Birthday Dress!


Happy birthday to me! I’m turning 34 today, and so of course, I had to make a new dress!

Behold, a sleeveless maxi Cashmerette Appleton!

PicMonkey Collage 1

My previous two Appletons (1, 2) have been very work-appropriate… but I’m trying to build a sassier, sexier wardrobe for outside work hours. After all, I’m 34 and never going to get younger, so I might as well flaunt whatever I’ve got for as long as I’ve got it, right?

Here are the alterations I made:

  • cut same size bodice I’d used before
  • made skirt slightly more a-line, and continued the line of the skirt down and out to maxi length
  • cut both sides of the front at the wider width, instead of one being narrower… I figured the extra overlap would help with a longer skirt, but in the end, a little more leg showing as I walk/sit would probably have been more fun!
  • cut the armscye according to the original pattern, then trimmed the shoulders back  – see below!


Top: This is the pattern’s original armscye. I actually think it would be good as-is if you like more bra strap coverage. Bottom: I decided I like it with more of a cut-away shoulder, so I trimmed back about an inch. I left a bit more width in the back because I hate when bra straps show there! 

To finish the armscye, I did slightly looser than normal band, then folded it to the inside and topstitched. I think this gives a cleaner and more elegant feel than exposed bands!

PicMonkey Collage 2

I’ve been eyeing tropical prints all spring, so I snapped up this ITY print when I saw it a few weeks ago. ITY is a polyester knit, so it wouldn’t normally be my first choice for a summer dress, but it does work well with this pattern. It’s stretchy, but doesn’t stretch out of shape! It has a lot more purple than shows up in these photos – all the green from my garden made the whole dress look a little more green.

PicMonkey Collage 4

My birthday celebrations started yesterday with some fabric shopping, Indian food, and a poem/mix cd from my husband… today I’m going to be spending my actual birthday celebrating Father’s Day and the return of my Dad from his long hike! It took them 42 days to do the 890km, and they finished on Thursday. He blogged the whole way through (including when his solo hike became a partner hike!) and it’s fascinating, so take a  look through if you are interested!


Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

ps. I’m so happy people are excited about sewing dares! I’m trying to work through all the requests, but it’s take a long time to figure out the right dare for each person. Bear with me! And don’t forget, you can jump in and dare each other – thank you to the people who are already passing our dares! 

78 thoughts on “Birthday Dress!

  1. Happy Birthday!! What a glorious summery dress! You should be reclining on a beach chair with the pool boy bringing you pina coladas! Love what you’ve done with the sleeves (or lack thereof!)


    1. A sleeveless version will definitely be good for your climate! Thought ITY was a bit hot in our 30’c weather yesterday – you’ll need natural fibres for sure! 😉


  2. I love it! Perfect mix of fabric, pattern, and pattern hack. Congratulations to your Dad too on his achievement.


  3. So much awesomeness in this post. You look more beautiful than ever, this dress is ravishing and your dad is a champion. Joyeux anniversaire, Gillian!


  4. You are luminous, and I love this dress! I’ve been thinking about making a birthday dress too (also a summer baby!). You have a good eye for matching fabric and pattern.


  5. Happy birthday, you kid you! The dress is gorgeous—absolutely sexy! I love the narrow shoulder look on you (actually, I always love it on other people, but it never seems to work on me. 😦 )

    Congratulations to your dad, and I hope you both have some awesome birthday/fathers day fun!


    1. Do you have quite broad shoulders? I feel like a cut-away shoulder is how people without good shoulders pretend they have broad shoulders… but I could imagine that if you already have strong shoulders, it can seem over the top! (Many, we have weird conceptions about bodies. Typing all of that made me think what absolute crap style rules are…)


        1. Ugh, halters. Who wants to have the weight of their entire outfit pulling on their neck and giving them a headache? Thumbs down!


  6. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are a vision in that dress and I love how you finished the arms/shoulders. Just gorgeous. My only question is – why aren’t you in Bali?! I’ve been thinking about your father and his adventure – tell us more about how his trip went. What an impressive journey! xo

    PS: Flaunt it all! (That’s where I’m at.)

