstormed several ways of ‘fixing’ this mistake.  I think I’ll rely on the large collar to hide a few of the less than desirably flaws and then attempt to even out the panels until they mirror each other.  I think that, from a distance, the end result will look quite similar to the illustration – especially because the weight and pattern of the fabric result in it being wonderfully forgiving.  As long as the collar is left in place so that it may hide the strangely mis-matched darts, I hope to have a lovely cape while simultaneously helping out Janice and her 1912 Project by discovering little errors in the pattern such as this one!  For isn’t that the purpose of this test-sewing project?  Having a wearable garment by the end of this is simply a bonus!

By the way, I haven’t really introduced myself to my group yet, so “Hi!” to the other members of Group 34 and to everyone else from the 1912 Project who might find themselves over at my blog at some point throughout the next year.  I hope I am able to get to know some of the other sewers involved in this amazing (and huge!) project and that I am able to help Janyce out, despite my novice mistakes and limited sewing time!  Here’s a little sneak peak at my sewing space – I am always curious about the areas other people sew in.  My little sewing table is in the corner of my husband and my bachelor apartment in Halifax, Canada.  It’s a limited space compared to what I grew used to when we lived in B.C. (we’re spending a year – August 2011 to August 2012 exploring the east coast) but its functional and cozy nonetheless.

March 11th, 2012

Completed Wrap:

Here’s the finished wrap!  Despite my mistake when cutting out the fabric, I think I’ve managed to turn it into something resembling a wrap or cape.  After I realized my mistake at the end of an afternoon of sewing on Saturday, I realized that the wrap would no longer be the quick and flawless project that I had envisioned throughout the day as I carefully serged all edges and marveled at how lovely the wool blend fabric was to sew.  Nonetheless, I plowed on because I didn’t want my first try at a pattern from 1912 to be left as a pile of fabric scraps!

On Sunday, with trepidation, I lay the two pieces side by side so that the offending piece was placed with the original front now becoming the back and cut this one so that it mirrored the other as it should have initially.  The three major changes I made were to remove the curved back neckline (because the panel that had to be backwards had this curve at the front) which resulted in a slightly v-shaped neck which is nicely hidden by the collar.  I also added darts on the backwards panel to match the ones on the correct panel – one at the bust and one at the shoulder.  I hid the original shoulder dart with the collar and the original bust dart (now angling awkwardly off the back of the neck) with a curved shoulder panel.  I was worried that this panel would buckle and sit awkwardly on top of the dart, but the stretch of the wool blend fabric allows it to sit so nicely and I actually really like how it looks – it adds a little bit of interest to the back of the wrap and might even make it look a little more like a modern jacket.  Lastly, I was forced to add trim to the bottom because the reversing one of the panels caused the ‘body’ piece (with the center back seam) to be much shorter than it was intended to be.  I ended up cutting all the lovely draping sleeves and panels short to match this shortened piece because I felt the shortened back emphasized the triangular sleeves too much for me to achieve the appearance of a cape that I was aiming for.  The trim ended up looking really nice and it makes me wish I had used this fabric for the collar as well!  (I didn’t because I was afraid that the rough, plastic texture of the trim fabric would be uncomfortable against my neck.)  Once I shortened the triangular pieces, I sewed together the front slit, leaving a hand-stitched hole for the belt to loop through an then sewed the back slit partway to line up with my natural waist and to complete the look of a cape.

Throughout the week, I completed the final step – sewing on the lining.  I was afraid of this step and delayed it because I knew my alterations would complicate matters greatly, especially my overly eager choice to sew the slits together before tracing the new shape of the wrap onto my lining fabric.  I cut out the lining as best as I could and made a few adjustments as I sewed it on.  It has added body to the wrap and makes it feel quite substantial!  The only problem turned out to be one that I could not have avoided, even if I had made no alterations – the synthetic nature of my trim fabric means that I can only iron it on an extremely low setting – otherwise it melts into a sticky mess (I found this out the hard way).  I tried in vain to create a nice crisp edge to my wrap so that the lining does not peek out, but the almost cool iron had no effect on the fabric.  Instead, I ended up topstitching all edges and stitching-in-the-ditch along the most problematic areas of the trim (because of its weight and possibly due to my over-zealous serging resulting in bulky seams, the trim along the sleeve edges naturally wants to roll under).  The collar still tends to roll forward to display the lining and I’m not sure how to prevent this.

I’m not sure that I will be able to wear this as the modern cape that I was envisioning, but it was a good introduction to sewing La Mode Illustree patterns and I am now eagerly working away on the Challenge Slip with which I hope to achieve more fitted and professional looking results.

6 Responses

  1. Mari wrote:

    Beautiful work! Great work-around with the identical pattern pieces. I don’t think anyone will be able to tell just by looking at it.

  2. Gwen wrote:

    Oh my goodness! It’s beautiful! I received this pattern too and I’ve had a hard time visualizing it from the illustrations – your version really let me see how beautiful it can be! I’m inspired to go look at fabrics now… Thanks! :)

    • mmmeredith wrote:

      Thanks! Its really nice to have such encouragement! I look forward to seeing yours when you’re done, I’ll keep my eye out for your blog post.

  3. Jeanettec wrote:

    It’s simply lovely Meredith. You did a great job!

  4. Farrell wrote:

    It looks just great Morgan, your sewing skills are quickly improving with projects like these. When do you think you will wear it-I think an evening to the theater would be perfect.
    Luv Dad

    • mmmeredith wrote:

      Thanks Dad! I might have to wear it out when Matt and I go to the symphony in a couple weeks!

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