It seems like a long time since I got to don a full-on, unabashedly, undeniably figure-skimming dress and it’s been fun to take pictures with this one on! I’ve admired the Highland Wrap Dress for a long time now. It was always on my virtual to-do list, but, as with many projects, I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. As it turns out, this was a fortuitous thing as Allie Olson has now extended the range of the dress to a D cup bodice for a size range of 12-30. When I saw she was looking for testers for the new range I jumped at the chance!
Of course, the Highlands Wrap Dress is not a new pattern and since it’s quite popular, you’re most likely aware of it already. It’s a woven wrap dress that comes in both a midi and maxi version and has both a sleeveless and short-sleeved view. Both versions are finished with lovely wide facings, deep side slits and have waist ties as a finishing detail. As you can see, I went for the maxi version (why not, eh?) and plumped for the sleeveless option over the sleeved.
Sizing and fabric
In my experience, a woven wrap dress is a tricky pattern to fit for a curvy figure. The bodice pieces of a wrap dress are fairly unforgiving as a draft, given that they’re not very contoured, and in the past I’ve found it challenging to get that shape across the bust into the waist just right. It certainly helps immeasurably to start off with a D cup fit and I found the sizing across the bust to be very good.
As I mentioned, the new size range goes from 12 to 30, which corresponds to a bust measurement of 40.5 to 57.5 inches, a waist measurement of 32.5 to 49.5 inches and a hip measurement of 42.5 to 59.5 inches. A great range, and I also love that the bicep and back length measurements are included.
Measurements-wise, my own shape fits almost perfectly into the extended 16, with the usual exception of my tummy region, which is one size larger. The finished garment has quite a lot of ease before you tie the wrap and apply the elastic to the back, so I was banking on the fact I could get away with adding a little more elastic and I think it worked out fine. It’s not quite as cinched as some versions I’ve seen, but I like it. The pattern is drafted to 5’6″ and, handily enough, that is my height.
Fabric-wise, you need around 4 yards for most versions of this dress, give or take a few inches. I knew I wanted to use this beautiful mid-blue mystery vintage fabric that I got from a local fabric sale. I *think* it’s some kind of rayon blend as it’s cool to the skin, but it doesn’t wrinkle like a rayon challis does, so I’m sure there must be some sort of synthetic component to it. The selvedge reads “Northcott Silk Inc.”, but I couldn’t find much info about them. They’ve been around since 1935, but are mostly known recently for their cottons “that feel like silk”. I suppose it’s possible this is one of those, but it really doesn’t feel like it. I should really do a burn test. If you know anything about this company, do let me know in the comments. I love a bit o’ fabric history, I do.
Since there are puh-lenty of reviews on this dress already, I’m not going to go through the construction in massive detail, but I did make a few notes I made as I went along:
- I really liked the order of the instructions. This is a pattern where you get the little fiddly parts out of the way first, at maximum enthusiasm, and that always seems eminently sensible to me. In this pattern, these pieces are the staystitching, button tabs and waist ties construction.
- The waist is slightly gathered at the back and has a piece of elastic inserted. This looks stunning if you have a high waist to hip ratio (as per the pattern pic) and still pretty nice otherwise (i.e. on me).
- The side slits are quite luscious. Cue gratuitous shots of said side slits.
- Another important point is that there is great coverage from the wrap-over part of the dress. I am whooshing my skirts around like a whirling dervish on heat here and there is no danger of exposure.
- The finishing on this dress is accomplished using lovely wide facings. The instructions are fantastic and I just love that there are mitred corners at the hem. It’s so neat and tidy! I did find the topstitching of the facings a little tricky with that width, lovely as it looks, and I think next time I would use a chalk line or similar on the outside to mark the stitchline. I found it hard to keep track.
The dress in these pictures is basically my tester version with no adjustments apart from lowering the bust dart by 1.5″, which is a fairly standard adjustment for me. Given that, I think it fits remarkably well and am delighted with the result.
I only have a couple of small niggles that I would adjust for next time. The first thing is to lower the waist ties. I am slightly long-bodied and they are a touch too high for me. This is what is causing the tiny ridge you can see just under my right boob, along the length of the wrap edge.
The other main issue is that the armscyes are just a little loose for me. One more so than the other, so I definitely must have stretched that one out when sewing the facing – oops! Having said that, this is one of the adjustments Allie made to the final pattern right where I need it, so that will be different now anyway. Similarly, she cut in the armholes slightly on the sleeveless version, which I was also thinking about doing just slightly. And that’s it! Minimal, really.
I think this dress is extremely versatile. I’ve made it in a slinky fabric and styled it with wedges and red lipstick, but it would just as easily work as a beach resort wrap around with flip flops. I haven’t seen the other testers’ photos yet, but I’m sure there will be a fantastic diversity in styles and fabrics. It looks fancy, but I was surprised by how short the instructions were and it actually sews up rather quickly. The facings are the only area that really require you to slow down and take your time – and it’s worth it to achieve the finishing this dress deserves. I’m expecting to see a lot of these pop up in my news feed this summer. Great pattern!