I have never owned a wrap dress. I tried on a few here and there, but I never quite figured out why I would want a dress that is open to the world. Was the wrap dress created by someone who after running out of buttons and zippers was just too determined to finished that dress, right then and there? I have nightmares about the ties coming undone and my dress flapping with the wind while I try to keep a shred of dignity.
I noticed, however, that the last couple of dresses that I sewed (the Myrna and the Magnolia) have a touch of wrap to them (the Magnolia, especially, as it is described as a mock wrap dress). I started to warm up to the idea. Under other circumstances, I would not choose to sew such an impractical piece of clothing. But now, with all the extra time that social distancing has provided me, a wrap dress seemed like a good distraction. If the Seamwork Reggie worked, great! I would have a new style to add to my wardrobe. If it didn’t, I would end up with a fancy house dress—and house dresses are all I need right now.
The Seamwork Reggie is a wrap dress with a slight empire waist and gathered skirt. The sleeves are gathered, and the V-neckline is created when the dress is tied. The two front halves come together with a button cleverly placed on the inside of the side seam and the ties that meet on the left side. Because of how the halves overlap, there is no danger that the dress will open and exposed you to the world.
By now, everyone is tired of hearing about the amazing rayons I brought from Brazil. So here is something new: This rayon was not a joy to work with. It has a really nice weaved texture, but it was difficult to iron. The more I ironed, the more the fabric grew. It also frayed like crazy; I am concerned that even after serging the raw edges, I run the risk of having the fabric come undone. It hangs quite heavy for such a light fabric, which might be one of the reasons why the neckline hangs so low. Despite all its shortcomings, the fabric is very pretty, and the texture adds interest to what would otherwise be another black dress.
Remember when I said that I was starting to select sizes based on my upper bust? Apparently, I totally forgot about it, and I picked a size 16. For the two Seamwork patterns that I sewed (the Violet blouse and the Myrna dress), I selected a size 14 for the bust. I guess I figured that it would be easier to take the dress in than let it out, but let me be clear: This is NOT true. There are issues with too-big garments that are hard to correct after the piece is sewn—I am talking to you, gaping neckline and drooping shoulders! I am going to make a second muslin for my next Reggie (spoiler alert: It is going to be the bonus version, the faux-wrap Reggie… see comments below), and I will be sizing it down to a 12 (based on my upper bust).
My main issue with sewing the Reggie was keeping track of which pieces went where. With the muslin, I had a really hard time assembling the front pieces because I only cut one front skirt. I did not read the directions on the front skirt pattern piece correctly; when I had finished the muslin, I could not figure out how to tie the dress because I was missing a front skirt. It must have been quite comical for anyone watching me try the dress to realize that I only had one half of the front skirt. But there was no one looking, so I don’t feel so bad. I made sure to double-check every pattern piece so that I had everything I needed to put the dress together.
I highly recommend labeling the pieces clearly before sewing the Reggie. The instructions are very clear, but I kept messing up because my fabric does not have an obvious wrong side, and the pattern pieces for the front bodice and front skirt are exactly the same. I had to unpick the completed front once because I ended up with two right sides. So, label your pieces; you can thank me later.
I always prefer to set sleeves in flat, but the Reggie sleeves have a cuff. I had to sew the sleeve seams in order to add the cuffs—which forced me to set the sleeves in in-the-round. I very much dislike this method. I especially dislike it because it makes taking the side seam in or out a big problem. And you must have guessed already, I had to take the side seams in. I had to undo the seams where the side seam meets the sleeve seam so that I could resew it, giving me a continuous seam from sleeve to hem. I had to start a couple of inches below the cuffs, but this is not noticeable from the outside.
To improve the fit, I took one inch from each side. There is nothing, however, I can do about the drooping shoulders. Moving the secret button a little helped with the plunging neckline. Its suggested location is on the side seam right above where the side and the waist seams meet. I placed my button on the waist seam, a couple of inches to the left of the side seam. I feel like a human pretzel whenever I have to get to the button, and I can see how reaching it will become impossible as my flexibility diminishes.
I like this dress okay. I will never be able to wear it without a tank under it, and the shoulders will always be too big. Just to be clear, all of its flaws are my fault. The Reggie is well designed; the double front skirt panels guarantee that there is no chance of an accident. It is, however, a fabric hog, and since I did not get any wardrobe revelation or fashion birds singing, I will stick to the faux-wrap version for my next Reggie attempt.