Loose, flowy dresses are my favorite garments. They allow for my body to fluctuate in weight, they are easier to fit, and they look gorgeous. Apart from corsets, I don’t enjoy any clothing that squeezes my flesh. Flowy dresses let me breathe in peace while I do something remotely like frolicking.
When I saw the Wilder Gown, I thought, “Now, that’s a flowy dress!” I am not much of a maxi dress gal; I knew that I would have to chop off some length. I am not a fan of gathers—they are too unpredictable for me—so I would have to convert them into pleats. At this point, you might be thinking: If you are not happy with two of the most prominent features of the Wilder, why even bothering sewing it? Answer: That absolutely fabulous neckline!
The Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Company is a pattern for a top or a dress with raglan sleeves and a tie to close the neckline. It can be sewn with a one- or two-tiered skirt and short or long sleeves. This pattern is made for lightweight woven for a maximum of flow action.
The Wilder has a very inclusive range size, going from an 0/XS (32”-81 cm bust) to a 32/4X (60”/152cm bust). This pattern has a lot of ease—it is a gown, after all!
I used with my bust measurement (44 inches) and selected a size XXL for my muslin.
I used a black rayon from Fabric Wholesale Direct. This is the third time I order rayon from this online store; this one is thicker than what I’ve purchased before. Even though it is not as nice as previous orders, it still has a lot of drape.
This is a beginner pattern. The techniques required to sew it are simple: straight stitching, gathering, sewing a tie, hemming. My problem with it was the fit. My first attempt at it looks like an angry cut of polyester tried to swallow my upper body. The arm sat too low below my armpit, and every time I raised my arms, the skirt hiked up by a lot. And the gathering did not work for me at all. But I really wanted that neckline, so I had to do some adapting and adjusting.
After sewing a muslin, the following problems became apparent: The armscye was too low; the bodice was too long (to work as an empire dress bodice); the back was too tight. These are very common problems for me, and the fixes are quite easy.
Armscye Too Low
An armscye that is too low under the arm prevents full range of motion for the arm. How do you know if the armscye is too low?
• Can you raise your arms without bringing the whole garment up?
• Is there a lot of room between the fabric and your armpit?
If you answered yes, it is a good idea to add some length to the side seam where it meets the armscye. Then, add the same amount to the sleeve seam where it meets the armscye. Adding more fabric will give you considerably more range of motion. In my case, I added three inches to the side seam and three inches to the sleeve seam. That fixed my armscye problem.
This is a preference—I like my dresses to have an empire waist. I simply removed 1/2 inch from the bottom of the front bodice piece. That’s it.
This one was even easier. I simply added 3/4 inch to the width of the back piece. I drew a line parallel to the grain line and split the pattern piece in two. Using extra paper, I drew two lines, 3/4 inch apart from each other. Use these lines as your guide as you glue the two pieces of the back pattern to the extra paper.
If your waistline is a straight line, use it as a guide to make sure that the two pieces are trued; if not, draw a line perpendicular to the grainline BEFORE you cut the piece to which you are adding width. This will guarantee that you can put the pieces back together and preserve the integrity of the pattern.
Finishing the Bodice
Once all changes were transferred to the pattern, sewing the bodice went like a breeze. The beautiful neckline is so easy to sew, but no one would guess it—it is the real star of the dress. The sleeves went in without much fuss, and the bodice was completed.
I really don’t like gathered skirts. I feel that they bring attention to a part of my body I don’t want on the spotlight—my belly. That’s not all; it does not matter what I try, I cannot gathers to distribute evenly enough to appease my brain. So, I have decided that when a pattern says gathering, I will read it as pleats.
With the Wilder, the amount of gathering was dizzying. Elimination the bottom tier (for the maxi dress) reduced the gathers by a whole bunch, so I gave gathering the skirt a try. I’m glad I did—so I can say NO to the gathers with conviction. The dress looked amorphous, like an amoeba made of red and blue polyester.
Instead of using the whole width of my fabric for each skirt panel, I used one width and divided it into two panels. There was an excess of 4 inches to get the new skirt piece to match the bodice, so I turned these inches into two 1-inch pleats. Since each pleat takes up twice as much fabric as its width, two pleats equal 4 inches—problem solved!
The Wilder Gown
I feel a little weird calling this a Wilder. I changed one of the most recognizable features of the dress—the gathered skirts—and turned it into a much more subdued version of itself. But the neckline is still there, and for me, this is what the Wilder is all about. I am still getting used to working with the ties to get the right amount of neck ruffles (can you tell?). I have a second Wilder cut and ready to be sewn, this time with more pleats. Can I add this neckline to all my makes?