Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My 40th Birthday Dress

(Yes, this little old blog continues to crawl along...just!) 

My 40th Birthday Dress

This dress has had two lovely outings since it's creation. It's maiden voyage was a fabulous banquet at Mr Wong's in Sydney with my parents, my husband, my three sisters and their wonderful husbands. My father turned 70 and same weekend I turned 40, so we all flew into Sydney for the weekend to celebrate.

It's second outing was last Sunday. My husband and two close friends, threw me a surprise birthday party - a wonderful birthday brunch with my Cairns friends at Nu Nu in Palm Cove. It was a perfect morning.

Last month I wrote a post detailing all my inspiration for this dress - a mash-up of Vogue 8241, Vogue 1247 and a witchery RTW playsuit. So did it all go to plan? Well, to be honest, the toiling took a lot more work than I originally anticipated. Here is my story...

The Bodice Front
Taking a pattern off a RTW garment that has asymmetrical draping and gathering proved to be a serious pain in the butt. I had to play around with this a lot and spent far more time on it than I would have liked too. I was still fiddling with this, post-toile, once sewn up in the fashion fabric. I'm still not sure I've got it quite right. I think it would have been far easier to start with a commercial pattern for this style. I would much preferred to have the expertise of a professional pattern maker and drafter to provide me with notches and to determine drape, gathering etc.

The Bodice Back
After toiling up the bodice back from Vogue 8241, I was disappointed that it did not have the 'cut-away' look as suggested on the pattern envelope. I had to cut quite a bit away and have still ended up with something that does not look 'cut-away'. I could achieved this easily enough, but the practical side of my personality voted for bra-friendly in the end. 

The Skirt
In the end, I ditched the skirt from Vogue 8241 and Vogue 1247 and went with the skirt from Vogue 1190, a dress that I sewed up for my husband's 40th back in 2011. I removed the seams at the side front and cut the front as one piece so I did not have to chop any flowers or butterflies in half.The skirt hangs and moves beautifully.

Adding a Waist-Stay
One thing I had to add was a waist stay...just above my hips. The skirt did not sit on my hips without falling. It needed a stay to keep it in place. Why a stay? I wanted to avoid placing the delicate fabric under stress at the side seams and so wanted to keep it semi-fitted. The stay is made using a wide piece of grosgrain ribbon that clips at the CB. I hand-stitched it at a few points along the bodice/skirt seam.

And just because these photos are sooooo dark, a little close up of the beautiful satin-backed CDC silk from Tessuti. My goodness, this stuff is gorgeous!

Overall, the garment was a success, not perfect but wearable and comfortable. I'm still not 100% sure it is quite right and may still fiddle with it if I'm ever inclined. The drape of the top and where it meets the skirt throws me a bit. I'm not sure if this is because it is wrong or just because it is unfamiliar...time will tell.


  1. The dress and you look absolutely stunning!

  2. This looks really lovely. The fabric is gorgeous. You look more and more like Meg every day!

  3. Happy birthday..what great celebrations! Your dress is beautiful; the fabric is gorgeous and the style looks great on you.

  4. Oh I think it's so pretty! Happy birthday!

  5. Happy birthday! You look beautiful and your dress turned out just gorgeous. The print is stunning, so delicate and colourful. :)

  6. The fabric is gorgeous and you look lovely in it! Happy Birthday!

  7. happy birthday ! that fabric is amazing!

  8. Just gorgeous. That crepe de chine is SO beautiful, and what a wonderful combination of colours for you!