The “Bird” Dress

Forgive me.  This has been such a busy week and I just don’t want to take apart an old photo album tonight to scan a picture.  This dress is very loosely based on a photo I found of my Grandfather in the scrapbook that my mom made me years ago.  He is wearing a brown shirt holding a bird that I thought was his pet parakeet Maxwell but was actually some other bird that he had likely rescued from some fate or another.  He died of lung cancer when I was in 3rd grade so most of my memories of him are hazy at best but the photo made me smile and it reminded me of this funny bird fabric that I bought this winter.

The dress is Simplicity 3503 view F with short sleeves instead of long.  I wanted to make it a maxi dress but once I started really working with the fabric I realized it was way to thin for that unless I wanted to wear it with a slip all summer.  Its been so hot here lately there is no way I was going to wear it with a slip so I cut the skirt short and used the extra to make an extra layer.  I put the shorter layer on the outside to mimic some of the skirts I’ve seen in the Garnet hill catalog lately.  This is one of pattern-review’s best patterns of 2009 so its no shock that its a great pattern.  It is though and I love the dress.  I added about an inch to the bottom of the bodice since most reviewers said it ran short.  I also reduced the seam allowances on the top and bottom of the waistband to 1/4in to add a little more length.

Emily really wanted to be in the pictures with me this week.  She was wearing a new dress as well and wanted to do everything that I did.

The Facts

Fabric:  3 yards of bird fabric plus a bit of navy cotton lycra  I used a coupon and got the main fabric for about $9.00 total.  The navy is leftover from another project.

Pattern:  Simplicity 3503

Year: 2009

Notions: navy thread  It called for interfacing but I skipped it and like the results in this case.

Time to complete: Maybe 4 hours.  It was pretty fast.

First worn: All day Thursday.  One of my friends thought it was so great she wanted me to make her one.     She better have been kidding though.

Wear again? and again and again and again

Total    price:  $9.00 the rest was leftover from other projects.  I made a gold dress from the pattern last year.



Stephanie mother tried to teach her how to sew growing up but she didn't really get serious about it until her 4 year old daughter was born and she wanted to put her in fancy smocked dresses. Since then, she has learned to smock and sew. Her blog and screen name come from the initials of her two children Elijah who is 8 and Emily who is 4.


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  1. Aww so sweet! I like the solid color neckline and waist. Very cute.

  2. Love it …so pretty

  3. I really like the layered skirt that you came up with. That is a clever way to use fabric that is on the thin side. Wonderful that your daughter wants to participate in your photos. She’ll be asking you to take her to the fabric store before you know it. Enjoy your mother’s day.

    • She likes to pick things out at the fabric store the only problem is she doesn’t understand that making things takes time. I’m often asked to make detailed dresses “tonight while I sleep”. I hope it last for a while still though.

  4. What a lovely dress – it looks so practical and fun to wear. I’d love to see a close up of the bird fabric. I have a serious weakness for bird patterned fabric!

  5. Love the little detail you added in the skirt! I also really like the gold one-really like the gold one-a lot. It’s sweet that your daughter wanted to be in the pictures. My kids hate having to stop somewhere so I can take the pictures! torturing them is part of my job!

  6. What pretty fabric, and I love what you did with it.

  7. Hi Stephanie, could call on the lining. It makes it a lot cooler to wear in the hot summer days. Love the blue trim, adds a nice second color punch. Your daughter is adorable, happy mothers day.