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The “Denim Is My Best Friend” Dress

September 17, 2012
tags: ,

Because it’s true.

I feel like I’ve been on a denim kick, even though this is the first thing I’ve made in denim in a while, but I think I’ve been day dreaming about it a lot. The idea of a denim dress feels perfect to me, cute and a little dressy but can easily be layed back and casual. Since there are very few women on my campus (engineering does not attract a lot of females for some strange reason. I know, I don’t get it either) I almost always feel a little out of place or too dressed up in dresses. So denim seems like a great compromise. Granted, this one is a little tight (wooo stretch denim!) but it’s pretty cute I think. I’m not a huge fan of the pleats in front because I don’t really need them to camoflasge anything and they kind of poof out, but I can deal with it.

Pattern: Burdastyle 7/2011 110 V-neck LBD

Pattern Description: “Little black dress sewing pattern. Dress with front pleats and pockets.” Also, insert side panels in the bodice.

Pattern Sizing: 17-21, I cut a 17. If it wasn’t such a pain in the butt to trace patterns I might redo it in an 18 for a non-stretch fabric.

Fabric Used: Dark blue stretch denim

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yup

Were the instructions easy to follow? I’m not really sure. This pattern had the more detailed “sewing class” instructions but I don’t think they were that awesome, and I didn’t like the order of construction. So I skimmed them, then ignored them since there was nothing here that I haven’t done before.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the small cut-on sleeves and the inset panels (even though I didn’t get the corners perfect, but who is really perfect anyways?) and having pockets is awesome even though they’re a little high for my hands. I don’t like the pleats especially and if/when I make this again I’ll figure out how to remove them. The seam lines lined up pretty nicely because of the stretch in my fabric. Also a plus of the stretch is that the fit is really comfortable where it would be pretty tight without it.

A little bit poofy?

While I’m wearing it I worry a little that it’s to tight for normal day time wear. Obviously I won’t wear heals all that often, how does it look flat footed below? Or is it just too short?

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn’t do much top stitching and I didn’t do any facings, just bias tape instead. And my back slit is more like a break in the hem instead of a true slit, no over lap.

Would you sew it again? Yes, I think I would, it would be great in more denim or linen.

Would you recommend it to others? Definitely. It’s a petite pattern, so I don’t know how that translates fit-wise to taller people, but I love it.

Cost vs Value! Steph over at 3 Hours Past wrote about the value of her sewing last week and I though it was really interesting. She said she tried to research this topic but there isn’t really much info out there, so she just made up her own way, which I happen to like. So I’m copying her!


This is the actual cost of the item. When using remnants from other projects or refashioning,
you may mark “fabric” as 0.

  • Pattern- (cost of pattern divided by the number of times used) Taking into account the cost of a burda subscription and how many patterns are in each issue. $(90/12/20)/ 1 = $0.375
  • Fabric- (Price per yard X number of yards) This is a little bit of a guesstimation because I don’t really remember how much the fabric cost. $8.50 * 2 = $17
  • Notions- (cost of zippers, needles, pins, scissors, “overhead” costs, interfacing, etc) $5
  • Total cost = $22.375


Find a similarly constructed garment in a shop (or several and average them) and fill in the price: $75

This one is hard because there is nothing exactly the same sold in stores, but modcloth had cute denim dresses between $50 and $100, so $75 seems fair.


This is an attempt to place value on some positive but intangible aspects of domestic sewing. Don’t add in your sewing hours unless your skill level allows you to turn out clothes which are comparable to RTW. Adjust these values according to personal preference.

  • Labor/Wage Ethics (no forced labor here!)                               10% of cost = $2.2375
  • Satisfaction of Working with Your Hands                                   10% of cost = $2.2375
  • Great Fit                                                                                                    10% of cost = $2.2375
  • Durability (if applicable)                                                                    10% of cost = $2.2375
  • Stylistic Control (you choose the fabric, cut, etc)                   10% of cost = $2.2375
  • Time and Labor= # of hours to sew X local min wage (or your own hourly wage):  4 hours * $10 = $40

Total Value= $51.19

That seems about right to me. I didn’t do a ton of research on the price section so that could definitely be off, but really, I could see a dress like this easily sold for more than $100 (have you seen the stuff people sell on etsy?). As for the Value part, I sew for fun and I’m not on a super tight budget, if I had kids then it might be more important.

Mr. Husband doesn’t understand, he called me a nerd.


27 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2012 6:40 am

    I LOVE a denim dress. This is so cute! I don’t think you’re a nerd at all. I’m always trying to quantify my sewing. Great job!

  2. RagDollsRising permalink
    September 17, 2012 8:03 am

    Very nice, it looks great on you!

  3. September 17, 2012 9:35 am

    Incredibly, this was also my original idea for this pattern when I first saw it last year but with the side panels fabric reversed in a color block way (killing two birds with one fashionable stone is a bit my motto). I love your dress. Mine is something of a UFO cause by too much work and too little time but I feel motivated to finish it now. Great dress!

