Happy birthday to meeee!
It’s a pretty great day. Spring is finally here (omg, a few things are even blooming and the grass is slowly turning from brown back to green!). We’re taking a trip to Dublin at the end of the month and I just can’t wait. I have a fabulous gift from Mel waiting for me to open later (yes, I already know what it is). And I love birthdays!
Last year, I sewed a wrap dress for my birthday. Ironically it was the only dress I sewed last year and this year I’m a dressmaking machine. But I liked the idea of having a tradition of sewing myself a dress specifically for my birthday, so hey, as of the second year in a row, it’s now a tradition!
This dress is actually a wearable muslin of my Sew for Victory dress, using McCall 6116, a pattern from 1945. It’s a seriously worn and tattered envelope, but a very cute dress! A scoop neck and shirtwaist bodice, back waist ties, two sleeve options, patch pockets and a faux placket down the front of the skirt.
I knew going into it that I might want to make some changes to the final pattern, but not enough that I could be bothered to do a real muslin. (Cheeky, I know.) I changed the sleeves for the first version because we’ve already established that I much, much prefer kimono sleeves on dresses. (And yes I’ve been asked so many times, I will have to address a tutorial on drafting this change, hopefully in late spring/early summer!)
I kept the neckline and shirtwaist front (although I omitted the buttonholes because they’re inoperable anyway, so why fuss with them?). But I ditched the slightly dropped waist because I just don’t like them, and ditched the waist ties at the back while I was at it, because that limits the wearability to seasons I’m not wearing a cardigan. A lump above your butt, under a sweater? No thanks.
I must admit I winged the skirt a bit and it didn’t quite work out like I expected. I knew I wanted to omit the faux placket on the front, because when I looked at the instructions carefully, I realized it wasn’t sewn down. It literally was like a 1″ flap that was only tacked at the waist and hem. I could have worked out another way to do it, but I wasn’t crazy about it to begin with so at that point I just left it out.
When I was comparing pattern pieces I don’t know why I didn’t just use the skirt from Simplicity 1523 (like my Singin’ in the Rain dress), which (like this pattern) is gathered at each side, above the pocket. So instead, somehow my skirt pieces ended up too wide to gather the excess at each side, so I had to gather it around. It was definitely one of those “why am I making this way more complicated than necessary?!” sewing moments.
When all was said and done, I must admit: I was kind of meh about this dress, although I’ve since changed my mind. It came out a little big, which wouldn’t have bothered me that much as a little more breathing room for summer is always nice. But somehow that combined with the fact that I thought the bodice was a little short, so I felt like I was wearing a 90s baby doll dress. Insert look of horror here because, for the record, 90s revival will never be happening with me. (Also for the record, that “Is the bodice too short? Is it just right? I can’t decide!” issue has been dogging me this year but I’ve finally sorted that out once and for all and confirmed that my dresses are fine, I really am just that short-waisted.)
However, even though I was a little disappointed with it right off the bat, I’ve already worn it a handful of times and once I saw myself in it with makeup and shoes and my hair done and such, I kicked the baby doll worries to the curb for good.
(Oh by the way, I did line up the print on the bodice front, though I think it looks a little more accurate in person.)
The fabric is organic cotton from Cloud9 that I purchased from Hawthorne Threads. It featured the red balloon from the timeless children’s book Goodnight Moon. I love how, from a distance, it looks like big polka dots, but up close… surprise! Balloons.
So how could a dress with balloons on it not be perfect for a birthday??
I clearly had big red balloon-like-objects on my mind, as I accessorized with a 1940s plastic cherries necklace, and a vintage bracelet with big marbled beads paired with two Bakelite bangles.
I also tried out a pageboy hairstyle. Not my favorite, but it’s fun!
Overall I’m still quite pleased with this dress, and took away a couple of changes to make on my final Sew for Victory dress, which is a cute and summery yellow polka dot. (And is already complete, so I’ll share it later in the month.)
In a society where women are generally made to feel like the inevitable process that is aging is a BAD thing, I’m happy to be in my late 30s and still learning about life, love and happiness. And to anyone worrying about age-appropriate dressing? Give me a break! I’ll personally wear what I want and have a damn fun time doing so.
Red balloons for my birthday and all! 😉