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.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Sewing Circle: The perfect birthday dress

Today's Sewing Circle is a special one--it comes from my good friend and fellow Portland-area blogger Jenni, of A Well-Crafted Party--and it SO perfect for her, too!, since she has an exciting birthday coming up and of course will look fab. So she sent me this question about the most amazing BHLDN dress and how she can make it for herself!

Q: Hey... so, you know me... planning my b-day party already. I'm in love with this dress from BHLDN. I'd love to try to make something similar (the pleated look for sure) without the strap or with different style straps.

How difficult would it be? Ideas on how to go about it? Fabric?

A: Oh, that is soooo pretty!!!!

Should be pretty straightforward to make. The good news is the pattern is actually pretty simple—it looks like it’s a basic strapless dress with vertical ruching on the bodice all around and then an asymmetrical drape going left to right. All you’ll need is ANY strapless dress pattern (princess seams)—seriously, whatever brand is on sale for $1 the weekend you go, should be fine. A good basic is this one, Simplicity 4070.

Then you’ll cut the bodice to hit just above the natural waist, just below a basic empire waist… so you’ll cut out the lining normally. Then with the outer fabric, you’ll cut one piece for the front and one for the back, 1.5-2x as wide as the lining pieces will be sewn together. You’ll gather the outer fabric pieces at the top and bottom and place over the lining, pinning in place and sort of petting into the right gathers. I’d say buy some plastic boning for this one for sure. You’ll also cut out a piece to gather and drape asymmetrically—you can drape it while you’re wearing it or if you have a mannequin, use that. I can help you cut all these out next time I’m over if you want.

ORRRR, the easier option is to buy a pattern that’s close and lengthen it—like one of these, which already have the gathered bodice, so all you need to add is the asymmetrical drape. Simplicity 2398 or Butterick B5457. Just cut the bust pieces several inches longer than they’re supposed to be, shaping like your rib cage would, and then don’t cut out the midriff panel.
Butterick B5457

OR, you could get a pattern that gets at the look but isn’t constructed the same way. Like one of these McCall's M6466 or Vogue V8150 (could cut to hit at just above the natural waist) or Butterick B4918 (could add the ruching on the main layer of this one, also cut to just above natural waist).
McCall's M6466 

And the skirt is easy. They even tell you the length of the BHLDN one! (26”, but it looks longer to me… hm…). Cut two panels to the length you want, then gather or pleat to the waist.

The fabric—check out a big JoAnn or other big fabric store and look for pre-pleated fabric. You might not have that much choice color-wise, but I’m sure there’s a special occasion poly that will have that look, or at least some texture.

So that's my take! Readers, what do you think?! Have you seen THE perfect pattern or fabric for this gem??


  1. What a beautiful dress! I would love to see what she ends up with. Do your readers who ask for help ever send you photos of their finished product?

    1. Hmm, sometimes! Wish they did more. :) This one I'll get to see in person if she makes it, though!

  2. Poppykettle made a dress with a pleated skirt, if you want more info on the pleating



    1. Oooh, so cool! Would love to find that great pleated fabric!!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Anonymous11/19/2012

    The skirt of the original skirt looks like it's chemically pleated, while the bodice can be draped based on any basic strapless dress.



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