Friday, October 02, 2009

A long black dress for the end of summer

(For some reason Blogger is making my pictures all blurry upon upload, so I'm using Photobucket today)

Bonjour, bonjour !
I'm glad you guys thought I could wear long dresses, because - here is another one. :) This one isn't quite long enough to be classified as a maxi, but it's still ankle-length.
This dress was pretty work- and thought-intensive. It all started when I spotted the fabric during my first visit to a fabric shop in Montpellier. That crinkled black cotton screamed it wanted to be a long, flowing dress.

Now, I usually don't "do" black dresses in the summer because I usually remain very pale, and black obviously emphasizes it. I avoid the sun as much as possible because my skin just doesn't like it - it usually burns before it gets to tan ever so little. This year, though, no matter how careful I was, I just couldn't help getting some sun exposure. Montpellier is the sunniest city in France, and I arrived right in the middle of summer. However, I was super careful in that I didn't go out during the most scorching hours of the day, and I slathered myself with sunscreen. For the first time ever, I got a gradual tan (mostly from evening sunlight), but I didn't burn.
I am still way lighter-skinned than most people here, but I felt I could sport a black dress for the end of the summer, when the days weren't quite as sweltering and black wouldn't feel too hot against the skin.

I had a very precise idea of the dress I wanted. Empire waist but with a deep midriff section to avoid any ballooning effect; a V-neckline and large straps; two layers of fabric in the skirt (which would have otherwise been see-through), one being shorter than the other.
After a good deal of thinking and hesitating (and obsessing), I ended up using bits of different patterns to have the dress match my idea. To create the bodice, I combined Simplicity 3803 (with which I made my first maxi) with Newlook 6774. I also used NL 6774, with alterations, for the bodice back, midriff and skirt. (I made a first dress out of this pattern last year - another dress that got a lot of wear this summer; every time I put it on, I thought I really should re-use that pattern.)
I added a slit to the back of the skirt for added fullness and movement at the front.
I did a rolled hem on my serger. It seemed to me the easiest and probably prettiest option for a fabric that was both sheer and crinkled.

Because the fabric is crinkled, see-through and so flimsy, I decided to underline the bodice with cotton voile. The bodice being lined, I ended up therefore with 4 layers of fabric. I like the hang this gives the bodice - especially the back. It's amazing how adding some extra support will enhance the look of a garment and give it a classier style.
The added puff of the crinkles probably makes me appear a bit fatter, but oh well. I should have made the midriff entirely out of cotton voile, but when I realized this all the seams were serged and there was a high risk at this stage of ruining the dress instead of improving it. I guess I can live with it. :)

***
And that's it for now... No more pictures in my backlog.
I still need to take pictures of and review:
  • another dress (Simplicity 3678)*
  • a couple of tops (New Look 6470, view A/C and view D)
  • a skirt (again from NL 6470).
  • almost forgot - another retro dress, Butterick 5214. Love that one!
Right... I'd better set up that tripod soon. ... As soon as I've finished the oodles of work I have to do. Life has been just a wee bit busy lately.

* Am I the only one annoyed at the way Simplicity redesigned their website? Browsing through their patterns is so much more of a pain, and the URLs are not intuitive at all. I'll be linking to the PatternReview pages rather than the Simplicity/Newlook pages from now on.

24 comments:

Lori said...

Very pretty maxi dress. I agree with you about the Simplicity site.

Tracy said...

Oh, this is really beautiful, Isabelle! Very elegant, and I like the empire waist style. This suits you so well. A good style for us "petites" ;o) I can imagine how lovely the crinkled fabric looks... and dreamy with double layer skirt. Very romantic summer look. Very cute shoes too. Just lovely! Happy weekend, my friend ((HUGS))

Amanda S. said...

This is a very pretty dress! I think it looks great on you. I've have some of this crinkle type gauze in my stash FOREVER. Maybe it wants to be a long dress now. By the way, I love the purple maxi. Somehow I missed that post. Thanks for your sweet comments on my blog! :)

Elaray said...

I agree with Traci's description – the dress is elegant! It look great on you!

mochimo said...

Wonderful dress, Isabelle! It looks great. Crinkle gaze cotton is a great kind of fabric, isn't it? I love it and would stock up on it whenever I find some. Unfortunately it seems rather hard to find...

Lindsay T said...

Très belle!

Laura Gerencser said...

OOhh! I like this one even better than the last one!!

gatorgirl4325 said...

I love, love, love your dress! Perfect fabric and great design. You look radiant!

ViRginiE said...

Très jolie cette robe longue noire...
Très classe aussi!

The Sampler Girl said...

Oh it's wonderful!!! Looks great.

Tanya :)

Rose said...

This is a beautiful dress - looks great on you!

cidell said...

You look wonderfully curvy and ready to hit the town. I love it!

mainely stitching said...

If I had a dress like that, that looked so good on me, I'd never wear anything else!

Vicki W said...

Very pretty dress! I am probably paler than you and I wear black all the time. I think black makes pale skim glow and it's a very flattering color for you.

a little sewing on the side said...

Your black dress looks very pretty with your coloring. I bet it feels great to wear, too.

coffeegrounded said...

Very pretty dress, and so creative! I love how you incorporated several changes. I would be so intimidated, afraid that the end product wouldn't work. I love the layers and the fall of the fabric.

Christine said...

Thats a beautiful dress. I've never had the courage to mix and match pattern pieces, but you have inspired me to try.
I agree about the Simplicity website

mitch1066 said...

lovely!You know its good when a black dress photographs well,it was definately worth all the work.I can sure see the tan!I'm the same complexion and my husbands family come from Kuwait so they love it when its hot and sunny here in Canada while i'm hiding behind sunscreen and very large sunhats lol.

gwensews said...

Very chic! Beautiful, beautiful dress. I dislike the Simplicity website also.

Pam~Off The Cuff ~ said...

Isabelle...tres chic!

Karoline said...

Another gorgeous dress, congratulations

kitmacdonald said...

It looks lovely and really has an almost vintage line to it. Perfect!

Moushka said...

Beautiful dress for a beautiful woman! Black looks terrific on you, especially with your pale skin. What a lovely way to celebrate le fin d'été.

equatorcollection said...

You look beautiful in these long dresses and in black! From idea to fruition, congratulations on one gorgeous black summer dress.