Batik Wrap Dress Transformation

This is a batik dress that I got on my last trip to Malaysia about two years ago. They are sold in clothing stores and tourist shops and are usually worn as in-house clothing or pyjamas (as my relatives have modeled). I chose this one purely for the pattern but when I wore it, it just looked wrong!! The shape was bad and there was a hole at the back right above where my butt is! Because of this, I’ve hardly ever worn this dress and it’s just been sitting at the back of my wardrobe taking up valuable space. (If you know how many clothes I own you will understand how valuable this space is)

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For a long time I have been brainstorming ways to transform this batik dress to make it beautiful and something I would actually wear!! As you can see, it is just one large rectangle with two long stitches down the sides and a hole in the middle. I eventually decided on a wrap dress since I’ve always wanted one, and I set myself the challenge of making something flattering out of something not so flattering.

Equipment:

  • Scissors
  • Seam ripper
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Overlocker
  • Iron
  • Buttonhole foot

Process:

I started by seam ripping the sides. (At this point I should have also seam ripped the hem but I did that at a later point instead, and I should have also done the ironing at this point too).

I then began cutting the border patterns away from the green in the middle so that I could use them all separately for three different purposes. I ended up not using the yellow and blue strips, but only the blue-green one.

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As you can see below, the hole was about the size of a coin and right in the middle of the fabric! For the wrap dress skirt, seeing as it is split at the front, I decided to use the back piece as the front piece.

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To make sure that I had enough left over for the bodice as well, I held the dress up against me and also measured my bust and back using a measuring tape, making sure I was leaving enough fabric and then cut straight across.

It looks as though I have cut it crooked but I actually cut it according to the pattern on the fabric. This is because the fabric is quite drapey and later it will hang straight after ironing and sewing.

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Then with the bottom back piece of the dress I cut straight down the centre (after measuring it) which was about 1cm away from the hole. I was therefore left with one whole piece for the skirt and two narrow pieces.

For the skirt, I started by sewing the three pieces of skirt together ensuring that the pattern was all facing the same direction. To deal with the hole, I brought that area around the hole in as if allowing more seam allowance, and sewed around it. I then overlocked the edges and ironed them so that they were facing inwards.

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I then used the the green-blue border fabric as the hem. The two strips, cut from both sides, were about 3m in length each which left enough fabric as a border for the two sides and the bottom hem of the skirt.

 

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I sewed the two sides down and then the bottom edge, finishing it off by cutting and hemming the corners diagonally and hemming the selvage edge in once to hide the ugly while line.

After reviewing the finished product, I am still unsure about whether or not I like how the diagonal corner looks. I kind of like it but I also don’t. What do you think?

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As you can see, the dress was literally one giant rectangle with a hole in place for where your head is. There was a line in the print along the shoulders which I cut along rather than the fold, which ensured I was cutting the fabric evenly.

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I used the back piece for the front of my bodice because it offered the most fabric. With the front piece, I cut straight across so that I was left with one large rectangle for the back of the bodice. I then removed pearly the button for later use.

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With the other piece, I first removed the neckline so that I again was left with a large rectangle.

I then cut diagonally straight across the fabric to give two right angled triangles. Unfortunately I didn’t think this through very well and i found that when rotated, they are both the same side and shape!!

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I then lay one side (the one that is the right way up already) next to the back piece and cut the top corner off to get the shape and transition I wanted.

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To solve this problem I rotated one side and laying the two pieces wrong sides together (so that it will be the opposite shape when finished), I cut it out to match the other side. This meant that the pattern on that side was now facing the other way but that doesn’t bother me, in fact I think that it makes it look more interesting.

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I remembered that somewhere in my fabric collection I had about 40cm x 115cm mint coloured poplin.

After thinking this through now, I probably should have washed the fabric before sewing it to get rid of all the shrinking (and colour wash out) that might happen.

I laid my pattern pieces on the fabric and cut out the matching pieces.

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I then sewed the two separate bodice pieces together by the sides making sure that they are mirror images of each other.

I then ironed the seams flat, laid the two pieces right sides together and sewed along the top. After trying it on, I decided to make the right side (as shown above) smaller to match the shape of the left side.

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I then snipped the harsh corners off and snipped slits in the seam allowance along the curves to ensure that the bodice will lay flat. I then turned it right side out and ironed the edge flat. I could have under stitched the lining down but I chose to top stitch instead.

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I then attached the bodice to the skirt by matching up the side seams, pinning, sewing, over locking and ironing it down.

For the shoulder straps, with the left over green-blue border fabric, (I ended using only one piece of the two shown) cut it lengthways, ironed it in half and whilst sewing, I folded the two raw edges inside and top stitching along the edge. This gave me two thin strips to use for my shoulder straps and I attached them by folding the raw end under and using a square shape to hold it in place.

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I also had one longer piece of this blue-green border fabric left and using it for the waist ties, I cut it in half to give two shorter pieces, and used the same concept as the shoulder straps except making it wider and making sure the ends were folded in. I then attached it to the two open sides of the bodice.

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To make sure the straps could be threaded through, I sewed a button hole (for the first time! Which required a lot of trial and error) and slit it open using a seam ripper.

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And last but not least, to finish it off, I sewed the original tag back on.

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Here’s how it turned out. What do you think?

As you can tell, I am not model material and these photos make me cringe. But laying the dress flat was not a proper representation of what it actually looked like finished!

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-Emma

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