Hot! The “99 Luftballoons” Dress | Debi Fry


The Facts

Fabric: 2.5 metres of 100% cotton fabric, £13
Pattern: Simplicity 2180
Year: c. 2011
Notions: zipper £1.50, elastic £1, fabric paint: £4
Time to complete: Dress: 13 hours; painting: 7 hours (total: 20 hours)
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Resounding YES!

Total Cost: ~£20

99 Luftballoons…one of my absolute favourite songs and the inspiration for this week's challenge!  I actually used a modern pattern…gasp! I've been in love with Simplicity 2180 and was really in love with it when it went on sale (giggle) at one of the very rare UK pattern sales!

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I really love the back design of this dress!  So cute! My idea was to have 'luftballoons' floating up the dress and this challenge was perfect for creating that vision!

Simplicity 2180 was fairly easy to put together, though it did take some time.  I ended up not putting in the pockets but I followed all  the other directions to a T!  The directions were fairly clear except for the waistband facing–I found it a really bizarre way to put the dress together and it didn't become immediately clear until about 9 steps later.  At that point I had the 'aha' moment and figured out the reason they were having me do things a certain way.  Sometimes I wish they put little notes in the directions like the following…"I know this won't make sense…but trust me later when you attach the skirt to the bodice, having this bit the way it is will make it look all nice and pretty inside…."  That's all I really need.  Otherwise, my inclination to skip steps increases!! 

The nuts and bolts of the dress is that it is one bodice front piece with two darts and two bodice back pieces with an attached bow tie.  Their method of constructing the bow tie is fabulous and worked really well.  The bodice is attached to the skirt via a waist yoke (with aforementioned tricky waist yoke).  Normally there would be pockets in the side seams but I was too impatient to put those in (seriously–there were 35 steps to constructing the dress and nearly 10 of them were for the pockets!!).

I used their top recommended fabric "laundered cotton".  I was quite happy to find this really nice quality fabric at my local store.  I figured this type of fabric would be easier to apply fabric paint to as well!!

Here's what the dress looked like before the 'balloons':

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David was really the creative genius behind the 'balloons'.  He drafted out a sketch of the dress based on my vision and created a template balloon:

Many hours later…the balloons were taking flight on the dress:

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I love everything about this dress! The bodice fits on the edge of the shoulders (see the pattern above) and it's a bit odd to get used to.  I keep pulling them in..giggle!  But overall, a great pattern and I love that David and I were able to work on another project together! YAY!

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Debi from My Happy Sewing Place

Debi Fry LOVES vintage patterns. She started sewing in 2009 and has been going since. In 2011, she participated in the Sew Weekly challenge and looks forward to the new challenges that lie in store!


Comments are closed.

  1. I love the back.
    Brings back some serious memories. I had a top my mum made for me that had a back that shape but it was buttoned and had matching pants circa 1985 a little after the song in Mint Green with big buttons.
    I loved that outfit.
    The balloons are inspired – oh and thanks for the earworm.

  2. I love the balloons floating up the dress! It turned out so pretty and whimsical. Congratulations on a brilliantly executed idea! :)

  3. I hippety hoppety LOVE this dress, Debi!!! Pink cotton, red balloons….what’s not to love? Well done, you two!

  4. Completely charming! It hadn’t occured to me until this week to embellish a garment by painting on it. Definitely something to keep in mind for just the right project. My daughter might like this idea. She hasn’t fallen in love with sewing yet, but I’m still working on her!

  5. Oh so gorgeous! Now the question is are there 99 red balloons on your dress?!? That song is going to stick in my head all day now!

  6. This is SO cute! Love the balloons, love the back of that dress and I am again convinced that pink is your color!

  7. Oh so beautiful, the back is great! Love your hair like that too Debi!

  8. Fantastically creative and beautiful. Wonderful achievement.

  9. What a gorgeous dress! I love the way the balloons float up the skirt one way and back across the bodice the other. And it’s a great song too!

  10. The balloons are such a cute idea! I love the pink and red combo, too.

  11. It’s lovely, great painting.

  12. I love the color of the dress, and your balloons are so happy. My two year old saw them and got really excited.

  13. I love the handpainted look of the balloons! I mean, obviously they are handpainted, but you know what I mean :) It’s very artsy-pretty. Also, I totally skipped right over this pattern, but it is darling! If anything you ladies are keeping the pattern companies in business!

  14. This si sucha uniqe and beautiful dress. I love it, love it, love it!

  15. I agree. That’s an awesome song, and I share your desire for reassuring notes on patterns as I have often had similar aha moments. And also the “oh, crap” moments that follow. ;)

  16. I love LOVE the balloons. Such a great idea, and so well executed. I love it.

  17. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

  18. Oh. My. GOD. I am going to put you in my pocket because you are just too fabulous for words!!! This dress is FANTASTIC!!! Love love love the balloons. LOVE.

  19. Debi,
    wow…how pretty..Love all the baloons.. Looks like you just need to head off to the park ..for some fun.. Love it.Looks great on you.

  20. That pattern made it into my “consideration” pile a few times during pattern sales this summer, and I’m kicking myself for not picking it up now! ;) (Shall have to remedy that next time they’re on sale.) Your dress is so darling; I just love the color and the hand painted embellishment–genius! :)
    Oh, and total geek moment: but I love that song. I even have it on vinyl! ;)

  21. I love the trail of balloons around the dress, how sweet! Your design assistant did such a nice job with the template! And holding the balloons in this photo shoot is such a great touch.
    All you ladies have done an amazing job this week!

  22. Love the balloons! Another excellent creation. And I totally understand what you’re saying about the instructions for the waistband facing on this dress… I was in the same pickle when I did it for the ‘inspiration’ challenge a few weeks back. I couldn’t figure out why it was having me do it until the end.

  23. What a beautiful, whimsical dress. I love it!

  24. What a fun dress! If it were mine, it would be one of those pieces that put a smile on my face every time I wore it. This challenge has been great for bringing out true creativity.

  25. Absolutely adorable. Such a happy dress!

  26. I love the choice of balloons on this dress Debi! It really suits that bow back! My little girl has an obsession with balloons, so I showed her your pictures. She said.. ‘oh no!… balloons… fly away!’ (I think it brought back memories of a recent wedding where all the guests let go red balloons.. she didn’t handle that very well!)… your painting is pretty realistic.. lol.

  27. Adorable. Reminds me of that French movie The Red Balloon. I might have to look up this pattern…the back is fantastic!

  28. This is an AMAZING dress!

  29. Great job Debbie, and perfectly named too.

  30. Wow, a modern pattern!! This dress is just beautiful, I love it even more knowing that you and David worked on it together. What a special thing to be able to share and then continue to walk around in! Beautiful work, you look stunning.