You Can’t Go Wrong with a Bird Dress

Oh, I love, love, love this dress!


It’s my second Butterick 5748 and easily my favourite self-made item.  Ever.birdie-bodice-detail

I didn’t have any real plan for this dress – I knew I wanted to make another one, but was pretty open as far as fabric went.  Then I saw this dress by Dolly Clackett and kind of fell in love with the fabric.  Conveniently, she’d posted a link and then it was MINE!  I mean, look at those birdies!birdie-front-manne

As a side note, it was my first foray into  It’s awesome!  So, so cheap and pretty good stuff too.  The postage was about $20 to Australia, but it still worked out cheaper than what I’d expected to pay all up for the fabric.  So I’m happy!  Also, getting fabric in the mail is really enjoyable.

Anyway, the dress.  I fiddled around with the bust darts a bit and made the seam allowance a fraction bigger.  My last version was a teeny bit loose and I prefer my dresses quite fitted.

I spent ages making sure I wouldn’t chop any of the birds in half on the skirt, but ended up chopping up a total of 4 in the bodice – mainly where it attaches to the skirt.  So that was a little bit of a fail.  Live and learn!birdie-live-back

I probably won’t make anymore for now – it eats up 4m of fabric – unless I manage to attach a gathered skirt successfully.  4m makes for a fairly pricey dress!


The Dress that Started it All (Plus a little bit of Mad Men)

DSCF1598One day a year or two ago, I found Dangerfield, a brand of clothes (mainly dresses) in Myer that I absolutely loved.  It had a bit of a retro feel and the skirts were knee length!  No butt cheek flashes!  I immediately wanted to fill my wardrobe with these dresses, but sadly at $100+ a pop that wasn’t going to happen.

Anyway, I remember standing in the change room trying these dresses on and thinking about how basic the lines seemed to be.  “I could make that”, I thought.  At the time, I couldn’t.  Not in a million years.  But I went home and asked my mum to teach me to sew clothes.

And now, a year or two later, I have done it!

This is the pattern for Butterick 5748.  The bodice has darts rather than princess seams and the skirt is a circle rather than pleated, but it’s still pretty close to that first dress.

I was sort of planning this for Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men Dress Challenge.  My inspiration came from this photo (the dress on the far right).

This dress was a little bit of a process.  I usually sew in large blocks of time, but with uni in full swing that wasn’t going to happen.  I tried out the 15 minutes a day thing and was pleasantly surprised by how much I could achieve.

I made up a size 14 toile.  Way too big.  I made up a size 12 toile.  With the help of “The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting”, I played around with the dart placement.

And then I made it up.

I used this blue quilting cotton.  I know what they say about quilting cotton, but it was only $4/m and considering I needed 4 metres…  Also, it was a first attempt and I have no faith in my abilities, so didn’t want to spend to much.

I love it though!  The bust darts don’t sit very well – I need to lower the top ones, but for a first ever attempt at making fitting adjustments, I’m pretty happy.  The original store bought dress has similar issues, so at least I know I can live with them.


As for the Mad Men Challenge part of the dress –  It was a nice idea and all, but I don’t think I quite captured the look.

I’d need a petticoat for one, to get the boof-factor happening.  But also, it lacks the shiny, party look.  Also, it was technically a 60s repoduction pattern, not 50s.  So, yeah.  Mad Men fail.  

But I can’t quite feel disappointed.  This is a definite Laura dress win.  I made something I absolutely adore and will make again.  I pretty much made the dress I’ve always wanted.


I’ll wear this way more than if I’d gone for something fancier, just to fulfill a challenge.

The plan is to play around with my muslin some more and then make it again – this time in a lovely Michael Miller cotton I got from  It doesn’t seem to be on their website, but I bought it after seeing this gorgeous Elisalex dress from Dolly Clackett.  I don’t usually completely stalk other peoples makes, but really, this wasn’t a choice.  It had to be done.

circle(On a side note, I was pleasantly surprised by how affordable was – the fabric per metre, plus $15 postage still worked out to about what I’d expected to pay before postage.  So very happy!  I probably didn’t need to add all that extra fabric to get my money’s worth on the postage.  Somewhere in my head there’s a little voice that thinks buying more makes the postage better value.  Oops…)



The Maths:

Thread – stash

Fabric – $4/m x 4m = $16

1 pack black bias tape (because who lines a practice run?) – $2.50

Pattern – Probably about $10.  I only buy Spotlight patterns on sale.

Not bad for $28.50