Birthday Dress: Vogue V9311 in Floral Rayon

This pattern has been on my to-sew list for…years. So many years. And this rayon has been lurking right behind it. But until recently, I didn’t think to put the two together. And even THEN! I didn’t make the time to cut out and sew. Luckily for me, I keep getting older, and birthdays are these delightful deadlines that allow us to throw a little party and eat great food and put on a pretty dress, and it all has to be finished ON TIME.

Which it was! Back in September. It was perfect for Austin in that weather, when the days were hot enough to want to sit on a rooftop with a breeze, and the evenings are still warm but sleeves keep the air from making you cold.

This dress turned out so perfectly and I love it so much that I’ve worn it over and over since then, never stopping long enough to take proper photos. It’s silky and cool and flows over my skin like water, it looks dressy even though the shape is as easy to wear as pajamas, and with the self-fabric belt I made at the end of construction, it gives just enough emphasis to my waist that I feel regal and beautiful when I have it on.

Fabric, Pattern, and Design Notes:

The fabric is Rifle Paper Co for Cotton + Steel (now Ruby Star Society), and the pattern is a Vogue that had A Moment a few years back, They’re a match made in heaven. I’m especially fond of the fullness of the statement sleeves, and how the floral pattern flows across the style lines of the bodice in a way that gives a nod to 70s shaping but without feeling too much like a costume–it came out very fresh.

I tried this on as I was finishing the major seams and knew it needed to either come in at the side seams or have a belt. I opted to make a self-fabric belt from the scraps by cutting strips 2.5″ wide x as much length as I could get, then folding right sides together and stitching a 1/2″ seam before turning right side out to press and topstitch. I love how breezy the finished dress feels with the belt added.

It was the perfect dress for watching the horses race at night at Churchill Downs, where it’s steamy evening in the October evenings, but where one wants to feel suitably dressed for the equine nobility.

It went with us in November, when we celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary on the beach, and is maybe the only dress on the planet that could possibly compete with my husband’s Party Pants.

And it was perfect for New Year’s Eve in New Orleans, where daytime temps topped 80 degrees. Honestly, the climate in the South really comes through for big events like these: we can nearly always be outdoors, even in winter, and there are lots of interesting, beautiful places to go even with the children where we are out in the fresh air and maybe not so close to other people.

It was an added bonus that when we arrived for our brunch at Commander’s Palace, one of the most famous eateries in a city overflowing with incredible eateries, the signature awning and sign PERFECTLY matched the blue accents in my dress. Perfect time to hand the phone to my children and ask them to FINALLY get photos of the dress I’ve worn for so many meaningful events over the past few months.

What makes a handmade garment successful?

This is how I measure the success of any homesewn garment, then: the more I wear it because it’s EXACTLY the right choice for the activity in question is directly proportional to the joy I get out of having sewn it myself. The more often I reach for it? The more successful I consider it to be. Not because it’s perfect, not because it’s trendy, not because I altered the pattern or even because I designed it. All my most “successful” garments are the ones I wear the most, feel most ME in, and that blend seamlessly into my days and nights.

This dress will remain on heavy rotation for the foreseeable future.

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