It’s time for me to move on from gazing at inspirational (and aspirational) pieces and do a deep dive into the kinds of sewing patterns available to me in my quest for the perfect (for me) Little Black Dress.
Let me get straight to the point about commercial sewing patterns: Many of the “big three or four” are far too embellished to put it politely, while so many of the “indie” patterns available are bags. What ever happened to elegant and sophisticated?
Let me show you what I mean. I generally find that Vogue patterns provide the me with the most appealing style options, but if I look at the most recent offerings, I find myself scratching my head. Take for example Vogue 1576. A sophisticated option for the perfect LBD? I think not. Because I prefer not to look like a bat just about to take flight.
Then there’s Vogue 1578.
At first glance it seems like it might have possibilities – but then I take a look at the line art and what do I see? Gathers. Gathers? Gathers everywhere. Not in my sleek LBD. So, I move on.
I see that Vogue’s 1579 has that sheath silhouette that is so appealing to me.
But what about that attached cape? Uh-uh. Not what I’m looking for. So, it’s on to other brands.
Just look at some of the McCall’s spring 2018 dress offerings. I think not…
…but McCall’s 7714, view C has possibilities.
Then there are the new offerings from Butterick. Their new #6515 is actually appealing to me, but it is really too much “of-the-moment”, too trendy and not timeless enough. Those statement sleeves (I think I may want sleeves) will date it faster than you can say “fake news,” and the ruffles on the sleeveless one – don’t get me started. I’m not a ruffle type. So that’s out.
I surf on over to Simplicity to see the new offerings and am met with…
…and what is this obsession I see all over online sewing communities with vintage? I like a bit of retro myself – although I tend to prefer the 1960’s aesthetic to the 1940’s – but I think it needs a bit of an update. I don’t find the literal reproduction appealing at all.
So, I have a quick look at some offerings from indie companies. I don’t find most of the sites appealing at all, but I am drawn to Style Arc for their knit patters. Let’s see what they have in dresses…
…hmm, not what I’m looking for, but to be fair to Style Arc, they do have a couple that I really like, maybe just not for this project. I really love their Serena dress and their Renae. This last one is actually a possibility that I might return to.
There are other online indie pattern companies, but most seem to design for knits or people who really just want to hide in a tent. I get it, though. If I were to offer any of my own designs as patterns, I would choose to offer the ones whose fits are the most forgiving. That way I wouldn’t have to test them on so many bodies to get the very best composite sizing. S-M-L is so much easier than 6-8-10-12. Anyway, I think I need to look at some of the older patterns that might fit my criteria as follows: elegant, sophisticated, stream-lined and timeless. On to Susan Khalie’s Couture Dress course on Craftsy.
I have been all through this course with the intention of using it to guide my couture dress project. However, I find I’ve used many of her techniques on other projects to date, but have not plunged into doing the dress along with her. One of the reasons I have hesitated so long is that the pattern Craftsy sends along to be used in the course is Vogue 8648, View A or B. It fulfils many of the criteria that I am looking for, but it has one serious drawback. I really don’t like the square neckline.
Oh, actually it has two drawbacks if you must know: I don’t think I want that inset waist. The pattern is one of those that permits fine-tuning the fit – all of those seams lines make fitting much easier than in a fitted dress that is minus those offerings. So, I’m back to the drawing board.
I find that I have been contemplating three patterns for dresses in general, so I dig one of them out of my pattern box and order the other two. The first option that I’ll make a muslin for is McCall’s 6464. I really love a boat neck and it has both sleeve and sleeveless options, the sheath silhouette I love, and style lines for fine-tuning that fit. Stay tuned!
7 thoughts on “The LBD* Project: Finding the right design for my ultimate Little Black Dress”
You’re absolutely right : the last productions of the big 4 are not very exciting, especially if you’re looking for something chic and timeless. For me the top design for a LBT, ‘la petite robe noire’ cherished by Gabrielle Chanel, is simple and minimalist. As you, one of my favorite LBT is Audrey Hepburn’s black dress designed by Herbert de Givenchy for the film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’(see the detailed picture of the dress : http://www.pursuitist.in/hubert-de-givenchy-exhibit-at-the-museum-of-lace-and-fashion/ ).
I find the McCall’s 6464 perfect for such a project: simple, versatile, quite easy to fit.
I also suggest you to have a look at that book: ‘La petite robe noire…’ by Isabel Sanchez Hernandez, available by Amazon EU. That’s a collection of different designs and techniques, all starting with very simple and basic shapes, some just with circles and rectangles, or very classic patterns such as pattern blocks. I find this book very inspiring for little black… and non-black dresses!
Thank you for your blog, it is very inspiring and extremely documented. In particular, I enjoyed your step-by-step posts about the ‘little French jacket’ and they will help me a lot in my future LFJ project !
Francoise W. (a Parisian reader)
Hello Francoise! I absolutely love that Breakfast at Tiffany’s dress as well. Such elegant and sophistication! And La petite robe…is on my Amazon list as we speak.
McCall’s 6464 is one of the contenders, but stay tuned for a series of toiles that will make the decision! Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I do it for fun! Cheers… ~GG
I agree with you completely about the range of available patterns going from A to B, as was famously said by a critic of Katherine Hepburn’s acting ability. I am secretly rather smug that I have countless patterns which I bought in the past from the big companies, especially Vogue, when they seemed to make things that are attractive to me. Whether I ever bother to sew is another question entirely–
Yes, timeless elegance seems to have bypassed the current age and thus the pattern manufacturers seem to be designing for the lowest common denominator. I think that one of the major reasons is the so-called “fast fashion” which can also be called “disposable fashion.” A dress that will be as elegant in five years as it is today needs to be a quality piece, not a disposable one. Anyway, I’d love to see what’ in that stash of Vogue patterns. Any couturier from the ’60’s? Hmm?
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Actually, not likely to be 60s–since I was alive then but quite young, it never struck me as elegant but just something on tv and in magazines that the grownups wore. I liked more of the 70s-80s and some designers since then. If I find anything 60s I will let you know.
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I hope you are narrowing your search for the perfect pattern. It seems like many of the patterns now are unfitted and tend to look sloppy. Maybe that’s what sells as you don’t need to be overly concerned with perfecting the fit and they are easier. The older Style Arc patterns seem to be well drafted and offer a possibility.
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Thanks for the Style Arc tip. I’m currently working on three muslins for three contenders. Narrowing it down as we speak! Cheers!
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