Tag Archives: Yves Saint Laurent

Black Dress with Princess seams

Hi and welcome to this week’s blog.

Do you wear a lot of black clothes?

I know I do. It seems to be my default colour. If I can’t decide what to wear, I reach for the black dress!

So what do all the black clothes in the closet signify?

Some would say black is stylish, others would say unimaginative. Some people wear black because it is rebellious while others wear it to conform. It is the colour of mourning but also sexy and seductive. There are so many contradictions and ways to interpret our feelings and attitudes towards our black clothes but it is probably the one colour everybody has and uses often.

So I thought to myself that it was time to add another one to the collection.

If you managed to read the blog I posted a few days ago, “How To Sew A Princess Seam” you would have seen me piecing and sewing together beautiful princess seams on a black bodice.

Princess seam bust front

I continued with making the dress and the result is this blog for you.

This is the picture I have used as my inspiration. It is a gorgeous black winter dress by the fabulous Yves Saint Laurent. HERE

This style of dress never seems to go out of fashion, the hem line and the sleeve length may go up and down depending on the season, otherwise its a classic look which from the sewist’s perspective gives us scope to make so many variations from just one basic pattern.

Princess seams on a dress can be made to continue down the whole length of the dress or they can stop at the hips or at the waist. On this dress I decided that the skirt was going to be a full circle skirt so the curved princess seams would only extended down as far as the waistline. They are on both the back and the front of the bodice which gives a perfect figure hugging shape.

Working with the black fabric at this time of year was a bit of a challenge and demanded plenty of good quality artificial light. I recently invested in a daylight light bulb which actually gives off a blue light rather than the yellow light from a regular bulb. Still a poor substitute for real sunlight though.

I knew that I was happy with the fit of the bodice, except for the neckline which was a little bit high so I lowered it by three inches, before starting on the skirt. I took the waist measurement for the skirt from the bodice and used this to make a pattern. My fabric was not a large enough piece to allow me to cut the circle skirt in one which I would have prefered, so I had to make separate front and back sections, remembering to allow for a zipper. Having the side seams did have the advantage of allowing me to alter the fit easily when necessary.

As the skirt does have the side seams I played around with the idea of pockets in the seams but the fabric is really quite heavy and to add more fabric and more weight would be too much in this design. I’ll put some in-seam pockets into another project soon though.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Lining Top of Dress
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Lining Top of Dress

The finished dress is fully lined, except for the sleeves. I am sure that there was more work in the construction of the dress lining than there was in the actual dress itself. I used a lovely black and white, antistatic, spotty lining fabric. I didn’t want the lining to show at the neck edge so I cut a facing from the black dress fabric and attached this to the neck edges of the back and front lining pieces, this was then under stitched.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Sewing Avenue
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Sewing Avenue

Under stitching is done on the lining or the facing, inside the neck edge or sometimes at the arm hole edge. It is usually done with a slightly longer stitch length and by adding this extra row of stitching, about a quarter of an inch from the seam line, it keeps the seam edge in place and stops the fabric rolling out.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Lining
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Lining

When I made the lining for the skirt of the dress, I made it as a straight skirt, not a full circle because I wanted it to stay in place when the dress moves about. Maybe when I’m dancing around! I also attached the skirt lining to the bodice the opposite way around at the waist so that the side seams would not be visible, they face inwards, against the legs. I was pleased with this little trick and will certainly remember to do it again on other dress and skirt linings. The other decision with this skirt lining was to leave it unattached to the dress. Linings are sometimes attached with a swing stitch or the hems can be joined together but in this instance that would not be a suitable option. As I said, I wanted the lining to stay in place when the dress moved about.

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Back
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Back
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Sewing Avenue
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Sewing Avenue

I have put in a concealed zip down the back of the dress. Don’t be put off using this type of zip as it is almost invisible on the garment and looks very neat and professional. You do however need the correct foot attachment for your sewing machine. You also need to make sure you are taking the correct amount of seam allowance when stitching it in place. there is a tendency when sewing in any type of zip to line up the edge of the zip with the edge of the fabric and this may well not be your seam allowance so measure it , check and make sure. You don’t want it baggy at the back!

Black Full Circle Skirt Dress - Finished Dress
Black Full Circle Skirt Dress – Finished Dress

I’m happy to make this dress another addition to my working wardrobe and possibly my socialising one as well.

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Happy sewing