Completed: LBD from a PDF

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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They also invited guests to join the artists in the printmaking studio to create monoprints.

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Next year, with a little better planning, I’ll make my dress as well as the little man’s suit!

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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:

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That’s me up there in the top right corner – a dozen years younger in painting class, hard at work.

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I wonder what archive they dragged that out of!?

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5 thoughts on “Completed: LBD from a PDF

    • There’s no time like the present to learn! Check out the blog tilly and the buttons. She has a fabulous section for beginners to learn. She’s also coming out with a step by step beginners book to learn garment sewing. Give it a try!

  1. It turned out fabulous, no one would have known the trouble it caused. I agree about PDF’s
    Cute little rock’in guitar player you have on your hands.

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