What I wear

The little black dress-clips dress

One of my sewing goals for this year is to make time to sew more for me.  It’s a bit embarrassing to be a professional seamstress who never wears anything she makes!

This goal is being helped by my newest obession: The Sew Weekly.  Every week they set a challenge/theme, you complete it, and then get to post photos of it and brag about it.  I love the inspiration of the theme – it helps me to sew in new directions.  And I love their little wrap-up of the project (see my version at the end of this post) And the brag opportunities don’t hurt either 😉

This week’s theme was accessorize: sew a garment to go with an accessory you already own.  It was the perfect theme for me.  Mr Dreamy gave me the most gorgeous vintage marcasite dress clips for our anniversary, and I’ve been planning to make a dress to wear them with ever since.  And I don’t really have a little-black-dress, so I got to kill two birds with one stone.

Aren’t they exquisite?  They also clip on to a brooch back, so that you can wear them as one piece.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my little black dress-clips dress:

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.3 metres of thrifted black wool crepe.

Pattern: Self drafted, based on Grandma’s blue dress, which I am sure was made from an actual sewing pattern.

Pattern alterations: The original dress also had two zips, one at the side and a little one at the back neck.  While I’m not an anti-zip seamstress, I’m also not a glutton for punishment.  So I switched out the back-neck zip for a button and loop.  Much more elegant anyway.  I also lowered the front neckline a bit to showcase the dress clips.   The only unintentional alteration is that my draft of the pattern ended up too short in the bodice, so I added a waist-band.  Unfortunately that meant that I didn’t have enough fabric left to do a belt, so I’m wearing with a piece of vintage ribbon for a sash.

Year: ca. 1956 (I wondered about the date of Grandma’s dress, but now that I have drafted it and sewn it up the construction details suddenly make a mid-50s date really clear)

Notions: a side zip recycled from another garment, an orphan vintage black jet button from Grandma’s button stash, turquoise hem facing and ocean blue bias binding from my stash (either thrifted or inherited from Nana or Grandma).

Hours: 2.5 hours to draft the pattern off of Grandma’s blue dress, 5 hours sewing (hey, I hand stitched the zip and the facing!).

Techniques used: Pattern drafting, side zip, faced hems, blind-hem stitching, pick-stitched zip.

Will you make this again? YES!  I love it!  I’m going to make this over and over and over again, starting with a wear on Tue to the opening of Lonely Hearts.  I want one in every colour (OK, not quite, but a few prints might be nice).  It also is the perfect background for my Not-So-Secret-Garden necklace by Things Unseen.

Any changes? I think I’ll make two not-quite-bows similar to the ones the original blue dress has on one side to go under the dress clips when I wear the dress with them.  Right now it’s a bit plain, and not really making the clips ‘pop’ in the way I want them to.  And I’m going to alter the pattern so that I don’t have to do a waistband

Total cost: Not sure, but under $5 – the fabric was thrifted and the zip was recycled from another garment.  I guess the cost goes up by a scarily extravagant amount a bit if you count the dress clips too.

And the inside?: Overlocked finished seams, bias faced hem and sleeve hems, roll-hemmed neck facing which is hand bound. I think the pictures of the dress turned inside-out say it all (including “it’s really hard to photograph black fabric with bright blue trim and get any details”):

Do you love the bright turquoise hem & sleeve facings and belt-finish?  I do!  Even if it is a little black dress I thought the inside should have a bit of fun.

The sewn-down neck facing (wool crepe is so perfect for hiding prick-stitches!)

The back button detail:



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