Couture LBD - started

One of my favourite editions of Threads was March 2008, with the cover story "Little Black Dress from Start to Finish" by Susan Khalje.

I have finally started on my own version of a couture LBD, based on Vogue 8494. The dress is very plain but the fabric is textured; some parts of it sheer and some parts embossed. I couldn't find a black organza locally to use as interlining, so I have chosen a crystal ivory organza, which adds a subtle shimmer through the sheer sections of the fabric.

So far I have
- drafted a pattern, based on my sloper and using the design lines from Vogue 8494.
- traced the pattern onto muslin, using wax paper.
- machine basted all the traced lines on the muslin.
- pinned the muslin together for a fitting (and then repeated the above couple of steps to finesse the fit)
- taken the muslin apart and ironed the panels
- traced the basted lines from the muslin onto the organza, again using wax paper
- the photos below show the organza laid out on the fashion fabric, ready for me to attach the organza to the fashion fabric and thread trace all the stitching lines, which I have nearly completed now.

Do you like my pattern weights? We have moved from the Bob the Builder pattern weight set to the kindy blocks pattern weight wet.

I'm not sure how accurate it all is. The organza slipped around a bit whilst I was tracing the from the muslin and I had a lot of trouble seeing the wax lines when positioning on the fashion fabric, which is why I moved to the outside table. I've still got my doubts about grainlines, which I should have done a better job of marking. I'm not particularly skilled or experienced at using a tracing wheel or thread tracing, so I imagine that there is a bit more error there.

The next step is to baste all the seams together for a fitting in the fashion fabric. I'm a bit confused as to how best to baste seams together. I have always relied on fixed width seam allowances to sew accurate seams. Even though the seams are thread-traced, I can only see one side of the fabric at a time, so how do I made sure that the thread traced seams lie on top of each other when I am basting? Do I feel the thread tracing with my fingers or just turn the fabric back and forth a lot? Any tips would be appreciated.

I don't think I will be putting in the zipper by hand. My hand stitches have never been that great. I'm thinking about using an invisible zipper instead.


  1. oh wow - what a lot of work preparing that dress for sewing - sounds like tricky fabric to work with too - I can't offer any advice - this is definitely outside my realm of sewing experience. I have read about people tracing seams instead of using a standard seam allowance for sewing but I could never understand why.

    It will be a beautiful LBD by the time you've finished though - of that I feel confident!

  2. Looks great! The only time I've ever sewed anything that way (wedding dress) I did as you suggested and both felt my way along the thread tracing and turned the fabric a lot to make sure the seams were lining up. It took ages but the fit result was definitely worth it.

    Looking forward to seeing how the dress turns out :-)

  3. oy. Sewing is a labor of love.
    During the process I have to remind myself 'I like doing this'.

    I'm impressed by your tenacity!

  4. I have not thread traced before but would suggest heaps of pins pinned accurately to the traced seam lines...???