Tuesday, December 3, 2013

CJ Patterns #426 Princess Wrap - As a 2-Piece Dress

The CJ Princess Wrap top is done, along with a modified Magic Pencil skirt to make a 2-piece "dress." I don't have any FBA instructions or pics for the top since I didn't need/make one. In fact, the only alterations I made were (1) square shoulders and (2) adding about 2" of length at the hemline. Style changes were binding the neckline with a binder on my CS machine instead of turning under and topstitching per the instructions, and to lengthen the short sleeve to 3/4 length. There is a long sleeve pattern piece, but since the short sleeve was already cut, I just used it and cut the fabric longer. (More on the pattern and sizing below.)

In the pics above and below, you can better see the gathered wrap and the bound neckline.

The Magic Pencil skirt was modified to a flippy-er and more A-line shape per a Neue Mode pattern made earlier (I'm too lazy to link to that post right now ... maybe later) and incorporating modest side slits.

CJ's sizing is different from other patterns, since she sizes for UNwashed natural fiber knits and expects some shrinkage. I don't particularly like this, especially since I was using a non-shrinking poly knit (a matte jersey from Fabric.com bought a couple of years ago), but CJ does include lots of sizing information on the instruction sheets which makes it easier to pick a starting size based on your ease preferences and fabric choice. If you're unsure, take the time to make a "down and dirty" knit muslin ... or at least don't use your best fabric the first time. For me, I had already made this top (altered bigger beyond the pattern back then) and still actually have it so I could try it on for a better idea of my current size. Plus, I have a lot more fitting experience since I first bought the pattern and a TNT tee pattern to compare with. Both of those, plus the excellent sizing tips included in the instructions, certainly eliminated any outright guessing.

Below, is the hint sheet for what to do when you're between sizes.

And this is a close-up of the finished garment measurements sheet. Since the *finished* bust measurements of the size LG are just about my true full bust measurement and I knew I didn't want extreme negative ease in this top, I traced between the LG and XL for the vertical seams and it worked out perfectly. You can also see that the finished bust measurement for this top is inches bigger than the hip measurement in all sizes, which to me means that this pattern is geared toward the busty. A good thing for me and it meant no FBA was needed (even on my first make when I was bustier). Sorry that I don't have any real help for you on a FBA Rebecca Grace ... but since it has princess seams, if I needed an FBA, I would just distribute additional fabric needed among those seams and  panels.

This is the whole sheet showing finished measurements for all of the patterns CJ was selling at the time I bought this one (years and years ago). There have been patterns released since I bought this pattern so I'm not sure if the paper measurement sheet has been updated to include all of those too. But all patterns are included in a PDF download from the website, here.

In addition to all the measurements and sizing tips, there's also a section that explains the ease in CJ patterns, which I think is extremely helpful for accurate sizing choices.

The actual sewing of the pattern is a breeze. It's drafted beautifully, with notches where they should be and which match up perfectly. The sleeve fits the armhole with no easing. The neckline sits in a nice spot, not too low. The shoulders stay a normal length vs. linebacker in the larger sizes. The instructions are good and well-illustrated.

The only complaint I have about the actual pattern pieces is that they're drafted with 5/8" seam allowances everywhere. This is OK for fitting insurance on the vertical seams, but too wide for sewing in a knit sleeve without tons of pins and/or adjusting fabric every few inches. I've already noted on the pattern to trim those seam allowances down to 3/8". I may even get a wild hair and trim them before I put the pattern away. ;-)

And a semi-complaint is the neckline finishing instructions, but a complaint only on behalf of others. Turning under and topstitching is OK if your fabric is not prewashed and will shrink. But if it's been through the laundry or is a non-shrinking synthetic, you're probably going to need some sort of stablizer/elastic with such a long wrapline in order to prevent gaping. (My CS binding utilizes a differential feed to eliminate a saggy neckline.) An experienced sewer will know this. A beginner may not. But then, while this pattern is easy to construct, I don't think it's necessarily actually aimed at true beginners. That's not to say a beginner shouldn't try it. Just that they may need additional techniques in their sewing arsenal.

I'm already thinking about trying the other top in this pattern, and wishing I had gone ahead and ordered one or two others during the sale. I forgot how much I liked this pattern.


  1. I tend to be a seam trimmer when allowances are too much ~ such a small amount (.5cm in my language) can make all the difference!) Oh, and love your outfit ~ should have typed that in and stated the obvious first ... J

  2. I made this top a few years ago and love it. It's very flattering and easy to sew. You're right about the need to stabilize the neckline depending on fabric choice. I made mine in a very stretchy bamboo knit and had to add a CB seam and shave off a lot of width at the neckline since it stretched out so much.

  3. I loved working with CJ Patterns too. The dress I made from her patterns still gets me compliments when I wear it.

    This outfit is pretty and really looks like you! Definitely make another top.

  4. Hi, Debbie - i love your two piece dress.

    I'm getting ready to make my 3rd or 4th version of this top. I somehow got it in my head though that the wrap should come below the bust rather than across the bust and down. I was going to try to change the pattern to accomplish that. Looking at your version though, it doesn't look like I need to make that alteration. Thanks for saving me some time!

    Susan C

  5. Love your outfit and the versatility of two piece dresses as well..Thanks for all that helpful info re this pattern line.
    Mc Donna on PR

  6. Great looking outfit, Debbie.

  7. Looks really good as a dress.

  8. Love your new outfit, Debbie! I should break out my CJ princess wrap top and whip up a few for wearing to work... I even know where mine is "hiding" just now. NOT near my yet uncut red velvet dress pattern... I have my reservations and do not feel like fussing with some of the same issues you ran into... It should be easier..


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