Ah, it’s finally spring in the northern hemisphere, at least officially that is. It’s the time for one of my favorite parts to spring besides the newly awakened flowers – the bird activity! The snow birds are leaving town and both our ‘normal’ varieties of avian creatures as well as unusual visitors will be showing up through this next month. Then the sweet but noisy baby birds will be coming! I am one who admittedly has a “life list” of species I’ve spotted, and although birding is no longer as serious of a deal that it was when I was a teen, I now have a dress for that.
Novelty prints are not really my “thing” but this bird one is winning me over. It is such a bright and cheerful print of what is probably fantasy songbirds, but they remind me of all my vivid-colored, real-life favorites – the kestrel, the redstart, orioles, warblers, or my ‘yet-to-be-seen spotter’s life goal’ the painted bunting. However, this post’s title is appropriate in more than one sense! With its swishy, full, mullet hemline and peek-a-boo flashes of skin, my dress is fully lined in a hot pink cotton for both unexpected fun in my fashion and to have a non-poly comfort against my skin. I’m carrying a celebration of cheerfulness with me when I wear this dress!
The fact that this dress has received top rating from my 6 year old is proof of the happiness this dress exudes. He always laughs, smiles, and is like glue to me just to study the print – if I ever want to make his (and my) day better, I wear this. Want proof? My son made me a necklace that matches. It was totally a surprise project of his. Someone brought a beading kit to keep the kids busy after church one Sunday and he was busy making something for me in all the colors, but extra beads in especially the ones I love – turquoise, purple, and pink! Together with earrings from my Grandma which remind me of baby robin eggs, this is a combo that is spring and summer embodied for me.
FABRIC: The bird print is a buff finish polyester satin while the solid bright pink lining is a poly and cotton blend broadcloth
PATTERN: Burda Style “Cut Out Dress” pattern #116B from August 2014
NOTIONS: All I needed was thread!
TIME TO COMPLETE: This was a quickie compared to how it looks a bit complex – 6 to 7 hours and finished on April 19, 2017
TOTAL COST: I didn’t really wait for a sale to buy this – it was too cute to wait and see if there was going to be any left! However, I did buy it years back at the (now defunct) Hancock Fabrics so sorry if you want some, too! It was about $7 for each of the 3 yards…and the broadcloth was a few dollars a yard too. Thus – my total is about $20.
Everything matched up well for this pattern and the instructions were decent (not as great as sometimes). However I did go up in size and I’m glad I did. The bust and shoulders seem to run small in my opinion, but then again I did not want a tight fit for a breezy balmy weather dress made out of a non-stretch woven material. I also brought the shape of the neckline in just a tad – straightening out the dip of the scoop in front and bringing in the sides so as to cover my brassiere straps better. The neckline now appears to be more of a wide boatneck, but it is still easy to slip over the head as well as complimentary open around the neck, just now compatible with normal lingerie. Finally, I slightly lengthened the front half of the hem line to the skirt. All these changes I am so glad I had done at the cutting stage. I do not think I would like my dress as much as I do if I hadn’t have done such adjustments.
I do love how this dress is a balance of simple and complex depending on how you look at it. The pattern pieces were rather interesting, too. From the front it has clean lines – straight, shorter skirt and a basic bodice with cut-on kimono cap sleeves and only a flashing hint of the ‘party in the back’. From the back, the skirt has a full sweep – like a lovely cape – in midi length and the bodice is separated from the waistline for some skin baring in an uncommon spot.
The cut out ‘window’ at the back waistline more than just a feature, though – is adjustable with a drawstring going through the casing made around the oval opening so you can customize your coverage to your liking. I love when personal preference is considered in fashion! This design also makes this dress a pull-on which needs no zipper! You loosen up the gathers to pop it on, then pull the drawcord ends (one long 1/4 strip made of the dress’ fabric) to close the back as you prefer. The back opening as you see it on me is almost as small as it will go, so if you like this design, too, keep that in mind. The half waistband that is in the front of the dress merely basic and comfy elastic kept in a casing made of the seam allowance.
Such a design detail of an open back above the waistline can be seen on the sporty dresses and versatile playsuits of the vintage world of fashion. I notice similar styling from the 1940s to the 1970s. In the case of this Burda dress, the back opening sort of makes it look like the bodice is only connected at the front and side waistline.
In the cases of vintage styles which are similar the bodice and bottoms can be actually disconnected for completely versatile set! There is a modern (readily available) New Look sewing pattern which offers the same cute and ingenious styling as the 40’s and 50’s counterparts I showed as just a few examples. However, none of them include a high-low hemline, as well.
If you’ve been following my site for awhile you may have noticed I do enjoy a high-low hem. This style of skirt does show up here and there in my projects because I like it only in small doses. This particular variety of a mullet hem is my favorite yet. It has a fantastic sweep due to the back opening gathers – just the back half of the skirt was such a large pattern piece it practically was one yard in itself. The lining underside the skirt really makes the most out of the hem shape because if you’re gonna see the ‘wrong side’ make it worth noticing.
Full body lining is the absolute best thing for this dress, I do believe. The pattern needs to be amended from henceforth to include this step. I don’t know about you, but I hate the feeling of a polyester fabric on my skin…man-made fibers aggravate both my body and my mental state in more ways than one. So – to keep both my sanity and comfort whenever I do succumb to the cuteness of a polyester fabric, I line such garments in good old cotton broadcloth.
No, really, though – full body lining also makes the edge finishing so much cleaner and fuss-free. No tiny hemming to do, and no raw fraying edges to deal with either. I love a clean inside as much as I love how nice my garments look on the outside when on myself. You can see the clean, no-seam hot pink lining side through the open armholes, too, and do so enjoy a garment that has its innards visible when they are done as nicely as this! It’s not that much extra work – sure it takes twice as much fabric – but it is worth it in the end product. For me, I guess sewing is not just materializing an idea or feeling, neither is it just crafting something I need or want. I suppose my habit of finely finished insides say that what I love about sewing is the beauty and the art of it.
The ultimate magnificence is in nature, however, and birds are the cheerful feathered announcers that living is to be celebrated. I am lucky to have had up-close and personal time with birds – especially the time I took a class on bird banding as a teen and actually held my favorite local feeder visitors. Then, there is the time I was by a creek painting some flowers and a hummingbird buzzed me, coming up to within inches of me, seemingly thinking I was something which needed checking out. Yes, the thing I love about birds is the best way to enjoy them – stop the busyness of life, listen with your heart, and soak in the cathartic benefits of realizing their simple but indispensable existence. Something as insignificant as this post’s home-made piece of clothing, no matter how fabulous, reminds me of the greater beauty of life around me.