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30th Birthday Dress - completed!

25 March 2009, 07:25

Happy birthday to me!!

Today is my 30th birthday, and as such, I’ve made Burda WOF 03/09 #116 in emerald green silk charmeuse (satin) to wear to my big party on Saturday night!

I tested this pattern a few weeks ago and wrote all about the fitting and muslin work here, and thanks to popular opinion, I did indeed take a wedge out of the back seam to get rid of the swayback wrinkles. Apart from that, I kept the fit the same!

NB: Please forgive the unsightly waist ridge – it’s a fault of the body, not the dress. I had minor surgery last Monday that caused my abdomen to swell to an unsettling degree, and it had only started to subside a week later when these photos were taken, and Spanx can only do so much! Fingers crossed I’ll be back to normal for the pasty itself and will get more photos then!

Detail shots

The charmeuse ended up being really narrow so I really had to squeeze to get all the pieces in. Before I laid out the pattern, I was debating whether to line the skirt or not, but as it turned out, the decision was made for me!

Here you can see the cut pieces, but it turned out I didn’t have enough to even entirely line the top so I had to improvise with a bit of Dublin silk charmeuse for the back piece, and kept the skirt unlined, constructing it with french seams instead.

The front, with those gorgeous curved yokes (that extend over the shoulder to form the point on the back), and gathered shoulder and sleeve edges:

The back, with the pointed yoke seam, swaybacked “waist” seam (really, it’s above the waist), and invisible zipper:

The inside front. Notice the bra retainer I added at centre front, and the understitching running along both sides of the V-neck to keep the lining in place:

The bra retainer is just a little tube of silk that I hand tacked to the lining on the inside. This tube goes down through the centre of my bra, which keeps the bra from showing in this very low-cut neckline, and also keeps the dress close to my chest to prevent any gaping when I lean over. It’s a really useful, really easy touch to add to any neckline like this!

My most meticulous handstitching ever, joining the front lining to the empire seam allowance:

Inside the understitched armscye and sleeve hem:

(Take that, Burda! I told you binding the underarm of an already-lined dress was unecessarily stupid! Pthhtthth!)

The hem!

After letting the bias hang for a day or so, I turned over 1/4” or so, edgestitched, pressed, then trimmed as close to the stitching as possible. I then turned that hem over again, edgestitched, and pressed, resulting in a narrow hem that for me is way faster and much less frustrating that fiddling with the narrow hem foot on slippery charmeuse.

Past Birthdays

Some of you may recall that last year, for my 29th, I made a bolero and jeans (which I still wear on a regular basis!

On my 28th birthday, I was homeless and living out of a suitcase in my boyfriend’s parents’ house, watching the Shipping Forecast every single day, hoping for good weather to sail our boat across the North Sea. My sewing machine was in storage, so I couldn’t make a new outfit, and frankly, ALL I wanted was for our boat to arrive. And it did, on the evening of my birthday.

For my 27th, I made New Look 6429 in a fun sparkly knit from Walthamstow Market (and then about three days later decided to lose all that excess weight for good!).

And for my 26th birthday (probably the first year I was really into sewing), I made my favourite vest pattern with a red vinyl square neckband:

Here’s to making nice things for yourself to feel good on your day!

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  1. Hi Melissa! Your new dress is beautiful and very flattering. Have a wonderufl birthday party. Best wishes, SenaSews

    senaSews    Mar 25, 08:46 AM    #
  2. Melissa your new dress is beautiful ,you’ve made such a nice job . The bra retainer is a wonderful idea that I will be stealing !! Have a wonderful birthday x

    lisa    Mar 25, 08:51 AM    #
  3. Happy 30th birthday Melissa, woohoo! I love your dress; such a great idea to sew yourself a gift. Thanks for sharing the older pics of a younger you (how come you have not aged? Please tell me your secret). Have a brilliant day and a great party! x

    Houkje    Mar 25, 09:35 AM    #
  4. Happy birthday and have a fab time at your party on Saturday. Love the dress – very “Atonement” and the bra retainer strip is genius!

    allisonC    Mar 25, 09:44 AM    #
  5. Happy, happy birthday, Melissa! Your new dress is beautiful, pure Atonement. I so enjoy your making something special for yourself for your birthday, what a great idea!

    LouiseCL    Mar 25, 10:10 AM    #
  6. Happy Birthday!!

    Your dress is beautiful – the colour is amazing!

    Shannon    Mar 25, 10:33 AM    #
  7. Happy Birthday! Beautiful dress, beautiful girl!

    — Mom    Mar 25, 10:40 AM    #
  8. Happy birthday!!! Your dress looks beautiful on you and I love the color.

