Birthday dress

Hi, hello, blog readers, it’s been too long! I was away from my sewing machine for most of October/November, then upon my return immediately started working on the dress I’m sharing today. However, because it was specifically to wear for my birthday in early December, I wanted to keep it a surprise until the actual day! But ta-da, here it is: one of the most luxurious and slinky and sexy and high femme garments I’ve ever made.

I picked up three yards of this silk charmeuse on mega sale at SR Harris, with this dress idea in mind. I’d long been wanting to make a slip dress using the Colette Cinnamon, a bias-cut slip with a lovely gathered bust and angled midriff. I’d made it as a slip once before and adore the way it fits my body.

I was also smitten with the gorgeous gowns from Evgenia lingerie, which feature deep, draped cowl necklines. Adding that detail also seemed like it would make the dress feel slightly more outerwear than loungewear.

To do so, I amended the bodice piece. First, I slashed and spread from the “shoulder” to the center front using curved lines. The top piece I moved until the neckline formed a right angle with the center front. Then, I trued up the center front again and mirrored the piece.

Here, I’ve overlaid the original pattern piece (outlined in blue) on top of my new pattern piece. You can see that the underarm seam has curved, the “shoulder” (that flat section across the top, which is where the straps attach) has merged with the neckline, and the neckline extends straight across.

All pieces are cut on the bias. For the bodice, I also doubled it, mirrored on the long, straight neckline, so that it would essentially become a self-lined piece. This means that I didn’t have to hem the neckline and allows it to drape dramatically without revealing the inside.

At the same time, I also lined the underbust piece and the back bodice. This provided a little more support and made the dress feel, again, more like a dress than a slip.

You might be able to tell that the dress construction is a little unusual. Rather than stitching with the right sides together, then folding the pieces open, the bodice, midriff, and front skirt are stitched together by layering them and using a zig-zag top stitch. In order to line the midriff, I cut two identical pieces and sandwiched the bodice and skirt in between them. It took hand basting and patience in order to keep everything in order, but it was worth it!

The Cinnamon pattern calls for narrow bias binding around the top edge, but my first go was a little wibbly. So instead, I unpicked it, turned the bias tape to the inside, and hand stitched. Because the whole bodice is lined, it’s invisible from the outside!

Finally, because I was taking my time, I did a three-step baby hem, which looks lovely and delicate.

Okay, enough technical details! I made this dress because I love taking reasons to celebrate, to reflect on our connections to one another, and, let’s be honest, to have a little attention lavished on me. For the first time, Morgan and I were able to be together for my birthday, and as my gift they found us a lovely hotel (where the fireplace pictures were taken!), planned out lots of activities, and treated me to multiple lush and lovely dinners.

I got to wear my dress in a restaurant that used to be a fire department headquarters and was filled with sparkling globe lights, to be beautiful and sparkly and flirty and loved, and to bask in the pleasure of good food and better company. To many, many more such celebrations.

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