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Little Black Dress Large


Sweet!  My LBD won first place on Pattern Review’s LBD contest! I’m so excited – I never thought I’d win a sewing contest.  There were lots of great entries, so it’s quite an honor to have my dress recognized. If you voted for my dress, thanks!

The pattern (in size 32) is available for download here.

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to New York (my hometown) for a wedding, which yes, was the spiritual union of two wonderful people, but, more importantly marked the debut of my Little Black Dress. (Don’t worry, now that I’m home I should have some time in the next week to do some sewing so that I can finally talk about another project!)

Now that I’m back online, I’m faced with a Selfish Seamstress dilemma.  The voting has started for the Pattern Review Little Black Dress Contest and as a PR member, I do have one precious little vote to hand out.  Of course, the selfish thing to do would be to vote for my own dress.  But somehow I have always been uncomfortable with voting for myself.  

In the third grade I was nominated for something, student council or some such position, and when it came time to vote (by a show of hands), I voted for an opponent because, well, she didn’t seem to have a lot of votes and I thought it would be a nice thing to do.  The teacher then made me take back my vote and vote for myself because he said if I didn’t vote for myself it meant I didn’t think I was the best candidate for the job, which meant I shouldn’t be running. Since then I’ve always felt very strange about voting for myself for anything.

Anyway, I’ve decided to vote for another dress, though which one I have not yet decided as there are many very pretty entries. As Selfish a Seamstress as I am and try to be, I just find it too weird to vote for my own, even though it’s the black dress I’ve wanted for a long time.  Is that silly?  What would you do?



Get your own.

There are two possible ways of interpreting the title of this blog entry.  The first way is something like this:

    YOU: Hey, I like your Audrey-inspired dress!

    THE SELFISH SEAMSTRESS:  Thanks!  Because I’m so generous, I’ve posted the pattern so that you can make your own Audrey-inspired dress!

The second way to interpret it is something like this:

    YOU: I like your Audrey-inspired dress.  Can you make one for me?

    THE SELFISH SEAMSTRESS: Are you insane?? Do you think I have nothing better to do than sew for you?  Whatever.  Make your own (damn) Audrey-inspired dress! 

I’ll leave you to guess which meaning The Selfish Seamstress intends. (Hint: Generosity is a concept entirely foreign to the Selfish Seamstress.)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, check out the downloads page. I’ve posted the (free) pattern for my Audrey Hepburn/Givenchy-inspired little black dress!  It’s only in my size for the time being, which corresponds roughly to a petite Burda size 32. The pattern is pretty basic, but there aren’t any  instructions yet, so I’d recommend this for the sewer with some experience in assembling a dress with lining.

If you make one, let me know- I want to see!  It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Selfish Seamstress just loves to be flattered.

Pattern Review is running a Little Black Dress contest, and it just so happened that I’d had an idea for one a while ago that I hadn’t gotten around to making. In fact, now that I think about it, I’ve never made a black dress before, little or otherwise. I’m pretty excited about it; it had never even occurred to me to enter a sewing contest before.

Actually, the dress has been done for a about a week now, but there hasn’t been a good time to photograph it. It’s dark when we leave for work in the morning, and it’s dark when we get home. And the lighting in the apartment really isn’t good for photographing, and the mess doesn’t help either :) So that pretty much leaves this weekend. Since we’re planning an all-day hike tomorrow, it left today. And it so happens that it’s been snowing all day here! So, all of these photos were taken in sub-freezing temperatures. Excuse me if I look grumpy; my butt has turned to ice in most of the photos.

Dan kindly took 60+ photos and put up with me running around to switch up accessories and querying why this or that photo made my back look so fat :)

I’m pasting in the “review” (can you really review your own pattern?) I posted on Pattern Review, but I’ll show you all the photos first so you don’t have to bother clicking on all the links.


Dress from the front

Dress from the front...

... from the back ...

... from the back...

... gussied up for the office...

... gussied up for the office...

... or for shopping ...

... or for shopping ...

... dressed down for lunch ...

... dressed down for lunch ...

... and fancied up with fake fur and a guy.

... and fancied up with fake fur and a guy. For the sake of full disclosure, The Selfish Seamstress did indeed make Dan's shirt. Sorry to disappoint my dear readers so early in the game.


Coco Chanel may be the mother of the LBD, but when I hear the words “little black dress,” I always think of Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m sure I’m not alone in this My below-the-knee length slim sheath is inspired by the floor length, gathered waist Hubert de Givenchy gown she wears in the film. One of my online sewing heros, BurdaStyle veteran Myk made an adorable babydoll style dress inspired by the same gown, and after seeing hers, I began to dream about that iconic back bodice applied to a simple slim sheath. The LBD contest finally gave me the kick in the pants to get around to drafting it!

A whole bunch of photos:
**The dress by itself shown from the front, the three-quarters view, the full length back view, and a back close up.
**LBD gets dressed up for a day at the office with a cashmere cardigan (to cover up the open back and bare shoulders!), and patent leather wedges, belt, and bag
**LBD goes shopping with a matching black belt, tall boots, tote bag, and leopard trench coat (Schnittvision pattern)
**LBD meets friends for a casual lunch with a wool sweater coat and some comfy heeled oxfords
** And finally, LBD goes out to dinner with a fake fur stole, patent leather pumps, and some seamed fishnet stockings. Really this outfit wants some black opera gloves and a satin clutch, but since I don’t have those accessories, I supplemented the outfit with Dan, the loveliest thing I could find at home.

About the design:
I drafted the pattern for this dress using some pieces from the lining pattern of Burda WoF 5-2008 dress 125 as a block. I had made the Burda dress previously and knew it had the kind of slim fit I was looking for (I’ll review this pattern soon- it’s fantastic).

The front has a slightly lowered waist seam and the bodice has armhole princess seams. The skirt front has two darts. The back has no waist seam, and just two long darts from the high bust line to the hip. The entire dress is lined with black lightweight taffeta lining, except for the cresent-shaped back neck piece, which is self lined. I used an invisible side zip to make sure that the back (sort of the whole point of the dress) was as uninterrupted as possible.

The neckline took a couple of tries to get right, not because it was hard to draft but because I kept underestimating the amount of structure it needed. In the end, I ended up using fusible interfacing on both of the neckline pieces AND using sew-in interfacing as well. I also applied sew-in interfacing to the top of the back bodice (the pointed piece) for stability.

To make sure that this dress had the kind of day-to-night versatility, I used a very simple, classic fabric- some deep black wool suiting that I had stashed to make pants and never gotten around to using. The fabric is smooth but matte so it’s appropriate for daytime wear but still dressy enough for evening. I also cut it slightly below the knee to give it a little extra formality. For most daytime wear, it requires a cardigan or jacket (I wish I had a little black 60’s inspired one to go with it!) to cover the shoulders and exposed back, but the front is very conservative, so it won’t raise an eyebrow at work.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out- it’s something I’ve been wanting to make for a while and it was pretty simple to draft and sew.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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