When the new year hit and I was looking down the list of contests announced on the Pattern Review website – the Little White Dress contest caught my eye. I was actually hoping that there would be a Little Black Dress contest because I have so many pieces of black fabric in my stash, but, the Little White Dress contest intrigued me. I love wearing white dresses in the Summer, and the ones that I own are usually made of eyelet because they are light and breathable in the heat. Since this contest is a Winter contest, I thought I would challenge myself and try to create a dress that would be appropriate to wear in the colder months after it was made.
Since I’m on a stash diet this year, I went over to my stash to see what kinds of white fabric I had to work with. Though I wasn’t yet sure of the kind of style I wanted to make, I decided to “let the fabric speak to me” – as they say in my draping class.
I was drawn to this sweater knit in my stash – a piece I bought from Mood (online) when I was stocking up on sweater knits in the Fall.
The fabric has a 4-way stretch and an interesting 3-D chevron/herringbone pattern on it – it almost looks like a throw blanket or a bath mat.
After deciding on the fabric, I knew that I had to make something fitted because the fabric wouldn’t work with a style that was too loose or flowy. At the time, I had been working on a dress (for the last 6 months or so, actually) using the bustier portion of Vogue 1227 by Rebecca Taylor (OOP Pattern). I had made several muslins of the cups/bustier and I thought it might be fun to use it for the top portion of my LWD. For the bottom of the dress, I decided to use my trusty TNT altered Vogue 1314 Pattern by Tracy Reese (the same one I used for the RTW contest).
Together, I expected the dress to look something like this.
Isn’t that a sight for sore eyes!?!?!! But you get the picture.
As with my RTW dress, the back pattern was cut down the CB to allow for an invisible zipper and I decided to stick to the original skirt length (longer than my RTW dress) because I knew so much skin would be showing at the neckline that I wanted to keep things classy!
I started off by sewing the dress lining. I used what I had left of the fabric I used for the Sloppy Josephine I made last year. Though stained in some areas, it was perfect for a lining because it was white, stretchy, yet thin enough to be under the thicker sweater knit.
The lining sewed up easily (especially with my walking foot!) and I was able to also use it as a muslin to fit the dress to me before cutting the more expensive sweater knit.
As you can see, I actually had to add in some darts at the back because it was so so so loose that the dress could not be held up. I’m glad that I was able to fit the lining fabric first as it saved me a lot of fitting issues on the sweater knit layer. The lining is a little odd at the end of the zipper – I think because I was not able to use my walking foot on that part and the two sides stretched a little differently on the zipper. Thank goodness it’s the under-layer!
I boned just under the cups of the lining layer for added stability. In the original Rebecca Taylor pattern, the bustier is much more heavily boned but since I was working with knit, I thought it would be best to just make the dress tight but not boned at the seams so it would still be comfortable. In the future I might reconsider this because I ended up having to add elastic all around the top of the bodice for the dress to be held up more securely.
On the front of the dress I pattern-matched to create chevrons down the center front. On the back, I cut the pieces to match the grain of the fabric. I like this little nuance and I feel it makes the dress flattering, yet different, on both sides.
I love how the dress is super simple – it lets the fabric and silhouette do the talking, don’t you think?
California’s temperatures are very interesting to me. Though it is generally always sunny and beautiful during the daytime, I find the temperature difference from day to night to be really drastic – especially in the Winter-time! When the sun is out in the daytime, I never need a jacket and can be comfortable in sandals. But once the sun goes down, the same clothes I wear during the day cannot take me into the night without a jacket or a change in shoes. For this reason, I decided to make a matching long sleeved shrug (that I drafted from a shrug I already own) so that I could wear this dress during the California nights, too!
I love how it creates a little peek-a-boo opening in the front!
Another touch I added was a self-made chain-stitched loop at each of the underarms of the shrug that can be looped onto mother-of-pearl buttons that I sewed onto the dress. This secures the shrug to the dress when worn.
At first, I wasn’t sure how the dress would turn out. The bustier pattern is made for a woven fabric and the fabric, at first glance, didn’t appear to be made for a dress. Somehow, it totally works! I love how it is casual and sporty, yet the bustier and silhouette makes it classic. This is totally my style and I can see myself wearing this to the beach during the day and then putting the shrug on to go for drinks on a patio at night. I’m really happy with the outcome. What do you think of it?
Oh, wait… Did you want to see the dress on me?
I was worried that a fitted white dress would not be flattering, but this dress seems to lift and tuck in all the right places (I think!).
The contest requires us to show ourselves wearing the dress in three ways: Un-accessorized, styled for day-wear, and styled for a night-outing – because of course, a LWD must be as versatile as a LBD!
This is exactly how I’d wear this dress by day – probably shopping (but not for fabric or RTW clothing!) or out for Sunday brunch.
As the temperatures drop, I’d put on the matching shrug and go for drinks with the girls or a date-night dinner – maybe even on a Valentine’s date tonight!
So, there you have it! This is my version of the perfect Little White Dress. Definitely versatile. Undeniably comfortable. Totally me.
I’m so happy that this contest challenged me to create a Little White Dress to wear that I love. If you love it, too, please vote for my look on the Pattern Review website! Voting starts next Tuesday, February the 18th! Wish me luck! I can’t wait to see how wonderfully the other seamstresses have made white dresses to take them from day-to-night.
Please enjoy some of the out-takes from my LWD photo shoot! And Happy LOVE Day to each and every one of you! Ciao!