Finished Object: The Hummingbird Dress

worn with my old favorite, the Demilitarized Jacket

worn with my old favorite, the Demilitarized Jacket

She’s finally finished!  Lately, my sewing time keeps disappearing so I took my own advice during the 30 Minutes A Day Sewalong last week and worked on my dress in 30 minute chunks to get her done.  It really works to tackle a project in little bites to get it done and I’m really pleased to have finished this dress.  We went out to central Brisbane (where I go to run printing and scanning and supply errands) to take photos the other day, I hope you like seeing a little more of the city…

Dress dress dress!

This was the original inspiration.  For my own dress made using the Hummingbird Top as a base, I wanted another type of neckline interest and plain sleeves rather than pleated.

Hummingbird Dress

This is my version.  I used a lycra-rayon blend jersey, white with a black pinstripe.  The fabric is a little on the hefty side for a top and just a touch on the light side for a dress.  I cut a 30-length peplum in four pieces using this cutting layout, which is also great for directional fabrics.   After I tried on the dress with a single peplum, I decided to add a second, longer black peplum.

Hummingbird Dress

I felt more comfortable with the extra layer of lightweight jersey, and I like the way it highlights the peplum.  I think the lower layer affects the overall drape, however.


Pinstripes are hard to photograph decently!  Does anyone have tips?  I can’t tell you how many times in the past couple of years I decided against using pintstripes purely because they don’t photograph well.  I just couldn’t summon the strength to say “no” one more time, and I’m glad I used the stripes for this dress.

Hummingbird Dress Back

The back came out pretty well, too.  I took a little wedge out of the lower edge of the CB top until the back wrinkles disappeared.  I do this reflexively and don’t have many problems with lower back wrinkles.  I also reduced the width of the sleeve hem for a closer fitting sleeve at the elbow, tapering my stitching into the existing under-arm seam.

When I cut the top, I marked the stripes on one pattern piece and transferred the stripe matching points to the front pattern piece.  You can see them in my photos of cutting the top here.  Due to the angle of the seams, I had to choose where to match the stripes along my arm as I cut.  I chose the shoulder!  It starts to go a little off further down the sleeve, and I’m ok with it because it’s relatively unobtrusive in the thin stripe and I worried this fabric would ripple.   Meanwhile, in the sewalong, Kelly made some perfect sleeve chevrons in a heftier stripe.

The Soft Bow Dickie is one of many dickey inspirations I’ve been dying to try with the Hummingbird Top neckline.  It’s made of the same soft, fluid jersey as the second peplum.   The bow section is quick and simple, easy to slip into a too-long neckline or even as a re-fashion to spruce up an old top.

I thought about making the sleeve bindings in black, but I opted instead to offset the stripes because I’m addicted.

click for source

click for source

The entire hack of this dress including neckline drafting, simple knit straight skirt draft and Soft Bow Dickie drafting and sewing notes are at

Hummingbird Top With Soft Bow

Once we finished (I thought) taking photos, I slipped into my Pinkie Pants and ballet flats to take a walk through Southbank and have sushi with Lila & Stephen.  Surprise!  During construction, I wore the top around the house for a while to check that the bow covered what it should and that the binding didn’t buckle.

I fell in love with this as a standalone top, so I used a simple quartered elastic waistband to create the skirt.  The skirt slips under the peplum so I can wear it as a dress, but since I work from home I don’t wear as many “pretty” dresses as I used to.  The pretty top slips right into my wardrobe and means I get more wear-time for my sew-time.

Funny story- we passed this train station and I thought it would make a striking backdrop for photos.  I got bold and stood up, and the second I turned around I saw an older, fatherly ticket-taker sternly shaking his head at me.  I hopped right down.

Hummingbird Dress

As a dress or a top, I really dig this latest Hummingbird.  I’m also pleased at how different it looks to my others.  It has style and a certain heft for a top, but also great recovery.  If I were to make another Hummingbird Dress at some point, the only thing I’d do differently is to choose a slightly beefier knit- maybe a nice doubleknit or ponte.  This is almost the right weight.


If you haven’t yet, check out the Hummingbird Sewalong schedule for links to each day’s lesson. We’re on Day 8 and I slipped in a few extra house point challenges for fun.  The deadline to finish all challenges and Sewalong makes to be counted for the house prize is July 1 at midnight in Anchorage, Alaska.  Then we can count up your points and assign the House Prize.

Picture 18

Do check out the Hummingbird Flickr group, there’s some REALLY nifty skirts and tops already being shown off.  I didn’t get a chance for a big 3 Hours Past group post for Pavlova (opting instead to create the Community Galleries), but maybe we should do something special for Hummingbird?  What do you think?

