Completed: 40s Wool Crepe Wrap Dress

12 Jun

I know, this dress looks strikingly similar to the 40s wrap dress that Peter made for his identical cousin Cathy earlier this month, not to mention I’ve already dabbled in wool crepe for summer wear, as well as a full 40s wool crepe dress. Yeesh. Ya think it’s possible for me to branch out a little here? Nuh uh, no way. Not me.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

I actually bought this fabric ‘way back when I was visiting Mood Fabrics in NY. I’m sure y’all are sick of hearing about it at this point, but heyyyy I’ll be working through that stash for at least the next couple of months. Just so we’re clear.

Anyway, fabric. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t planning on buying any wool crepe – but again, Carolyn talked me into it. She’s SUCH a good enabler! This wool crepe is actually a bit thinner and drapier than most wool crepes I’ve come across, making it a good weight for a smart summer dress (oh god, did I really just describe a dress as “smart”? I am totally stuck on this 40s thing…). With Carolyn’s advice, I underlined the entire dress in a lightweight cotton batiste, to combat the slight sheerness and make the dress more comfortable to wear in the heat.

McCall 6113

I used McCall’s 6113 to make this dress up. Isn’t the pattern gorgeous!? A friend found it (along with an entire paper grocery bag full of patterns – ranging from the 40s to the 80s, all in my size. I MEAN COME ON, WHAT ARE THE ODDS) in her attic, and gifted the whole stash to meee! Yes!! The pieces are intact, but unfortunately… the instructions are not. Wah wah. Thankfully, I’ve made a few wrap dresses in my day, not to mention I feel fairly confident in my assemblage skills, so I decided to give it a go.

McCall 6113 - pattern piece

… this is what I found when I pulled the pieces out. Not only is everything labeled (thank you, printed patterns!), but there are construction notes printed ON the pattern sheet, AND the notches are numbered in the order that things go together. PRAISE THE LORD. Although, in all honesty… I probably could have put this together without the help. But MAN, it was nice to eliminate most of the guesswork!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

Despite the pattern being in my size, I did have to make a few adjustments to get everything to fit nicely (I generally like to go down a size or two – sometimes more – since I find most patterns tend to have more ease than I prefer to wear. Yep, even vintage patterns. What gives; am I just in denial of my size or something??), mainly in the form of taking in the side seams and shortening the shoulders, as well as hacking about 5″ off the length. I made a muslin for fit, but it ended up also giving me a great idea of how the pattern was put together so I had less guesswork with my wool crepe. Which is good, since wool crepe can be a sneaky little bitch when it comes to ripping out stitches.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

In hindsight, wool crepe is definitely a little on the bulky side for the gathers in this dress. I’m afraid I look a bit boxy at the waistline here 😦 Oh well!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress
Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

I do love the little tucks in the back 🙂

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

And the curved hem at the overlap.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

I don’t know what’s going on with this picture, I just thought it was funny. ~Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline~

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress
Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

Oh, did you notice my pretty embroidery? This all happened entirely on a whim – I finished the dress, put it on and looked in the mirror, and it just looked… red. Overwhelmingly red, and plain! I decided to add a small punch of (neutral)color by embroidering the shoulder detail. The embroidery is from the Hoop Love Vintage Transfers Flickr Group, and it’s all just a basic back stitch with french knots in the middle of the flowers. Ha, that sound so easy but it seriously took me about 6 hours to do. Embroidery is definitely a time-suck!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

Here you can see the underlined inside, as well as the series of snaps and hooks that hold the dress together.

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

And there it is closed!

Red Wool Crepe 40s Dress

How many of you will groan if I finish this post with something like, “WELL I GUESS THAT WRAPS IT UP!!”

Not sorry.


63 Responses to “Completed: 40s Wool Crepe Wrap Dress”

  1. Anthea June 12, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    Great dress! Love the embroidery!

  2. joelle June 12, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    This is a lovely dress! I love the pleating on the front wrap, and the curved hem. hmm that would be an easy detail to add to a modern wrap dress pattern! it’s so feminine, especially together with the embroidery.

