Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Sewing Circle: Sookie's dress

Welcome to Sewing Circle!  This time, reader Melissa is hunting for a pattern to emulate a specific dress from True Blood.  Sookie does have super cute clothes (although it always seems to be summer in that show... I don't really know, I've only seen one season).  Here's the question for me and all you great readers from Melissa:

Q: I'm wondering if anyone could help suggest a good starting pattern to make a specific dress. I am in love with a dress Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood wears.
The most important part is that gathered bust that kinda pops out from the bodice. I know some variations could be made to the top but I really want that busty part exactly the way it is.

I've searched vintage patterns but can't find anything similar, so I was wondering if anyone knew of a pattern that would be a good jumping off point.  Thanks in advance for any help!

A: Hmm.... well, Melissa, this may be tricky.  When I first looked at the dress I thought how simply it could be modified from a pattern like one of these:
New Look 6699
New Look 6676
New Look 5140
Butterick B5029
McCall's M5094
McCall's M5806
You get the idea, right?  The basic elements are:

  • the slight sweetheart ruched bust piece
  • the narrow halter straps
  • the separate midriff panel
  • the swingy circle skirt

Individually, all of those elements are easy.  Any of the patterns above could easily have those details if it doesn't already.  To get the gathered part over the bust, all you need to do when you cut the center front bust piece (out of the fabric--cut the lining exactly as it says) is move it over a few inches, so it's much wider than you need it to be.  Then gather the top and bottom and sew it right sides together to its neighbor pieces just as you would a flat piece!

But the issue is, if you want that exact bodice part--it looks like a scooped frame on the midriff panel that surrounds the partial bust part--I don't know if there is a pattern that will help you.  You may have to experiment and make something up.  And looking at vintage patterns will probably help.  Here are two vintage reprint Vogue patterns that do the angled frame around the bust:
Vogue V8728
Vogue V2960
But neither is quite perfect.  I'd actually recommend the second one if anything because the fit is snug like Sookie's.  Of course you'd cut it on the fold instead of with the overlap for the buttons, and you'd cut it without the shoulder pieces.  The back you could just cut straight across.  And add the extra fabric in the center of the bust piece for ruching.

During this search I ran across many dresses that Sookie would wear, if she could.  One dress that looks really familiar at first glance, but has different pieces, is this one!:
McCall's M6350
It even has the circle skirt!  So, Melissa, if you just wanted an awful darn close copy of the Sookie dress, I recommend that pattern if you aren't up for modifications and trial and error!

P.S. It is pure coincidence that the pink and white sprigged summer dress with ruching on the bodice that I posted two days ago is very similar in flavor to the Sookie dress we're copying.  How funny!  I guess it's just a great summer look.  Mine even has a modified circle skirt, which is unusual for me.  Anyway.

Readers, have you seen any patterns with that great vintage scoop in the front??  Help Melissa out if you have any other suggestions!

Thanks for reading and contributing to Sewing Circle!


  1. Crystal7/09/2011

    Burda 7-2010-120 has the gathered bust panel, but the other elements of that dress are all different than the inspiration dress.

  2. I was kind of thinking that the top looked like a bustier. What if you did a pattern like this and then covered the bust with your gathered fabric piece? Then it would have that lingerie type look to the bodice and you could attach whatever skirt you like.


  3. I found this one, it is a vintage pattern http://betsyvintage.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=7725 what is really bothering me is that I am sure I have seen just a pattern for this!

  4. I'd use the bodice from this free pattern Contour Bust Dress.
    For the gathered bust section I'd make a 2nd copy of the bust-pieces. Then on the new pattern pieces I'd slash several times vertically - making evenly spaced-out slashes to create a horizontally-stretched-out version. I'd cut a practice version of the stretched pieces in lightweight muslin and then I'd run gathering stitches along the top + bottom edges of the piece(s). Next, I'd lay the muslin pieces over the top of the original pattern (ie not stretched out pieces) and gather the edges evenly until the edges fitted inside the edges of the pattern-paper (the cut edges). Next I'd straight-stitch the edges to fix the gathers into place :) Now I could use the gathered-up piece as if it were a normal/regular piece - and carry on constructing the rest of the dress :)

  5. Anonymous7/09/2011

    I just stumbled across Vogue 8475 which I thought had some real potential for remaking Sookie's dress. The lower bust section is the focus of Sookie's dress and this one seems to match that part pretty well. From the pattern it would be a simple matter of adding an extended midriff, changing the skirt to the circle skirt, and changing the bust from the two pieces to a single piece. It would be a stretch, but no more than any of the other patterns mentioned.

  6. I have no idea but I would definitely love to make that dress!

  7. I think this is called a shelf bodice (Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner). Gretchen Hirsch (Gertie) made a dress in yellow and posted details.

  8. What about this pattern?


  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Drape on a dress form. I went to FIDM and im telling you its not as hard as it sounds. Grab some muslin and start with the bust. Drape it until it looks similar, then mark your lines where the creases are, where your seams meet, anything and everything you think is relevant. You will unfold the muslin which will look like a mess, and lay it flat, refine your darts and seams. I always re-drape it again with my muslin pattern just to make sure I refined properly. Lay the muslin on some newspaper( or large card stock) and create your pattern. Make sure to add seam allowances on the sides, and create dart lines. Cut out with your new fabric with the added seam allowances and sew together. If you want a detailed outline and some illustrations I could email it to you. SewBecoming@yahoo.com

  11. Anonymous7/11/2011

    Vogue 8360 has the lower bodice piece that would work. Then use one of Suzannah's picks for the upper bodice.

  12. It looks like a bustier to me... check out lingerie or costume patterns.

  13. McCalls 4455 circa 2004: http://compare.ebay.com/like/370524097875?var=lv&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar&_lwgsi=y

    View A, Add a circle skirt and you're done! I've been meaning to make this exact dress for ages.

  14. McCalls 5876 is a 2009 pattern that looks pretty close like the Butterick but doesn't require knit material.

  15. I was at Joann this evening and happened to flip through the BurdaStyle book and saw pattern 7408. I immediately thought of this post and had to come back to tell you! This pattern has the exact sweetheart gathered bust.


    fyi- simplicity patterns are on sale for $1.99 this week ;)

  16. What about this vintage vogue pattern

  17. I knot this is a bit late but I found tbis pattern, but can't find it for sale anywhere.


  18. I know this is a bit late, but I found this pattern while trying to make something similar for my sister:


  19. i found this pattern which has the scoop under the bust

    1. Oh, wow, that one does have the same silhouette! Bet you could modify it to have the gathers and only one wrapping border around the scoop...

  20. I made this dress today using a Burda pattern!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. It any one is still looking. Try Burda 7408 (http://www.burdastyle.de/burda-style/damen/abendkleid-traeger-gekreuzt-bustier-abendkleider_pid_205_5574.html). It is pretty close - but with a more interesting back detail I think.



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