Tips for Sewing Stretch Velvet – my Party Appleton Wrap Dress!

I’ve made my party dress for this year! I really wanted something that was warm and comfortable yet sufficiently glam – for me, this meant a shimmer stretch velvet and a long-sleeved wrap dress to pair with long boots.

I’ve long since decided to try and get more use out of the patterns I own and like, rather than constantly buying new ones. I’ve made the Appleton wrap dress by Cashmerette before (see HERE) so I knew it was a) quick to sew, b) really comfortable and c) had a really secure wrap front. Making repeats of the same pattern is also a really interesting way to show how different a pattern can look depending on the fabric you make it in! My first version was made for Summer, with short sleeves and in a lighter-weight knit. This iteration is full on Winter plush!

If you’re interested in this particular fabric, read on, I have a 20% discount code on your entire order from the supplier (Patterns & Plains)

But first, let’s talk construction. Sewing stretch velvet is not particularly difficult but I did utilise a particular method of hemming the dress to ensure it came out sharp and even …

The fabric wanted to photograph blue here! It is also available in a classic navy!

I marked my hems (with my beloved Clover hot hem presser) – deciding on a 1″ hem – and then laid a length of hemming tape within the fold (Pic 1) and pressed again to adhere it (using a pressing cloth to protect the nap of the velvet from crushing). I then hand-basted in a row of stitches just above the raw edge (pic 2) to act as a guide when stitching from the right side (pics 3 & 4). I used a jersey twin needle and a slightly longer stitch length, ensuring that my left hand side needle just hit the top of the raw edge underneath. From the wrong side the raw edge is fully enclosed by the back of the twin stitch and mimics, to some extent, the effect of coverstitching.

Finished hem on the reverse side

The other major consideration, I feel, with sewing stretch velvet, as apposed to any other kind of stretch fabric, is to consider the nap of the fabric – the way the pile of the velvet lays – you want to consider this when cutting out your pattern to ensure that it lays in the same direction and runs smooth from top to bottom, where appropriate. I strongly recommend cutting out on the single layer. You may want to consider buying a little extra meterage, for breathing space, although I didn’t need to with this pattern.

With reference to the Appleton pattern, the only things I would say, in addition to my first review of this pattern (see HERE), is to baste the raw edge of your prepared neckband and tie pieces together before attaching them to the neckline. Then use a small zig-zag stitch here to finally attach it – I used a straight stretch stitch pretty much everywhere else.

This time, I didn’t take anything out of the length – that’s nothing out of the length of the dress or the sleeve! I used a 1″ hem rather than the 1.5″ stated in the pattern. Bear in mind, I’m 5.3″.

Oh and check the Fabric Key of the instructions! The Legend is opposite to most patterns I’ve used – with the grey shaded pieces showing the right hand-side in the instruction booklet. I’m used to the white pieces showing the right side, rather than denoting the wrong side as it did here, and this very nearly derailed me when cutting out!

I did myself a favour and bought decent clear elastic to stabilise the shoulders – I used this Vilene elastic which was infinitely superior to the brand I was using before!

So what about the fabric I used, eh? Oh my goodness, I love it!

It is the ‘Carlotta’ John Kaldor panne stretch velvet in the ‘Teal’ colourway from Patterns & Plains*. As I say, it’s called ‘Teal’ but the true beauty of this fabric is how multi-dimensional it is – a true green-based blue deepening to almost black in its shadows (you can see it has wanted to photograph ‘out and out’ blue in some lights). It very much reminds me of the colours of a Peacock – or a Kingfisher – it’s that kind of beautiful! Paired with red nails and lippie; it definitely feels ‘Christmas’ to me!

This particular fabric comes in several colourways (a classic navy, black, purple and red!) and if you don’t fancy making a wrap dress, I think it would make a great Deer & Doe ‘Sirroco’ jumpsuit which would also be great for the party season! I found it handled really well, didn’t particularly curl and has a decent hand and weight. It has a smooth underside (see the final hem picture) which means it doesn’t cling to tights! I can see myself washing and wearing the finished dress for a long time.

*Patterns & Plains are generously offering a whopping 20% DISCOUNT on purchases across their entire store until 11:59 pm Christmas Eve with this code / link SEWSARAH – go go go!!

*By way of full disclosure, I was very kindly given this gorgeous fabric by the lovely Amanda at Patterns & Plains in exchange for a review. I am very happy to do so – I’ve had nothing but great experience purchasing from them; they have a wonderfully curated stock of ‘Ready to Wear’ style dressmaking fabrics. Fantastically, you also have the added benefit of being able to buy in 10 cm increments, so you’re not paying for fabric length you don’t actually need. If you want samples, I find they are decently sized – with the grainline noted – so you can get a proper feel for the way the fabric behaves. For each fabric listed, Amanda also showcases the way it handles in video, which I find really useful. In other words, for someone like me who has to do most of my fabric shopping online, I find their website truly inspires confidence.

She hasn’t asked me to say any of this, by the way; I am gushing because this has genuinely been my experience purchasing from them!

So have you started your Christmas sewing? Have you finished?! This is it for me…I’ve got one more sewing project to show you for this year – a pair of piped Carolyn PJ’s – another make from a pattern I’ve used and loved before.

And then – Merry Christmas to Me – I’ll be playing non-stop with my new Cricut Maker machine! I cannot wait to show you what I make with that! I’ve, err, just got to learn how to use it first!

Until next time, happy sewing!

For more regular – and often irreverent – chat, you can find me on Instagram here @sewsarahsmith

Disclaimer : I was given the Velvet fabric in exchange for a review with all other notions and supplies purchased by me. All content and opinions expressed are my honest and considered views. Some of the links given are Affiliate links – if you choose to purchase via an Affiliate link, you will not be charged any extra however I may receive a small commission x).

Enter your email to subscribe to Sew Sarah Smith


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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s