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My Matthew Williamson birthday dress

29 March 2013, 13:23

Thank you all so much for your patience! I finished sewing this dress in time for my 34th birthday on Monday (and I proved it by showing you dressform photos and talking in depth about the construction process!) but such a rich, dark colour really requires daylight to shoot properly, and today was the first opportunity we’ve had.

Another reason I wanted some great photos of this is because it’s an incredible pattern with some seriously striking design lines and beautiful details, and frankly, it deserves to be seen properly! In fact, it’s a true designer pattern, and from Matthew Williamson, no less! It was printed in the September 2012 issue of Burda magazine, but you can still purchase it as a pdf download if you missed it and want to make your own!

I made mine in some lusciously soft and supple “Ravissant Duchess Satin Plum” that’s been in my stash for three years just waiting for the perfect use, and paired it with a floral lining fabric gifted to me from Veronica when I was in Paris last Spring. Personally, I think these two make the most perfect pairing, even if it’s only me who sees the inside!

As I said on Monday, this pattern is a step up from the usual Burda patterns – more like a Vogue Designer pattern in all its wonderful details, but with the usual precise Burda drafting. I really wanted to do this dress justice, so I did quite a few things the long way, like the fell-stitched sleeves, walking vent, and all the matching seam intersections!

Here are some shots of the back seaming and that neckline! It a dress that looks as good going as it does coming!

Oh and it has pockets! A fancy designer cocktail dress with pockets!!

And as I mentioned on Monday, the section seams are really tricky to keep aligned over the side seams, as they’re diagonal and of course, satin is a bit slippery (mine’s non-stretch, too!).

Finally, on to the details you can’t see from the street – the lovely floral lining (with it’s own separate pattern pieces and separate facings, too), and that fantastic walking pleat I took so much time on.

Since it’s my birthday, I thought it’d be nice to document my face, too, since we actually got some nice profile shots of me!

If you recall, I always make myself something nice and special for my birthday each year…

Past Birthdays

33rd – A leather iPad case, protecting a new gift against the rigours of a transatlantic work trip the following day.

32nd – Manequim silk blouse:

31st – LMB draped birthday dress in teal silk jersey:

30th – Green silk birthday dress using a Burda magazine pattern a emerald green silk satin:

29th – A bolero and jeans, on which I put the outline of the Thames on the back pockets, and lined the bolero with some vintage apron fabric from my Granny:

28th – I was homeless and living out of a suitcase in my boyfriend’s parents’ house, watching the Shipping Forecast every single day, hoping for good weather to sail our boat across the North Sea. My sewing machine was in storage, so I couldn’t make a new outfit, and frankly, ALL I wanted was for our boat to arrive. And it did, on the evening of my birthday.

27th – New Look 6429 in a fun sparkly knit from Walthamstow Market (and then about three days later decided to lose all that excess weight for good!).

26th – (probably the first year I was really into sewing) my favourite vest pattern with a red vinyl square neckband:

Does anyone else share the same birthday sewing tradition?

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  1. You look fabulous! What a beautiful lady you have become. I still say it is a shame to hide that gorgeous lining, though.

    — Mom    Mar 29, 01:30 PM    #
  2. Gorgeous! Such a good colour on you. I like the action shots but it’s also good to see all the details – thanks!

    Catherine Daze    Mar 29, 01:44 PM    #
  3. it is so pretty, it really suits you.

    m    Mar 29, 02:24 PM    #
  4. You look gorgeous! Amazing!

    I want the same tradition – BD Dress%)) I should start because I sew slow-slow%)

    Sveta    Mar 29, 03:16 PM    #
  5. Love your dress! The fabric/lining combo is perfect.

    I decided to start making birthday dresses for myself this year (well, I suppose technically I did last year, but it was more happenstance?). Sadly, I didn’t finish my dress by my birthday (I need to re-do the zipper) but I will still have a “birthday dress” to wear out on the town when I am done.

    T. Sedai    Mar 29, 03:18 PM    #
  6. Beautiful dress – elegant and timeless! I don’t usually sew something for myself for my birthday. I’m a teacher and teach until June 30th…my birthday is early in July. But I always take the day as a treat to myself, nails/toes done, lunch with girlfriend, a movie or book….just for ME! Enjoy the Spring weather….we’ve still got feet of snow here in Alberta!