  4. September 17, 2012 11:05 am

    Lovely dress and fits you so well! After seeing your version I’m seriously considering sewing one for myself. Unfortunately, I’m not petite. Do you usually wear a petite size? Do you think that the waist line needs to be adjusted for regular sizes? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • September 17, 2012 8:48 pm

      I can get away with petite sizing because my height is in between petite and regular, but the waist is still just a little too high for me. So I would assume most people would need to lower it.

  5. September 17, 2012 11:53 am

    Love the dress! And I think the wide hem is really cool.

  6. September 17, 2012 12:09 pm

    That is so pretty, and not too short at all. You could wear it with coloured tights in the winter!

  7. September 17, 2012 12:14 pm

    I love it! I think colored tights are a definite. I printed out your formula for sewing cost- I really appreciate you taking the time to work all that out. Very interesting!

  8. September 17, 2012 12:14 pm

    Love Denim.

  9. dixiediy permalink
    September 17, 2012 12:45 pm

    very cute! i love this style! i third the colored tights idea. i also really liked the cost analysis, interesting concept.

  10. September 17, 2012 3:16 pm

    I have always liked this dress pattern. I LOVE how it turned out. Making it in denim was genius. Very nice!

  11. September 17, 2012 3:38 pm

    Great looking dress and very flattering on you.

  12. September 17, 2012 3:43 pm

    I really like this dress! And it’s great in the stretch denim.

  13. September 17, 2012 5:02 pm

    This dress is so so so cute! You did a great job, I hope you wear it all the time!!

    I have this thing against wearing heels (I hate ’em and well it reminds me of foot-binding practices) so I have decided I like grown-up, polished leather ballet flats in pretty colors. That kind of thing. I don’t think you look too “short” without the heels, and I think some patterned or bring tights or textured knee socks with ballet flats might dress up your dress a bit.

    All alone in engineering! So weird how it’s such a manly field… CS is the same.

    • September 17, 2012 8:50 pm

      Ya, I’m very particular about my heels, but even still they kindof suck. I nearly always wear cute flats for professional occasions… which is more often then when I dress “cute.”

  14. September 17, 2012 9:03 pm

    I think, if you made this dress again, if you added some ease at the side seams of the skirt of the dress, you would not have that poofing at the waist. The pleats would lay nicer then. But I agree with everyone that this dress/silhouette is great on you.

  15. September 17, 2012 11:19 pm

    That looks so nice on you! Great decision to make it in denim!! I wish the pattern was in the regular size range..(or perhaps I need to hunt down tips for grading up…I’ve seen them somewhere…) I’d try to smoosh out the pleats too…I already have enough pooofiness going on (which unfortunately cannot be smooshed out…sigh)

  16. September 18, 2012 12:49 am

    Lovely dress! I think the denim works beautifully for making it look put together but not too dressy. I agree with everyone else that you look fine with flats on. As for the poofing, no solutions, but lots of empathy since I get the same thing with that kind of pleating!

  17. September 18, 2012 6:17 am

    Sexxxxy! I’ve bought a bunch of denim fabric recently and I was thinking of making a fitted shirt dress but I’m leaning towards something like this now XD Also, have you tried the double tracing wheel? I use the one from clover and it makes tracing super easy. I use a carbon paper and -instant seam allowance. Might mean you end up making more things from your magazine patterns. =D

  18. September 18, 2012 11:31 am

    I love it! Great idea to do it in denim. And thanks for the cost vs value info. My husband always asks if it’s worth my time sewing garments instead of buying them. As I explain to him, it’s not about the time spent but the satisfaction of having something unique that appeals to me. Great job!

  19. September 18, 2012 5:13 pm

    Very cute dress and absolutely wear it with heels (if you must!) or flats. I’ve a lot of heels which I never wear now though it did for years when still working office-bound. They killed my feet. Completely. Oh well. :o)

  20. September 20, 2012 5:49 am

    Wow thats such a hot dress!! “Downloading pattern from this right now!!” Love the denim version and so funny you calculated the cost. My partner thinks I am a nerd too (not just a sewing nerd) but I know I am lol.

  21. October 1, 2012 2:59 pm

    Around my house, being called a nerd is a high compliment LOL. I think the dress is great, and totally worth $100 🙂

  22. October 11, 2012 12:29 am

    Pattern- (cost of pattern divided by the number of times used) Taking into account the cost of a burda subscription and how many patterns are in each issue. $(90/12/20)/ 1 = $0.375

    Nooo, this is not right way to calculate price of pattern, only if you sew all 20 patterns from each magazine%)) I don´t know. I think you can calculate how much patterns from each magazine you use%)) Sorry, I like accurate calculation%)

    • October 11, 2012 6:43 am

      The way I see it I still bought and own all those patterns, even if I haven’t used them all so I can take them out of the equation easily. You’re perfectly welcome to calculate your own project differently, but this is completely correct in my mind and I won’t be changing a thing.

      • October 11, 2012 6:46 am

        No problem!%)) Of course this is your calculation!%) I just want to discuss a little bit because I was thinking about this too!


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