I have FINALLY made a little black dress (LBD)! This has been on my “must sew” list for aaaages but I never had the perfect occasion to kick myself into making it until now.
Last weekend my alma mater art college hosted its first big fancy-pants art show with $100 tickets to the event. They’ve had paid ticket shows in the past, but nothing like this. It’s been a dozen years since I received my BA in visual art there and I was itching to see the huge new art building that was still in the planning stages when I went there. Luckily, alumni of the School of Art & Visual Technology got tickets for only $25, otherwise I never would have been able to go. I really wanted to take my son, who is an artist in his own right, but didn’t want to spring for a hundred-dollar ticket for a 3-year-old so I contacted the folks in charge who said that I could bring him free. Yay!
The only catch to this whole fabulous idea: I realized 5 days prior to the event that I had nothing to wear and I’m participating in the RTW Fast 2014 so shopping was a no-no. I had to make something – quick. The invitation said “Festive Attire” – whatever the heck that is. My hubby Google searched the term for me and one of the responses was “little black dress.” I had the fabric and pattern for making my little black dress already in my stash ready to roll so I set to work and one and a half sewing sessions later, I had a little black dress.
The pattern I used is the Eva Dress from Your Style Rocks. It’s a free PDF pattern designed by the winner of a contest. Contestants design their garment to fit the theme and then the designs are voted on by the public. The winning design is drafted, graded and published as a free PDF download. If you’ve never checked them out before, take a look at their other patterns, too. I’ve had this pattern saved to my computer almost since it was first published. I bought the slinky black performance knit for it shortly after as well.
I have never used a PDF pattern for a garment before and perhaps never will again. I think they should rename them “Pretty Damn Frustrating” patterns! Though the pattern was well drafted, I found assembling the whole thing to be a pain. My pages weren’t lying flat and I had tons of trouble aligning the pattern pieces. I was 90% done assembling the damn thing when I realized I had forgotten to measure the test print page for scale. It was supposed to measure 5″ square and mine was only 4-5/8″ square. I figured as long as it was square, it was just scaled down a little and being a knit, it would work out alright in the end – just a little extra negative ease, which I think is usually a good thing. I went ahead with great trepidation at the thought of having the garment come out too small in the end.
Thankfully this pattern, being asymmetrical, is intended for a single layer cutting layout because that slinky, shifty performance knit was seriously tricky to cut straight.
All of the sewing assembly came together quickly and easily. The drape portion across the midriff is a little fiddly to arrange just right and the pattern gives you freedom to drape as you like to a certain extent as you overlay it on the solid midriff lining piece. (Side note: the pattern calls the midriff a “yoke” which it definitely is not. A yoke is at the top of the body, not the middle.) This is certainly not for beginners but for a more experienced seamstress it’s a quick sew. I stitched most of it on the serger and could have had it done in less than an hour had I not waited for the hem to hang overnight. Which, by the way, I’m not too pleased with. I serged the raw edge, turned, and straight top stitched it. I didn’t bother to measure and press an even hem because that performance knit refuses to behave for an iron. The end result was a little ripply but not in an obvious way so I let it be. If you looked at the pattern website for comparison you’ll notice I took off about 4 or 5″ from the hem to better suit my short stature. I ended up going a little too short, though. If I remake this it will have to be about 1″ longer.
Another note for a remake: I would definitely lengthen the back neck facing. It’s only about an inch and a half deep and though it behaved (as far as I know) for the art event evening, it could benefit from the security of being a bit deeper.
And I’m happy to report my gamble of scaling the whole thing down a little by accident worked out just fine.
As for the art event itself, I had a fantastic evening full of inspiring art and gallivanting with a handsome little man. My son absolutely LOVED being around so much art. I’ve taken him to small galleries around town before and he has always enjoyed being a part of the Annual Children’s Art Show which we hold for our day care and preschool artists, turning our home into a gallery with a reception for the guests. But he’s never been around so much art in various forms all at once. He was really into the interactive pieces like a guitar that changed the computer graphics on the screen as well as the music.
They also invited guests to join the artists in the printmaking studio to create monoprints.
Next year, with a little better planning, I’ll make my dress as well as the little man’s suit!
Oh – and a little bonus that made me smile: after we got home and I tucked an exhausted little artist into bed, I carefully looked over the event program book which I had carried around all evening and noticed this:
That’s me up there in the top right corner – a dozen years younger in painting class, hard at work.
I wonder what archive they dragged that out of!?