  3. designcloseup June 12, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    Yes, embroidery can be a bitch time-wise, but this is that attention to details that makes your dress stand out even more! Great job and you rock that 1940’s look 🙂

  4. Meg June 12, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    So this is an entirely random question that I could probably find an answer through google but I always think personal experience is more informative. In general how much wool is in wool crepe and do you know what kind? I have a wool allergy so I have thus far stuck to cottons, silks, etc but I do love the way this fabric hangs.

    • Meg June 12, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      Ooops I meant to add one more thing. This may not be something normal people even notice but with wool items you can touch it and kind of “feel” the wooliness. So when you touch this fabric do you notice the wool? (for example some wool items aren’t as scratchy and I have less of a reaction to them) I don’t know if this makes any sense at all but thanks for whatever feedback you can give!

    • LLADYBIRD June 12, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      Ooh, I’m not really sure if I know what kind of wool is in wool crepe – I imagine it varies based on the fabric. You can get blends, but I prefer 100% wool as I find it presses and drapes better than the blends. It is generally pretty soft and not wool-scratchy at all. And since it benefits best from a lining or underlining (since it’s soo drapey and kind of see-through), you could probably get away with it! 🙂

  5. bobbinsandtucks June 12, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    I love this dress. I think my favorite part is the curve on the wrap. Such a nice simple detail that makes it look really special. And the embroidery is the perfect feminine touch.

  6. Kerry June 12, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    A really pretty and smart dress, the embroidery is such a nice touch and the colour of that crepe is beautiful.

  7. Tasha @ By gum, by golly! June 12, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Okay other than the overall wonderful dress that I’m dying over, I’m wondering where you bought red batiste?? I only seem to see it in white or pastel colors.

    Back to the dress– I love it, and it looks great on you! The embroidery is a great touch too (I’m embroidering on something right now for the same reason that I worried it would be too plain). I love those shoulders! And people who say no vintage patterns have built-in ease are just flat out wrong, let me tell you. lol

    • LLADYBIRD June 12, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      Mood Fabrics! I know what you mean – usually batiste and voile only come in ~*~baby~*~ colors, so I was SUPER pumped when I discovered the selection of colors at Mood! Call the store if you don’t see them on the website – it’s not expensive; somewhere in the realm of $10-$14/yard (and it’s pretty wide).

  8. Kelly June 12, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Why change it up when the results are so good?? This dress is lovely on you, and the embroidery lends the perfect touch. I’m getting really into embroidery, but yes, though not terribly hard it seriously takes forever.

  9. kathryn June 12, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    This is so gorgeous! I love all the details – your embroidery, the gathers and the curved hem – they really make it stand out.

  10. Stephanie June 12, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    It’s gorgeous!! I love the color.

  11. Colleen June 12, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    It’s really beautiful. I, too, live in the undeep south (north carolina) and I can’t fathom wool anything in the summer. But, it’s a breathing fabric, like cotton, so maybe I should give it a chance. I would really just rather not wear anything at all.

    I love love love the embroidery.

    • LLADYBIRD June 13, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      You and me both 🙂 Nakey summers for the win, aha!

  12. CGCouture June 12, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    I love the color, the little tucks/pleats (especially the ones on the skirt), and the embroidery is very pretty too!! Great dress! 🙂 I am having trouble wrapping my mind around the words “wool” and “summer” being in the same sentence…though I suppose sheep have to wear wool year ’round, so maybe it’s not so bad…?

  13. twirldesigns June 12, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    I love the silhouette! I keep meaning to finish up the vintage swimsuit I have cut out, but keep finding other projects to work on. 🙂

  14. macstabby June 12, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    What a gem! Those little details (tucks, pleaty-bits, etc.) really make it. And that embroidery on the shoulders is CRAMAZEBALLS.

  15. CarolinasCallin June 12, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Really pretty! Love that pattern with the waistline tucks – such a great detail! Well done – this dress looks super flattering on you 🙂 Great to know about all the batiste colors at Mood, too!!

  16. Becky June 12, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Lovely, not boxy, you just look SMART. My mother always said that, and believe me, it was high praise. Great job.

  17. Lori June 12, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    This is just so beautiful on you, Lauren. Great job again, the embroidery puts it over the top.

