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Nov 6, 2013

Little? (No); Black? (Sort of); Dress? (Definitely!)



I know I sound like an old fart, but sometimes I look at photographs of today's celebrities and I think, Who are these people?

I know the days of Lana Turner are long gone, but how about Mitzi Gaynor?

Still-mobile Mitzi!

These girls all look the same to me and seem to be projecting the same (Kardashian?) vibe. 







As you know, I'm under the gun to get Cathy in a custom-made little black dress by Friday night, but I've had to make some changes to my original plans.  When I pulled out my black fabric, I realized that most of it was either in pieces that were too small or just really gross stuff I no longer wanted to sew with.

My best black option wasn't actually black at all -- four yards of crimson taffeta with a black cast, or black taffeta with a crimson cast, I'm not sure which.  Anyway, it would have to do.  Sadly, I believe it's acetate, which makes it hard to work with and a bit cheap to the touch (but still fetching to the eye).  My yardage had been folded up for years and was badly wrinkled.  With the aid of a cotton press cloth and a steam iron on a low setting, I managed to bring it back to life.





Once I realized I was working with taffeta, I needed to change patterns.  Taffeta really looks best in full, drape-y skirts, so I opted to make Simplicity 3140, which dates from 1949. 



I'm lining the bodice with an old black sheet, which gives it a bit more weight and comfort.



This is not a complicated dress to construct, but the taffeta makes it time-consuming; it's not a forgiving fabric.





I know this dress isn't actually black (except in a certain light or no light at all) and it won't be little, but at least it isn't bland.



And that's it, readers!  There's still so much to do but I'm determined to see this through.  After this, however, no more acetate taffeta for me.  I'm over it.

Have a great day, everybody!

27 comments:

  1. Isnt it amazing how you can adapt your vision based on what you have on hand. I love the combination of the pattern/fabric. Taffeta is slickery, but I think its great

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  2. Looking forward to meeting Cathy there! I'm sure sheel be ravishing. I shall be wearing the LBD made with the fabric you gifted me.

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  3. The burgundy cast to your black taffeta is really lovely, and so is the pattern.

    About half of the time, I don't know who the girls are on the magazines at the check out counter. A lot of them look almost exactly the same. And none of them have Cathy's vie interieure or excitement.

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    1. Cathy's vie interieure is strictly between her and her gynecologist!

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  4. Cathy will look fab in this -- I call that color 'black cherry' and it is a very fetching color, indeed. And you are right about today's 'celebutants' or whatever they are. The dresses all look the same; they all pose the same and none of them have any style whatsoever.

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    1. I really don't get the shoes that look like blinged up polio braces

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  5. Well I guess that makes me an old fart, because I only recognized 3 of those cookie cutter celebrities!

    That's lovely black cherry fabric. Taffeta is a sneaky fabric to work with but that dress will look amazing. :)

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  6. Gorgeous fabric. I love the 2 colour look, and I adore taffeta, and also acetate, due to luminous colours. Looks like a great project. Cathie, in Quebec.

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  7. Add me to the list - I can name third-string second-leads at Poverty Row studios in '44, but I have no idea who these stylist-victims are.

    Cathy, on the other hand, will no doubt stun us all in her glam LB-ishD - can't wait!

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    1. You sir know who was truly important.

      The dolled up dross of today embody vanity seeking behaviors, once the domain of homecoming court candidates.

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  8. Ah Old Hollywood Glamour was to entice you into the cinema, where as modern day glamour is to entice you in to the , the chain store where you will find a cheep copy.
    Love the taffeta, will it have an under skirt? I hope so.

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  9. If you can find a moderately poofie petticoat underneath the skirt to give it an extra oomph! Don't you think it's a good idea? Hopefully, Cathy will have one handy! :) The dress is coming out fabu!

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    1. Not to worry: Cathy has a full array of foundation garments at the ready!

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  10. I guess I'm a young fart, I only recognize four girls... There's just an overload of new things coming out all the time, and at the same time the bar for being 'famous' has been getting very low. Then again, I'd probably recognize loads of actors, actresses and musicians that operate within the genres I'm actually interested in...

    As for their style, I sort of think it has to do with a trend that's been going on in Hollywood as well: don't take any risks, play it safe. Make sequels, prequels or remakes of films that were successful instead of something new. Dress the same way as everyone else is doing at the time, and you'll be fine.

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  11. This will look 100 times more fabulous than a slinky little number as worn by these celebs. Life is too short to be boring.

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  12. Still licking my wounds over this one. Stupid work making me not be able to go!

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  13. I recognized none of those people, and I'm 23.

    Then again, I once watched a movie about a guy who'd lived a really convoluted life, only to discover it was three different actors playing three different characters. :-/

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    1. Heh, that was a funny little story!
      While I can navigate stories without too much trouble, I recognise the symptoms; and I do not think they're always our fault!

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  14. Old Hollywood was almost entirely devoid of paparazzi in its modern form. I didn't know who Lana Turner is, so I googled her. Nearly all images are glamor, promotional, and movies stills, just as most iconic celebrity images were of the time. Between the 5 or so weekly celeb magazines, daily TV shows, and TMZ-like websites, the sheer number of women needed to fill this media vacuum is so much higher than days past. If you can't identify them, is likely because there are dozens of women in the spotlight at any given time, instead of the 5-6 leading ladies you may be accustomed to. There are simply many more tv shows, movies, singers, and coverage released every week in this era than those before it. That said, I just found your blog as I take my first steps into self-produced menswear, and the construction insight you provide is something I've not found anywhere else. Bravo sir.

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  15. OH, Peter, I am older than you, so you know I don't know anyone anymore, but I do not feel that I am missing anything. Who are these people, but more importantly, who cares? The current style of too-small latex-like dresses seems just another form of bondage for women to me. Cathy, however, will be ravishing and stylish, I am sure. Can't wait to see the pics!

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  16. Count me in the old fart camp. These women all look essentially the same to me.

    The dress is looking great! Can’t wait to see the pics of Cathy.

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  17. I am an oldish fartess, who doesn't even care who those young strumpets are. Cathy can out glam any of them. Looking forward to seeing pics of the great LBD meetup

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  18. I don't know who they are, but times are different. Most photographs from the past are stills, studio portraits, etc. They wore what the average woman could never afford. I saw an episode of the Antiques Road Show, and a lady bought in Edith Head sketches from the 1940's. They were amazing. On the back was the cost of making each garment. They ranged from $800.00 to well over a $1,000.00. Today, you can buy a similar style to what celebrities wear for a lot less. Fabric chooses are more varied today, and many fabrics so much better, sewing machines can do far more things, sewing patterns varied, so many more easier tips for sewing. My relative use to be a makeup artist back in the day, and he said many women were actually sewn into their dresses. Depending on the era and style fabric could be really uncomfortable and scratchy.

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  19. I've worked with the same iridescent acetate taffeta in green (a holiday dress). It was a struggle because this fabric wants to fight back. The less it is handled the better. I remember the circle hem not wanting to shape properly. The hem went from tiny to even tinier. I'm glad I tackled the project but always suggest against it when asked. As a cocktail dress the fabric will shimmer best in low lighting.

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  20. Try telling my 17 year old daughter that glued on, short, revealing black dresses are less alluring that a vintage gown beautifully constructed to hug the body just enough to suggest that there is mystery to behold!

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  21. I'm not such a fan of the little, skimpy, "sexy"dresses. To me, they look more like lingerie than a dress. But I really like Simplicity 3140. It's a shame that people don't dress up like that anymore!

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