Be warned, this post will get fluffy but it’s not about cats at all! It’s about me, testing out a new kind of fabric I have never sewn before: Stretch velvet, called “Nicki-Samt” in German. So if you dare to read about that fluffy sewing adventure, go on reading!
How I came to sew a velvet vintage dress
The idea to sew a velvet dress came to me while I was lying on my sofa with the cat during christmas time, browsing through my instagram feed. Then I stumpled across this photo of a blue vintage velvet dress on the channel of SevenyOne Belgium.
I imagined how it must feel to wear something so soft and comfortable, especially after a heavy christmas dinner. The pattern seemed to be very interesting too with the gathered parts on the shoulders and the wraplook front. So I decided to make one, ordered my velvet fabric and started sewing!
Fabric & Other Sewing Supplies I used
– Stretchy velvet fabric, 2m
– Fusible interfacing to stabilize shoulders, neckline and armholes
– A special ballpoint-needle for my sewing machine (for stretchy knitted fabrics)
– Ironing cloth, to prevent the velvet from getting flat and shiny when pressed
How I drafted the pattern
When I took a closer look at the shoulder seams and the wrap front in the picture above, one special pattern came to my mind: The “Wrapdress” From “Gertie sews vintage casual”, that I sewed before two years ago (Click here for a look at the original wrapdress pattern from the book). It’s a “real” wrapdress with completely overlapping bodice and skirt pieces and a tie in the waistline, designed for flowy summer dresses.
From the real wrapdress to the fake wrapdress
Since my velvet fabric would me too thick for a real wrapdress, I decided just to use the overlapping front section from the bodice of the Gertie dress.
- I removed the tie on the bodice and designed the two halfs to be stitched together in the side seam
- I removed 2cm of width on the side seams of the front and back bodice, because I have a stretchy fabric that fits best when it’s a little stretched when I wear it.
For the skirt, I didn’t use the gathered skirt from the original wrapdress pattern, I used the “A-Line” skirt pattern from the same book and matched it’s waistline to the width of the bodice. To get a “Wraplook” on the skirt too, I added 8cm of width on the left side and formed it into a pleat that matches the side seam.
How I drafted the sleeves
I already drafted my own longsleeve pattern for Gertie’s Wrapdress in october 2021, when I designed a longsleeve wrap blouse, based on that pattern. On this blouse pattern, I made the sleeve longer with a slit and little cuffs with a button.
For the velvet dress I didn’t need the slit and the button party, because the fabric is stretchy and fits perfectly over my wrists without them. Instead of making pleats into the wide sleeves, I added a bigger cuff and stretched the sleeve’s fabric while sewing it on, just like the cuff of a sweatshirt.
Sewing the new pattern for the first time
There might be velvet fabrics made from cotton or silk, that are from very high quality, but I used a rathed cheap polyester fabric here. I already bought it the year before to try out another pattern, but that sewing project never happened. So it was there already and perfect for trying out this new dress. If I would have failed, it wouldn’t have been that bad with a cheap fabric like that.
After the pattern was drafted, the dress was quite easy to sew. First I stitched together the bodice parts and checked, if it fits right:
The top fitted perfectly right at once, what made me very proud of myself. Here you can see the bodice in progress.
I did not make the collar from the original pattern, I just turned in the upper edge of the bodice and topstitched it with a twin needle.
I cut the skirt parts on the fold, since the dress is stretchy, it doesn’t need a zipper or a button. I closed the side seams of the skirt, turned in the hemline and topstitched it with the twin needle, as I did with the bodice.
My tipps for sewing a velvet dress
Besides from drafting the pattern, this dress was very easy to sew. Stretch Velvet is a very kind fabric: It is sewing like other knits and doesn’t need much ironing, interfacing or lining to look smooth and nice around the body. It’s also washable quite well. If you want to sew with velvet, here are my best tipps for sewing and wearing that fabric.
- Don’t use gathering on the skirt. It makes the dress heavy and tends to wear out the bodice part. Also it looks quite bulky on the waistline
- Velvet does not fry on the raw edges a lot, but it gets very fuzzy when you cut it. After I finished the seam allowances with my overlocker, I had fuzzy black dust all over my sewing room. So plan in some cleaning, if you want to sew velvet.
- Don’t iron the fabric directly. It’s best not to iron it at all, but if it’s really necessary, use an ironing cloth to prevent the fluffy part from getting flat and shiny.
- After washing, don’t dry it hanging on a sleeve. It works good with lying it down to dry or putting it in the dryer. The dryer makes the fabric super soft and fluffy.