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Miss Holiday Golightly, Traveling

March 22, 2012

This edition of the From Screen to Closet series hits near to my heart. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a person who doesn't love "Breakfast at Tiffany's" -- Audrey Hepburn is so incredibly charming! The Givenchy gown she wears in the film's opening is the original perfect little black dress. One of the things I love about this dress is its ease. It's gently fitted through the bodice, but it's not tight. It's at once dressed up and rather relaxed.

I coerced my friend Tracy (who I know to be a fan of "Breakfast at Tiffany's") into serving as my model for this project. She has a lovely figure, perfect for the simple, elegant lines of this gown. The original (well, one of them -- there were originally three!) was sold at auction several years ago, so there are some great photos of it online.

To start this project, I grabbed my trusty copy of Kwik Sew 3521. This pattern is great for this project, because version B of the dress has the perfect neckline along the front. The back, however, needs a little tweaking.

To begin with, I started sketching the design lines for the dress right on my pattern.


Once I got the design lines where I wanted them, I traced my pattern onto fresh paper for the actual pattern. (I'll draw on a pattern, but I won't cut it apart!) The key with this dress and its unique design lines on the back is to cut it so the back bodice is initially separated as a top section and a bottom section. I'll show you what this looks like mid-assembly in just a bit.

I used a black broadcloth to make a mock-up of the gown. Once I had Tracy try on the test version, it became apparent that I needed to take it in quite a bit.




I pinned out the excess fabric and marked everything that needed an update, then I cut apart the mock up and used it as my pattern for cutting out my sweetheart satin for the actual gown.

As I mentioned before, the bodice gets assembled with the rounded upper portion of the back bodice separate from the lower section of the bodice right up to the point where you inset your zipper. Here's what it looks like:


The skirting section is ultra basic -- it's a rectangle, cut so there's just a teeny bit of gathering to match it to the bodice waist -- you'll want to test this to make sure there's enough room for the wearer's hips to fit with some ease, but not so much that it gets balloony. I cut a lining out of the exact same fabric -- since the dress has a slit, I wanted to make sure that if someone sees the interior, it looks just like the exterior.

Fun trivia note: As I mentioned earlier, there were several copies of this gown made for the film. The fun thing is that each of them had a different slit length. One had no slit whatsoever, one was slit quite high, and one fell right in between the other two extremes. We opted for the middle-range slit.

An invisible zipper is vital for this dress -- it keeps the center back seem clean and smooth. Here's a snap of the back of the bodice with the zipper set in place. The hook and eye at the top have yet to be sewn in.

Once the hand sewing (which is minimal on this dress) was in place, I had Tracy try the whole thing on:



Tracy ended up taking this dress on vacation, and kitted herself out with ALL the right accessories!


Prom season is here -- do you have a starlet in your life who might like to borrow some vintage design style?

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This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on March 22, 2012 11:48 PM.

Laminated Fabric Garden Cabinet was the previous entry in this blog.

Ask the Expert- Knitting Episode 2 is the next entry in this blog.

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