Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Calvin Klein coctail dress

Finally! Long awaited (it has rested in a pile on my table for weeks..), I've finished (and already worn) my Calvin Klein dress. It's a Calvin Klein Vogue American Designers 2051 to be more precise.

I'd guess it's a 1980's, or possibly 1990's pattern based on the style of the dress, the pattern envelope and the fact that it came with a lot of patterns that range from the 1960's to the 1980's. Bought on E-bay.

Oh, found it! It says 1988 in a small print on the envelope. I love to be right... (hehe).

I really like this pattern, it came with a foundation-pattern for the dress, and called for a waist stay. I've wanted to make a dress with a dress foundation and waist stay ever since I first had a look in Claire B.Schaeffer's "Coture sewing techniques" and realised it's a must for "real" dresses, but found no information on how to execute it. 10 points to Calvin! And the fit is great (though I did adjust it a bit to fit me).

These are a couple of the changes I made to the pattern. I have a very narrow back, I always have to make patterns more narrow around the above waist-underneath bust-area. I also made the skirt a bit more fitted.

I've also (finally) learned that I must, MUST cross out the old lines when I make changes to patterns. I always think I will remember things like what line to cut along, but I don't. Or maybe it's that my mind begins to wander at the second I start cutting the pattern and I always begin to follow the wrong lines. Unless they're marked with little crosses!

I've also realised just how important it is to first pin and then baste the zipper in place before sewing. And that you can actually change the position of the (sewing machine-) needle before sewing, to get it closer to the zipper! Wow, that took a few years...

I still haven't learned to be attentive enough when I sew the actual seam though, so the seams are not the same distance from the zipper on both sides... I didn't bother to rip one of the seams, fingers crossed no-one will notice... and I will pay better attention the next time. Promise!

The material is a gorgeous (I guess) polyester (and that's a major contradiction of terms to a dedicated lover of natural fibers like me) with black weft and red warp (or the other way around maybe) that makes it shimmer in a blackish red colour that's impossible to set the finger on (as shown in the pictures). I love it. It's slightly stretchy (=very kind fit-wise), has a bright and shiny red wrong side that's also very slippery (=lining of skirt unnecessary) and was generally very easy to work with. Kind fabric.

The bodice is lined with black cotton (that actually is the dress-foundation) and boned with polyester boning. By the way, I wish I could find steel boning for corsets! But the polyester boning was easy to work with (am I becoming a fan of polyester? I also LOVE my Houdini Hoodie in tam tam tam: polyester Polarfleece). And I have better (=more necessary) things to sew than corsets :-).

The boning and waist-stay makes it stay in place, and very comfortable to wear.

Had to do a glamour-pose... and bring out my grandmother's fox from the wardrobe to not freeze to death! Modelling outside in Sweden in April is cold, I swear it was no more than +2 degrees Celsius, but foxie kept me nice and warm... and I think him and the dress had to get to know each other, they will surely meet again!


  1. WOW!!! I love the dress! It's so hot and the color is great and fits you so well! You look so glam!!

  2. Fabulous! Great color, you look fab in it. I love the dress.

  3. Your cocktail dress is stunning! And you're right it looks fabulous with your grandmothers fox stole.
    The finishing details are superb and beautifully executed, well done on a couture worthy dress!!

  4. What a great job you did! As always, I love that you are altering the patterns so skillfully to fit you (it's not an easy thing!). And I wholehearted agree with the basting of the zipper. It really makes it much easier to sew, not to mention makes the end-result much better. As does the changing needle-position; it's quite handy (and not all sewing machines have that - count yourself lucky!)

    Great job! This is inspiring me to make a dress with a stay!

  5. You look so sexy and so chic! Very nicely done! The fabric looks gorgeous. I have never used boning before - great job!

  6. Nice! Now I really want to make a strapless dress myself... After having told myself I have more practical things to make!
    By the way, I recently made an underbust corset for a friend and found all the supplies I needed at It's a Dutch site, but the link should take you to its pages in English.

  7. Gorgeous dress Karin! Tell me was the foundation tricky to do? I have the Vogue V8280 pattern and it occurs to me that a foundation would give a lovely line to wearing that dress too. Also (sorry for all the questions by the way!) does the boning just go on the sides ( L + R, i.e. only 2-pieces of boning)... or dos it run along the front from the neckline over each bust-point too (I mean down and long the line of the princess seams)?

  8. You look amazing! The fit looks extremely good, and the fabric looks lush! Great job! I like the inside of the dress, so neat!

  9. Thank you all so much!
    Seemane: Sorry I didn't get back to you faster, I kind of intended to make a post about the dress-foundation since it's soooo hard to find information about it and it's such a good thing, but I haven't found the time yet.
    Mine has six bones, none of which run over the bust-points, but on the sides of it and two in the back.
    I don't have the dress here and don't remember exactily where they are, but I still intend to post more about it, I'll let you know if I do!

  10. LOL! Karin not to worry & thank for reply to my questions :) Glad to know you've a future post planned re: dress foundations - you're right, it is hard to find anything on the internet or even in my [ever growing] library of sewing books! I've been searching for a how-to on corselettes ever since I read an interview online with Roland Mouret where he explained that the silohette of his now infamous Galaxy dress was achieved through a corselet (corselette? I'm not sure of the spelling!) made with Power Mesh. I've now gotten a little obsessed reading up on these things :)
    I think I'm trying to find it all out so that once I get past being a novice I can attempt this for myself one day... well maybe before I get too old & have to retire (at least I'd have plenty of time on my hands to sew then though LOL!).

  11. Love the dress, specially the top part of it :)

  12. WOW! You look amazing in this! The dress is a total knockout. I can't believe it's a 1988 pattern. It doesn't look 80's. Or perhaps it does - in an awesome way. Great job, and thanks for all the construction pics. I find those really helpul.

  13. Stunning dress! You look really gorgeous.
    The dress emphasized your curves and the color fits you well.

  14. That's a beautiful dress! I love to to read your blog, it's very inspiring.

  15. Can't believe you made something with boning in it! CLEVER!

  16. Great! Simple and clever and just..great :D Especially with the fox around your neck ^^

  17. wow can I buy this pattern off you!?! lol I love it!

  18. This dress is gorgeous on you! Here is a link to a website that sells steel boning for corsets:

    I can't wait to see your future sewing projects.

  19. GORGEOUS dress.

    I sell steel boning Postage to europe is about £8.00 and my boning is GBP 0.75p a metre (about 1 euro per metre).



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