Birthday Suit 2011

Over the last seven years Vancouver (Canada) has been host to the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival the weekend of my birthday.  How serendipitous for me!  Last year I decided to celebrate my burlesque birthday in style.  Between the costumes and the outfits the audience members were wearing, I think I might have hyperventilated with excitement.  Gorgeous!  Amazing!  Sparkly!

I’m not entirely sure, but I THINK I purchased Butterick 5552 from eBay.  I love the idea of the wiggle dress with an optional overskirt and decided it was the look I wanted for such a fun event.

1950s wiggle dress with over skirt

The original plan was to make the wiggle dress in black and the overskirt in black sparkle tulle, but I realized that was going to be just a little too safe and went out on a limb.  Magenta wiggle dress with a teal sparkle tulle overskirt.  There’s no blending in with that colour palette.

From l. to r.: Teal duppioni, magenta faux duppioni and teal sparkle tulle.

I was a little concerned with constructing this gown due to the fact that there is a “peek-a-boo” strip down the front that is sewn last.  (Think double lapped zipper with a strip of fabric as the zipper.)  Everything needs to line up or it will just look bad!  I used a scrap of teal duppioni silk and teal thread for top-stitching.  I took my time and it paid off – it came together perfectly the first time. Yay me!

The "peek-a-boo" detail down the front of the dress.

I made a slight alteration on the overskirt.  I didn’t have enough teal silk to do the long ties so I decided to make a simple waistband and use a beautiful crystal pin made by my favourite local jewellery designer as the closure.

Teal top-stitching and Swarovski pin.

Here is the final result on my Judy:

Judy showing off the finished dress.

Here is the complete look inside the gorgeous Vogue theatre (built in 1941 in the Art Deco style):

A little Burlesque sass!

This year I cheated because I was sick and wore this black and red rockabilly wiggle dress BUT I did make my girlfriend’s dress! (Butterick reproduction 6173):

A little pin-up posing before the show.



• Meet the Author • girliefrank

I live in beautiful Vancouver, BC (Canada) and have been sewing for almost 30 years (eek!) My grandmother put my first "real" sewing project in my hands when I was about 8 years old - a counted cross stitch - to ensure my hand sewing was up to par before I was allowed to use a machine. I have recently "retired" and while learning to be a haus frau for my almost vegan hubby and my four-legged Parson Terrier son, I have had a chance to get back to sewing! I hope to be able to share some of my work with you on a fairly regular basis!

10 comments… add one

  • Wow. You did a beautiful job with this dress! I love the color combo and the improvised closure to the overskirt. It seems like this could be done with any wiggle skirt fairly easily, but your pattern is a very nice score.

  • Thanks Jeanne. I believe this was one of the first vintage patterns I ever owned and it was in my stash for YEARS before I decided to make it. I never thought I would make it, mostly because I bought it for the picture.

  • This is so cute! I’m totally in love with the overskirt. Nice work. 🙂

    • Thanks Sue! I love the overskirt – I kept playing with it all night!

  • This dress is just stunning! Your fabric choice and construction are fantastic and you look amazing in it!

    • Thanks so much Anna.

  • Wonderful dress and the colour palette is really fabulous!

    • Thanks Sarah!

  • Oh how beautiful!! I love it!

    • Thanks Katrina. Love your site!


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