Hot! The “Birthday with Degas” Dress


The Facts

Fabric:  3.8 yards linen/cotton, $9.80 from Hancock
Pattern:  Vogue 2960
Year:  1954 (2007, reissue)
Notions:  Nine self-fabric covered buttons, $5.19 from Hancock; 1 yd grosgrain ribbon, $1.20 (for 16 yds) from Hobby Lobby, two hooks-and-eyes from stash
Time to complete:  ~20 hours
First worn:  Saturday, March 10, for a belated birthday outing

Wear again?  Absolutely!
Total cost:  ~$22

This challenge stumped me for quite a while.  It requires one to be creative, which I am not.  Sure, I love art but, I’m traditional (read: boring) and I generally gravitate to classic, realistic paintings. So, short of making a period costume copied directly from something hanging in the MET, I couldn’t think of what to do.

Then, I remembered viewing the Degas exhibit at the MET the last time we visited New York.  I’ve loved ballet since my first class way back in ’92 so, of course, I’m drawn to Degas’ ballerina paintings and sculptures (though, yes, I do consider them out of my general art zone).  After a quick Google, I knew which aspects I wanted to recreate.

I wanted a dress, not a costume – though, sometimes, I do miss my tutus! – so, I opted to find a pattern with similar lines: a wide neckline, a low back, and it was the perfect excuse to make my first full skirt!  Vogue’s reissue of a 1954 design fit perfectly.  I love the shape of the front and back necklines and it even had buttons down the front like this sculpture by Degas.

The dress is so graceful and so feminine, I just wanted to play in it all day! So, I decided I would wear it for my birthday (Thursdaymaking my post a few days late) and would dance and gallivant about downtown.  There is even an outdoor stage that I planned to utilize to take photos en pointe to capture a bit of Degas-ness.  Then, after two weeks of warm weather and sunshine, Mother Nature decided to rain on my parade.  Seriously.  It was pouring and storming all day!  So, I discovered that a local museum had a small collection of Degas on display and thought that would be the next best thing.  However, when we got there, we couldn’t find them and the docents had never heard of Degas (or Monet for that matter!).

I finally got to wear my birthday dress on Saturday to do my fair share of twirling in a park before heading off to dinner.  The outing may not have gone as planned but, on the up side, I love the dress just as much as I thought I would!




Jennifer took up sewing in 2008 as a new hobby after a move. Now, with endless ideas running through her head, she's making an effort to fill hers and her fiance's closets with custom clothing.


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  1. This is so pretty again. It’s not the first time that one of your dresses has caught my eye. You can be really proud of yourself and I wouldn’t say at all that you’re not creative. Just look at all the pretty clothes you sew week after week!
    I love the color and the style and the artist you chose (Degas is great indeed!)
    I may actually have to buy this pattern now. ;)

  2. Love this. I’ve had this pattern in my stash for ages. I may have to give the pattern a whirl.

  3. Quite lovely. And, happy belated birthday.

  4. That’s gorgeous. A great way to reinterpret a classic painting. I particularly love the choice of colour. Happy birthday!

    • Thank you!! I’m so glad you like me interpretation! I searched long and hard, determined to find this color. I think it worked out well too.

  5. Degas is a great choice. Great job!

  6. Love your photos and that is my favorite room at the met. I really love the dancers and the colors in which they are drawn. What a great choice, that color is stellar on you! I’m green with envy.

  7. So pretty, Jennifer! I especially like the style and color that you chose. You photos are especially nice. Keep up the good work!

  8. Gorgeous! You have inspired me to dig out this pattern and have another go. Absolutely love everything about it.

  9. Beautiful dress, and such a lovely colour fabric. Stunning.

  10. So beautiful! You match the painting perfectly.

  11. Thank you!! I’m so glad you think I did the painting justice.

  12. This is my favorite post I adore what you did with this theme. Love Degas and the fact you worked out a dress along those lines. You look just beautiful in this.

  13. Very pretty. Love your self-covered buttons.

  14. I have this pattern and seeing your version makes me want to do it right now. Well, I’ll wait a little bit but i hope mine will turn out as beautiful as yours.

  15. That dress is SO sweet and, in an innocent way, drop-dead-sexy. And I love the color – red, but not too red.