Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Birthday Rochester!


As mentioned last week, I tried my first Rochester Dress in some stash rayon to test out the pattern before cutting into my super fancy rayon print I bought from Spool & Spindle last year. (You can see my initial review of this pattern on that post.) I planned to make this fun fabric into a birthday dress to celebrate my big 50 so wanted to get it right. 

It was a fairly easy sew, but I'm glad I made the first version, as I did notice a few small tweaks I had to make to get this just right for me. They were pretty small ones though!

First I decided to lengthen the skirt by 1.5". I like to have my knees covered as my upper legs are quite short. And with the more fall vibes of this dress, I feel like longer is a better stylistic choice for me. This was a very easy fix, with a lengthen/shorten line right on the skirt to adjust it simply. 

The next issue was that I noticed that the shoulder seams fell about 1/2" down onto my shoulders -- they are just a bit wide for me. With the elasticated ruching at the front neck, I didn't want to do my usual alteration of pinching out that width at centre front -- I wouldn't have been able to get this over my head if I made the neckline any smaller! As it is, it just pulls comfortably over my giant head. So I trimmed a 1/2" wedge off the upper shoulder, blending it down to about halfway down the armscye. 

I didn't adjust the sleeves at all since there was a good amount of gathering ease in them. And fortunately this worked perfectly -- the sleeves set in smoothly with no issues, and my arm movement hasn't been affected. And now the shoulder seam sits directly on top of my shoulder.

Those are the only small changes I made, and I must say that this dress is a really quick project with some lovely details. There are no closures to worry about, and no bust darts -- the fullness is taken up in the elastic neckline. That's also a nice feature with a couple of options with different looks available. (I used the same single gather for both of mine). 

I love this dress and was so happy to be able to wear it on a lunch date to a lovely restaurant, and feel comfortable the whole time. Definitely a new fave pattern for me! 


  1. Happy Happy Birthday! Lovely print- so glad it worked out so beautifully…many happy returns of both the day and the dress

  2. Wonderful fabric and you did it credit. It looks great on you!

  3. Another win, win and many happy returns on reaching the 1/2 century mark. Never would have guessed. Cheers to the next 50.

  4. Happy Birthday! You look lovely in your dress, the fabric print is such fun. It fits so well. I have been exploring the sewing techniques of zero waste clothing, not so much for the zero waste aspect (although I am interested), but more because they use such different ways of pattern making and sewing construction. It is a whole new way of thinking, and the odd 1/2 inch here and there don't seem to matter, and yet I can see it does matter with more fitted clothing. Your adjustments have been very successfully executed.

    1. Thanks Sara! Zero waste is really interesting for the pattern cutting. I'm really focused on fit right now and like more tailored silhouettes so sometimes the looser, more free cut styles aren't for me. But I do appreciate the thought that goes into them!

  5. Happy birthday to you and your birthday dress!
    What a happy post! Your photo shoot brought back many happy times I spent with my mother. We often met in Stratford during the summer (she from Ohio, I'm from upstate New York). We went to see plays, and we always ate at the "church restaurant" that I want to call The Rectory, but I don't think that's correct. (I grew up in a lot of manses, so I felt like I was at home there, lol.) Good times - thanks for bringing them back to me!


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