OMG LBD

Due to popular demand, the latest addition to my FW/07 Collection is the Go Patterns little black dress, 4001. This dress is not one to be taken lightly, as you’ll remember from my fitting session – it’s much more of an exercise in couture techniques than a quick dress you can whip up in an evening. At several points I got a bit frustrated with my glacial progress and the amount of hand sewing, but the end result is just… breathtaking.

As you can see, it works perfectly with my silk blouse underneath, too (exactly as I wanted – just the sleeves with nothing showing at the neck! hurrah!). The pockets are also a real feature – it’s not obvious from the line drawing on the pattern, but the scooped seams in the skirt actually conceal rounded pockets that hang at the perfect level for putting your hands in. You couldn’t carry much in there without it showing through on the dress, but it’s great for small stuff like a tube of lipstick or a train ticket.

The 100% wool crepe I used was a dream to sew (once I got past the tedious steam pre-shrinking!), stretching when I needed it to, and holding a crease and interfacing equally well. I haven’t got a tailor’s ham (though one is on my Christmas gift), so I used my usual ghetto technique for pressing princess seams around the edge of my ironing board:

It works, and I’m so proud at how all of my seams lined up PERFECTLY – on the front, you’ve got to line up the bodice princess seams with the skirt pocket seams with the waist seam at two places, and on the back, you’ve got to align the darts with the waist seam and then the waist again along an invisible zipper. My invisible zipper insertions have always been a bit on the messy side, but going through my back issues of Threads magazine I found an article in the Summer 2005 issue about invisible zippers and aligning waist seams perfectly, and it worked a treat!

Apart from adding an inch or two more ease around the waist and hips to making sitting easier, I also lowered the front neckline by an inch, and I’m really glad I did. The neckline as drafted was a bit too matronly for me, and I think lowering it a bit still kept the class that was there before, but allowed my collarbones to show through nicely (and any necklace I might be wearing!).

The only other change I made was to raise the hemline by four inches to bring it above the knee rather than below. From experience, I know that below the knee looks awful on me, and just above the knee is really very flattering, so it was a no brainer in my fitting session.

This dress is also fully lined – I used a pale, eggshell blue/grey lining from my designer bundle from fabric.com, wihch gives it a nice contrast when I walk and you get a flash of blue from the slit at the back. The facings were drafted in such a way that the inside looks just as good as the exterior, with a beautiful curve around the neck (though the lining wasn’t fully finished at the stage I took the photo on the dressmaker’s dummy!).

I must give utmost respect to Go Patterns for producing this pattern and allowing me to make this dress – they’re a brand new, independent pattern company and this is their first pattern, but the instructions and illustrations for this dress were the best I’ve ever seen on ANY pattern ANYWHERE, hands down. The written instructions were incredibly clear and gave far more information than you’d normally get, telling you which side of a seam to face down so as to ease more easily, exactly which hand stitches to use, and even when to interface the zipper seam allowances to make insertion more easy. The illustrations, too, were much better than I’m accustomed to – each illustration showed a thread tail at the beginning and end of the stitching so you could see at a glance where to start and end, and on the pressing instructions, showed an iron shape precisely on that seam. I cannot praise Go Patterns highly enough for their excellent instructions.

Likewise, the praise for this dress seems to have been heaped on from observers, too. I wore this dress to a cocktail party on Friday before I’d even finished tacking the lining down inside, and I got so many compliments I nearly ran out of business cards! I wore it with black ankle boots and a pair of long velvet gloves with my hair up in a bun, and I was getting Audrey Hepburn comparisons all night long, which is high praise indeed! If this dress can turn me into a Breakfast at Tiffany’s dream, it’s certainly going to be a staple in my wardrobe for a long, long time.

Next up: a short break to make a few Christmas presents and changing mats, then I’ll be making the BWOF 05/06 #115 wrap dress in my brown bamboo knit.

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