Black dresses, like black cats, are notoriously difficult to photograph. The detail is easily lost and this apparently is the reason why ‘the little black dress’, usually a girl’s best friend, has fared badly in online sales in relation to frocks featuring prints and bright colours (read all about it). On screen, it can look a bit boring.
But while a tiger can woo multitudes with its splendid array of stripes, looking at a plain black moggy (or panther) allows you to notice its equally admirable silhouette. (If you think my Lemmy’s outline is a little bit scraggly, can I just point out he is actually ancient! ).
There’s much to admire in this Burda 7494 dress.
The faux collar, which attaches to dress front only, is easy to make and is guaranteed to sit flat. The four front and back pleats create a tulip-like shape, giving the impression of there being more bum than is actually the case as well as narrowing the waist. Most interesting of all I found the bust darts which are shifted to the centre side of the princess seams. This creates a nice curve which isn’t difficult to sew (but check out my tips on Princess Seams if you’re new to this). It’s a design that deserves more boldness than the picture on the envelope or my rendition of the pattern have given it. If you imagine this same dress in red tartan, with black velvet piping, you can imagine the drama.
1. I added sleeves (obviously). You like?!
2. In order to add sleeves, I had to substantially slice off from the shoulders. The original ended a good inch beyond the usual armscye line which leads me to suspect this wouldn’t suit sloping shoulders.
3. I lowered the neckline 1.5cm, for two reasons. The original collar is too big (bib-like?) for me. I also think that a very high neckline makes anything but the most pert bust look a bit, er, southern
4. I went the extra mile by making the dress fully lined (the pattern has lining for the skirt only).
The fabric, by the way, is extra fine Italian needlecord from Fabric House, one of my favourite shops on Goldhawk Road. The plaid bias binding used for the piping and inside the cuffs came from MacCulloch & Wallis but you can get it anywhere.
a) Beware that the neckline, though high, is very wide. This might not suit you if you like to keep bra straps hidden (or if your neck muscles are a bit strong…).
b) The sizing for the dress is way over (so go by garment measurements) but perplexingly, the size of the lining isn’t. Measure carefully before cutting because when the lining is tighter than the skirt, it will quickly rip!
Overall, I love the Burda 7494 and it was worthwhile sweating it out drafting the add-on sleeves as I now have a warm day dress for when I want to blend into the general winter gloomth. This picture was taken a moment after the first one, after a cloud settled over the sun. See? Boring….