Since this is my first project of 2018, I thought I’d start the year off with a bang. And by bang, I mean a jacquard cocktail dress of course! This is a project that has been on my radar for a few years, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to actually make it. Not only was the pattern a delight to sew, but this dress makes me feel like dancing…or at least doing twirls until the full skirt flares out around me!
The pattern I selected for this dress is Butterick #6094. This is one of Butterick’s “Patterns by Gertie,” which are all designed by Gretchen Hirsch. If you like vintage, you should definitely get to know her patterns – she has a lot of cute vintage styles. This is the second of her patterns that I’ve made, and they have both turned out really well.
I picked this pattern up when it first came out several years ago. The back is what initially caught my eye – I absolutely love the fold details. Despite my love of this pattern, however, it sat in my stash (along with the fabric, I might add) until just a few weeks ago. I figured there was no better time than the New Year to tackle some long overdue projects.
The fabric is a beautiful black jacquard, with what I think is quite a dainty silver pattern. I found it at a great little fabric store in Pittsburgh called The Fabric Place, for only $3 a yard at an end-of-season sale. $3! At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I only knew that I couldn’t walk away without it. After much debate over whether to make a jacket or a dress, I decided on a dress (of course).
The construction of this dress was a breeze. Even the folded back details went together easily. I guess I’d say this pattern is deceptively easy, if that’s a thing. One of my favorite things about the construction is something no one will ever see, but the lining and facings look so polished.
Since this was going to be a special cocktail dress, I decided to make all the finishing as polished as possible. Instead of serging the skirt seams, I used bias tape to bind the seams. This fabric tended to fray quite a bit, so the bound seams not only look nice but also help keep the frayed edges hidden. For the hem of the skirt, I used lace hem tape. Again, I know no one will see this detail (unless I decide to twirl), but I love the way the lace looks peeking up over a finished hem.
After the relatively speedy construction, it came time to do all the finishing, a.k.a. hand sewing mania. With a full skirt to hem, I was in for a loooong afternoon. Luckily for me, Murder, She Wrote was on TV. So, in just three hours, I’d finished all my hand sewing, and Jessica Fletcher had solved three murders. I’d say it was a pretty productive afternoon for both of us.
I did make a few alterations/design changes to the original pattern. Once I had the bodice together, it was gaping a bit around the armholes. I took the side seams in about an inch on each side and tapered the seam back into the original size at the waist. This helped give the bodice a better fit with no gaping.
Instead of using a contrasting color for the back facing, I decided to use the same fabric throughout. While I like the look of the contrasting back folds, I didn’t like the way it looked with this fabric. Any fabric I placed next to the jacquard just seemed to cheapen the look. To help highlight the back folds, I selected black and silver buttons that reflect the silver in the jacquard.
The only other design change I made was to not include the petticoat. Being a jacquard, this fabric has a bit of weight to it. While that can be a problem with some patterns, I think it helps give this skirt quite a bit of body, without the use of a petticoat.
I must admit that when I first finished this dress I wasn’t in love with it. I just sort of felt that the bateau neckline made me look a bit square. After some convincing by my boyfriend and some of my lovely friends (who were crazy enough to stand out in the cold and snow for this photo shoot – thank you, ladies!!), I’ve really changed my mind about it. I also think styling it with my embellished cape helped make it feel a bit more special. You can check out the cape here.
I think this was the perfect project to start off the year, but then again, I suppose you can never go wrong with a little black dress.
Until next time,