October 12, 2014

Little black dress

Yeah! We've finally taken some pictures!

To talk about this dress, I have to go a bit back in time. I started making it before our holiday and had every intention on bringing the finished product with me to Scotland. However, when it was half-way done (after inserting the side zipper) I realized I had to take in the waist a bit more and I didn't want to waste time with a seam ripper which should be spend packing. So, I left the dress until after the holiday.

It's a simple style of dress, maybe the most iconic one I can think of: A Little Black Dress. I've had plenty of black dresses over the years and I know some people may think those would all quality for the name. But I don't think so. A full-skirted wrap dress, a mini dress with a pleated skirt, a jersey one with leg-o-mutton sleeves or my lovely 1920's party dress? No, surely a true LBD has to be a simple, elegant shape, somewhere between timeless and retro...

Anyway, this is my first real attempt at one. Or actually the second. The first dress I made from this fabric also qualifies...
It's a humble fabric: mid-weight stretch cotton with a bit of a satin-y finish which allows for the subtle woven-in design (a kind of random floral, impossible to photograph in black-on-black). I figured it would be perfect to try out a design like this. If successful, I can come back to it with some nice wool crepe. And this stuff is easy to wash and I don't have to worry about it.

I threw away the first dress earlier this year for two reasons: It had become too tight at the chest and the combination of this fabric and fitted kimono sleeves with underarm gussets didn't work out. I had reinforced the points where the gussets were inserted but they ended up tearing and fraying none the less.
So, the new dress was not going to get sleeves like that. After some consideration, I decided not to give it sleeves at all. 
My initial plan was to make this a 'basic' dress, one which could be altered by wearing all kinds of stuff with it: scarves, belts, a jacket, separate pockets (on a belt), a removable peplum (magazines from the early 1950's are full of designs like that). And that is the reason why it doesn't have pockets or some other skirt design. However, as usual, I'm shying away from the notion of add-ons. Although of course, I can and will wear this dress with just about every cardigan and jacket I own.

So, the dress has a shallow V-neck at front and back and the front darts are shaped like this, with the dart parallel to the neckline. Although you can't really see that in the pictures either, you can tell from the shape. This is the one dart treatment which really shows two separate breasts... (and I'm wearing my me-made modern-technique-retro-shape bra). 
The bodice is lined in a thin black cotton.
The skirt is a simple pencil skirt with a back vent. I have made sure to give the vent a generous overlap and to interface its sides. You so often see skirt vents gape wide open and I think that's a terrible look.

Now, I normally don't 'tailor to the bone'. I tend to believe there is a reason for ease in clothing and no matter how fancy the thing I'm making looks, I want to be able to do more in it than stand about and look pretty. The combination of this design and this fabric introduced its own demands though. The fabric has enough stretch to allow me to move properly even when it fits closely and it somehow doesn't look right when it doesn't. As a result, I've had to take in a bit in both bodice and skirt. I'm not so sure how that would translate to a different fabric.
For now, I'll just wear this little black dress and see how I'll like it and how it will perform in my wardrobe.


  1. Just stunning! The epitome of the little black dress!

  2. Timelessly elegant, what a beautiful fit. It really suits your sillouhette.

  3. its fabulous and suits you so well - a perfect LBD

  4. Gorgeous dress. How clever of you to draft your own pattern!

  5. Your LBD is absolutely gorgeous! Fits like a glove.

  6. I thought I was done with sewing clothes, then found your blog. The quit is on the back burner now, as I'm going through my stash thinking skirt? blouse? Great LBD!

  7. I absolutely love this. Where can I find instructions on making darts like that? It is very intriguing, and different from the type of darts I typically use.