Thoughts on McCalls wrap dresses

I had another blog post I was working on, but I was inspired to write something after reading this post on the McCalls blog . The post itself is interesting, but fairly innocuous, however it points you this pintrest board with ’11’ (actually 15) ‘different’ patterns from Vogue, Mcolls, Butterick and Kwik Sew, they suggest you could use instead of the original DVF wrap dress pattern. What struck me immediately was how few differences there were between them. It made me think; why do the big pattern companies produce so many similar patterns, and why do we fall for buying so many similar patterns? (this question obviously applies more widely, not just wrap dresses) The original DVF patterns have a fair bit of variety and the current DVF offerings also have plenty of variety, so why not the patterns the big companies are producing?

Having had this thought I decided I might be judging unfairly – perhaps different views are available and they had just picked the one closest to the original DVF dress? So I decided to go at look at each one and its features. The results didn’t impress me. Of these 15 dresses:

  • Only one came in plus sizes
  • Only one came with different bust sizes, and only 4 came with easily adjustable bust shaping (two princess seams, two bust darts)
  • They are almost all knee length – 2 have a maxi length option and 1 had an above knee option
  • The skirts were very similar – 7 with a straight skirt, 7 with an a-line skirt, and only 3 with, or with an option for, a flared or fuller skirt
  • Only two have a collar option apart from a plain v neck or shirt style collar
  • Only two have a waistband instead of a plain waist seam
  • 5 were designer patterns
  • 5 were very easy vogue or sew easy options
  • There were lots of sleeve options
  • 8 out of 15 are designed for knits or knits or wovens
  • 4 are mock wrap dresses

(if you are interested in my comparisons the quick table I knocked up is appended to the end of this post)

The lack of plus sizes, bust shaping, length options, skirt, or collar options really is poor. And where, I ask you, WHERE are the pockets????? No wonder we are all getting excited about indie patterns, when this is the ‘choice’ being offered to us – a number of these dresses lack a niche or ‘unique selling point’ other than being ‘easy’ or made by a designer.  I find the lack of variety in bust sizing particularly galling – I know from experience how tricky it can be to fit a wrap dress to a larger bust.

Having looked at all 15, here are the six I would pick out as distinctive based on their design (I should clarify; I haven’t looked up any reviews for how these are to actually sew). You will see from these picks I think Butterick is knocking it out of the park in terms of distinctive options, vogue’s 7 options did not impress me – they are all much of a muchness.



V8646 a plain shape for wovens with B-D cup sizes available (although no bust shaping to facilitate larger FBA’s apart from a shoulder tuck to rotate a dart into). A simple bodice and a-line skirt.


B5847 – this the best photo to show the seaming – there is an option with wrap ties.

B5847 for woven or stable knits with full length front and back princess seams to facilitate a great fit and different length options, several sleeve options and a collar option (and a different none wrap dress option with a front feature zip). Based on the main photo for this pattern I would never have looked twice at it, but having looked at the details this one is on my wishlist.



B5898 the only one with a plus size option. Also suitable for wovens or stable knits. Loose fitting with the tie gathering that looseness in – because all plus size dresses must be a sack – this is a sack with a tie.



B6128 suitable for wovens or stable knits with a higher neckline if you don’t want such a deep v neck, princess seams for fit adjustments and with several sleeve  and skirt length options.



B5030 the best of the easy sewing options suitable for wovens or stable knits, with waist darts for fit adjustment, a front yoke option with gathers a FBA could be rotated into, a flared skirt and several sleeve options – a pattern you could make numerous times with different options.



M7081 a distinctive attractive mock wrap dress with a flared skirt – very similar to a tiramisu, but for wovens.

I thought for fairness I should also look at the wrap patterns offered by Simplicity etc. I found B6829 (similar to M6684),  B7083, New Look 6301 (similar to V8896), and Simplicity 1653 (lots of points for different cup size pieces). They have a lot of dresses and tops that use a cross over front, but are not really even a mock wrap dress, so I have not included them. From my brief look I would suggest the Simplicity brands have less wrap dress patterns than McCalls, but each one is more distinctive and fills its own niche.

6674_env_front_1I would like to give a honourable mention to New Look 6674, which is a fairly basic woven wrap dress with two skirt options, two lengths and a collar option. This is the only wrap dress I have made, and therefore feel comfortable recommending from experience – I like it in particular as it has both waist and bust darts making fitting a bust easier. I can’t say when I bought it several years ago I had done a comprehensive review of the market, but having seen what is on offer, I think it is pretty well suited for my needs.

If you are interested in Indie wrap dresses I can think of the Gillian, the Yaletown mock wrap dress, the Ramona, the Sally (+1000 points for feature pockets), Christine Hayes 526 (loved by Jenny at Cashmerette), The Tiramisu (honourable mention for in seam pockets), HP Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Wrap Dress, and Style Arc Tia, Trixi, and Leah.

Minor rant done and dusted – probably not news to anyone, but it is nice to prove it to myself. Also, I have accidentally made myself a bit of a wrap dress expert – not my plan for this Saturday, but I wouldn’t call it a bust. I have actually enjoyed doing this as it is similar to the comparisons I sometimes do when I need to find a pattern – I find it so difficult to make a decision amongst the huge range of competing similar designs. If anyone reads this would you be interested in seeing similar pattern comparisons in the future? it would need to be for a very specific type of garment e.g. suit jackets, gored skirts, yoked T-shirts, plain  T-shirts etc, happy to take requests.

My Comparison Table for the Pedantically Minded

pattern Line fabric structure skirt length Sleeves neckline ties
M6884 knit Mock wrap dress Straight Knee or maxi ¾ length Wide v mock
V1384 Donna karen woven long dart tucks in bodice Straight a line Knee ¾ length v short
V8896 Very easy vogue knit Flared, Knee and ankle cap or sleeveless v Long ties
V1285 Tracy reese knit Mock wrap dress with waist and bust darts A line Knee Short Short notched collar none
V8784 Very easy vogue Woven or knit princess seams, front gathering Straight or fuller a line Knee Cap or ¾ Collar option Long ties
V1239 Ralph rucci stiff woven Front closure dress with belt A line Knee Kimono style ¾ High close collar belt
V8646 Very easy vogue woven back and shoulder darts, different cup sizes A line Knee Sleeveless or ¾ v none
V8379 Very easy vogue knits A line Knee Short or ¾ length V with collar option Side tie
B6128 woven front and back bodice princess seams straight Knee or maxi Short or ¾ length 2 piece High shallow v Short tie
B6054 Maggy london knits Wrap dress with back waist seams and front gathering straight Above knee length kimono v Long tie
B5898 Connie Crawford Woven or knit Loose fitting with plus sizes straight Below knee length Short or sleeveless V with broad collar option Mid length tie
B5847 Woven or stable knit front and back full length princess seams straight Below knee or ankle Cap, elbow or sleeveless V with collar option Long ties
B5030 Sew easy Woven or stable knit front and back waist seams, optional front yoke with gathers Flared Below Knee ¾ length, flutter or cap V with collar option belts
K3489 knit bust darts A line Knee Cap or ¾ V with collar option Long ties
M7081 woven Mock wrap dress with pleated bodice and waistband fuller Knee or below knee Sleeveless, cap or ¾ V with collar option none
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Thoughts on McCalls wrap dresses

  1. Rachel says:

    This is so helpful, thank you! I found that same pinterest board. It was simultaneously overwhelming and underwhelming, and you have outlined exactly why!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s