Putting The Fun Back Into Black

black fabric ii Collage

There’s a theory that black is safe, verging on dull. If you’ve ever attended a conference or work Christmas party, you might be inclined to agree. But dang, the colour is flattering.

Then I saw the photo above left. I’d invested hours of precious sewing time into creating an outfit as boring as that?! Was it time to hang up my unpicker?

Thankfully, I have a wardrobe full of self-made items to quash any self doubt. I changed my black stretch twill Ultimate Trousers (pair number six, if you’re asking) for my favourite Simplicity 2451, sewn in a stretch cotton sateen. It works much better with my fifth Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse, don’t you agree? It turns out the key to black is moderation. Same key that applies to chocolate and wine, so they tell me.

Whilst I was on a campaign to put the fun back into black, I decided to twin two new loves – some bambi print viscose crepe and the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress pattern, ordered after I saw it on Lisa’s Youtube channel. Yes, you read right. Bambi print.

bambi print dress

If the Gods of Sewing banished me to a desert island where the only patterns available were from Sew Over It, I wouldn’t waste any time crying. I love pretty much everything they do and this shift dress is no exception. I want to make a million copies immediately. So easy to wear! And so easy to fit. I risked going straight in without a toile, but sewing experience and knowledge of my own body helped. I automatically lowered the bust darts by an inch, pinched in the side seams under the arms and added an extra inch to the side seams from the hips down. Other than that, I cut out true to my size and powered on.

Yes, yes, Karen! But tell us about the BAMBI fabric. I bought mine from Saeeds in Walthamstow, but it’s also available here. As well as dresses, I think these could make an awesome pair of PJs. I put my viscose through a 40 degree wash and I’d suggest you do the same. You want any shrinkage to happen before you start sewing. Believe me.

bambi dress rear view

You’ll also want to be careful about print placement. I am glad I had the foresight to have a column of deer running down the centre front of my dress. The back of the dress has a centre seam and that was difficult to negotiate. My one piece of common sense was not to slice right through Bambi’s body. This fabric has drape and fluidity and matching severed torsos across a seam line would have been impossible. (Apologies if I’m making any Disney fans tear up. Further apologies that I’m laughing right now.)

I think we can definitely agree I’ve put the fun back into black. Much better than that first photo. Do you have any tips for wearing black? Is this the colour that can do no wrong, or do you find it funereal?

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48 Responses to Putting The Fun Back Into Black

  1. Barbara says:

    I think moderation is not only the key to black but is also the key to life!
    Love that you didn’t slaughter a Bambi, lol.

  2. Ashamed to say I’ve never sewn with a ‘Sew Over It’ pattern, must remedy ASAP. Loving the Bambi print and great style on you. I like a bit of texture on my black fabric. Not sewn a lot with it though…

  3. Helena says:

    Bright lips and shoes are a must! Love all the outfits. Have Sew over it Dress course on my wish list for Christmas.

  4. Elle says:

    I especially love Bambi’s bright warm colors with your bright warm coloring.

  5. Marie says:

    I love black and wear it a lot. But I tend to think that head-to-toe black is pretty funereal. One jewel-toned item, even if it’s only a scarf, can really give a black outfit a whole new vibe. I also think black looks great with blue denim, as long as the blue is not too dark. Somehow a black accent piece really makes denim-blue look new and different.

  6. allie J. says:

    That bambi print is fab. I love wearing black, but currently have no practical, flat black shoes to wear with, so I’m loving your bright additions!

  7. sewmanju says:

    This is a great dress on you Karen. I think it looks very Hobbs…

  8. Jacqueline says:

    At the age of 68 my only tip is do not wear it over a ‘certain’ age. You will know that when you look in the mirror. Personally if I wear it now I look like someone on a mortuary slab – & I know about such thing! However a jewel scarf is an option with navy now for me. Love Bambi – the film came out in 1942 & for us post war kids it was magic – although so sad

  9. Sherry says:

    Love your Bambi dress, and well planned to not chop Bambi in half!
    I blogged about a black top this week and asked a similar question as I seem to be sewing a lot of black lately. It’s just so practical!
    I quite like all black outfits, but I usually throw in a bright splash of something like my yellow handbag, or zebra print scarf, maybe I need a Bambi print scarf….!

  10. Debby58 says:

    I really like it. Must try this pattern sooner rather than later.

