Wrap Dress Fail – Petite Stitchery Sunflower Dress

I’ve come to learn that fails are a huge hit on my blog, so settle in for this story kiddos. It’s about how I sucked at making a wrap dress!

Sometime in late May and early June, I’d gotten a bug up my butt about batching a lot of projects. I printed and taped together a bunch of PDFs, then prioritized them in my June plans. Well, things don’t always go according to those plans! And that was the case with my Petite Stitchery Sunflower wrap dress.

Note: That’s an affiliate link. Why? Because it costs money to keep the lights on, even when the patterns don’t quite work out in my favor. But hey, they might work out for you!

Did you know that Diane Von Furstenberg is credited as the originator of the wrap dress? In actuality (according to Wikipedia) what she debuted it in the 1960s was a knee-length, long sleeved, clingy knit dress modeled after a design that originated in the 1930s. Regardless, it’s considered the most flattering for any woman because it automatically enhances curves and creates a waist, so the wearer has that desirable hour-glass figure.

I’d first seen the Sunflower (a woven, not knit, dress) in the Curvy Sewing Collective Facebook group, on one of Petite Stitchery’s curvy testers. I trusted her opinion, so I ran off and bought it for myself.

It was one of the first PDFs that I printed and taped together, with the idea that I would need a full bust adjustment. In between this and actually making it, though, I went through several other patterns and completely forgot about the Sunflower until just before the deadline for #sewtogetherforsummer. It was a wrap dress challenge, and though I wanted to make one up in a beautiful abstract matte jersey, I figured I already owned the Sunflower and had a perfect zebra-ish crepe fabric for it, so just make it already!

So much time had passed that I completely forgot about the FBA. I just went to town cutting fabric (and THEN realized I didn’t even have the back skirt printed out!). Sure the bodice pieces looked a tad small, but I figured it would all work out.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t.


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See how it barely covers Dorie’s cleavage? I’m not a young (read: pert) 20-something anymore and I don’t feel decent in it. (El Husbando, trying to be supportive but still a man, suggested I could wear it in the bedroom.) I was so disappointed I didn’t even bother adding the gathered ruffles to the bodice or skirt.

I could potentially remake the bodice front, but truthfully, I’m not sure I want to. The pattern is billed as having fluttery sleeves, but they’re not. Like, at all. I could make it sleeveless but I really love flutter sleeves and this is beyond disappointing.

But let’s talk about the PDF itself. I categorize Petite Stitchery under the “Mommy & Me” banner of indie pattern companies that all seem to use the same drafting program, which in some respects is great and others not so much. The company drafts for both kids and adult women (hence the category) and is very much about the cutesy look. How I rate all PDFs:

  • Layered sizes: yes
  • Colored lines by size: yes
  • No trim pattern: yes
  • Prints to edge of paper: yes
  • Print layout included: yes, page 5 of instructions
  • A0 available: no

The instructions also include a print chart, specific to the version of the dress you choose. This is really handy to avoid wasting paper. There is also a cut chart for the rectangular pieces with measurements instead of actual pattern pieces, another great paper saver. They use their extensive pool of pattern testers’ photos as marketing, which is great in that one can see the finished garments on a large and diverse set of bodies (though mostly in large florals, which I find…interesting). The size range is also very generous.

And even though looking at the above attributes ranks it above some other PDF patterns (no trim, layered, AND colored lines!), it’s not all flowers and sausages. For example, it is indeed a no trim PDF, but the paper is overlapped by an inch on each side. That means 4 pages overlap at each corner, making a very thick to cut through. Also, the grainlines are VERY short. On the skirt it was about one whole inch long. And there are no finished measurements.

The instructions are bit nuts, too. While there is a one-sheet for the instructions if you don’t need illustrations, there is also an expanded set of instructions with photograph for each step, but no line drawings. I wonder about the drafting techniques, as there are NO notches (unless you count the single ONE on the backside of the sleeve head). The photos are each clearly taken with a cellphone, which in and of itself isn’t terrible, but the lighting is super contrasty and the phone’s shadow can be seen in more than one. Also the chipped nail polish visible in some photos is actually pointed out in the instructions. It’s just not on the same level of other indie pattern companies.

The pattern construction itself is also a bit strange. I’ve already mentioned the lack of notches. But the darts, which are on both the front AND back of the bodice, are meant to be cut out of the PDF and then drawn onto the fabric. There are no dart heads or instructions for which way to press them (to the center, FYI). I drafted my own dart heads before completely cutting the pattern out, but I was taken aback by the directions to do it this new way. New to me, anyway.

That being said, the garment itself is cute. I just made it too small for me. That’s not the Petite Stitchery’s fault, that’s fully mine. And not all “Mommy & Me” patterns are like this. Rebecca Page, the designer behind my beloved Circle Cardigan, is very similar. However her patterns seem a bit more polished.

In the end, while walking around Vancouver recently, I came upon this pretty thing in a shop window.

I told my husband that was the exact dress Dorie was wearing back home, with a few little upgrades. So not all is lost with this pattern. I could redraft it with a real FBA so it fits and then draft the flounce to make it look more like this.

Plus I still have plans for the original #2018makenine wrap dress, because clearly this was NOT it. I refuse to give up hope on making me a proper wrap dress, one even DVF might envy!

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