The Birthday Frock

The weather finally cooperated with my schedule and we had a lovely sunny, breezy afternoon just perfect for taking photographs of new frocks!  Usually my dad does my "photo shoots" but my little sister volunteered today and we had a lovely time.  We went down by the lake across the street, plowing through the underbrush which has grown over the path - with a bicycle, which was no mean feat! - waded in the water, tried not to step on thistles in our bare feet, and had a lovely time.  I came back a bit scratched and mosquito-bitten, but no serious damage was done.  And many thanks to Katie for the photos!  Plus the sister-bonding time - that's always good too :-)

Anyway, the dress!  I'm calling this the "birthday frock" because I did the majority of the sewing on my birthday this past Wednesday.  I cut it out the day before and finished it up the day after, so it was a pretty quick project for me.

The pattern is Butterick 5033, a reprint (I believe) of a 1952 pattern.  It was very easy to work with and went together quickly!  There were very few fitting issues, which for me is unusual and so was a nice surprise!

Usually I end up lengthening bodices; this time I left it as-is but added a wide waistband, and I like the look even better than the original.  It gives that nice waist definition without making a belt necessary (although it certainly would be cute with a belt, too!)  

The fabric is a cotton-and-something (I think) blend that I picked up at Walmart last summer for $1/yard. I had three yards where the pattern called for 4.5, so shortened the skirt by about 6 inches and used a linen/rayon blend which had originally been intended for corset lining to add the length back on at the bottom.  I used the same linen for the collar.  The lining is the crisper, stronger parts of what used to be my old fitted sheet; it's blue-and-white stripes and matched the main fabric perfectly.  There's lots of that sheet left, so I'm sure it will show up again at some point!  The best part: the cost.  I paid $3 for the blue fabric, less than $2 for the linen blend, nothing for the old sheet, and I got the zipper with a 40% off coupon.  So the whole thing only cost me $5-$6!

When I get back from Memphis I'm probably going to take the zipper out and replace it with a longer one; the 22" zip just isn't working for me.  I'm so tall that my back-of-neck-to-waist measurement is 20" already, which doesn't put the end of this zipper anywhere near the fullest part of my hips.  Which means it's quite an adventure to get it on and off!  If I take it apart that far I'll also take the skirt off the waistband and narrow it by about 1/2", as the bodice is really just a tad bit longer than I intended it to be.  (As you can see in the photo above, the back is too long and wrinkles a bit with it.)

My favourite part might be the pleats at the centre front of the skirt.  Such a nice design detail, and they camouflage any unsightly bumps and rolls in that area! ;-)  I wish I'd pressed the whole dress before we took photos - I'd been wearing it since 8 in the morning, and the linen wrinkles if you look at it, which is one of the very few flaws in this dress.

I wonder if anyone has advice on this, though: I know that with bias-cut skirts, such as this full-circle one, you're supposed to let them hang for 24 hours to let the fabric stretch before hemming.  I didn't do that with this one, both because I wanted to get it done already and because of the contrast border (also cut on the bias); I didn't know how to even it up without making the while border uneven.  With the result that the hem is uneven, but regularly.  It has almost a scalloped effect.  I don't mind it at all; it almost looks like I intended it to be that way - but I wondered if there's any way to deal with this in case I make another similar dress.  Would I hang the main dress to even out, trim it, and then attach the border?

I'll definitely make this pattern again!  I want to try the other view - the one with the little triangle cut-out at the neckline.  This was a quick, easy, fun project and the "shoot" was such fun - a lovely way to spend a gorgeous summer afternoon.

I'll be busy sewing this week so I'm not sure if I'll have time to get proper photos of any of the other projects - but I'll be sure to post them when I get back from the wedding if not before.


  1. Oh it is simply gorgeous! I LOVE it, and your sister did a smashing job with the photos. They are all so beautiful! I especially like the one second-from-last. I love the band at the bottom of the skirt and the collar.

    I, alas, do not have any idea about the bias cut skirt or band - that would make it hard, since both are on the bias. I actually dread doing bias things and have put off my boys bias cut tunics just because I dream the inevitable hanging and evening that will need to be done! Yours came out lovely though, I think it is perfect!

  2. You look fabulous!

    I have that one. I guess it's one of those patterns that look sooooo much better made up, than in the sketch. I might have to dig mine out before the summer ends... : )

  3. Fantastic! you look beautiful - the style really suits you, and I love the colour too.


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