Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Little Black Dress

I recently took a wonderful sewing class online at Patternreview with Susan Khalje, where we explored couture techniques while making the archetypal Little Black Dress. The class was very interesting, and Susan made the techniques so accessible. I've discovered that couture techniques, which require a lot of basting and hand sewing, fit me just fine.

Here is the pattern that I finally settled on to make my LBD:

I am making it in a very fine wool fabric that I got maybe 20 years ago at a lovely fabric store, sadly closed these past 5 or more years. It is underlined in silk organza. Straying a bit from the overall theme of luxury, the lining is made of black Ambiance rayon; it feels very nice. Once I get this pattern and process nailed down, my next LBD will have a crepe de chine or silk charmeuse lining.

My dress is laid out on my cutting board, waiting for the final steps. The side seams have been carefully pinned together, to be hand-basted for a final fitting. Then, I will machine stitch the hand-basted seams (after any necessary adjustments), leaving room for a side zipper. Still haven't decided if I will use a lapped zipper, to be sewn in by hand, or an invisible zipper, to be sewn in by machine. Finally, the lining will be handstitched to the fashion fabric at the armholes, neckholes and zipper tape.

Tonight was taken up with preparing for Jennifer Stern's machine embroidery class at Patternreview. I've known Jennifer for years, in fact I bought my Janome sewing machine and embroidery machine with her help. She does incredible embroidery on upscale clothing, and I am eager to combine her techniques with my LBD. For summer, I see this dress in a handkerchief linen (underlined, again, in silk organza, and underlined perhaps in a habotai), with subtle tone-on-tone embroidery, perhaps winding up one side.

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