  11. Ros says:

    I find black absolutely the least flattering colour to wear. In my graduation photos I am wearing black and white, and I look as though I’ve just died. I am not all that convinced that it really suits lots of people who wear it, tbh. I do love that bambi fabric, though!

    • Jacana says:

      I am with Ros on this – black drains the colour from the skin. I’m not a fan – especially on the young. I think of black in terms of wizened old widows. However it can look stunning in the right context and a splash of a jewel colour will enhance a plain black outfit.

  12. Paola says:

    I like the idea of black, and have a couple of black items in my wardrobe, all pants. Any black near my face really highlights the circles under my eyes, and brings out the greenish undertones of my skin, so no, I don’t do black above the waist.
    Having said that I think black looks good on some. It’s only when you see a mass of people in black outfits that the funereal thing starts happening.

  13. catherineturney says:

    Love the bambi ultimate shift dress. I have this pattern and made it last Autumn. You’ve reminded me what a quick and easy pattern it is. Thinking about raiding my stash tomorrow…..

  14. susew says:

    I’m like Paola- no black near my face. Only wear solid black in bottoms. The only time a wear black on top if it’s a print with other colours that look good on me.
    Sometimes black is a fall back when people have no interest in making themsleves look good or as a way to make dressing up easier. I had a boss that only wore black and beige or combinations of the two colours for the first few years I knew her.

  15. amcclure2014 says:

    Well, black is not a good colour for me, though it’s very practical so I do wear but prefer prints rather than solids close to my face. I like the black blouse and polka dot skirt on you and TBH the other black outfit too. Your Bambi fabric certainly livens up your black!

  16. sewsincity says:

    I love black and don’t think it’s boring at all but I love your fun ways of wearing it even more! http://sewsincity.com

  17. Gill says:

    Lovely dress, great fabric, and you just need to accessorise with a Babycham!

  18. I wear a lot of black for all the wrong reasons…..the sweet bambi print would certainly liven things up. It’s wonderful! Love the bright purple shoes, too.

  19. Love love love the Bambi print. The shift is so cool too, I can see me making this one many times over!

  20. I love all the “Sew Over It” garments you have made. They are great patterns and look amazingly versatile. I definitely need to get some. I wear loads of black, most in the hope of it being slimming (not even black hole-coloured would help me on that one) , I think that I quite suit it and I am a bit of a goth still at heart. I think that your beautiful shift dress is going to start a run on Bambi fabric. It is very cool. Xx

  21. rhiannonbrum says:

    Oh my days. That dress. I mean, the shirt is lovely but THAT DRESS. I might need a lie down to fully appreciate the wonderfulness of it.

    In terms of black outfits, I tend to go for colour pops of accessories (bigger the necklace the better!) to make black less…. Black. That and I generally end up wearing blue instead!

  22. Carol.... says:

    Personally I don’t see anything wrong with any of your outfits 🙂 I have made 1 version of the Ultimate Shift but planning my next with sleeves and agree it’s a gem of a pattern xx

  23. Linda says:

    Love the bambi print! Yes i agree, there could be a run on that fabric! Love the sew over it ultimate trousers, I might just give that a go. Good to hear that you’ve used the pattern so many times. Love the pussy bow blouse too! I do wear black, especially in the evenings, but I shouldn’t really. I am an ‘autumn’ so should stick to brown as a neutral:)

  24. Ooo, how fun to be different than everyone else. I wear a ton of black, love solid black outfits, and although I wear color as well, my first inclination is to sew everything in black. I do love that Bambi print on you. The world needs villains and princesses, right?

  25. Jessica says:

    I like black … as an accent. Or as part of a palette of neutrals (and often one/more of the neutrals are a neutral print – so like a black/white houndstooth scarf with black cardigan) to “ground” the 1-2 saturated colors I’m wearing so that those colors “pop” without feeling too jarring. I really think black, when in a pattern like your dotty skirt, is underrated these days. Or soften it with a splash of gray, olive, etc. Creates more visual interest/texture, but without being overwhelming.

  26. Twilight says:

    I’m a redhead and when I was younger, I often wore all-black outfits. Lately – being on the wrong side of 40 – I find that they sap my face of colour and make me look older than I am. I don’t see anything wrong with any of your outfits above. Love the Bambi print dress, especially!

  27. oonaballoona says:

    I feel like I start every comment with “well you know how i feel about ____”.

    BLACK. it makes us look so good, it makes me feel so ugh! but yeah, it’s the solid black that gets me down. this bambi dress is freaking TERRIFIC.

