1950s | Burlesque / Pinup | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

Birthday Suit 2011

June 8, 2012

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.



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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