    — Daisy    Mar 25, 11:03 AM    #
  9. Congratulations on finishing your dress, it’s beautiful. Happy birthday and enjoy your party!

    Lisette    Mar 25, 11:21 AM    #
  10. Happy Birthday! The dress is faaabulousss!

    Sue    Mar 25, 12:11 PM    #
  11. happy birthday melissa, the dress is fantastic.
    stay well.
    linda x

    — linda in australia    Mar 25, 12:26 PM    #
  12. Happy birthday! And congratulations on the dress! It’s beautiful.

    Hana - Marmota    Mar 25, 01:07 PM    #
  13. I LOVE this! You look smashing! The bra retainer strip is a great idea- how come I couldn’t think of it on my own? Anyway, GREAT dress and Happy Birthday!

    Shannon    Mar 25, 01:12 PM    #
  14. Happy Birthday! You look lovely and I hope that you have a wonderful day.

    Nancy K    Mar 25, 01:30 PM    #
  15. Bravo! You did a stunning job, and you look fabulous in it! Congratulations and Happy Birthday!

    Grace    Mar 25, 01:42 PM    #
  16. Thanks for the detail shots. I had never seen (or heard of) the bra retainer. What a good idea.

    dawn    Mar 25, 01:57 PM    #
  17. HAPPY B-Day!!!

    Your dress turned out spectacular! I hope to get the chance of making this model too, I really love this style!

    Tany    Mar 25, 02:03 PM    #
  18. Happy Birthday. I absolutely love the dress! You look fabulous. Your instructions are very helpful. Thanks! have a great day!

    cindy    Mar 25, 02:36 PM    #
  19. Happy Birthday! Enjoy your party – cant see how you wont if you are wearing that fabulous dress.

    — Kim Hood    Mar 25, 02:45 PM    #
  20. I am so impressed you made this dress in silk charmeuse. I just did a simple A-line dress with cut-on sleeves in silk charmeuse so I know every little stitch takes time and patience. The green is a wonderful color on you. Have a fabulous birthday!!

    Christina    Mar 25, 03:18 PM    #
  21. A very happy birthday to you and the dress is divine!!! I love green!

    Elizabeth    Mar 25, 03:36 PM    #
  22. This turned out GORGEOUS!! You look really fabulous. That color is smashing on you! Happy Birthday, Brit-Girl (belated congratulations on that one too – well done!)!! I hope your day is loaded with happy things.

    Rachel S.    Mar 25, 04:15 PM    #
  23. Happy Birthday! Stunningly gorgeous dress that is fabulously well made. A real head turner.

    luckylibbet    Mar 25, 05:04 PM    #
  24. Happy birthday to you! You look slinkily gorgeous in your dress.

    — Lindsay T    Mar 25, 07:14 PM    #
  25. Happy Birthday! What a pretty dress!

    MelissaB    Mar 25, 08:03 PM    #
  26. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Great pics!! x

    juliab    Mar 25, 08:11 PM    #
  27. Great dress, Melissa! Happy 30th – have a great party on Saturday.

    Nadia    Mar 25, 08:23 PM    #
  28. Happy Birthday! What a pretty dress. You look very beautiful in it!

    yoshimi    Mar 25, 11:25 PM    #
  29. Happy Birthday! Enjoy it, and your beautiful new dress!

    gwen    Mar 25, 11:26 PM    #
  30. Happy Birthday!!!!

    stacy    Mar 26, 02:45 AM    #
  31. Beautiful! You have such vision. I didn’t like the dress as Burda made it up and though I was a little happier with your muslin I just couldn’t see it in the green silk…but you did! Happy Birthday. I’m praying for just the right donor for you and a speedy recovery.

    — JenL    Mar 26, 05:23 AM    #
  32. Happy Birthday Melissa! And what a stunning dress – the only pity is not seeing how it moves (which I’m sure is beautifully given the lovely material and the bias cut) in the still photos. And the bra retainer is such a cool idea… take care – x –

    Cassie    Mar 26, 02:20 PM    #
  33. Very nice dress! I followed your blog for about three weeks now. I came here when I started a search for Patrones on the internet. Have found and bought a few on the German E-bay and got really inspired by your blog to start sewing again… I did sew a lot for my kids when they were little – now I am going to make something for myself! I added some photo’s to the flickr Sewing Inspiration site. I had just started to collect photo’s of inspiring fashion.
    Have a great party!

    — Teddie    Mar 26, 08:09 PM    #
  34. I’m a little late, but congratulations on both your birthday and your smashing dress!

    Johanna Lu    Apr 1, 08:07 AM    #

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