Monday, 9 September 2013

Everyone needs an LBD!

Meet my LBD - my Little Black Dress that is also my Lace Block Dream ;)

I was delighted to be invited along to a Melbourne Sewists' function of fabulousness on Saturday night - Frocktails was a gathering of several dozen incredibly talented women who all wore an amazing dress of their own making - everyone was wonderfully warm and welcoming and I admit there may have been some squealing as I met bloggers who inspire me with their makes, for the first time ;)

Thank you SO much Kat for organising the night - amazing food as well as the fabulous company.
There will be photos from the night appearing on some of the other girls blogs - The fabulous Mel Poppykettle has added us to her flickr steam, so you can find us all here.

So, what to make for an evening with such talented women.... Kat gave us plenty of notice, I RSVP'ed at the start of May!
I was very tempted by a piece of awesome emerald digitally printed chiffon silk in my stash, but couldn't bring myself to cut it - does that happen with anyone else?

The essentials for a fabulous frock IMHO involve fabulous fabric, design & fit. I decided to start with the fabulous fit and booked a session with Tessuti's SewInn.

In preparation for my class, I reread "Successful Dressmaking" from my stash of sewing texts and with new measurements, drafted a bodice block and made a muslin in some duckcloth cotton.

The lovely Vanessa was my class facilitator and she fitted my block with pins & texta markings, then supervised my transferring of these changes to my paper pattern.

I must say, I do like drawing patterns and manipulating darts is such fun - yes, I'm kind of weird like that ;)

Vanessa also walked me through how I planned to construct the dress, from placing the pattern pieces on the lace, through the order of sewing, choosing a zipper and finishing the seams.

Did I mention that the class was a mere week before Frocktails?

I'd fallen for my black lace at the Alannah Hill Clearance outlet earlier this year and wanted to make a sheath dress that I could subtly adapt with different slips underneath.

My inspiration dresses are from Dolce & Gabbana's spring 2012 collection - they have some amazing jewelled tones - and being 'old collections' can be picked up for a song - $839 rather than $2095 at Barneys New York if you're interested ;)

This is my best Scarlett pose - Peneloping and Erin of IHeartFabric are hosting a CopyCat Challenge2 until 30th Sept and this is my entry ;)

Armed with my freshly drafted block pattern, I laid out my pieces and cut my lace - with newly sharpened scissors for a change - Winter has seen me almost exclusively using rotary cutters for knits and silks.
I had forgotten how lovely sharp scissors and woven fabrics were ;)

The dachshund did his usual pattern weight impersonation and escaped unscathed.

I loaned mum's more modern machine to insert my invisible zip, with a foot that fitted! Yay! Unfortunately, in my excitement of having such modern niceties, I forgot to stabilise the seam... My impersonation of a ridgebacked lizard was salvaged with some unpicking, much steaming and stabilising the seam - lesson learnt.

The next lesson learnt was that black polyester thread on black lace is next to impossible to unpick, even with head lamps and sunlight... Ask me how I know... Go on... ;) - two front skirt darts, somehow they didn't line up with my bodice darts, sigh.. After unpicking both of them and part of the zip, I changed to a very dark green thread in my bobbin - almost undetectable, but enough to spot in the lace, which I do admit, was quite forgiving of being unpicked; if I hadn't cut any actual fabric threads.

I faced the neckline, hem and armholes with bias binding using Grainline studio's pictorial here. I like the design feature of the black banded edges with the lace and dress shape.

The inside seams aren't french, rather they're narrowly overlocked. I did have lovely inch wide seams, but I'm not going to need to adjust them again... right?

I love this dress, it's turned out as I imagined and is versatile enough to get a lot of wear. Best of all, I now have a block pattern that works for me - so bring on some spring sewing!


  1. That's fantastic, Nicole! I like it with the black slip - it's classic and suits your colouring too - but of course it's nice to have the option to change it.

  2. Thanks so much Kathleen - I may wear it with black mostly (especially after seeing how the burgundy slip overpowered it with flashes!), but I do like to keep my options open ;)

  3. I was already amazed by this beauty, but then you have to go & tell us this took you less than a week?!! Bit jealous of your skillz :-) And I love how you can mix it up with different slips- very cool.

    I've read quite a few good reviews of the fitting class at Tessuti. Might be time I gave it a go myself

  4. It's beautiful, Nic. You are a clever and talented woman.

  5. Hmm, there's something weird going on with my computer... I left a comment a few days ago but it seems to have disappeared into the abyss.

    Anyway, the gist was that I am utterly amazed that you managed to whip this up in less that a week! I've never sewn much with lace but imagine that it must be a little on the temperamental side. Oh yes, AND difficult to unpick :p

    I've heard nothing but good feedback for the Tessuti fitting class, so it might be time I hightailed it over there myself!

  6. Thanks Kathleen ;)

  7. Thanks Jenny ;) And I'm having similar invisible/vanishing comments on some of the others' blogs, so maybe it's a web-based glitch - Frocktails must be trending heavily ;)
    I suspect the lace was much more polite than your silk, and unpicking is always undesirable ;)
    I'm still trying to wrangle getting to your awesome classes (hopefully next year!), but the Tessuti 'choose your own adventure' class was perfect for my limited time frame.

  8. This is gorgeous! Well done you. What a fun night, wish I could have been part of it!

  9. What a beautiful dress! And you will be able to use this block pattern for lots of creative dresses ... J

  10. Thanks Elise, it was such a fun night!! One day we'll all work out intercontinental sewist parties!!

  11. Thank you so much Judith - and yes, I'm having such fun playing with the block!!! ;)


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