Little Black Dress Sees Light of Day

Completed dress pictured against the backyard ruins
Completed dress pictured against the backyard ruins

Yup, in 2013 I am bringing out my unfinished projects.This item broke the PSP (pending sewing project) aka UFO record of all time. The LBD (little black dress) now achieves completion on my personal blog right here and now.

Stashed away carefully many, many years ago, these parts were unearthed from my daughter’s closet (it had begun as a prom dress):

Le dress, underlined with black silk organza up to the hip area, darts sewn, invisible zipper installed, seamed together on sides, no sleeves, crinoline pinned inside at the waist level to give it a “bouffant” look. Below, the dress is shown inside out with the crinoline removed.

Organza underlining

Lining, also darted and seamed, with no sleeves.


Sleeves in fashion fabric were stitched and ready to be attached to the dress. No lining fabric available for sleeves.


The original paper pattern had disappeared, but I did not miss it since the pattern was used only for cutting out the upper body to the correct size. The silhouette and some details were changed as we went along. The tucks in the original pattern were changed to darts for a smoother shape. Time to put this baby together — for my baby.


Off with the crinoline! The “bouffant” idea was nixed by the wearer.

I basted together the dress and lining at the neckline and armholes.

Conventional wisdom tells one to attach sleeves to dress and lining separately before putting them together, but I made other plans.   I shortened the length to create a cap sleeve and underlined them in a contrasting scarlet Bemberg rayon since we could not unearth any more black Bemberg, the original lining fabric.

Sleeves hems were sewn by hand, attached to the dress, easing in the sleeve cap, checked for fit and permanently machine-sewn. The armhole seam was finished neatly with a separate bias binding of a satiny, rayon-y black material. This is how: I stitched the bias binding’s one long side to sleeve side of the armhole seam, trimmed seam, pressed the binding to the dress side and hand stitched it to the lining only. That is, it’s not a free-standing seam but is sewn flatly down. I kinda like this.

Inside the shoulder
Inside the shoulder

The neckline, a square with rounded corners, was easy.  The same black, satiny rayon-y fabric was used to create a bias strip, and finished the neck edge with a “bias facing”! Steam shaping was involved…. maybe I’ll visit this in another post.

In keeping with the “couture” vibe of this sewing project, the dress hem was done by following instructions from my haute couture guru, Claire Shaeffer, in her book “Couture Sewing Techniques”.  A strip of wigan (stiff cotton interfacing) was “invisibly” sewn to the inside of the hem, the hem turned up and hand stitched to the interfacing. Result: a somewhat rounded edge. The lining hem was stitched on the machine using a blind hem foot.


To prevent the lining from moving around and bunching up inside, the high-end RTW and “couture people” make a chain stitch running from wrong side of lining to wrong side of dress just above the hem, Well, at this point I went from haute couture mode to a peasant mindset and stitched up thin 4 inch strips of lining fabric, which were then used to attach the dress and lining loosely in the waist area and the hem area.

strips to attach lining & dress
Strips made by folding strips of lining fabric and zig-zagged together.
Rayon strips keep the lining free but prevent it from bunching.
Rayon strips keep the lining free but prevent it from bunching.

lbd completed

There you have it.  Record breaking PSP (okay, UFO) finished in 2013.  What are your thoughts on sewing projects that have been pending for say, 18 years, 5 years, a month? Thoughts? Questions? For commenting, click on the little balloon with a number,  just under the title.


PS: I’m still working through the tech aspects of this blog, which is why you do not see some widgets and things I would like to add.  Soon, very soon……

Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter @seweverything and on my Facebook page.

10 thoughts on “Little Black Dress Sees Light of Day

  1. Nice first post Samina! I have a red wool coat that has been in my UFO pile for more than 10 years. I’m stalled on the welt pockets (though I bet if I pull it out the welt pockets won’t be so daunting!) Luckily it’s coming up Spring and I can wait another year before I pull it out!


    1. Lynn, thanks for your comment! I’ll remind you again next year about the coat! Maybe we can have a UFO Sew-Off in 2013.


  2. I had a wool jacket that ended up on the eight year plan. I also have a box of UFOs that could qualify for double digitis if I just finished them! Nice job, Samina!


    1. Hey Sue, love to hear from you! How is E getting along in her sewing ed? I, too, have a UFO collection, and am determined to pull them all out this year. Let’s see what happens….


  3. Reblogged this on Sew Everything Blog and commented:

    Hi readers! Its been five years since I uploaded the first sewing post on this blog. For you, who’ve been reading my words since the beginning, and those who’ve just begun to follow this blog, THANK YOU! I am honored, and I hope you’ve found my posts entertaining, educational and thoughtful (yes, sewing posts can be thoughtful).
    There’s only one thing to do now: just keep sewing! (Said in Dory’s voice)


  4. Sorry, but you don’t hold the UFO record. I held on to an unfinished suit for a couple of decades before coming up with the energy to rip out what I didn’t like and restructure it. Crackers, I know. I’m filing your idea for the sleeve lining, such a nice touch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow!! Now I really want to see your finished suit. Please, please post something about it. Unless you have and I didn’t see it; am going back to your blog and look for it.


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