A La Lam

by Erin on May 11, 2011

Screen shot 2011-05-07 at 6.46.15 PM

I really like this Derek Lam denim shift dress. By "really like," I don't mean "am willing to pay eight hundred dollars for it at Net-A-Porter" — "really like" in that price range is more along the lines of "was willing to rip the page out of Harper's Bazaar and blog about it". 

The jeans stitching and the cap sleeves are lovely. (How lovely? Net-A-Porter even has a video — for eight hundred bucks I think the model should have done a little soft-shoe act, too, but what do I know?) I do wish — wait for it — that it had pockets, but hey, probably the bepocketed version costs $900, right?

Does anyone know of a commercial pattern that is similar? I wanted to say there was one on BurdaStyle, but I can't find it now. Pointers gratefully appreciated.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

tarynkay May 11, 2011 at 5:48 am

I think that the Anda on Burdastyle is similar, but less structured.


JennyAtChronicallyUncool May 11, 2011 at 7:26 am

I’ve been thinking of a similar treatment of a fitted denim dress with seam interest, but more curvy. I made McCall’s 6759 (1963) in tonal polka dot linen for Easter (not blogged yet), and now I desperately want to do it in a lightweight denim with double topstitching to really highlight the curvy seams.


Kathy May 11, 2011 at 10:20 am

I love this!

M6278 doesn’t have exactly the same lines, but I think it would look great in denim with the jeans stitching.


Val May 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

The top of New Look 6824 is kinda similar, though the skirt is different. It could probably be modified, though…


MB@YarnUiPhoneApp May 12, 2011 at 6:13 am

Gosh, I like this too. It’s so simple. Just a slip on and go dress. I’m thinking this would be easy to make using stretch denim. I would use the two-step straight stitch function on my Viking to make the top stitch really pop out. Now…orange, traditional gold top stitching? Hey, maybe even a trendy chartreuse?


Jen O May 12, 2011 at 9:29 am

You’re right, a pattern like this isn’t out there. This silhouette seems to be cut like a sheath dress. The waistline seam doesn’t define the waistline at all and the fit is smooth. I think that if you used a classic sheath pattern (like McCall’s 2401), a similar dress could be made with some pattern alterations that are decorative, not structural, so the fit won’t be compromised.
(Sorry for the length of this response, but I think you can make this dress without too much trouble!)

What would I do? Add a waistline seam about 1-2″ above the true waistline (this could be done to the front pattern only, or both F + B). Cut across the dress pattern at that level. Add a yoke seam across the upper bodice and cut that line. Cut a center front seamline on the bodice where the CF fold would be.
If you haven’t added style lines like this before, it’s easy–just draft a line where you want the seam to be, cut, then use scotch tape to add paper with 5/8″ seam allowance on to each newly cut seam edge.

Sleeves: these flange sleeves can be a flat strip that narrows under the armhole. Get the armhole measurement by using a string to measure both front and back armhole seamlines. Stretch the string open and draw a line: this is the length of the edge that will sewn into the armhole. Determine how wide you want the sleeve at the shoulder top, then narrow towards the under arm.


Heather May 12, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Jen – That’s exactly what I was thinking. I saw this dress, thought it would look good on DD#2, and bought a vintage sheath pattern with underbust to hip length darts and a yoke on eBay today. I was thinking of cutting the waist exactly as you recommend, but using the pattern short sleeve cut shorter, perhaps on an angle. Not to be really picky (well, maybe), but did you notice the invisible zip in this dress is visible? and the sleeves don’t fit the model? BTW, what about hot pink top stitching instead of yellow? I just couldn’t resist the idea of knocking off such a simple dress!


Jen O May 13, 2011 at 8:04 am

Heather- My guess on the zipper is that it was sewn in with alot of ‘room’ because that flat fell seam waistline is too bulky. A traditional zipper may be the better zip in this case, also cutting away the inside bulk of that seam first will help to flatten that flat fell. Sleeve fit: I think that is the way those flange sleeves look because the under arm doesn’t curve down. The shoulder cap is flat and the under arm barely curves, hence the little ‘samurai’ wing look. I’m ‘old school’ and would like the denim with traditional Levi thread (sewn with double thread for thickness if you can’t find it thicker).


Heather May 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Jen – Good point about the sleeves and thread. Sometimes I don’t know when to leave well enough alone. DD2 is naturally yellow blonde and doesn’t wear yellow, but, you’re right, the traditional yellow would look better. Maybe I’ll send her the dress with one of each sleeve, let her decide and send it back to me for with the final choice. She’s very conservative for one so young. And, traditional zip it is, too. Hadn’t thought about the bulk, but you’re right again. This is going to be fun to make!


Packrat May 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm

$900 Hmmmm, I am in the wrong business. The dress is cute, but… I’ll try to go through my 1960’s patterns to see if there is one similar. (It will have to be next week sometime.)


Tommy May 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

You will surely find a pattern from the ’50’s or ’60’s. I am always knocked down by the pricing and glad we can agree on that. They pull these prices out of their, how do I say, yes – imagination or maybe that is what their electric bill was for the month. Then people pay the price!


Heather Azarmehr May 17, 2011 at 8:08 am

Just a quick note that I love your dress a day Blog. I think you are funny and have good taste in patterns…a rare combo. Thanks for the entertainment.


caro May 18, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I’m guessing the fabric is divine to justify that cost. I remember one designer who was making cashmere jeans – looked like regular denim but were ultra soft and luxurious.


Cherie Reavis May 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I just finished your book ” The Secret Lives of Dresses.” I absolutely loved it. And I will be watching for new stories from you. Best wishes. And happy dress hunting!


Ryan May 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I think you’re remembering this Angela Kane pattern on Burda Style. It was made up in denim too and has similar lines. You could easily add the tiny sleeves and the double yellow top stitching. AND the Burda pattern has pockets!


Jessica May 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Though it’s considerably more simplistic in some regards than I tend to like my dresses, I’m interestingly drawn to this soft denim blue number as well (but second your thoughts that there is no possible way it’s worth shelling out so much for!).

Big hugs & joyful Tuesday wishes,
♥ Jessica


SpaceDoll May 24, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I’m not sure at all I like the raw edges on the sleeves and neck. The contrast between prim silhouette and rough-and-ready fabric/seams is just balanced without them. I liked it better before I noticed.


Veo June 30, 2011 at 10:12 am

A really nice dress but a bit too expensive :)


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