Monday, October 7, 2013

#4 - LBD Challenge - Studs Galore!


Rules or Challenge 4

Challenge #4 had a fun theme! Here are the rules:

For this challenge, be creative and make a little black dress for your perfect night out.

Create a story for us. Are you going out with your husband on a romantic date or a fun night out with the girls? Where will you be going? What will you be doing? Your dress should be able to tell your story.

You will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, how the dress tells your story, and fit.

What Is My LBD For?

For this challenge, I have made a dress to wear to the Opening Night of the Fall Antique Show at Fort Mason!

One of San Francisco's most popular social events, it also benefits the Enterprise for High School Students (EHSS), a non-profit career development agency serving San Francisco youth. The opening night is a festival of eating, drinking, music, socializing, of seeing, and of being seen. You can view photos of a past show in 2006.

My Little Black Dress, McCalls 6028, features a slim silhouette and is fitted via front and back princess seams, with a slit in hem the left front princess seam. The front yoke, and the back neckline, are embellished with silver-colored, two-prong studs made from nickel and steel - these strong studs required some effort to install. The back is finished with an exposed zipper.

I am also sharing this with Patti's Visible Monday!

Alterations and Modifications

I started with a size 14 (my usual before FBA). My changes were:

  • Narrowed the shoulder by 5/8".
  • I read on Pattern Review that folks found that the neckline is too high on this dress. I found the same. I lowered the front neck by 1".
  • The bust fullness on the princess seam was too high. I lowered it a couple of inches and widened it about 3/8".
  • Shortened the dress by 2", though only 1-1/2" on the center front panel because of the full bust adjustment to the side front.
  • Added a bit to the waist (in the front only).
  • Removed fullness from the hip all around. (I didn't measure.)
  • Used the hem slit in the left front princess seam.
  • Used the sleeve, but lengthened it by 5".
  • Installed an exposed zipper at center back. It was a YKK zipper I'd bought about a year ago from Zipperstop with a large ring pull. It was shorter than the pattern called for and a separating zipper. But it is not the boss of me. ;)


While I am not a huge fan of "shiny", such as sequins or patent leather, I am a huge fan of the edgy version of shiny: spikes and studs! I own no less than three pair of spiked and studded shoes and boots and I really enjoy wearing them. (Even though the spiked shoes can be a bit deadly.)

I was in my local bead store several weeks ago buying findings for earrings, and I saw the cutest spikes. I tried to buy a few, just to play with, but they had sold out. They had ordered more, they told me.

The first thing I did when I saw this challenge theme was to call them to ask if the spikes had come in.


I was starting to figure out a Plan B, when Margy sent me one of her bookmarked links to an online store called, appropriately, Studs and Spikes, so I checked it out.

I was in love!

Late into Monday I was angsting over choose what to order from their bounty! Finally, very late on Monday, I ordered studs and spikes, along with a basic stud setting kit. I specified 2-day air so that they would arrive on Thursday. (One-day air would have been $45 for this order.) Then, on Tuesday, I thought some more. I thought and thought. It's difficult to buy supplies when you don't *really* know what you are doing.

And I couldn't fully decide what I was doing until I could play with the supplies.

It's a pickle, I tell you.

Around midnight on Tuesday, I made another order. This time only for studs in a different shape and several sizes. Again, I specified 2-day air so that the order would arrive on Friday. (Though, of course, I was hoping it would arrive sooner.)

My first order arrived late Thursday and I got busy with samples. I thought I had figured out my dress design (which I had partially muslined) and fabric, but that was now challenged. I started grabbing bits of other black fabrics in my stash and studding those, too.

I quickly decided that, as cute as they were, I preferred the studs on my dress-weight fabrics. The spikes require a very beefy base, such as a firm leather. (Though I will have fun using them on another project, as they are so cute!)

I'm glad I ordered a lot of extra studs, as it took me awhile to figure out the sort of interfacing I needed, and how to get the studs to line up properly. These studs are made from a fairly rigid metal made from nickel and steel. The prongs require force to bend. Also, once I had interfaced the fabric, it was more difficult to insert the prongs.

What worked best was to use one point from a pair of sharp embroidery scissors to make a small slit for each prong. After inserting the stud into the slits, I turned the fabric over while holding the stud so it wouldn't slip out, laid it out on the table, and used the Stud Prong Press to bend each prong. (The Stud Prong Press is included in the beginning stud kit and looks like a flat screwdriver with an angle in it. It also has a wooden handle, similar to an awl.)

Through trial and error, I discovered that to keep the studs secured to the fabric, that I had to bend each prong all the way in so that it touched the metal on the inside. Bending them flat, parallel to the fabric, was not enough - the stud could easily slide off. (Again, I doubt this would be a problem on a stiffer leather.)

I found it necessary to stand over my workspace in order to get the right angle to exert enough force. When I went to bed late Thursday night, my shoulder (which is weak thanks to long-ago bouts of frozen shoulder) was sore from the practice run. By Saturday, my shoulder was throbbing after spending much of the day attaching studs.

My second order of studs arrived late Friday and, by then, I had run to JoAnn's to buy the McCalls pattern, cut out the yoke, and had started studding.

I had to take frequent breaks, but I loved the result! I am sold on these studs, which are beautifully made. I particularly like the pyramid and cone studs, which have an almost brushed finished. The dome studs are more shiny. (I prefer my metals hammered or brushed, rather than shiny.) Adding the studs to the interfaced fabric gives the yoke a hefty drape.

Here are a few pictures showing my progress:

The front yoke is interfaced with a fusible interfacing and all edges are stay-stitched.

Completed - the front

Completed - the back

Interfacing the back neck

Back neckline completed


This is an excellently drafted pattern and I will use it again. I love the stud detail. It is weighty, but in a good way. This will not be my last project with studs.

I am very happy with this dress! I am sure I will get a lot of wear out of it. Because of the stud detail, I will be hand washing it.

More Pictures

Shake! Shake! Shake!

Shake! Shake! Shake!

Shake my booty!