  18. Melissa June 12, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Beautiful! The embroidery and the fabric are lovely.

  19. tialys June 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Look at you looking all posh!
    I love it when you talk about Mood fabrics because it reminds me of when I used to be able to watch Project Runway on UK T.V. and the contestants would all go nuts in the shop with their budget. I can’t understand why it’s not shown any more – I really miss it. We did have our own version – Project Catwalk – which was not as good but was better than nothing and even that has disappeared off the air. Of course we did have the Great British Sewing Bee but that was much more ‘genteel’ and only on for a very short time. I’ll be looking forward to your continued plundering of your Mood stash.

  20. Lelie June 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

    lovely dress!

  21. puu June 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    trying to decide what i like best about this dress is completely impossible. 🙂

  22. Melizza June 12, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    The embroidery looks so pretty (as does the dress, of course) and it’s such a wonderful touch.

  23. Abbey June 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    I have a nonsexual crush on you right now. Amazing.

  24. Karen M June 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    I love hearing your stories on how you make all your clothes, sometime(usually all the time) they just crack me up. You do such wonderful sewing and are so talented.

  25. Sarah W. June 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm #


  26. Callie Swarbrick June 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    I’m being a wimp and have only just started on my sewing adventures, but I adore staring at your blog and all the wonderful clothes you’re making… I think wrap dress is going on my list!

  27. Lisa June 12, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    Love the shape of this and the embroidery. Gorgeous pattern, gorgeous finished dress! Atta gal!

  28. Roxy June 12, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    I am completely in love with this dress! Stunning! Love the embroidery as well.

  29. sallie June 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    So beautiful! I love wrap dresses, just love them! And I have a major soft spot for 40’s designs. The embroidery is such a gorgeous touch!! And hey! Nothing wrong with looking ‘smart’!! Ha!

  30. Lisette June 12, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    It is so beautiful! Looks like it fell right out of the 40s. Where do you find the time to sew so much?!

    • LLADYBIRD June 13, 2013 at 9:02 am #

      Oh, this dress took me a couple of weeks to finish. First the fitting saga (which took a week on it’s own), then figuring out how to put it together without the instructions, then the 6+ hours of embroidery (most of that was done in the car on the drive down to Florida). But, to answer your question – most every day after work 🙂 I have a couple hours to kill before Landon gets home, so it works out perfectly! 🙂

  31. Marie June 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    This is soooooo stunning Lauren! I love all the beautiful 40s details going on and the embroidery is the first thing I noticed…just like I did with your Ceylon!

  32. Amber June 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    I LOVE the embroidery! I don’t think I would even attempt that, I’m so sure I would mess it up. AND I think the drape of that fabric is perfect for a 40’s silhouette/ the boxiness adds to the aesthetic. Especially when accessorized with a belt. Love the whole thing!

  33. mazeliving June 12, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Absolutely love the dress! I think that between the fabric choice and all the details, you found just the right balance for it to turn out so great. I like to toy with the idea of sewing with wool, but I live in Texas. Between the heat and humidity, a garment like that would need a lot of care. I was wondering – how do you care for your wool masterpieces? I know some people try to wash the fabric and see if it can hold, but the majority of wool fabrics I see recommend dry clean only. I was just curious if you had any special secrets 🙂 if you don’t mind sharing of course.

    • LLADYBIRD June 13, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      I prewash the wool as needed (I use the hot wet towel in the dryer method, fyi) and then I just leave it alone! As long as it airs out between wears, wool doesn’t really develop smells. I do the same with my handknit sweaters, too. I don’t like using the dry cleaners, so I try to avoid that at all costs!

  34. Bec Stitches June 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    You are too cute, in a swearing, witty, sarcastic way that I love haha 🙂

  35. Librarian Tells All June 12, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Magnificent! I’m not used to seeing you in 40s style vintage, but I like this. It’s like something the Fiercest Lilliputian would wear. I love the shoulders, and that you found a way to wear WOOL in the SUMMER.

