Sewing a DVF inspired wrap dress – some behind the scenes photos

- work in progress

As I mentioned previously I’m currently working on a wrap dress that is inspired by the original Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, especially when it comes to the assembly methods. In order to understand how they are constructed, I studied a bunch of dresses in a store. And I was very impressed by the detailing! Yes the dresses cost a pretty penny, but compared to other wrap dress brands that are available in Sweden, the construction is a step above for sure. And the silk jersey is so lush, with gorgeous prints and colours.

My dress is not made of lush silk jersey unfortunately, instead I use a fine thick rayon knit from Italian brand Iceberg (but at least it is a designer knit!). So lets take a look at some of the detailing I’ve done so far on the wrap dress.

Facing with a back yoke. This method is beautiful, and not something I’ve seen before. The front and back yoke is attached in the shoulder seam and the back facing is also attached in the sleeve seams. This makes it much more stable than the flimsy facing that Butterick suggests for 5030 pattern (the pattern I’m basing the dress on). It was kinda tricky to figure out how the attachment to the shoulder seam is done, and especially in what order the understitching should be done. I messed up a little bit, but the end result looks nice overall.

By the way, on real DVF wrap dresses the facings are not separate pieces. They are just folded fabric from the bodice/skirt that is interfaced with fusible knit interfacing. I didn’t have enough fabric for this solution, hence why the facing on the bodice is separate. But on the skirt I used the DVF method.

Turned and topstitched cuffs. No visible serged seam on the DVF inner cuffs! On the outside the seam is stitched in the ditch. It took me four tries to create a result that I was okay with. Sewing nice looking seams on stretchy knits is hard, but next time I’ll do better!

The ties. They are attached to the facing, then folded over to hide the seam and topstitched in place. I will say that the risk of visible, flipped out facings and a gaping neckline is real with this dress, as was it was with the DVF dresses I tried on. I spoke to a sale person about this and she said she likes to tie her wrap dresses tight over the bust to keep the facing in place and stop the neckline from gaping.

Clear elastic in the waistband. This is to keep the waist seam from dropping. This detail is actually from a Tory Burch wrap dress from the same store. Most DVF dresses are one continuous piece, so I couldn’t find out how they do waist seams (the store didn’t have one of those). But the Tory Burch was also well made, so I figured it would be a good idea to use the clear elastic method. The reason it looks so nice is that my new Babylock came with a big bunch of presser foots, including one for elastic. It was amazing to work with!

And finally a look at the bodice. I messed up the sleeves since I tried to mix to badly drawn sleeve patterns (Butterick’s and Onion’s wrap dress patterns). I had to reshape everything, using my block pattern for knit tops but it didn’t turn out 100% great. Luckily the busy pattern hides some of the flaws.

So here you go! I hope my post can act as inspiration for others who want to make there own wrap dress and want to test more high end detailing than can be found in many sewing patterns. To be honest, at this point of my sewing life, I learn more from studying well made RTW than I do from most sewing pattern instructions. I especially love how high end companies avoids a lot of the homemade trappings such as flimsy facings and other things that we as homesewists often are told to use when following sewing instructions.

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  • Reply
    July 13, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    I say I say I say ….. fabulous matierial. Beautiful design and colours. You are one capable and stylish lady. I wish I had found you sooner as you are very inspiring 👏

    • Reply
      July 14, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Thank you for your kind words! *blushes* Yes I lucked out with the fabric, it really makes the dress and while it cost a bit more than regular knits, the quality is just so much better

  • Reply
    Faye Lewis
    July 14, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I loved your 2012 Wrap dress and that know I will love this one just as much. The fabric you’ve chosen is gorgeous!

    • Reply
      July 14, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Thank you 🙂 I was so happy when I found the fabric,which was also something I learned when trying out DVF-dresses. The print, colour and quality of the fabric is a huge part in the overall look of a wrap dress.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    This looks just gorgeous. I’m lucky to have used an original DVF pattern from the 70’s that belongs to a friend. It is drafted beautifully and from memory the skirt is self faced but the neckline has a separate facing. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve made, from a beautiful printed merino-Lycra blend. I think a wrap dress needs a knit with great recovery to prevent sagging. Can’t wait to see your finished frock!

    • Reply
      July 17, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Wow, what a treasure having a wrap dress made of the original DVF pattern. I considered paying for it, but it cost over 90 US dollar, so no bueno! I’m happy to hear that yours has a separate neckline facing, that makes mine feel more authentic too. I suspect the construction has changed a lot over time. Now the ones with collars also has collar stands and a band, not facing for the neckline. At least the ones I saw in stores. And I agree about your thoughts about the fabric, that was true for the ones in stores as well, they were made of a fairly stable knitted silk jersey. Your merino version sounds fab, theses kind of dresses deserves good fabric

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