Monday, August 11, 2014

A Black Lacy Dress for Summer

I love black dresses for summer, especially with a full skirt. I've been working on developing a princess seam bodice pattern, and I decided to test it out with some beautiful black stretch sateen from B&J Fabrics. It's a basic sleeveless scoop-neck bodice with full circle skirt, and then a straight-grain ruffle sewn all around the hem.

Let's discuss the neckline. I ended up trimming it with some gorgeous black Venice lace.

This, however, was not originally the plan. I was working with my student Rachel, who has been a wonderful constant in my life for several years now. I mentioned I was making a basic black dress and was thinking about trimming it with some cool trim, like rick rack or mini pompom trim. This launched Rachel into an idea about an Italian countryside/Dolce & Gabbana inspired neckline with lace that gives a sort of lingerie-inspired vibe. We discussed. (I think the dialogue included something like, "It's like you're Sophia Loren: 'Oops, my dress is too small!'" Have I mentioned that Rachel is hilarious?) I was instantly on board. 

I found the lace at M&J Trimmings. It's a 2 inch-wide Venice lace with tiny roses. Perfect. It would have been ideal to sandwich the lace trim between the bodice and the bodice lining--but that was difficult to maneuver. Instead, I fully lined the bodice with the outer dress fabric and then cut the lace into small pieces and pinned it behind the neckline. Then I secured the lace to the lining with very tiny hand stitches. Here it is from the inside.



I ended up adding a little bit of narrow clear elastic into the neckline seam (between the two layers of the bodice) to keep it hugged close to the body, which resulted in a slightly gathered look to the neckline. I'm trying to decide it if bothers me or not. 

The skirt is not lined, since the fabric is medium weight and opaque.

Back lapped zipper. Please excuse the wrinkles. I'd been sitting for a bit. 


The ruffle on the bottom is a strip of fabric that had to be extremely long. I made it 2.5 times the circumference of the skirt, which is a full circle. Daunted by the hemming, I tried out the narrow hemmer foot on the eXcellence 760 that Elna is lending me. 

It was so easy. Luckily, it was a straight grain hem. Narrow hemmers tend to be much more difficult on curved areas. 

The best part? Bike pictures! My friend Shari took these pictures on my new Bobbin bicycle (dude, it's called a Bobbin!) which I think completes the Italian summer look. Watch out, Sophia Loren. (Just kidding. There is just no competing with Sophia Loren, especially when it comes to plunging necklines.)

P.S. Biking in 4-inch heels? Do not try this at home, readers. Believe me.

46 comments:

  1. Really cute dress and I love the shoes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This dress is so pretty Gertie, the ruffled hem is a wonderful addition. You look amazing on your new bobbin too! Did you make that back weel spash guard somehow too?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! No, I bought the skirt guard from etsy seller Frill Ride :)

      Delete
  3. Beautiful dress!! PS. I'm from Denmark, and here we bike in high heels all the time :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love the dress! Especially the lace in neckline - very Dolce & Gabbana as you say.

    Maybe it's a Scandinavian thing to bike in heels? No problems as long as you don't try to use the actual heel on the pedal!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm guessing you Scandanavians are better at all bike-related things. :) My problem is that the ball of my foot slips off the pedal, leaving the pedal caught underneath the heel. And then I find it hard to stop and start like that. Maybe I just need more practice! Though it's just as easy to wear flats and throw the heels in the basket if needed . . .

      Delete
    2. I used to bike in heels as well - when I lived in a bike-friendly city I biked everywhere - work, parties, supermarket etc. It was too much hassle taking spare shows so I would bike in party dresses and heels

      Delete
    3. :) I guess one part of the trick is to have the ball of the foot angled upwards/forwards to avoid slipping. (Does that sentence make any sense? ;) ) Like walking on your toes!

      Delete
    4. you might like these, designed for biking in heels! maybe you can buy them to match your bike...
      http://www.sovrappensiero.com/en/category/grippine/

      Delete
  5. I love a bicycle with a basket! So classic! Awesome dress with beautiful details. This will be a great pattern. I'd love to learn more about princess seams:)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your dress is beautiful gertie. I am sure sophia loren would love it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I, too, love black dresses in the summertime and yours is just beautiful. I adore the lack (and that it, too, is Italian). I do wish you'd do something in mini-pompom trim, though, just to give me an idea of what to do with it. I love it and it comes in such great colors now....

    I especially love you on your pink bike!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lace, lace. I meant lace. There is no "lack" to this make, I assure you.

      Delete
  8. Italian chic at its most beautiful. Love the lace and the ruffle and really like the subtle bust gathers too!

    ReplyDelete
  9. :O that is my FAVORITE bodice i've EVER seen on you!!! nice job!

    ReplyDelete
  10. The lace was a real nice touch, make the dress really pop!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That is an amazing dress. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful dress , love the lace trim.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wow! I love your pictures, what a beautiful setting and you look gorgeous! Can I please have the shoes?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dress is lovely and you can totally bike in 4 inch heels.

