Hot! The “Practically Imperfect” Ensemble

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The Facts

Fabric: Black suiting, white cotton, $.50
Pattern: Butterick 8126 $1
Year: c. 1958
Notions: one zipper
Time to complete: 6 1/2 hours
First worn: October 2011
Wear again? Yes, with some pressing.

Total Cost: ~$1.99

This week’s “musicals” theme just happened to coincide with another musical theme in my life: my daughter’s Mary Poppins-themed 4th birthday party!

After seeing Mary Poppins on Broadway while we in New York, I knew that this had to be the theme of the party. Penelope LOVED the show so much and we’ve been listening to the Australian soundtrack of Mary Poppins on heavy rotation since we returned.

If you just started reading The Sew Weekly this year, here’s something you should know about me: I’m kind of insane when it comes to my daughter’s birthday parties. Last year’s party theme was The Sound of Music, the year before It’s a Small World. Every year, I say I’m not going to go DIY-insane, but I just can’t resist making the parties as memorable as possible. (I’ll be posting about the party itself later).

I had a bunch of tasks this week that needed to be finished before I’d let myself start/work on my dress for this week.

  • Decorate the house
  • Make all the favors
  • Sew Penelope’s Mary Poppins Dress
  • Make kites for all the kids to decorate

It wasn’t until 8:00pm, the night before the party, that I was able to figure out just what I was going to sew this week. I knew I wanted to make a “modern,” where modern means a 1950s take on Mary Poppin’s black/navy suit. Thankfully, I had all the fabric I’d need in my stash (the black fabric came from the Novato estate sale from a couple weeks ago) and a couple of patterns that would work. I ended up picking Butterick 8126 because it seemed the easiest and because it required less than 2 yards of fabric.

I have to admit that the construction on the outfit (especially the jacket) is far sloppier than I would be happy with normally. My mom was already sleeping downstairs where I keep my iron, so all darts and seems were left unpressed. And you can only imagine the big  F-it I said when it came to the interfacing. I desperately wanted this outfit to be finished for Penelope’s birthday party, so sloppy just had to do.

The jacket is actually from another pattern — a McCall’s one — that I packed up in a box after finishing the outfit. So you all will have to be able to live without knowing the exact pattern number.

And, of couse the hat. I bought this darling one for $15 at the GBACG Costumers Bazaar back in August. Love. This. Hat.

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More importantly, here’s a look at Penelope and her Mary Poppins dress. This is actually her second Poppins dress, having already grown out of the one I made for her back in February of last year. I used the same pattern as the original one with the same modifications.

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Happy Birthday, Pen!

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. I love both your dresses and Penelope is one beautiful little girl!

  2. that is a happy- and beautiful-looking birthday girl you have there, mena! both outfits are fabulous.

  3. This outfit is AMAZING! I love doing the white on the top–great idea! AND A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PEN! Do I spy decorated mini-crate boxes on the mantel?…the decorations look stunning! I can’t wait to see the post!!

  4. Your outfit, Penelope in her party dress, the themed party – all so charming!

  5. Awww, happy birthday to your little girl!!! Both outfits look faaaabulous =)

  6. margueritedesigns

    Great fun – and I wouldn’t have thought sloppy at all apart from you saying it!

  7. What a great dress for your daughter! I love your dress, too!!

  8. House of pinheiro

    Amazing party and your daughter face tells it all.

  9. That dress is fantastic – wait, I mean both of them! Your daughter looks adorable and for being a ‘thrown together in one night’ dress, yours looks incredible! Love that you did Mary Poppins and all of the little details you can see in the room.

  10. First off, happy birthday Penelope!!!!
    Secondly, as soon as I saw your picture I thought of Mary Poppins even before seeing the theme for the week. Well done!
    I can’t WAIT to see Penelope’s birthday. And please oh please oh please, can I repost about it on

  11. Penolope is adorable…love her dress. Know she is excited about the Mary Poppins bday party.. Happy Birthday Penolope..
    Your dress looks good too.

  12. Wait a sec–is that a London Victorian skyline in the background.
    Oh, I am waiting with baited breath until you post about that party!

  13. How wonderful! She’s so lucky to have you!!

  14. Totally rad! Please post more pics of the party and all of the party favors- the last two were so inspiring! :)

  15. Oh my goodness–how adorable are the both of you?! I just love that you made her a Mary Poppins dress and then got into the theme yourself.
    I have to say, I love reading about the parties you’ve done for your daughter. I honestly cannot wait for the day my husband I have kids and I can do some fantastic parties. hehe!

  16. Oh golly! whats a wonderful birthday party, and one I so wish I could gatecrash! I recently saw Mary Poppins in Sydney, and am currently on a poppins kick at the moment, it was amazing. I love your outfit, like you said; a perfect modern take on it, and is set off “practically perfectly” with your darling hat. Pen looks utterly adorable too! what a lucky little girl!

  17. I love the dress looking like two pieces, and you are one of the prettiest Mary Poppins I’ve seen for a while! AND, I saw the Australian version earlier this year in Melbs!
    What a great theme for Penelope! Happy 4th Birthday!

  18. Happy Birthday Penny, does that mean school next year – woo hoo!
    Great outfits Mena, love the accessories, and if I lived near you I would steal that hat!

  19. Note to self: do NOT open this blog when 5 yr old daughter is around. She wants you to adopt her and make lovely things for her!! You both look absolutely beautiful.

  20. Great dress Mena and Happy Birthday to your gorgeous daughter.

  21. Oh my goodness, you both look gorgeous! I love that you used the white on the top and that you went all out on the Mary Poppins theme. One of my all time favourite movies :)
    Happy birthday to Pen!

  22. Your daughter is SO lucky to have such an awesome DIY-er for a mom! Both outfits are great.

  23. She’s adorable! What a great party theme.

  24. You have the best birthday parties ever – what a lucky little one!! Love all the details on both the party and the ensemble – go Mena!

  25. So so precious. I love the idea of you dressing up too for your little ones party! She must be so proud to have yo for a mama!

  26. Oh my goodness, she looks adorable! You look fantastic – like a sexy Mary Poppins (but not in that creepy “Sexy ______” cheap Halloween Costume way). I can’t wait to read the party details!

  27. Oh my goodness! I think this is my favorite dress you’ve made so far, both for you and your darling little girl!! They are beautiful, and your daughter is so cute!

  28. A. DOR. ABLE. Both of you.

  29. Soooo great and inspirational for my own daughter’s upcoming birthday… but it’s your HAT that is flooring me! LOVE IT!!!! And you wear it perfectly! It’s just divine.

  30. ACK. magazine birthday party complete with outfits! pen’s crossed legs are killing me, she learned posing from her mama :))

  31. I love your dress, it is beautiful, and makes your waist look like the teeniest tiniest little thing I have ever seen!
    Your daughters dress is adorable, as are your decorations, she looks very happy with your efforts too!