  28. redsilvia says:

    Bambi is hi-freaking-larious! Cute enough to be a Japanese print (that is high praise in my world). Great work and keep up the black.

  29. Ann wTts says:

    Love, love love the bambi dress! Must try a sew over it pattern……maybe the trousers? ( never made any and it’s on my list to try). Must get to Walthamstow again…..went there last year November for my first and only visit.

  30. Love it! I wear a lot of black but often try to match it with fun prints! And what could be more fun than bambi! (*Spoiler Alert* Except for the part where his mum dies of course! )
    H.

  31. KathleenS says:

    I love the Bambi dress and am deciding whether I need to talk myself out of buying the fabric! As it happens, for my complexion that is what is needed to make black acceptable – add a motif of another colour. So whether that’s a brown floral print on a black background, or gold embroidery on a black background or a black and white houndstooth… But that’s just for my colouring. Some people do have the colouring to wear it “neat”.

  32. Love your dress. I don’t wear much black I prefer Navy Blue as my staple colour. Jo x

  33. Nane says:

    Great lesson (with proof!) on styling black. Thanks for the inspiration. This gets me thinking !

  34. Oh I love black! I think the only danger with it is missing out on wearing other fun and colourful things because it’s just so darned easy to look fab in black 😉

  35. LinB says:

    My advice on wearing black? If your skin and hair are “cool,” go for a cool black — one based on blue, or green, or purple. If your skin and hair are “warm,” go for a warm black — one based on red, or yellow, or orange. That’s all, really. Black is not just one color, and all blacks do not automatically look well together, even if you want to wear an all-black outfit. Which always makes me look and feel fabulous, but makes my mother look like Death eating a graham cracker. No one wants to look like Death eating a graham cracker.

  36. Katie M says:

    That’s a really nice shift dress. Love the Bambi print. Just one small suggestion – before you make another version of this pattern you might want to shorten the shoulder seam. It seems about 1cm too long. If you shorten it, it would bring the top of the armscye closer to your shoulder point.

  37. Fun dress! I love black and wear it a lot. I often wear black pants or a black skirt paired with a colorful top or a black-and-white striped top.

  38. I love your Bambi print! Yesterday I noticed everyone in the office around me was wearing black. I was so happy I had on a bright red draped collar cardigan with my black trousers. Much better!

  39. Alice says:

    Love the Bambi dress! For an all black outfit, i think it can easily be brighten by addition of colorful jewelry. I’m not a “monochrome” styled person, but i tend to stick to 4 colors that i obviously mix together: greens, blues, brown (dark one and camel tones) and purple. No white, some rare black trousers. My closet is quite dull…But i have to go through some style change… Two years ago i fell in love with a pink (the first pink item in my closet) top in a second hand shop and i think actually bright color made me look like i have spend a month on the beach! Small baby steps out of the colors comfort zone… I love your blog by the way! I’m not sure i have commented before… (Oups!)

  40. matchamilady says:

    I’ve been taking classes at Sewoverit and have a few more booked up. I love their approach and patterns and hope to become much better at it. I prefer colours to neutrals but when I do wear black and grey, I wear them in patterns. Polka dots, hearts etc. Makes it far more interesting than block. Also in different textures, nothing beats sheer black sleeves for me

  41. Charlotte says:

    Love the print!! <333

    xoxo

  42. Sky says:

    Haha, the bambi print rocks! I like the new shirt as well and with those loafers the outfit doesn’t look dull at all. And if you had a scarf or earrings or something to reference the mauve and yellow of the shoes, there would be no way that outfit would ever look boring.

  43. You inspired me to try an ultimate shift dress & now I have two plus fabric ready for at least three more!

    Would love to know. Did you use a hook and eye to fasten at the neckline as the pattern specifies? I keep finding mine undo part way through the day. I could pretend to being very efficient and replacing them with a tab for a button hole and button, but being an honest person I have to admit to resorting to a safety pin!

  44. Pingback: Blogging | Jane's Sew & Tell

  45. Louise McG says:

    Hi Karen, I know the whole point of sewing is to not have the same dress as anyone else but this one is so fantastic I couldn’t help myself. I’ve basically made the exact same bambi dress and I love it. Thank you so much for the inspiration! It’s going on my blog here tomorrow if you want to take a look: madebymcgblog.wordpress.com. I love your stuff, and live quite nearby in Leytonstone, so always nice to follow your blog and East London photos 🙂

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