The lure of the little black dress

No model photos today but I have a finished object to talk about. It is Burda 128 10/2010, a little black dress with inset panels, a boat neck, and amazing leg-of-mutton sleeves. I first made it up in 2011, the first project I made using my what was then my brand new overlocker.

Here’s Burda’s version:

And my previous version, in black double knit with silver pleather panels. This one was given away a long time ago. I usually don’t regret getting rid of clothes in the slightest, but this is one of the very few things that I eventually wished I had kept.

Burda 128 10/2010

A few months ago I spent hours going through my entire Burda stash looking for a winter dress pattern. I wanted something with long sleeves and a highish neck (so I can fit layers underneath), that fits my personal style, and at least has the possibility of having pockets added. There were not many that fitted the bill and this pattern looked about the best to me. Never mind that these days I live in jeans and jumpers; I had done the analysis and this was going to be the ultimate wearable winter dress.

The new version is made in black stretch sateen for both the panels and the body of the dress. I rarely wore the silver and black version because it was too dressy for work.

I added welt pockets to the panels this time. They aren’t perfect; they never are! I can’t seem to find the sweet spot between cutting too far and getting a hole at the corners, or not cutting far enough and getting a pucker. The imperfections always stop bothering me after a wear or two though.

I also added zips to the wrists. When I started making this I could have sworn the original had these, because the sleeves are very tight at the wrist, but no. Don’t Burda designers ever have a need to roll up their sleeves, for example to do the washing up? Surprising when Burda tends to put ankle zips in any pair of trousers that’s even vaguely close fitting.

You can probably guess what happened. My new version is not the practical garment I was hoping for. It’s pretty close fitting and has come out unexpectedly short. I added 10cm to the pattern when I cut it out and it’s still short! Oddly the previous version looks like it came up much longer but I don’t think I hemmed that one, which was made in a stable knit. I did put the shoulder pads in this time which I skipped before, and I suppose that might have taken away a tiny bit of length. I think they’re the actual pair I bought for the first dress. I can’t think why else I’d have a set of raglan shoulder pads in my stash.

This one is going to have to sit in the wardrobe for a while until I figure out what to do with it. It isn’t the only little black dress I have stashed in there not being worn!

21 thoughts on “The lure of the little black dress

    1. Thanks, I actually cheated on those. The Demented Fairy gave me a great tip for those a while back – instead of sewing the seam, press the seam allowance of the top piece under, place the bottom piece beneath, and top stitch. It worked really well although it was fiddly to get everything in place before top stitching.

  1. Could you wear it with leggings if too short for tights? How about adding a hem band – it would make it more casual and sort of mimic the tighter sleeves around the wrist. If you have added a zip to the sleeves an option could be to use a zip for decoration between the current hem and a hem band to get the length you wanted. Other thoughts were a flounce (pleated or gathered or circular) but perhaps a bit too 1980’s.

  2. I’ve loved this design for a long time. Excellent idea to add pockets to the panels and zips to the wrists. One day, when I eventually get around to making this up, I’m going to shamelessly copy you

  3. I think I would try adding a band at the bottom. With all that fabulous seam detail it might look as if it was intended to have one

  4. I need to find your comfort level with less than perfect welt pockets. I’m currently paralyzed on the Guy Laroche jacket. I’ve done everything I can do up to the double welt pockets. I’ve agonized. And, now, I’m cutting out a dress with stripes. Matching an irregular stripe is far less daunting than double welts!!

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