Copying Ready-to-Wear - my faux-wrap dress

A confession: one of my favorite dresses to wear is not something I've made, but something I bought.....maybe 10-15 years ago....from Joyce Leslie (oh, are you not from Jersey? It's a clothing store. Apparently they're still around! I haven't been to a Jersey mall in a while).  Its a polka dot poly-jersey faux-wrap dress:
Vintage....Joyce Leslie

I love the fit! I love where the waist hits, I love the bodice, its 'fun' but not too low, I don't have to keep checking to see if I'm falling out of it, I like the shape of the skirt, I even like the little gathered sleeve, and it's comfortable (for polyester).  I've tried to find and sew a pattern that I like just as much, but haven't been able to.  The Cake Tiramisu was close - I love it from the midriff down, not crazy about it in the bodice/sleeve.

Low, but not too low (for the smaller-busted, at least)
So last week I decided to try and make a pattern using the original Joyce Leslie.  I have no real technique for this, other than crawling around the living room floor with a ruler, French curve, measuring tape, Swedish tracing paper and pencil, and the dress.

Normally I'd make a muslin, but I didn't have any poly-jersey 'muslin' fabric.  So I just decided to go for it! I chose this poly-lycra jersey I bought a while ago from 
72" wide Poly-lycra jersey from
I just cut into it! And then, because Danger is my middle name, I made it on my serger! It was super fast. I did try it on as I went, and I wanted to err on the side of decency and wearability, so I made the neck band a bit thicker, just to ensure I wasn't coming out of the bodice.

Here is the end result:

The neckline is higher than the original, which is fine. It is gape-proof! So I can wear it to work. I can reduce the neck band on any future version (and there will be future versions) for a more low-cut look. 
No gaping!!
The sleeves are plain - the sleeve on the original dress has some elastic sewn into it to make the gathers, and I like that look, I just want to practice it a little before putting it in a dress, since I've never done it.

The only other thing I'd change for next time is to release the bodice pieces towards the center front about an inch or so. Again, I wanted it to not gape open, so I wrapped the bodice, pinned it and tried it on, but once it's sewn up, there's some pulling because I think they're a little close to the side seams. Luckily the print camouflages it.  Not a huge deal, but something to remember for next time. *And now that I look at it, it does the same on the original. So, I won't sweat it too much.*
Wrapped a little too tightly?
Again, no gaping, side view

I was really giddy when it was finished and I realized I matched the fit of the original! Just playing it cool for the photo though.
Overall I'm super excited about my dress! I definitely plan to make more.  Who knows how many years the original Joyce Leslie polka dot dress has left in it?
And its has emboldened me to copy my other favorite ready-to-wear items! Tracing is easy!


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