Done and done: The Calvin Wrap Dress

Buckle up. This is going to be a loooooong one. The TLDR is that sometimes over thinking a project is the best way to ensure it doesn’t turn out.

I needed a semi-formal dress for a gala and a wedding and it needed to be nursing-friendly. I’d been intrigued by the Calvin Wrap By True Bias and got the chance to try on a friend’s completed top before deciding it was perfectly chic and would easily allow me to whip a boob out when needed.

I’ve had this fun stripey, sheer something (likely viscose) in my stash a couple years and knew it was perfect for this project. My plan was to make it into a midi-length dress to wear over a shorter, solid black version for a neat layered look and get three dresses for the price of two.

I did a good amount of research and polling of internet friends to decide on the black fabric underneath. I was ready to get something really nice, but short of silk, nothing was as drapey as the super cheap viscose crepe at Blackbird Fabric. I even got to touch a similar twill version IRL (seriously, sewing friends are the best!) and knew it was a hit.

I only bought three metres because I’m trying really hard not to buy more fabric than I need, thinking I’d just buy more if it didn’t work out. Well. This was my first mistake.

The Calvin Wrap Dress is ridiculously simple and should be a dream to fit, but I did not find this to be the case somehow. I found it extremely hard to fit during the making process as you kinda need the straps and waist-tie button hole to understand how it’s going to fit, but you essentially need to finish the garment before you can realistically test it. I really struggled to get the hip curve just right when grading and the dress just had too much ease for the amount of drape my fabric had meaning that I ended up with horrendous love handles. This wouldn’t be too bad except that the dress was also massive through the bust and gaped at the arm pits. I unfortunately used steam-a-seam when applying the bias tape and couldn’t take the dress apart. Ah well. The fabric only cost $6.75 a metre.

But! Of course! Blackbird sold out of that fabric and I was getting into a slight time-crunch so I pivoted. I grabbed a couple metres of light pink jersey in my last order so I would make the under-dress out of that instead. It wouldn’t be as edgy, but that’s okay.

Knowing I would have to size down on the knit version, I set to work on the sheet over dress. I painstakingly cut everything on the bias and stripe-matched the crap out of it. I french-seamed everything. I worked and re-worked the fit until it was perfect. AND THEN. I was sewing in the daytime and noticed that the fabric on either side of my seam wasn’t quite the same colour. Of course this fabric had a right and wrong side I couldn’t see in the dim light of my living room at night.

I decided it would be okay and that I would just take a break. As a palate cleanser, I tried to make the beeswax wraps I planned on doing at Christmas. In the process I destroyed my ironing board cover, but I had plans to replace it anyway so no big! I stripped it off and tossed it into the fabric recycling bin.

After going back to the dress for a bit, I noticed a spot near the area I was working. Then I noticed another. It turns out the wax speed through the ironing board cover and into the batting and I had ironed wax spots into my dress. I tried ironing it between two pieces of paper to absorb the wax. I tried my stain stick. Nothing worked.

So, plan C. At this point, I think I had about a week and a half left until the first event I needed the dress for. Not a huge deal as I knew I could bang out a Calvin now in a couple of hours after already sewing it twice. I scoured the internet for the right fabric and landed on the last two metres of that delicious wild poppy viscose poplin in black with white and mauve flowers. It was perfect! Drapey, interesting, grown-up and definitely in my colour palette. So I ordered it, selected the fasted shipping and put a note on my order. The lovely ladies over there got my order out by the end of that day so I crossed my fingers it would arrive by Monday evening, giving me exactly enough time to wash my fabric and sew my little heart out.

I knew it was foolish to rely on this, so I scoped a second, local fabric option. I told myself that if I didn’t get my order by Monday, I’d head out after supper and grab my alternative at the local store. By Sunday night, the package tracking said it would still be a couple days, so I hauled both kids to Fabrications to pick up the Ruby Star Society rayon I fell in love with when it hit the site.

This version (Plan D for those who are keeping track) wasn’t without it’s issues. Of course I had to match the stripes. Of course the fit was still off. Of course I forgot to put the thread loop in with the side seam. Of course I sewed the snap on the wrong side. But I got it done. I took a sold two inches out of the side seams to make it skim my hips the way I wanted, so keep that in mind when you eventually see pictures of it on my body (pending!) if this is the fit you’re trying to achieve. While I like this dress, it’s not quite as cool as my original idea. I’m not over-the-moon about wearing it to a wedding this weekend, but ah well. I think it will be a fun one for the summer.

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