    — Jodie    Mar 29, 03:46 PM    #
  7. Nice work! It’s beautiful.

    — cindy    Mar 29, 05:09 PM    #
  8. The construction is impeccable. I love the dress. Such a beautiful color on you.

    Elizabeth    Mar 29, 05:49 PM    #
  9. Very well executed and superb fit.Enjoy your amazing dress, best wishes.

    — Bee    Mar 29, 06:46 PM    #
  10. Thats a great dress, perfect fit on you. You look better every year!!! Must be all the running. Well done.

    — Maeve    Mar 29, 08:11 PM    #
  11. It looks wonderful on you! You did an impeccable job on matching the seams, and with that beautiful lining it almost looks like it can be worn reversed. Nice photoshoot as well! Making yourself a birthday gift every year seems like a good tradition, maybe I’ll start one as well.

    Elise Lin    Mar 29, 09:00 PM    #
  12. Happy belated birthday! What a lovely post with the retrospective of your special projects over the years. What a wonderful tradition to have. You look gorgeous! I love a well-made garment that is as special inside as is it on the outside.

    Kathy    Mar 29, 09:45 PM    #
  13. That is lovely. I have that burda and really love that dress! Love your birthday retrospective!

    sewlittletime    Mar 29, 11:31 PM    #
  14. More than just a bit lovely. I have gots to make me one of these!
    Happy Birthday :)

    poppykettle    Mar 30, 04:49 AM    #
  15. A belated happy birthday!
    Great dress, the back neckline is simply divine!

    paunnet    Mar 30, 10:31 AM    #
  16. yes I love to make a new dress for my birthday and usually I am on vacay. Your dress is lovely and that color is so pretty on you. Wishing you sunshine and springtime for London. Happy Birthday

    Beth (SunnyGal Studio)    Mar 30, 09:03 PM    #
  17. WOW!!!! The dress is just stunning, and so are you. Love the details and design lines on the dress.

    The photo’s of the last several years of your birthdays are lovely, it’s interesting to see the changes over the years. I hope your 35th year is a wonderful one!

    Melinda    Mar 31, 07:13 AM    #
  18. Stunning! You are a beautiful and inspiring woman, thanks for sharing your life and creativity :-)

    — Deb Cameron    Mar 31, 08:02 AM    #
  19. Gorgeous!!! You look fabulous, and that dress is beautiful! I’m impressed with all the seam matching in satin… That colour looks wonderful on you.

    I always try to make something for my birthday and also for Christmas, although it doesn’t happen every year…

    Ooh, and I was also lining a skirt with a vent recently, and did mine slightly differently by shaping the seam of the lining (I detailed it here http://dibulous.blogspot.ch/2013/03/high-waisted-pencil-skirt.html if you are interested).

    Dilly    Mar 31, 05:15 PM    #
  20. How nice! Looks perfect on you! It’s nice to have such a tradition… Don’t have any such tradition… Too late for this year… Unless I make a project I’m working on my birthday dress…

    Sewing princess    Mar 31, 09:01 PM    #
  21. Looks gorgeous. Happy birthday!

    Manju    Mar 31, 09:43 PM    #
  22. What a beautiful dress. It was rather unexpected because I thought your lining was the fashion fabric. Almost too lovely to be hidden on the inside! Happy birthday.

    Gail    Apr 1, 04:44 AM    #
  23. Really excellent job on the seam matching and the inset corners! This is a great color for you.

    The Slapdash Sewist    Apr 2, 03:23 PM    #
  24. Wow! Your dress is great! I’m just finishing this dress now and will be posting it on the Burda project website… This is such a nice design! You chose a great satin fabric. Happy belated b-day!

    — JJP    Apr 6, 01:11 AM    #
  25. Melissa – I know this is a late comment, but having almost finished this dress for a wedding next week I have to say how talented you are. My fabric is a very well behaved cotton – how you managed all those pivoted seams and matching of seams etc in a silky slippery fabric I can’t imagine. Plus your dress looks wonderful on you.

    — SHEREE    May 23, 05:13 PM    #

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