My Little Black Dress is the second version of Vogue Pattern 8997 I’ve made recently as part of the Vogue Patterns Cocktail Hour collection. My first version is in a bright yellow cotton with big blue spots – fabric I’d had in my stash for over 20 years and which is actually furnishing fabric. But it holds the shape beautifully and makes the full skirt really stand out. Unusually for me, I’ve now made it again, but this time as a real cocktail hour dress, my first Little Black Dress!
I say unusually, because I very rarely make a pattern up twice – mostly because of the steady supply of new designs that are introduced – and which just call out to be made! But this time, it was the perfect pattern for the fabric I wanted to use – which again I have had in my stash.
I bought it from Sew La De La at a Knitting and Stitching show a few years ago with a view to make just this kind of dress. It is a black net with a swirling ribbon design appliquéd on it resulting in a very textural piece of fabric. Much of the fabric is see-through and the swirling pattern is busy, so the pattern needed to be simple! Hence Vogue Pattern 8997.
The beauty of using the pattern again is that I had already done the full bust adjustment needed (which was minimal because this design has Custom Fit bodice pieces for cup sizes A, B, C and D which are such a boon if you are full busted). It’s also a Very Easy Vogue design – which means simple lines and minimal piecing – another good thing for this busy fabric.
I have to say, the fabric was a pig to sew too! But so lovely I persevered! The undulating appliqué, varying from thick rose clusters to thin trailing ribbon tails meant it was difficult to sew through. I used a sharps needle, size 80/12 – a bit big for the netting, but just right for appliqué.
I pretty much followed the pattern, making the same view as before. The bodice is supposed to be interfaced completely, but of course, I didn’t want to do that and ruin the transparency and lightness of the fabric, so I interlined it instead with a flesh coloured lining (cutting the pattern pieces again in the interlining fabric and then sewing them around the edges to the reverse of the pattern pieces. From then on I treated the joined pieces as one and continued to construct the garment). I then lined the whole garment with a nude colour lining which also doesn’t detract from the lightness of the netting nor deaden the impact 3D appliquéd ribbon.
I did attach the lining so the right side faces the wrong side of dress rather than the usual way of having wrong sides together. This means that where you can glimpse the lining through the transparent netting, you don’t see any seam allowances. I also left gaps in the lining at the pocket position, and made the pockets out of the lining fabric (less bulky) so that they slipped inside the lining too – again making them invisible.
At a couple of places, where I had to use the full width of the fabric for the full skirt pieces, there were patches without any of the appliqué, so I cut some spare fabric from remnants and stitched it in place over the netting – seamless joins (and as the pattern of appliqué is fairly random, no careful pattern matching was necessary).
Invisible Zip Insertion
I chose to put in an invisible zip (my preferred zip method anyway). It went in easily and is only visible by the little zip pull at the top.
To hem the fabric, I used a rolled hem on an overlocker. It gave a neat finish without worrying about hem allowance being visible from the right side and as the fabric is bouncy and bulky (although very light and floaty too), I didn’t need anything to add support in the hem – the skirt flares out beautifully all on its own.
Now the big decision is which shoes to wear with it when I attend the Cocktail Hour party at the Knitting and Stitching show in October (Alexandra Palace). Do I opt for the black and gold sandals, the silver/gold sandals which change colour depending on the light, the ultra high, golden heeled black and gold sandals or my newest acquisition, the dusky pink glittery sandals. Or maybe, I need four occasions to wear all four!!