wilder gown

A Christmas Wilder gown

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This is the 4th Wilder gown or top I have made and probably the last.

Here is the first gown and top

This year I moved away from London and the day before I left I got the urge to go into Brixton market one last time for a souvenir, and what better one to choose than some fabric.

I was not interested in Ankara, that has too many issues, not the least of which is that you often have to buy 6 yards of the stuff, so I chose some drapey olive green viscose with cream flowers and a paisley print. It was the last of the bolt which was about 2.7 metres, and at the time of buying there was no particular plan for it.

After my previous Wilder I made a note to increase the bodice length by 2cm, in line with a 2cm FBA. Although the 2.7m I had is quite a lot of fabric, it is not the recommended amount for a full length wilder so I made the panels slightly shorter (would have done that anyway as I am short) and as wide as I could with the fabric available – the first tier has less gathering than the bottom tier.

The Wilder gown involves a lot of gathering, and I decided to try the dental floss and zig zag stitch method which is basically sewing a zig zag stitch over some dental floss, pulling on the floss to achieve gathering, then sewing down the gathers with a straight stitch. I did a practice piece, it seemed straight forward. For the first layer I used a zig zag width of 3 but increased it to 3.5 for the second layer just to make things easier for myself.

On the second layer I must have been a bit casual about stitching my straight stitch beneath the zig zag because annoyingly it bit of it shows though if you look carefully.

I am not sure if extending the bodice by 1 inch was a good idea either, it seems a bit too long now especially when sitting down. Its still a good dress ready to wear on Christmas day.

Bonus feature: foray into knitting

I do knit but am not particularly frequent or adventurous.

I had a bag of various odd balls of wool and decided to knit them up into a cardigan, using round needles to knit the whole bodice so I could just carry on knitting until the balls ran out and always have consistent stripes. This made for a very long row.

I didn’t have a pattern and this make almost felt like a sewing and refashioning exercise, just made a boxy bodice with dropped sleeves.

The bodice turned out too wide so I used some buttons to wrap it around and fasten it down.

Somehow I still seem to have just as much wool left as I bought a few extra because not all the ones I already had were the right thickness or colour.

Wilder gown – Friday pattern company

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The Wilder gown has been a great hit this summer, I was seeing it everywhere in all types of fabric and on all types of bodies. I scoffed and initially thought ‘fashion victims’

I attended a local car boot sale and noticed one seller had some fabric hidden among various items of bedding and other clothing. Whenever I see fabric for sale in unlikely places like this, it makes my heart sing and at only £2 for just over 3 metres it was mine. I asked the seller what her plans had been and she told me she bought the fabric some time ago and never got round to making anything – I’ve got a few fabrics myself that could tell that sort of tale if they could talk, but they’ll be staying with me for now.

I like the fabric, not too boring, not too flamboyant, the sort of design you could wear in a large garment. Its some sort of man made stuff, light with a lot of drape but not transparent and something of a frayer. I had to admit that the perfect garment would be the Wilder gown, so £20 later a paper copy of the pattern arrived.

I chose to make the size L but given the amount of ease in this garment any size would probably have been OK. The pattern envelope recommended 3.5 metres of fabric and I didn’t have quite enough but as I am only 5’3″ and didn’t want to make a floor length dress, I hoped this would do, and it did, though with not much left over. I took about 2 inches off the length of the skirt rectangle pieces. That’s the beauty of this pattern, you can adapt it to suit the fabric you have.

Bodice sewn together before ties added

The bodice pieces are not large and could be made from quite a small amount of fabric. The pattern tetris seems to give little waste. On the first day the bodice was cut out and sewn together. I tried it on and the fit seemed good though it was difficult to tell without the neck ties.

The second day I assessed how much fabric was left and made the first tier of the skirt and the tie. The pattern pieces give a tip to rip the rectangles rather than cutting them.

I tried this on a scrap piece of fabric and it seemed to work, and as my fabric was a slippy frayer I went for it with the ripping. Its actually seems more accurate and a method I’d use again but does require some courage. The fabric puckered slightly at the ripped edge but was easily smoothed out again by hand.

The gathering and first layer attachment were unremarkable and with the tie added now looked like a Wilder tunic

Gathering the final tier was a challenge. Its a lot of gathering to pull through one length of thread and I was worried that my thread would snap and I would have to start all over again.

Trying to to get a grip on the final tier gathering, laying it flat first

As an exercise and for fun I used as many different seam finishes as I could think of. The bodice pieces were finished with zig zag stitch or overlock stitch. The skirt rectangles were stitched together with French seams and the gathered edges were bound, I also used binding as a facing for the hem to preserve skirt length.

Here is my daughter modelling the gown for me.

If I make it again, and I probably will, I would add about 1 inch to the bodice length as I think it would drape more flatteringly at that length, and would change the sleeves, maybe make them longer and have elastic at the cuff.

Overall I’m pleased with how this turned out and my only criticism would be that the sleeves join the bodice quite low down which means the gown lifts up quite a lot if you lift your arms up.

Although I’ve missed the boat for wearing this as a summer dress, there is plenty of room for vests and leggings underneath for warmth and winter wear.