Thoughts on a little black dress

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If you were following this blog last winter, you know that I was doing some fashion research to help me figure out what my style is. And in this process, I read several lists of the wardrobe “must haves”. Most of these things wouldn’t fit into my wardrobe at all, really. A cashmere sweater, for instance, would probably make me break out in hives due to my (unfortunate) extreme sensitivity to wool. (I can instantly tell if wool is part of the fiber content of something because my hand starts prickling within about 5 seconds.) Button-down white shirt? Owned them a couple times over the years, and inevitably got rid of them all because I never wore them–the closest thing I have to that now is last week’s Wednesday refashion that I am currently wearing. Notice it is neither button down nor entirely white, and it suits me much better. But there is one thing on that list that I’m thinking it might not be a bad idea to invest in–that “little black dress”. (Though not so little in my case, as I’d probably keep it somewhere around knee-length.) Seeing as how I need something black for pretty much every time I play my flute in public, I have yet another relative getting married in the spring and it’s an evening wedding (read: more formal affair), and it would go with a lot of stuff that’s already in my wardrobe anyway, it would be pretty practical.

I’ve thought a bit about this so far–I know I want something pretty simple, so I can dress it up or down as needed. I’m thinking a scoop or v-neck, sleeveless (of course)– I’d like it to be pretty fitted at the waist, and a more flared skirt, probably an A-line. My initial thought was that I’d like to make it out of silk jersey, because the silk would make it fancy enough for performances and weddings, but the jersey would make it comfortable enough to wear for say, a more casual summer evening out with the girls. There’s only two problems with this plan (not counting the price per yard of silk jersey, which would come out to pretty much more than I’ve ever paid for a piece of fabric in my life). The main one is that I’m not having much luck finding a dress pattern for knits that I like and that fit my criteria. The other, somewhat more shallow reason is that a pretty huge part of me is thinking that I’d love to use a project like this as a learning experience and play around with some of those couture techniques that I’ve been wanting to learn. And honestly, I’m not sure that it’s possible to really do that with a knit fabric, you know?

On the flip side, I’ve found some patterns that I’ve really liked the look of. But those are all for wovens. So I’ve been wracking my brains trying to figure out what I could make it out of that would be able to be dressed up and dressed down as needed. Stuff like cotton and linen seem like they would be too casual for, say, my cousin’s wedding, while anything like silk or chiffon or anything along those lines might be way too fancy for if I wanted to wear it for an afternoon of teaching flute lessons or something.

I’m thinking I’d like this to be my big winter sewing project (since, if I’m going to wear this for my cousin’s wedding, I need to have it done by April 15.), so I really need to figure out which direction I’m going to take this before too long! Have any of you ever sewn a little black dress? Any thoughts/advice? (Especially on fabric choice–that’s going to be the huge deciding factor for what patterns I end up looking at!)


3 thoughts on “Thoughts on a little black dress

  1. Silk jersey is a great fabric to sew, but you need to test your pattern with some cheaper knit. I suggest a cowl neck/cowl back pattern. these dress up and down with different accessories really well.


  2. How about a sateen-type fabric for a woven? It's not too dressy, but does have a sheen to it and could be worn casually or be more dressed up. I don't know anything about silk jersey.


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