Friday, 28 November 2014

The Lil(le) Black Dress

Now that winter is well and truly on it's way, why not do a post about a really hot summery daytrip in July, eh? The occasion was The Manbacon's 35th birthday, and I'd spent the previous two weeks frantically arranging tickets to Lille, and making sure that he'd booked that day off, while keeping the trip a surprise from him. I also managed to make myself a little black dress for the trip, in between everything else. 
It's difficult to make out many details on this dress, but it's made with black jersey (from the op-shop, of course), to a bodice pattern by Sew Vera Venus. The pattern itself is only available in one size, for busts between 35 to 37 inches, and is meant for woven fabrics. Since I usually wear a 34" bust, I simply 'cheated' and made the seam allowances slightly larger, instead of faffing about with grading it down. I figured that since my fabric had quite a bit of stretch to it, it wouldn't really matter too much if I accidentally took too much in.  

Once the bodice came together, it took no time at all to make a skirt from the rest of the fabric (simply two rectangles joined at the side seams) and attach it to the top. I also cut a long strip of fabric and sewed it into a tube, to make the spaghetti straps for my dress. Probably not the best idea to use a flimsy strip of stretchy jersey to hold up your dress - I spent many minutes throughout the day tugging at the bodice and tying and retying the straps and as they had a tendency to stretch and head south as the day progressed. 

Other than that little problem (which seems to have finally sorted itself out - the straps seem to have stopped stretching), the dress itself was a dream to wear, especially on a filthy hot, humid summer day. I've since worn that dress several times, putting it to the test by cycling and even getting tangled in blackberry bushes while wearing it, and it's held up wonderfully. 
As I mentioned above, it was a pretty disgustingly sweaty type of day, so we passed the worst of it in the seemingly under-hyped treasure that is the Lille Natural History Museum (Musee d'Histoire Naturelle). There was almost no one else there except for us and the staff, so we explored the collections in peace. There's plenty of wonderful taxidermy animals in it, including the rather magnificent Ron Swanson-like snow leopard above, as well as a little tableau showing how they mount the animals for display. 

The twitchers among you might also be interested to know that the museum has a vast collection of stuffed birds, all displayed in beautiful old vitrines, including hundreds of jewel-toned hummingbirds. These were breathtaking, I spent ages staring at them trying to memorise every single detail. There are a few displays of dinosaur fossils, although nowhere near as spectacular as the displays at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. And, almost forgotten in a hidden corner upstairs, is a rather lonely little axolotl. It's quite a small musuem, but it's got such a still, old-fashioned air about it that it's easy to lose hours in there enjoying the various exhibits. 
Dress - self made, pattern from Sew Vera Venus, handbag - vintage, belt - Sainsburys, sunglasses - vintage

19, rue de Bruxelles
59000 Lille