Monday, 1 February 2010

A little black dress

I have been trying to finish off a number of projects which I started last year, in order to be able to get on with this year's 'stuff' on a fresh footing - I'm not doing very well!

This little black number was the first on my list of pressing things to do - although I originally planned for it to be finished for an evening event I had to attend at the beginning of December!

It is inspired by this pattern from 1963:
Just the kind of style I like. Very Audrey Hepburn don't you think? Elegant, timeless, classic and 'multi purpose'. One of those 'office to party' type of dresses.

As you can see, the pattern is a size '14', but inside the envelope there is no measurement chart so I have absolutely no idea how big or small that is in today's money. However, as it is a very simple design it was easy to 're-make' with a twist or two.

I've turned it into a 'panel' dress, which basically means, that instead of putting darts into either side of the dress, on my new pattern, I drew lines extending from the bottom of the darts to the bottom of the dress. ( I will do a separate post in the future, dedicated to darts as this is quite hard to explain if you haven't done it before.) I then cut the pattern out following these lines, which gave me 6 panels (3 front + 3 back) instead of the original 3 (1 front + 2 back).

I personally like the look of paneled garments but I also think that they are quite 'easy' as effectively what happens when a panel is cut, is that darts are removed which means that it's easier - for a beginner at least - to get a close fit without bulk.

I put the zip at the side of the dress - I simply can't understand why one want to clutter up the back of a dress with a zip when you could have a perfectly smooth finish there, with a concealed zip at the side, finishing under the arm, so that's what I do for most of my projects where the fastening isn't a decorative design detail.

Top stitching finishes off all of the seams and gives a professional look - and oh, how I love to topstitch! There are 2 side splits instead of one back slit to make walking easier!

Because I am impatient, this dress is unlined and unfaced! (I know, don't faint!). The fabric is a sturdy sretch sateen cotton, and so isn't desperate for a lining. I overlocked all of the seams (which were then stitched down by the top stitching - making this a useful detail as well as decorative) and then on the spur of the moment - just as I was about to contemplate the facing, which I had cut, I decided to bind the neck and armholes with a duchess satin binding. This complemented the satin covered buttons at the waist.

The bindings are finished on the inside by hand, one of the details I love to do - it's so satisfying to look at those perfect hand stitches. The belt has bound button holes - a detail which I forgot to photograph (another thing which will have it's own dedicated post soon).

All in all, I'm very pleased with this dress, and all the more so, because when Mr Marmalade took the picture above, he asked why . "It's for the blog" I said. He looked confused, I had to explain "I MADE IT" .. he nearly fell over in shock and I had to confirm several times before he understood!

What's your measure of a good job? The other day someone said to me of a skirt I was wearing "ooh it looks just like what you'd buy in a shop". I reckon that's a pretty good compliment, don't you?

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