  36. California Pixie June 13, 2013 at 5:20 am #

    Darling!!! Just take it in along the side a bit. Start underarm to waist then from waistline to hem. I think it will fit like a glove if you do that and get rid of the “boxy”. However…boxy or no boxy…you look great in that thing, come on, red??? With embroidery?? Fo sho!!! kimi.

    • LLADYBIRD June 13, 2013 at 9:06 am #

      I already took a LOT off the side seams, anything more would distort the gathers (already tried it, ha ;)). It probably wouldn’t look as stiff if I used a drapier fabric, but.. eh, it is what it is 🙂

      • California Pixie June 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

        Of course you did. I figured! Well…I think it looks great! Done! k.

      • California Pixie June 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

        btw…what size did you use for that pattern. I have some of those. I’ll use you as my guinea!! : kimi.

        • LLADYBIRD June 13, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

          It’s a size 14//32″ bust 🙂

  37. Rochelle New June 13, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    You’re killin’ me, Smalls! …seriously. Dyyyyiiinnnnggg over this dress!
    I think the boxy waist is the perfect silhouette on a 40’s dress like this and it doesn’t look weird of unflattering at all. You’re totally born with it 😉

  38. Lauren June 13, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    Lovely dress 🙂 I love vintage!

  39. June June 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    I did groan! Ha!

    Lovely. The shoulder area was just begging for embellishment, and ya done good.

  40. Nat @ Made in Home June 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    That dress is amazing! Love the colour, and the embroidery is a great addition!

  41. Jo June 13, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    I have wool crepe lust! It just looks and sounds so yum, but I’ve never seen it where I live! I love the embroidered detail on this and the colour 😀 And I don’t think you look boxy in it! 🙂

  42. Bridget June 14, 2013 at 2:12 am #

    I can’t keep up with you! PLEASE tell me you have a staff of 12 behind that barn sewing up all these amazing outfits. It would really make me feel better 😉 You are inspiring! When my grandmother passed away 2 years ago, I took 4 huge bolts of wool (and also tons of amazing silk, and more 80’s stretch lycra than I’ll ever use — especially the leopard print one) but I need some suggestions on what to make with it, besides a coat and my son’s Christmas stocking (I have mostly red and green). It’s not labeled so I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s kinda scratchy. What would you do with it?

    • LLADYBIRD June 14, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      Haha, nope! Sorry! Although I will tell you that when working a couple hours a day, you can get a LOT accomplished! 🙂

      For your wool… I’d use it to make winter dresses and skirts! Maybe a light jacket (I know, you just said coat… but something like the Anise would be nice to wear between seasons), possibly pants depending on the drape. I live for wool circle skirts and wool sheath dresses, so that’s what I’d be all about. Make sure you line them, though, if it’s scratchy. Or make a pinafore-style dress that you can wear a blouse under 🙂 And then give all that lycra to me 🙂 Ok ok, kidding on that last part, haha!!

  43. Peter June 15, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Gorgeous! Will we ever see elbow length gloves on you? (he he)

  44. Zoe June 15, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Beautiful dress, I love the shoulder details. I’m jealous you went to Mood! I found out they have an LA store too so if I am ever in the States I will have to go there 🙂

  45. Stephanie | Mabel Makes June 16, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Gorgeous dress! I love the embroidered shoulder detail. The colour is also really flattering on you – you look fab!

  46. Portia June 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    I love your authentic vintage stuff. It kinda really works with the edgy twist you give it. This is stunning on you! For gawds sake lady, is there NOTHING that doesn’t look good on you, lol?!!
    Cute flats too!

  47. Amy June 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Oh the embroidery is so cute. Fabulous dress.

  48. Anonymous June 30, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    This is lovely, the stitching is perfect and I love all the little vintage details

  49. missjoiedevivre July 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    Exquisite! I’m with Jo, we don’t see a lot of wool crepe in our corner of the world, but I think I’d be all over it if I did. My dream holiday (other than touring roller coasters around the world) would be NYC and Mood! I would pat all the fabric and post it all home. One day…

    Until then, I live vicariously through the amazing things you find and use! This is EXQUISITE and the embroidery is so beautiful!

    And seriously, you get a couple of hours every night so sew! So jealous!


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