    PPS: I know you’ve told me your age many times, but I still thought you were in your 20s 🙂


    1. You know, sometimes I feel like the 5 years in Japan didn’t really happen… so in terms of getting my Canadian life/career/housing in order, I still feel 5 years younger! So maybe I am 29 in Canadian years? 😛
      My dad’s hike went amazingly well! About 4 days in, he crossed paths with an Iranian doctor who was through-hiking the trail for his second time (with his dog), and the 3 of them ended up doing the whole trial together! We’re all amazed that they worked out to be compatible trail buddies, and that Dad wasn’t disappointed to lose his vision of a solo experience… but in the end, it made the experience even better! Dad wasn’t stressed about knowing where water would be, the other hiker taught him to go slow and steady, and we all felt happy knowing Dad wouldn’t break his leg alone by the side of the trail. Dad had friends lined up to host them and restock supplies every 3-5 days, so it ended up being a really cool community adventure. All in al, a huge success!


  7. Happy birthday!! 🙂 This dress is gorgeous – perfect for summer weekends. I have the same wardrobe philosophy in the summer: boring and appropriate clothes for work during the week, but more fun styles on the weekends.


    1. Exactly! Weekend is time to have fun with clothing, and I tend to go a little boring. Must work on that! 😉


    1. Thank you! I’m SO enjoying having a little backyard to take pictures in- it’s nice not to have to drive anywhere just to take a few shots!


  8. Happy birthday, Gillian! Enjoy your day and may you have many happy returns. The dress is absolutely gorgeous, and you look gorgeous in it. So glad to hear you want to flaunt what you’ve got — it’s so true that we don’t get any younger, and every day the body we have is the body we have, so we need to love it NOW – not when we lose 5 pounds, or once we tone the abs, or whatever. Thanks for the great advice.


  9. Beautiful pics of a gorgeous dress and a stunning woman! Best wishes on your birthday weekend Gillian. I can see that you’ve got my two birthday verbs down pat: CELEBRATE & ENJOY!


    1. I love the idea of birthday verbs! Today I’m celebrating and enjoying have a quiet house and nothing to do – maybe sew a bra or underwear later, maybe not!


  10. Happy Birthday Gillian! Gorgeous dress as always 🙂 I really enjoyed reading your work on the armscye – making the band a little looser and folding the whole band inside and top stitching. Very elegant indeed! I’m going to try that because sometimes you just don’t want that banded look. Thank you for sharing so much of your process and great pics!


    1. FOlding the band under is also a great save if you ever accidentally sew a band on too loose. Fold it under, topstitch, and pretend it was intentional! 😉


    1. I’m pleased to report the birthday dress was a success – I ate a LOT of food, and felt totally comfortable – apart from occasionally needing to glance down to check the wrap was properly in place! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! You know, i saw this fabric again in store the other day, and it didn’t catch my eye at all… but as a dress, I love it!


  11. Us Gemini’s rock don’t we lol… my youngest son turned 22 on the same day as you but sadly he doesn’t sew … love the changes to the arm scythe and shoulder. Looks fabulous 😀


  12. Happy Birthday,Lovely Lady! Hope that you had a super day. You are certainly looking very swish and I LOVE your dress. The fabric is amazing and very tropical. I can see you with a HUGE cocktail with fruit, umbrellas and sparklers wearing this. I really like your shoulder treatment, it makes it looks very dressy. Xx


  13. Happy belated birthday! The Appleton makes a gorgeous maxi. I’ll have to remember that. And I hear you about flaunting what you’ve got– I turned 35 earlier this year, and aside from my mom wardrobe trials, my main thought about it is that I’m not ready to start dressing middle aged in five years’ time!


  14. Happy birthday! This is a great dress, I might just have to steal your idea. I do like sleeves in the summer since I have this thing about having bare arms in the office, but I think the maxi length plus sleeves might read a little sister wife, what do you think? I love the way you cut in the shoulders, it looks really great.


  15. Gillian, you look absolutely GORGEOUS in this print! Hope you had a great birthday! The hack to narrow the shoulders, but still not have that annoying bra-peek at the back is brilliant and truly does give the dress a really elegant look without the sleeves.


  16. Happy belated birthday! What a lovely dress to celebrate it in! I always intend to make myself a birthday dress, but my birthday is right before Christmas so it usually gets forgotten because I’m rushing trying to finish over-ambitious Christmas present making!


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