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Sew a Better Knit Wrap Dress

Design tweaks and sewing tips for easy-to-wear knit styles
Threads, Issue #210, Aug./Sept. 2020
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Emphasize asymmetrical garment edges with contrasting binding. Pattern: McCall’s 7893, modified. Fabric: polyester/spandex jersey, NancyNixRice.com.

Are you tired of the tug-of-war between fashion and function, between chic and comfortable? Many of my wardrobe planning clients find the easiest answer to balancing those benefits in jersey dresses. Sewn in spandex-blend solids or prints, they offer stretch, wrinkle resistance, washability, and figure flattery. One of my favorite jersey styles is the wrap dress, a classic since the 1970s. There are many patterns available for jersey wrap dresses, offering a variety of silhouettes that can work for any figure type.

Jersey wrap dresses excel in the versatility department. Wear one to the symphony with dressy pumps, then to the grocery store with flats or sandals. Carry it into cooler weather with tights and boots or into summer with bare legs and flip-flops.

knit wrap dress
Wear a wrap dress with confidence, when you make a few key adjustments. Pattern: Butterick 6703, modified. Fabric: rayon/spandex jersey, NancyNixRice.com.

Rely on one for a polished travel look, too. I recently wore a navy polka-dot matte jersey wrap dress and coordinating cardigan overnight on an international flight, then straight into a full day of meetings before finally checking into a hotel, still looking pulled together.

Not all pattern designs and instructions optimize this dress style, however. For example, a true wrap dress in a silky knit tends to fall open awkwardly when you sit or move. Converting a design into a pullover, faux-wrap version is easy and produces a more secure garment without sacrificing the comfort and figure-defining effect of the surplice style.

A neck edge with a self-binding finish is likely to hug the body more than the plain turned-and-topstitched finish that is typically part of a wrap dress pattern’s instructions. Opt for a solid-colored binding to enhance the style lines of an allover print dress. A two-piece version—a surplice top with a…

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