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Birdie’s Mini Protea Gown

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

I am so happy to share with you the gown I made for Birdie to wear to her Auntie’s wedding last year! Birdie had very straightforward ideas for her dress and didn’t want anything too complicated. She wanted a loose fit dress with a simple empire waist, a gathered skirt with minimal fullness, sleeves and a waist tie. Her greatest request was that her dress be rose gold – and funnily enough that was the hardest part!

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

So let’s start with the pattern. I know what you are going to say. Is the Mini Protea an existing sewing pattern? Well the answer is yes and no… It wasn’t a pattern until I realised that everything Birdie was describing would be covered if a Mini Protea pattern existed. So of course I started working on a Mini Protea pattern! I made some test dresses which i’ll share with you as soon as I get some photos, and they went so smoothy that we just jumped straight into the dress with very little drafting updates. I love it when that happens! It hasn’t been released but if I can get myself organised we’ll get to testing it soon :)

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

The main change i made to the pattern was in the closure. This dress could technically go over her head, but given she was getting hair and makeup done I really didn’t want to risk pulling anything over her head. So I added an invisible zipper at the back plus hook and eye closure. Length wise I made this dress a little shorter than i would usually make a formal dress, simply because of her age and activity level. Being a very active 9 year old I just didn’t want her to trip over at all so I made sure there was enough clearance to avoid disaster.

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

When it comes to fabric we had a lot of trouble finding rose gold fabric. Her dress was so simple that I really wanted to make this detail work for her. Finally I found the most gorgeous deadstock rose gold silk brocade from The Fabric Store (very similar to this one). This fabric was such a find! It is by far the most expensive and highest quality fabric out of the three formal dresses i made – but she also required the least fabric so i decided to justify it that way ;)

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

I again finished the hemline with horsehair braid, however for Birdie I decided to use a very wide 2″ (5cm) horsehair braid. This was due to the fact she wanted her dress to stick out a little bit, but didn’t want any tulle underneath, so i felt that extra structure was necessary. Hilariously, after she saw how much tulle went under Bunny’s skirt she decided she wanted tulle as well so I went back and added some. Having said that – this dress doesn’t flare out much at all, as that is the aesthetic she wanted.

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

For the waist channel I actually used the wrong side of the fabric! That is one of my favourite tricks when using brocade, as the wrong side is quite often very pretty and just a reverse of the main design. In this case the wrong side was more gold and I thought that would help the waist channel stand out more. Unfortunately we were stumped on what to use as the actual waist tie itself and after trying quite a few things we landed on this lovely gold ribbon. I think it was a good choice as my attempts to turn a loop with the silk brocade were nothing short of disastrous.

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

This dress is fully lined, including the sleeves, because that brocade is actually quite itchy and Birdie has very sensitive skin. We found the most buttery soft lining we could and she is a happy little sunshine. I’m so happy that Birdie’s waistline was adjustable, as she was able to adjust the tightness around her tum during the day which kept her very happy. Making sure kids are comfy in their clothing is always my top priority and I’m just so glad Birdie was comfortable in her dress.

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

Like Bunny, Birdie wore a pretty flower crown to her Auntie’s wedding and wanted to wear a flower crown for these photos too. I decided to go with artificial flowers so she could use her flower crown over rand over, and she chose all of her flowers herself. If you’d like to try making your own flower crown I made a little tutorial on Youtube you might enjoy.

Well that’s it my friends! Birdie loves her dress, and I loved making it for her. Given this dress is a loose fit I’m hopefully she’ll be able to use it for a little bit longer.

On to the next make!

Birdie's silk brocade Mini Protea formal gown | Megan Nielsen Patterns Blog

photography by Bronnie Joel, Hair and Makeup by TXC Collective

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Ruth
Ruth
9 days ago

I have loved reading about both your daughter’s dresses for their Aunty’s wedding. I love that they could design their own and choose the colour. What a wonderful mum you are and how blessed they are. Both dresses are absolutely stunning and dreamy. Thanks for sharing.

Hilary
8 days ago

She looks so beautiful! And what a natural model!