Make a Stylish Little Black Dress with Simplicity
Every woman needs a LBD (little black dress) in her closet. My latest dress make is this Simplicity pattern that is perfect for a night out on the town!
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Every girl needs a LBD in their closet. Some of us even have several (Me!) to chose from for different occasions. Since it seems that I am always scrambling at the last minute to find something appropriate to wear, I have decided to make a bunch of dresses to have on hand. Black is always my go-to color. It’s elegant, dressy and I feel comfortable in it. Perhaps a bit too comfortable at times. Some of my comfort comes from being a plus size gal, I’m a ready to wear size 20. The dark black color is more flattering to my round figure, as are matte fabrics. I tend to avoid anything shiny because it emphasizes my bumps and rolls. In this Simplicity design, I used contrasting satin for the trim to dress things up and still keep it as flattering as possible.
This Simplicity pattern is not an easy sew. It has a lot of bad reviews on the sewing pattern review site, Pattern Review. However, I decided to try it because I really like the style and I am not intimidated by bad reviews. It’s always my mission to discover the problem with the pattern and let you know how to fix it!
Simplicity #8534 Pattern Review
1. The biggest problem with this pattern is the facings. There are TONS of them, even for the sleeve cuff! I dislike facings as I feel they never stay in place and are not used much in ready to wear. Facings are confusing for most sewers, especially beginners. Instead of the facings I used homemade bias binding in contrasting black satin. Bias binding is easy to make, if you add a bit of starch to the satin as you go along it becomes crisp and easy to sew. Problem solved!
2. Fitted styles like this one require lots of fitting! (That seems self-explanatory.) Since this dress is very fitted, I recommend you make a muslin first before cutting it out of your fashion fabric. My fabric came from the thrift store and was a bargain at only $.60 so I wasn’t worried about messing it up. I made my pattern adjustments, cut and fitted the dress on the form first. I then made more adjustments, and basted it together for a second and third fitting. This design is not typically suited to someone with a thick waist but I love it anyway and I think it turned out quite well despite all of the fitting work.
3. Many of the negative comments on Pattern Review had to do with the front jabot or ruffle. This piece is actually circular and cascades down the front in ruffles when it’s hung from the waist. My soft satin fabric worked well for this, but I can see if you had a more rigid material it might not sit the way you like. My advice is to cut it and play with it a bit, but don’t stress about this unique design feature. It’s not a perfect rigid type of thing, it will move and cascade as you wear the dress which is the beauty of this style.
4. The overlapping bodice can be tricky to fit. The bodice has bias edge that will stretch over the bust. I had to take mine in twice in this area. A stay stitch will help to control the bias, but you will need to take it in if it stretches too much.
5. Shoulder seams in this dress are very different, with yet more facings. I simplified the shoulders by removing the facings and using only bias binding to finish. This made the process so much easier and less confusing to overlap the seams! The satin binding adds a design detail to the matte fabric. I prefer a lower neckline as it is more flattering to my figure than a high neck like the original pattern design, so I angled the shoulder seam a bit at the top of the neck for a vintage look and dropped the front neck a few inches.
The back is easier to sew than the front of the dress. I keep forgetting to do an adjustment for a sway back, but this one came out better than my last attempt and I am happy with it. Be sure to baste your zipper in place before you stitch, or use a bit of fusible seam tape to secure it before stitching. Long zippers are hard to work with so just do the best you can.
I wasn’t sure I would like the open back of this dress, but I think its nice. It’s not too low or revealing for someone like me (#sewover50) and I don’t own anything else with an open back. Unfortunately, the back neck has more facings to deal with, this time I left them in place. You really do need the facing here to support the button and buttonhole. I found a lovely rhinestone button to finish off the back of the dress with some simple bling!
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