The “Beatrice” Dress


Meet the “Beatrice” dress. Otherwise known as the Wellington Sewing Bloggers dress. I originally planned to wear it to the January bloggers meet-up, but had issues with the buttonholes and had to give up, with only the fastenings to go, half an hour before the meet up. Argh!!! (Sometimes, you just have to call it quits. I’d sewn and unpicked two buttonholes as the thread wasn’t catching down one side for some reason. Frantically looked around for an alternative and sewed on a length of snap fastener tape. Then added more snaps to hide the white tape that was peeking through. Then realised that since I was in such a hurry, everything I did made it worse, so reluctantly set it aside and wore something else, while trying to overcome the feeling of shame at failing a self-set sewing deadline. Anyone else do that??)


Anyway, there it sat for a month, until the evening before the next Wellington bloggers meet-up in February. At which point, I picked it up, added a second layer of interfacing to the button plackets, and left finishing it until the next day. (Which naturally resulted in a frantic rush to finish and being half an hour late to the cafe to meet the others. Oops. One day, I’ll learn this lesson. One day.)

But now, here it is! And it got it’s debut with the Wellington ladies, over tea and cake at the Centennial pop-up cafe in the Wellington City and Sea museum.


The other reason it’s the Wellington Sewing Bloggers dress is that I made it with fabric from Joy and a pattern from Mel, both of which I acquired during the swap at the first Wellington sewing bloggers meet up. So, thank you ladies, you’ve helped extend my wardrobe! 😉

The pattern was Simplicity 5040, from 1964. This was my first time using one of the Simplicity “proportioned sizes” patterns, with different pattern pieces for short, medium and tall girls. (I used the “tall” ones.) It fits quite well, actually, with no adjustments needed outside of the standard grading at the waist. 🙂

Simplicity 5040

I did make a few changes though, as I barely had enough of this burgundy-with-blue-pinstripes shirting fabric to eek out the dress. Rather than making a pleated skirt, after I’d cut the bodice and sleeve pieces I took what fabric was left, cut it in half to make two rectangles, and used those as a gathered skirt. The sleeves are also shorter than on the pattern and without the cuffs – the sleeve length was determined by the amount of fabric I had.

As per usual at the moment, I sewed the bodice to the skirt pieces on the flat, then stitched up the side seams last, to make it easier to take in (in that theoretical day in the future when I finish losing the baby weight. One day…..)

The pattern came together nice and easily. (Admittedly, I did get rid of probably the most time-consuming detail by not doing the pleated skirt.) I love the slight puffs on the shoulders, and the cute-but-completely-useless front breast pocket.


As for the name? Well, I’ve decided I may as well work my way through the alphabet when I can’t think of anything more inspired, so I was up to the letter ‘B’. (Plus, since we were in the Centennial Cafe for our meet-up, it seemed a regal-type name was appropriate!)

The Centennial cafe is all about Britannica – there’s a display of replica British crown jewels, a green screen where you can “get your photo with the queen”, and crowns made of all sorts of things around the cafe. One must wear a crown when visiting the museum, don’t you know?


The Facts

  • Pattern: Simplicity 5040
  • Year: 1964
  • Fabric: burgundy shirting (with a bit of stretch) with blue pinstripes, gift from Joy
  • Notions: 4 buttons and two snap fasteners, along with a bit of interfacing for the button placket
  • Adjustments made: gathered skirt instead of pleated; shortened sleeves and removed sleeve cuff; shortened length (all due to restricted amount of fabric). Attached bodice to skirt in the flat, and sewed side-seams last to allow for easy taking-in in the future.
  • Verdict? I like it! It’s going to be a good work staple as well. Oddly satisfying making something that’s not in my usual somewhat crazy prints and colours…. May try that again. Sometime.
  • Make again? sure, why not?!

Here we are at the meet up, practicing our royal wave with the queen. Aren’t we all grand?! 😉


Top row, left -> right: Joy, Mel, and myself.
Bottom row, left -> right: Trees, Jo, Nikki.

