The “Tux” Dress

The Facts: “The Tux Dress”
Fabric: Heavy black cotton stretch sateen, white cotton sateen for the dickey, and black cotton-silk radiance for the belt


Pattern: Simplicity 6933, with some embellishment
Year: 1966
Notions: black plastic shank buttons, invisible zipper, buckram, 1.5″ elastic and hooks and bars for the belt.
Time to complete: around 6 hours
First Worn: May 26, 2012
Wear Again: Yes!
Total Price: Pattern- free in a giveaway on Debi’s blog, $35 for the sateen, and $6 for the belt fabrics, $2 for the zipper and $1 for the buttons= $44- way more than I usually spend on a dress!

I love black and white dresses and long desired a “tux” dress.  I figure it’s perfect for the Vegas theme, right?  Casinos, tuxedo clad men at poker tables, and heck- this is short enough and my hair is big enough I could be mistaken for a cocktail waitress!  I had a crafty event night planned here in Brisbane last weekend, and I wore the dress for the first time then- it was a hit.  More importantly, I was comfortable enough in this dress (never underestimate the power of a little lycra!) I could forget about it and get on with running the event instead of thinking about my clothes.

Since I was making this dress to wear around other sewists, I had some fun with the construction.  I used my favorite pleated sleeve pattern instead of the sleeve provided.   When stitching down some of the details like the exterior back neck darts, I used contrasting thread so the detail would “pop.”

I used the same contrasting thread on the front flat-felled seams for thematic harmony.  The white dickey on the front was made as a completely separate piece, then whip-stitched into place.  If I so desire, I can easily remove the dickey to reveal a very plain black dress with a steep, deep V-neck.  The cotton-silk satin cummerbund belt is both light and strong.  I hand-pleated the silk onto a buckram base and used extra-wide elastic (covered in fabric) for the back.  I think it’s the nicest belt I’ve ever made and will probably get more use out of the belt than the dress.  Click here for the cummerbund belt tutorial.

I don’t generally sew from the late 60′s- I stick to the mid 40′s-50′s or self-drafted as a rule.  Imagine my shock and amazement when this dress fit me pretty well straight out of the envelope.  No fooling.  I changed the shape of the bust seams ever so slightly and raised the hem, but left the rest as-is.   I thought the envelope illustration looked more A-line than this dress, but I’m still happy with it.  It’s a simple “sheath-like” shape with a cool seaming detail.  The simplicity worked well as a base for my “Tuxedo” embellishments.

Like any good poker player, I accessorized with my dark sunglasses.

Trivia:  Sometimes the locals refer to Brisbane as “BrisVegas”- it doesn’t have a “strip” but prostitution and gambling are legal here (as it is Australia-wide).   Interesting, no?

Author

StephC

Stephanie mothers, writes, and teaches sewing in Brisbane, Australia. She blogs about sewing, drafting, vintage style and sustainability at 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World.

32 Comments

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  1. Love this!!! This was my Mad Men dress pattern! And I had been obsessing over it for almost a year. I love that you made it up too! The tuxedo detail makes the otherwise plain dress really pop. Fantastic job!

  2. This is such an amazing dress! I love the tux look and think you did an amazing job with this! To me, it doesn’t even look like the same dres…looks so much cuter!!

  3. This is fabulous! All the details are amazing – it’s just perfect in every way! Will you be sewing more 1960s now?

    • Thanks, Leimomi, but I doubt it.. I’m on the cusp of a very serious love affair with some 1940′s jackets (One of them has a *cape* and I’m very close to just making it regardless of the fact I don’t need it!!), and heaps of my own stuff to work through…

  4. This is really slick. Nice.

    • Thanks, Erin. :) I was going for a cross between a butler, a blackjack dealer and a ringmaster… Sounds like the beginning of a joke..

  5. Hi Stephanie, love the dress, reminds me of Ocean Eleven. The Rat Pack version. The Tux detail on the front is fabulous, tried the link for the belt but the link is not there anymore.

  6. I love the phrase “thematic harmony”. This dress is too cool and yes, isn’t lycra just the bomb? Your idea of making the tux shirt part separate is smart, let us know if you wear it without it. Would love to see your belt tutorial when the link works!

    • I love making thematic harmony… Even something silly like thread colors/vegas colors…. The lycra does help, I used to be quite cantankerous about lycra in my wovens, but now I can see it’s an asset rather than a liability. The link is just right up there- I was writing the tutorial and this post at the same time, I must have crossed my wires and I can’t edit my SW posts once they’re published. Sigh. :)

  7. I think its called that because Brisbane and queensland as a whole is where Sydney and Melbourne people escape to on stolen weekends when work and frezzing cold winters are to much.

  8. This is so slick! I love it!

  9. Looooooooooove it! It’s perfect!

  10. So cute.. Great idea,

  11. This is wonderful Stephanie. I’ve been excited about seeing this since you started talking about the various options for a tux dress on your blog (I quite fancy a back bib too). I’ve got a thing for androgynous dressing, always loved Annie Lennox’s suits and most recently adore a designer on a show we have here called Fashion Star Kara Laricks (http://www.shewired.com/box-office/2012/05/16/designer-kara-laricks-wins-nbcs-fashion-star-round-her-killer-designs).

    I am in awe of the preciseness and detailing you’ve got on a dress like this…..and that it didn’t take 6 months to make like it would me. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT….and you wear it well girlfriend!

  12. I am in such awe I can’t think of anything to say. This is quite possibly one of my favorite Sew Weekly pieces.

  13. Cute! Love the idea of a tux dress.

  14. Love this!! I think my favorite part is the pleated dickie! You’ve matched the perfect fit with the perfect accessories, too! Definitely a high roller look!

  15. I love the dress! Such a cool creation! – Great job!

  16. Love so much how this turned out! I can usually take or leave tux dresses, but yours I’d definitely take! (Except, y’know, how it totally wouldn’t fit me). I especially love the shape of the dickie.

    So glad the event went well, as well! :D

    • Thanks, Tanit-Isis. :) I think you’d be smashing in a tux dress… Maybe shaped like that black maxi you have…

  17. I had to do a double take on your darts on the back. They’re sewn on the right side! I’ve never seen that done before. Was that your idea? Clever and different, I must say. I like how tweaked this pattern to fit your vision. The dress looks fabulous!

  18. I love this! What a fantastic dress!

  19. Awesome, you remdind me a female James Bond…I really like what you’ve done with that 60′s sheath pattern. Thanks for the factoid about Australia’s legalized activities – I didn’t know that about the country and extra thanks for the tutorial. You’re always so generous with the goodies.

  20. You look totally powerful! I love this dress. Great job figuring out all the design issues. Well worth the $.

  21. This is a really lovely dress, the tux front looks great.

  22. Love your dress. I really should have gone to that event! since it was about 10min from me. – oh and I’m pretty sure the BrisVegas reference has nothing to do with gambling but more the way our the southern cities view us – Hot, Loud, Bold, and maybe a little tacky. hehe.