THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 26, 2008


Filed under: Embellishment,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Gigi,Patterns,sewing — Gigi @ 3:48 pm

I woke up this morning ready to tackle the Hot Patterns Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Wrap Dress, other projects in the queue be damned (I know, I think I have adult ADD). I thought about it all day yesterday and couldn’t wait to get started! You see, this dress has been on my to-do list forever. I had it in my head that I wanted to use two solids or a solid and a print but just haven’t found two fabrics that were perfect so I decided to just go ahead and make it in a print for now. I’m sure even the Hot Patterns Team is sick and tired of my endless versions of the Cosmopolitan Dress!

As I headed to the sewing room this morning I poked my head into the exercise room (where my cutting table used to be) and saw this:


A dress version of Jalie 2793 that I cut out months ago. For some reason I just lost interest in it after it was all cut out. I think I was dreading sewing with the stretch Illusion I was using for the contrast. That stuff is never fun to sew, sort of like handling vermicelli (the worm or the spaghetti). The fabric is a gorgeous rayon/lycra from Textile Studios which made me feel a little guilty. Okay, a lot guilty. So, I grabbed the sad little pile of fabric and continued on my way to the sewing room.


I often look at top and dress patterns interchangeably. A top can become a dress and a dress can become a top. Since this top was already flared at the hip I simply chalked the extra length directly onto the fabric. If you are working with a fitted top it’s easiest to pull out a favorite dress pattern and marry the two at the waist.

I thought it would be pretty to use black stretch Illusion for the neckline, the modesty panel and the sleeve bands. Awhile back I used it for the bands on this Jalie 2449 top and really liked the effect. And, yes, I sewed all of those little paillettes on individually, by hand. Tedious but worth it.


Sewing with the Illusion didn’t turn out to be so bad. Rather than serging, I used a very narrow zigzag to stitch all of the enclosed seams. I originally wanted to zigzag over black elastic thread to stabilize the neckline but I didn’t have any and, as it turned out, I really didn’t need it anyway. I then carefully trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/8″ with my rotary cutter. In retrospect, I could have used my perling machine. Oh well, I just didn’t think of it!


This left me with a nice neat seam. To make it a little easier to handle I machine basted the outer edges together after turning and pressing. The fabric can be wiggly and I didn’t want anything slipping out of place during serging. Yikes, I really need to recover my pressing board.



I debated whether or not the modesty panel was necessary. I decided to go ahead with it because I knew the weight of the fabric would pull the neckline down a bit. During fitting, I was really glad I did! As you can see, this would be pretty risque without the panel.


Here’s a better photo on the mannequin – I take the worst mirror pictures of anyone in the online sewing community.


I love the way the Illusion looks on the sleeves!


Here’s the completed dress. It needs shortening and hemming but I’m going to let it hang out for a day before I finish up. Doesn’t it always feel so good to complete a UFO and hang a new garment in one’s closet?



  1. Your use of the stretch shear is great–it is a nice departure from a rather predictable solid textile, and makes this top much more ‘designer’ looking. This is a tip worth trying on my next banded tunic top.

    I also use the same type of stretch sheer as an edging when I want cut down the crew neck on a “T” shirt neckline. A narrow folded strip is applied to the new cut edge. I use the same process that I would normally use to apply or serge on a knit ribbing.

    Comment by Jen O — July 26, 2008 @ 4:29 pm

  2. I’m not worthy (genuflects in humility and backs out of the room murmuring praise)

    Comment by phyllisc — July 26, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  3. That is clever! I just bought this pattern and you erased my buyers remorse. I was afraid the style was too stale, but I was wrong. I love your version!

    Comment by Robin — July 26, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

  4. I’ve used the ‘shorten dress into a top/lengthen and widen top to make a dress thing’ several times. I’m always on the look out for vintage Vogue blouse and top patterns because during certain periods, they had wonderful blouse patterns to use.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — July 26, 2008 @ 8:02 pm

  5. I like the neckline, and yes the modesty panel works. I like the idea of converting a good top panel into a dress. will keep this in mind when I am pattern shopping

    Comment by Handmaiden — July 26, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

  6. I’ve thought about turning a knit top pattern into a dress – you actually did it though, and very well!! Very encouraging!

    Comment by robin — July 27, 2008 @ 8:42 am

  7. You have inspired me to take up garment sewing again! I purchased Simplicity 3875 yesterday and plan to start the muslin this week. Love the info and pictures you post.

    Comment by kheli — July 27, 2008 @ 9:32 am

  8. Very cool! Love the illusion and mesh. Superlative styling!!!

    Comment by Mary Beth — July 27, 2008 @ 9:45 am

  9. Very pretty! I love the illusion around the neckline.

    Comment by Alexandra — July 27, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

  10. I must have some of that stretch illusion, where online can it be ordered? Your dress is just wonderful, and I need to make a knockoff. Loving the effect of the sheer.

    Comment by Gemma — July 27, 2008 @ 5:26 pm

  11. Thank you all for your kind comments! Gemma, I bought mine at JoAnn Fabrics sometime ago but you can get it from anyplace that sells dance, skating or lingerie fabrics.

    Comment by Gigi — July 27, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  12. Very nice dress. What a great idea with the stretch illusion, not only it gives a nice contrast but the neckline fits so well and enhances the bust beautifully. I love this dress!

    Comment by LauraLo — July 28, 2008 @ 6:07 am

  13. very cute top. Love the sequins. Are you going to make up the Kimono wrap dress? I’ve been dithering about buying the pattern, waiting to see someone else make it up.

    Comment by Mandi — July 28, 2008 @ 5:38 pm

  14. How adorable! Love, love the stretch illusion and I’ll shamlessly copy this look.

    Comment by Cindy — July 29, 2008 @ 11:02 am

  15. […] 2008 Filed under: Embellishment, Gigi, Uncategorized — Gigi @ 7:00 am I really like the dress I finished the other day but the more I looked at it, the more I felt it was missing something. It […]

    Pingback by Hot Studs « The Sewing Divas — July 30, 2008 @ 7:00 am

  16. Gigi, Thanks for the info. I don’t have access to JoAnn’s, so I ran over (with my fingers naturally) to Lucy’s Fabrics otherwise known as I asked Laura to come take a look at your dress and mesh fabric and whether any of her mesh in stock was suitable. She sent me a long list (fabulous service) to choose from.
    My mesh arrived this morning and it is truly wonderful, so now I can go copy your dress. Thanks so much for sharing and imparting your wonderful taste and skill.

    Comment by Gemma — August 6, 2008 @ 5:44 am

  17. Hi Gigi,
    Wonderful dress! Where can one buy the paillettes? They must be made of some light-weight material.

    Comment by Prabha — August 19, 2008 @ 7:36 pm

  18. Prahba, you can buy the studs and other hot-fix embellishments at

    Comment by Gigi — August 20, 2008 @ 3:55 am

  19. Thank you Gigi

    Comment by Prabha — August 21, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

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