Little Black Dress Complete


Here are some photos of the completed LBD.  Completed just in time, mind you.  I was still  furiously handstitching on the morning of my flight, because I wasn't sure if I would be able to carry a needle on the plane.  And sadly, my blog readers are the only ones to see my dress in all its glory.  Sydney did not put on its best weather for us, 15°C and raining so hard there were rivers in the gutters.  I threw in my Chanel -style jacket at the last minute and then hardly took it off all weekend, just slipped it off for a quick photo.  I wear so little black that I had to borrow shoes to wear with the dress.  I should have borrowed boots...I was clearly the tourist, being the only person not wearing boots.

The patternVogue 8494.  I used the design lines from this pattern in conjunction with my sloper.  The only change I made to the sloper was to lengthen the waist 1 cm.  I am short-waisted, which can look odd if the the waist is in the right place.  I couldn't decide how much to lengthen the waist so I used the Golden Ratio on bodice length versus dress length and came up with 1 cm.  Now that I look at the photos (taken after sitting down for a couple of hours), I can see that the bodice is wrinkled vertically.  Perhaps I should have left the waist line where it was.

I did not follow the pattern instructions as I wanted to try out the couture techniques outlined in the Threads article "Little Black Dress from Start to Finish", by Susan Khalje, March 2008.  The steps were:
 1.  Make a muslin
2.  Cut out and mark the underlining, by transferring the muslin stitching lines to the underlining with a tracing wheel and waxed paper.  I found this step a little difficult on the slippery organza, and probably lost a bit of accuracy in the process.
3.  Cut out the fashion fabric, with wide seam allowances.
4.  Join the layers with a running stitch along each seam-line.
5.  Slip-stitch baste for a fitting. 
6.  Machine-stitch the garment (finally), then stay-stitch, trim and clip the neckline and armhole edges.  I stay-stitched by machine, but I wished I had hand-stay-stitched the neck edge or fused some tape to it first because I think it stretched on me and and I had to pull it in later.  The seam allowances and edges are then catch-stitched to the underlining.  I must confess, I found this catch-stitching all very time-consuming and a little tedious.
7.  Apply the zipper.  I applied an invisible zipper by machine.
8.  Cut and sew the lining.    The lining was then attached with a fell stitch, which I learnt to do here, because I was on holidays at this point and left the magazine article at home.  I quite liked the fell stitch and will use it in the future to attach lining to zippers, as it is much sturdier than my slip-stitching.
9.  Add finishing details, which for me meant slip-stitching the hem to the underlining and attaching a strip of lace to the lining hem.

The fabric:  The outer fabric is Rare Black Track, from Tessuti.  It is a cotton / viscose / polyamide blend, semi-sheer in places.  The texture is just gorgeous.  The interlining is an ivory crystal organza from my local bridal shop, which gives a subtle sheen through the semi-sheer sections of the outer fabric.  The lining is a rayon black lining, also from Tessuti.

Although this is a sewing blog, I am going to review this play...only because the thoughts are in my head and I want to get them down. Indulge me, if you like, or come back and read some more sewing thoughts another day.

The performance was fabulous.  Our seats were in the very back row, and it is a testament to the skill of the director and actors that I could feel the drama and tension all the way back there.  The stage setting and costumes transported me instantaneously.  I was not familiar with the story-line, and I was held in suspense right to the very last moment.

I first saw Joel Edgerton perform live in Henry V, with the Bell Shakespeare Company, and was so smitten that I kept the ticket in my purse for years.  Whilst he is very enjoyable on the small screen, he is completely arresting in live performance.  It was worth my plane ticket to see him alone!  The Stanley he gave us was completely believable and multi-dimensional.  He presented a character that we could truly understand, even if we could not condone his actions.

The role of Blanche was huge and Cate Blanchett was formidable in this complex role.  She put so much into the performance, I don't know how she would have had the energy to back up for the evening performance.  My only criticism was that perhaps Cate shone a little too brightly as Blanche.  She is so beautiful and eloquent that I had to remind myself that Blanche was washed up and clinging for dear life to the last vestiges of beauty and youth.  I have met a few Blanches in my life and I always feel the pull of wanting to believe them, wanting to believe the good in them, yet knowing that the tangle of untruths do not make sense (yes I am a sucker...my children manage to get away with lying to me all the time).  As an audience member, I was not torn like this...but perhaps, this is how it was intended, or perhaps it was because my back row seat did not give me a good look at the actors faces.

Robin McLeavy was lovely as Stella (though I would have liked a closer seat, to see more of her performance) and Tim Richards' interpretation of Mitch was spot-on.  This play gets my highest praise, in that I was still pondering the characters and outcomes several days later and now want to go and read the script for myself.  Could Mitch have been Blanche's salvation?  Would she have wanted that salvation?  Where would Stanley's ambitions lead him?  Would Stella and Stanley have remained happily married, comfortable in their well-defined marital roles?  I think I'll have to get hold of the film version, and see if Marlon Brando lives up to Joel!


  1. Lovely dress. Nice job! Nice to hear that you enjoyed the play so much, and especially Joel. :) Pity the weather didn't play nice. :(

  2. Beautiful dress - so flattering on you!

  3. You look gorgeous in your LBD Katherine. Shame that the weather turned it's worst just as you headed out in your fine dress.

    It sounds like quite a play.....I must hire out the film with Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando....sadly I've never seen it.

    It was great meeting you finally in the flesh, just wished it could have been for the whole day!

  4. Very pretty dress, sorry the weather was so uncooperative.

  5. Your dress came out great and the neckline is sitting beautifully so I'm guessing you were about to smooch out that wrinkle..

    It's lovely fabric - what a shame the weather didn't play nice.

  6. That is a fabulous LBD. I hope you find somewhere to wear it because she definitely wants to go out on the town!

  7. Love the black dress. I also saw Streetcar and loved it. I actually thought Edgerton was better than Blanchett. My seats were also quite far away - very annoying for a subscriber - and I missed the nuisances of facial expressions. I think the new STC venue lacks the intimacy of the old wharf theatre.

  8. Gorgeous! Love the shape of the bottom half! Hope you felt great wearing it!

  9. It look really good, if i made it, it would of taken me years and it wouldn't look as nice as yours.

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  10. Your dress is really well done, i love the outcome and i love your high quality finishing.
    I am shortwaisted as well and find it flattering not to draft the waist seam straight, but in a slight curve, shifting down in the centerfront and in the center back.

  11. Dazzling dress with that aura of glamour and sophistication! You look sensational!

  12. This is lovely! Great cut and fit and the texture in the fabric is really nice. Hope you'll find other occasions to wear it.