Hot! The “With or without Bow” Birthday Dress | Adey Lim

Bow or Not Birthday Dress1

SimplicityThe Facts

Fabric: 2 yards Purple Poly Poplin fabric from $11, 0.5 yards black & white fabric $7 and orange lining from stash. 
Pattern: Simplicity 1291
Year: c. 1944
Notions: Invisible zipper
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: December 2011
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$18

It's my birthday end of this week and I sewed myself a wrapped bow dress to wear for my birthday date with hubby.  The pattern is Simplicity 1291 with a wartime 1940s silhouette. The dress bodice is seamed at center front and shaped with waistline  and bust darts; the skirt is also seamed down the center front and back and accented by waist tie which extend from the right centre front and left back and fasten at the left side. I chose to sew style 1 which has a tapering neckline set off by a bow and cap sleeves. 

Bow or Not Dress2

I love wearing purple and chose to use a solid color for the dress with black/ white contrast fabric for the bow and waist tie facings. There was no tie facings in the original pattern but something I wanted to add as it enhances the finishing of the garment. 

Bow or Not Birthday Dress
The Bow which is held together by a ribbon in the centre is reversible. One side is in solid purple and the other black/ white fabric. I didn't sew the bow onto the dress, however, prefering to have the option of wearing the dress without it. The bow is put on with a safety pin, like a brooch and off course it can also be wore on another garment.

Bow or Not Birthday Dress CUBowI found the waist ties to be pretty versatile too. With the bow on, I chose to tie it with the purple side out. But, without the bow, the dress looks more simple and I liked seeing the black/white contrast fabric at the waist taking centrestage.
Bow or Not Dress 5

 I find that the dress looks simplier and more elegant this way. What about you, which way of wearing it do you prefer? 

Bow or Not Dress 6Oh and I nearly forgot to mention that I didn't hem the skirt as I normally would. Instead I sewed the right side of the skirt to the right side of the lining together before turning it out.  

Bow or Not Birthday Dress CU lining

You won't see the orange contrast of the lining unless I sit down. Kinda makes it a fun dress to wear. 
Bow or Not Dress 7


Adey Sew Convert

A former kids' television channel manager turned stay home mum from Singapore, I hated sewing since I attended my first home economic class at the age of 14. In 2007, something miraculous happened when God blessed me with a second pregnancy. I discovered that I was expecting a baby girl. That changed everything. First I went crazy shopping for handmade clothes for her on etsy. Then I decided I needed to make something for her on my own. I was a month from my due date when I took an intensive 8-hour sewing class. In Dec 2008, I made a dress for my princess before she was born and have not stopped sewing since.


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  1. ~SQUEAL~ I love this dress SO MUCH, and would wear it like crazy!!! I like the bow option best, but with or without it, the dress is pure awesomeness! Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADEY! =D

  2. What a wonderful birthday dress!! I tend to go simple, so I like just the waist bow… But it’s so fun with both!!
    Happy Birthday to you, Adey!!!

  3. What a stunning dress, Adey! I love solid purple paired with the black and white contrast, too. The orange lining is such a fun little addition, too!
    I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

  4. Oops! Iforgot to mention that I love the peek-a-boo orange!!

  5. My god this is stunning! Everyone is totally bringing their A Game this week! I prefer the bow, because I’m a sucker for bows, but it looks amazing both ways! And the fit is stellar. I love this shade of purple, and it just looks divine on you.
    Happy Birthday! I hope you have a lovely day.

  6. I like the dress with just the waist ties, but the bodice bow does look very dramatic. The lining in orange is a nice touch. Happy birthday.

  7. Without the bow, but with the waist bow tied that other way is sooo cute. Love the orange lining!

  8. I love it either way, depending on your mood…it’s so lovely and the addition of orange=fun!
    Have a very Happy Birthday!

  9. With the bow for the office, without for more formal use. LOVE IT!

  10. Very cute! Personally, I prefer it with the bow

  11. Very cute, both ways! But I think I like it with the bow on best.

  12. I am in love with this dress! Amazing! I’d probably wear it with the bow but I love that it’s optionality gives this dress so much versatility. You’ve had so many great looks this year but this is probably my favorite to date.

  13. FABULOUS dress! I like it both ways–it’s great that you have two dresses for one :) And have a fabulous birthday, my dear!!!

  14. You are beautiful in this dress!

  15. What’s not to love? All of my favourite colours in one gorgeous dress. Happy Earthday!

  16. WOW…I am in love with this!!! I love everything about it!

  17. I really like the dress and the colors you chose for the facing and the bow. I prefer the look without the bow at the neck. It seems too heavy along with the wide belt tie detail. Really a great piece!

  18. I think it better without the neck bow – You can see the clean lines of the dress more clearly. Many Happy Returns of the Day to you. (The orange lining simply popped too – fantastic!)

  19. I love all of the details on this dress! you have done a wonderful job. Happy Birthday!

  20. I like all the contrast!

  21. this dress looks posh! it’s a lovely pattern. i like it worn both ways. the pop of orange it cool. :)

  22. Adey, you are one talented lady, I like the dress without the bow it looks very smart and fabulously chic. The orange lining??…winner.

  23. This is just too gorgeous! I love all the details you’ve included especially the lining! WOW!
    Happy Birthday and wishing you a wonderful week! xoxo

  24. I lurv this. I wish I could find this pattern!

  25. YOU LOOK LIKE A BIRTHDAY PRIZE! and i love the orange, it’s like the tissue in the box :)

  26. I am wildly in love with that dress! I’ll be keeping my eyes permanently peeled for that pattern…!

  27. Love the surprise hint of orange, and the purple looks fantastic on you!