Hi guys, welcome to my next Minerva make! This one is the Named Patterns Olivia Wrap dress Sewing Pattern in a gorgeous baroque print Jersey Fabric.

 I'd seen a lot of really lovely wrap dresses around, and in this cooler weather who doesn't want to wrap themselves up in something cosy, soft and stretchy?! I chose this fabric for the beautiful pattern on it, it's a slinky medium weight jersey that's thick enough to not need a lining - yay!

My choice of the Olivia Wrap dress was based on previous success with other patterns from Named, and also the nice wide belt that the dress has - I need something to give me a bit of shape at the waist or I look like I'm wearing a sack.

As usual with Named Patterns, the pieces came printed on a giant sheet of thick white paper - I prefer this to flimsy tissue paper as not only is it more durable but the lines are easier to see! Unlike the big pattern companies, the pieces are not printed separately on the paper - they all overlap each other so you've got no option other than to trace. Additionally, the pieces don't include seam allowance, so you have to add these yourself - I add mine using a Prym parallel tracing wheel. With this little gadget basically you run the wheel along the edge of the line, and the chalk wheel (set at the distance away you specify) marks out the seam allowance. You can add the seam allowances in one of two ways:

  1. Cut the templates without the seam allowances (ie how they are straight from the pattern) and then trace round them on the fabric - the chalk lines will then become your cutting lines
  2. Or (and this is what I do), before cutting out the templates from the tracing paper, add the seam allowances on the paper. The chalk wouldn't mark my paper - it just brushed off - but the chalk wheel has little prongs which were enough to make a line of perforations which I could then use as my cutting lines.

I prefer option two, because this means that I only have to add the seam allowances once - if I cut the pieces without the seam allowances, this means I have to use the chalk wheel on all subsequent makes. By adding them to the templates, they are already there each time I want to use them.

I laid out the pattern and highlighted all the lines of my size, to try to bring some sort of order to the chaos and help me see what I should be tracing. One thing I learned, the hard way, about tracing pieces from a pattern like this was to not just eyeball it and *think* you've got all the pieces. TICK THEM OFF ON THE TEMPLATE LIST as you trace them. That way, you'll avoid having to haul out the pattern and the tracing paper when you've missed off a small facing piece. Or again, when you realise you're missing a skirt piece. Yep. It happened.

We then had further dramas when I lost one of the facing pieces... only to discover that because it was so thin, it got bundled up with the scrappy offcuts and put in the bin. So I had to cut another. Then I could only find two out of four pocket pieces, so I cut another two - only to later find the missing two and end up with six. I really thought I was cursed with this project!

After I had got all of the pieces sewn together I tried it on... and the style looked horrible on me. The length was not flattering (I've recently spoke about skirt lengths on my blog, and my findings on what does and does not suit me), and I discovered that there's a good reason why I don't own a wrap dress or wear V necks. Because they don't suit me. I've seen this dress on other people and it looks lovely on them - but it genuinely looked like a dressing gown on me. Not one to be defeated, I was determined to make it work - and set about finding the modifications that would improve the situation.

Number one was the length of the skirt - I chopped about six inches off it to take it above the knee. Yes. Better. Inspired by this I then took to the sleeves - they went from full length to elbow length, and I was starting to like the dress more. I then played about with how the neckline sat. The dress confirmed that V-necks aren't my thing, but by moving the crossover point about I discovered that this changed how it looked and how much I liked it. I eventually found the spot where it looked the best.

After all these changes, I ended up with a dress that I liked considerably more than when I first tried it on. There's a couple of adjustments that I would have made, had I have made a toile - I would have raised the waistline (it sits a couple of inches too low for me) and also taken some fabric out of the back piece as it's really poofy. The waist is elasticated, which I feel like it doesn't need to be given that the fabric is stretchy - I would have preferred a snug fit across my back with a cleaner silhouette.

I also would have left the pockets off - let's be real, you're not going to actually put anything in pockets on a dress like this because they would stick out a mile, and I found that even just the bulk of the pocket bag just gave me weird lumps on my hips - not cool. On top of all of this, because the fabric is stretchy and you're wrapping it around yourself, this pulled on the side seams of the dress and made the pockets gape wide open. Perhaps I was wrapping it around myself too tight, but to me wrap dresses should be close-fitting... perhaps this pattern is hinting at a looser fit with the elasticated waist, and I am just trying to mould it into something that it's not.

As this is the first wrap dress I've made I've nothing to compare it to, but it came together quite well. Although I'm kind of happy with the results, I won't be making another wrap dress as this has cemented my avoidance of wrap bodices and V-necks.  The pattern itself was perfectly fine, with good instructions, and I'll continue to make other patterns from Named - it's just that this one wasn't quite me. The Fabric however is gorgeous and I'd definitely use this again on other jersey patterns, and it gets bonus points because it matches my hair!

I hope you've enjoyed this post... see you again next month!

Sarah @ Wanderstitch