    Only put the ball or front of your foot on the pedal and never use the arch (will break your shoes) or heel (can get stuck in pedal). By just using the front of your foot you get a nice even pressure on the pedals, don't hurt yourself or your shoes and you look darn pretty too!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I love this! I also see that skirt able to stand alone with a wide waistband. :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think it's lovely. I kind of want one like it, but I'm not quite sure the bodice style would work for my body type, so I'll just admire this one.

    ReplyDelete
  17. That bicycle is so adorable! And the dress, too, of course!

    On the neckline, you bring up an issue I've struggled with, namely, how to get a wide neck to lay properly without wrinkles. This is especially tricky for sweetheart necklines. I assumed the problems with my last toile were due to using cheap, thin cotton, but now I'm worried I'll have issues even with a thicker fabric. Besides double-checking my width, I wonder if putting clear elastic on the shoulder straps would help? For me, sometimes gap issues are created not by a too-wide neckline, but by the shoulders sliding around.

    If you ever do a post on these neckline issues, I know I'll be all ears!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love that touch of lace! And high heels and bikes, perfect combo IMHO. I also have a child with me on that bike and groceries, cycling through Amsterdam.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The dress is so lovely!! The lace trim adds the little extra and so does the frilled hem!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'd love to see more sleeves in our clothing. I find that the airconditioned buildings that I work in, shop in, and dine in really require a sleeve to avoid being cold. Besides, some of us have upper arms that really need some cover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The upper arm thing is so loaded! I just have a personal preference for sleeveless/short sleeved dresses and I'm not exactly toned in that region. I just don't care. :) That said, I'm working on a book project now that should satisfy everyone with lots of sleeve options.

      Delete
    2. I am with you there, when it's hot I need the sleeveless and if that's what folks are looking at instead of my lovely face, (or dress!) then too bad for them.

      Delete
  21. Love the dress! Since I am Dutch I go everywhere by bike (even with high heels hahaha)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know I had so many Dutch readers! How cool! You all are the goddesses of biking in heels.

      Delete
  22. Waiting breathlessly for your new book! Love, love, love this look on you. Coincidentally, I just finished adding black Italian lace onto the hem of a black brocade dress after being inspired by the forties zip-front dress in your last book. Ciao, Bella!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Love that neckline with lace (never can go wrong being inspired by Sophia Loren and black lace bras). The neckline gathers look 'on purpose', but clearly in future projects that stretchy fabric needs to be stabilized before it is sewn. That's one of my own on-going reservations with stretch wovens in general. To create a stabilized edge, maybe sew a strong line of stay stitching first? Or a narrow strip of fusible interfacing to keep it from getting wider as you sew? Then there's the more dramatic solution to alter the pattern by pivoting out a little neckline dart into the princess (?) seams or bustline dart--that's a sure way to tighten a loose neckline in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Adorable! I love the addition of the lace. I just wrote a blog post about lace that is still hand-made on an island near Venice! http://cupandpenny.com/2014/08/03/the-woman-in-burano-who-makes-lace/

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great to see you with your Bobbin I've had mine for 15 months and I love it. It's so easy to ride in all kinds of dresses - I've even ridden mine in a pencil skirt. Not a fan of cycling in heels though we've got to think of our safety.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Fashion Jewelry
    Kim Kardashian Sterling Silver Engagement Wedding Ring
    with 17 Carat Emerald Cut Cubic Zirconia CZ Sizes 5 to 9
    http://j.mp/1vBAzak

    ReplyDelete
  27. Wow nice haven't see this one coming. Something so nice a simple. Can become a wow factor. I like. Wish to be sewing again so. Just like you.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It would be a perfect dance dress with the swirly skirt! The lace trim makes the dress! I'm all about simple and elegant. Love the red shoes! They look similar to a pair my mom was wearing in a picture from the 1940's. Everyone looked like a movie star back then.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi gertie new to the blog and LOVE it. Have you ever bought reproduction patterns? If so could you do a post on them?( the ones with no instructions that is) I've never had the confidence to do one of those myself.
    keep being awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Gertie! What a lovely peek-a-boo neckline! Just a friendly reminder ... when you lower the neckline on patterns drafted via flat pattern techniques, it's important to pivot out the excess ease. Most of us are rather scalloped shaped through the shoulder/sternum/bust area, with both convex and concave curves. Patterns treat this area like it's a straight line, but when we fiddle with details then those curves throw us off a bit.

    Take out a little bit (1/4-3/8") for a scoop or V-neckline ending mid-sternum, up to nearly an inch for necklines that end close to the bustline (think strapless gown). These amounts are for the pattern piece, not the whole garment. Draw a line from the bust point into the neckline, slash to BP, then overlap needed amount. Spread waist or bust dart from other side of bust point as needed, then true all your lines. Test as usual.
    Good luck on the next iteration!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ooh I'm LOVING this dress, it looks so fab on you! A princess-seamed bodice on a summer dress, WITH lace! I do hope this is a pattern you'll be putting out into the world for us at some point :-)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Your dress is absolutely gorgeous.

    I am a bit intimidated to attempt ruffles/gathers at a scale like this. I'm guessing that the circle skirt hem would be something like 12 feet, so the ruffle would be 30 feet gathered into 12. Do you have any tips for working with gathering that large?

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

© Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing. Powered by Cake