Naughty royals however, they do indulge in a bit of bum-pinching now and then! Tut tut!


(Thanks to Mel, Joy and Nikki for the photos, and the Wellington City and Sea museum for the black-and-white pics.)

27 responses to “The “Beatrice” Dress

  1. Pingback: Simplicity 5040 | Patterns patterns patterns

  2. I get the impression you guys have such fun at these get-togethers 😀
    Hey nice dress, lovely colour. And I don’t think it lost anything from being gathered instead of pleated (Well apart from time and fabric!) I’m glad you got buttons all sorted properly in the end!

    How interesting about the different pattern pieces for different heights. Ive never seen or heard of that before. I routinely use the shorten/legthen lines or if the pattern has them, the “Petite” lines coz I’m so short. It’s one of the things that keeps me really keen to sew. Buying clothes that are too long in the torso is very depressing. Sewing clothes that fit beautifully is very rewarding.

    • Oh, we have heaps of fun!! 😀 There’s nothing quite like talking sewing with other sewing bloggers.

      I’ve got a couple of the “proportioned sizes” patterns, but this is the first time I’ve made one up. I saw one for a pair of trousers once, gave it to a friend but I kind of wish I’d kept it to see how well that worked…..

      Fitting was what got me into sewing too, only for the opposite reason from you – I could never find anything with sleeves or legs long enough!

  3. i love this dress 🙂

  4. Lovely dress, Kat!! Fun photos too. Looks like you guys have a blast at your meet-ups.
    I have totally failed to meet self-set sewing deadlines, and/or have been desperately late to events because of a broken zipper, etc., and probably will never learn to stop doing that to myself. So you are not alone.
    Great dress. Worth the effort. So cute on you!

    • Thanks! 🙂

      Oh, it’s good to know I’m not alone! I think my long-suffering partner thinks I’m completely mad, how I “just have to do this before I leave the house!”, frantically sewing while sitting in my dressing gown, when we’re meant to be somewhere ten minutes beforehand. Why, oh why, do we do this to ourselves?!?!?!

  5. Wow, lovely dress!
    And I did chuckle at the Queenie picture 🙂

  6. I love that dress and it think you look beautiful in it! 🙂

  7. I love love love how this dress turned out! I can’t believe there was enough fabric to make this dress I bought it worth a shirt in mind. It makes me no end of happy to see this fabric made up and the dress just looks amazing on you.

    • And the funny thing is, it’s fabric I never would have bought for myself, and now I see this dress as being a go-to one in my wardrobe! 😉

      Maybe we need to have a challenge like that sometime – where we each choose fabric for someone else to make up, and see how they interpret the fabric’s potential…..

  8. Fabulous dress, and you look so radiant and happy. I am always failing my self set deadlines, but then I think it’s better to take a little more time or even get some time away from a project than steam on and ruin it. Of course it also means I have far too many UFO’s guilt tripping me. Maybe I need to set a deadline to finish some of those…

    • Oh gosh, I have far too many UFOs hiding in corners, too. 😦 Maybe we need to organise a UFO-amnesty month and get ’em all finished up?

  9. A truly collaborative effort! 🙂 As good in the pics as in real life.

    Wow our waving photo turned out ace! I still cannot believe how long a camera and a green screen kept us entertained, haha. I want to buy some green fabric now for my photo shoots, then I can photoshop whatever exotic location I want 😉 Will be a great idea for winter indoor photos!

    • Oooh, that’s a brilliant plan!

      (Next plan: go and visit whenever I have something I need to photograph so I can use your green screen… 😉

  10. Great style & colour on you! 🙂 I had no idea the Queen was so feisty! lol ^_^

  11. Gorgeous dress! Very flattering on you. (I like your photoshopped Queen pic, lol).

  12. So cute! I love this! What a great color for you!

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