On a trip to New York this past fall, a sudden, violent, downpour hit, and I ducked into The Container Store to wait it out, knowing that I’d find lots to look at. The Container Store seems like a strange idea to me, but in Manhattan it makes perfect sense: It’s kind of a hardware store for urbanites who want something a little more interesting than cardboard boxes for storing goods. I saw this, and was instantly inspired to make something like it as a gift for Noilette:
It’s so clever, isn’t it? I’m not wild about keeping any kind of jewelery in plastic sleeves, though, and those open pockets strike me as a bad idea for a Manhattanite like Noilette, who moves house constantly. I decided to make her version with net pockets and zipper closures . . . and to make the “dress” a little more like a real Little Black Dress.
That required finding black brocade fabric, which, needless to say, was not available at my local fabric store. I bought polyester “brocade” curtains instead, and black sheers for the pockets. I also picked up eight zippers and a faux-velvet clad hanger.
Then I sketched the outline of a sheath dress on shelf paper, cut it out, and used it as a pattern to make, first, the “material” for the lower front of the LBD:
I cut strips of the drapery sheers much longer than the width of the pattern I’d made, and attached the zippers by centering them in the middle of the strips. Then I pinned the “fabric” I’d made to the pattern, and trimmed all around.
The very top of the front is a small bodice, sewn to the uppermost zipper. Once that was attached, I laid the sheer front piece over a full-length front cut from the brocade, and stitched the strips to it appropriately to form long pockets with the zip openings. I also interfaced the all-brocade front backing, to support the pockets well. Here’s the two-layer front, pinned together with the interfacing beneath:
I stitched the pockets randomly, making them various sizes, with just two, extra-large ones, along the bottom edge. My only requirement was that it should be possible to get two fingers into each easily, to make retrieval of small things, like earrings, possible without frustration.
Let me just say that I’d rather sew the flimsiest China silk than ever deal with this poly again. This stuff didn’t ravel; it shredded. Is there such a thing as short-staple polyester? If so, this is it. Also, I think my scissors got duller just by being in proximity to this stuff.
I assembled the whole thing by putting the back right side to the mesh front, sewing the shoulders and the sides, and turning. The neck and armholes are finished with bias binding, turned inside and topstitched, and the LBD was finished by turning the “hem” in and edge-stitching it closed. I inserted the hanger, and voilà:
Yes, it needs a final pressing. That’s a lopsided fold line just above the “hem”. I’m terrified of my iron, and I took the photo before risking melting all that lovely poly.
The pockets look dark, don’t they? I tested the sheer before using it, though, and it’s quite easy to see what’s behind it. To wit:
I added a loop at the bottom, in the back, with a silver button:
The button is to keep the loop from showing on the front, thus retaining the illusion of an LBD, but the loop is so that the “dress” can be folded up, held in place with the hanger hook, for transportation, or to save space:
Naturally, I loved the idea of an organizer disguised like this, but it’s also a practical solution for keeping jewelry visible and accessible in a tiny apartment where one might not want to leave such things just lying around. The zippers ensure that small pieces won’t get lost, and the sheer should be kind to whatever Noilettte puts into the organizer.
The “inspiration piece” has velcro loops for necklaces and the like on the back, but I decided against this feature, as I wanted to make something that would completely enclose the stored pieces.