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Riffs on a Trusted Pattern: Birthday Dress

It was the lovely month of May and the beginning of spring—and my birthday. It seemed appropriate to celebrate with a new birthday dress. I decided on a 1950s-inspired dress to honor my birth year. (It was the late ’50s, OK?) I surfed around on the Web and settled on a fitted bodice dress with a cut-on collar, short sleeves with a turned-up cuff, and a full skirt. I got out my growing pile of Tabula Rasa Jacket, or TRJ, riffs and went to work. (This is the fifth installment of my Tabula Rasa Jacket self-challenge.)

Pattern changes for a birthday dress

Collar alteration

I tackled the collar first. I knew what I wanted the finished collar to look like and decided to go for some expert help. It was a good bet that the Threads magazine website would have just what I was looking for . . . cue the Kenneth D. King video on creating this classic collar.

Consulting Kenneth D. King cut-in-one collar

With Kenneth’s excellent instruction, I drafted a cut-on collar onto my Tabula Rasa jacket.

Birthday dress, drafting the collar

Sleeve alteration

It was on to the sleeves. My Bowling Shirt version from a few months earlier had the perfect cuffed sleeve.

Length changes

Finally, I needed to shorten the jacket to a shirt-waist bodice length, and my pattern was ready to go. Almost.

I decided that the skirt would need to be draped onto the bodice. That would happen once I got a mock-up of the bodice finished.

Here’s my birthday dress bodice pattern compared to my original Tabula Rasa pattern.

Birthday dress bodice pattern compared to the TRJ pattern

The fabric search

I did a quick reconnaissance of my stash and realized that I had nothing with the right 1950s flare. This is where my project ground to a halt.

Side note: My preferred way of working is to start with a fabric…

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  1. sissy36 | | #1

    Nice job, Becky...your little grey cells come up with some amazing ideas, and this one has provided smiles...the hoopla-hoop performance shows an agile body that accompanies the creative mind and spirit.

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #3

      Thanks for your kind words! I failed miserably one year at our office Christmas party in the hoola-hoop competition and vowed to re-learn how to do it! I really like it now that I am better at it. It does keep me limber!

      1. sissy36 | | #5

        I want to add to my comment...in addition to the fun element in this birthday dress, the '50s vibe, the tablecloth...you did an outstanding job of developing your idea for all of us to see how you proceeded, how we can take an idea and find our way with it. You will always be a leader of many in that way. I look forward to the next one.

  2. User avater
    prhpage | | #2

    I love reading your posts about the ways you have altered this pattern in the last few months, Becky. And I especially like this dress and how you matched everything all the way around. Great job! And, Happy Birthday!!! (even if I’m a bit late;))

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #4

      I get pretty geeky about pattern matching and wasn't sure I'd be able to pull it off with such a limited amount of fabric and such a big print. Thanks for noticing! ...and I did have a very nice birthday.

  3. dannylo | | #6

    Tablecloths as fabric, what a truly creative idea! Your dress is stunning in workmanship and in fit. All the garments in this series are fabulous and just keep me waiting to see more. Thank you so much.

  4. User avater
    gayleortiz | | #7

    Such a great article! What fun! And the hula hoop just topped it off. Thanks for inspiring, once again. Love the ham, ordering right now!

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #9

      You are going to love the sleeve ham! I use it all the time...I just made a bunch of bucket hats for my son and it was perfect for pressing the crown seams!

  5. gingerlew39 | | #8

    What a beautiful dress!!!! Thanks for sharing your process. I may have to make a trip to the thrift shop table linens area...

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #10

      I love using vintage linens of all types. Tea towels, dresser scarves, napkins (as long as the gravy stains aren't too obvious!) they have such wonderful patina and I know they are full of stories! Have fun on the hunt!

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