Find the Hummingbird Top pattern on Etsy, available for immediate shipment/download.


    • Thanks, Evie… Once I wore this top with a few other things, I knew I couldn’t leave it as a dress.. I believe AuntyNette and some others did this kind of thing in the Pavlova sewalong- knit separates to resemble a dress.. So did Sew Hopeful, she made a Tira separates set so really I’m just doing what all the cool kids are already up to… :)

      • Thanks for calling me cool Steph I can’t wait to tell my kids. I am really missing not being in the sewalong. We are going North in a few days in our little caravan so I need to concentrate on getting ready. Out trip includes minding a station while the manager has a break. When I get home at the end of July I will be straight into making the Hummingbird.

  1. I love the idea of keeping it as a sneaky skirt and top so you can get double duty as separates or a dress. I will have to see if I can get at least the skirt made before the end of the sewalong.

    My hummingbird (and riff patterns) arrived on Saturday, and the envelope was completely sodden and fallen to bits, but miraculously the patterns were all nice and dry in their bubble wrap. I think our postie managed to keep it together until he got as far as my mail box and then dumped it in quick!

  2. Stripes and plaids are notoriously hard to photograph decently. You could use an anti-moiré filter, or, alternatively, put a pair of nylon stockings in front of the lens. Experimenting with exposure times and aperture could also help.

    • Thanks, Mikhaela! :) Can’t wait to see yours. Will you go for separates or a dress?

      Ohh the moiré… It bugs me, but I knew the risk I was taking… And it doesn’t actually look like that so it’s all good…

  3. This version *is* stunning – I especially love the bow detail. Extra points that it works with a skirt and with trousers! :)

  4. Wow fabulous dress/separates!

    SO glad the sewalong deadline is July 1st and not the 27th I had written on the calendar. Had some unexpected things come up that threw off my sewing schedule. Can’t wait to catch up with the group.

    • Well, the Pavlova Sewalong was run too “tight” with no extra time, and I know very well that small blips can really throw off the sewing/photos so a few extra days this time around seemed good. :)


  5. What a gorgeous photoshoot! Your dress turned out stunning, and I love how you styled it! You’re such a classy lady. :)

    I love the idea of the “dress” still being separates! I didn’t have a clue (despite reading the post on how you did the skirt waistline) until the picture of you wearing the top with the pinkie pants. lol

    • Thanks, Heather! :) We so seldom take photos in the city, but I’m always running around there getting Cake work done…

      Oh! I love that! I did try to make it a little “surprise” reveal despite this weekend’s waistband tute. Heh heh heh. When I was skyping with mom this week I was wearing this top with the pink pants and for a minute she was shocked at my mini-dress… Then she realized it was just my pale pink pants… Heh..

  6. The Hummingbird makes for a SUPER cute dress! I love that it is separates, too – because I’d have a hard time choosing between that top or that dress! :) Ha!

  7. Oooh, you got in trouble! But you got your shots! ;)

    The 2-piece dress turned out beautifully. It’s actually quite striking how dressy it looks with the skirt, then immediately falls back into the (awesome) gussied-up t-shirt category when paired with pants. Such versatility.

    • Hahah! I did a bit.. I just like climbing, I guess. Nothing serious anyway, just a stern head-shaking… ;)

      Thanks, Susan…! I love the way she turned out, too… I want to wear the top alllll the time, I really like her with my yellow Hbird skirt.

  8. This has got to be one of my favorite makes of yours. You look gorgeous, and the “dress” is amazing. Thanks for the detailed hack instructions. Now I’ve got to exercise all my willpower not to spend time on our vacation looking online for fabric for this dress. :)

    • Thanks, Tanya. :) I’m pretty fond of her too, I’ve been wearing her almost constantly since she was finished… The skirt/dress might see more wear this summer, I think.

      Yeah, happy to share what I did… I’d love to see your version, do email me a link maybe when she’s done? :) Have a lovely lovely vacation!

  9. Pingback: Hummingbird Top…and it’s a print! | Three Dresses Project

  10. That is one fabulous frock, lady!
    With regard to the final gallery, I do prefer a gallery of finished items simply because I keep my mother in law posted on what I’m up to, and it’s good to send her the link to the finished items without her having to sift through loads of random photos of knit stitch samples, darts and pocket linings. She loves to peruse the finished projects and to dispense her own ‘Oscars’ for her favourites!

  11. Oh, super wonderful dress, I just love it!! And, i much prefer the ‘perpendicular to’ stripes on the sleeve as binding, more than black. Your stripes looked matched, any that aren’t matched, I cannot see! And, Kelly did a lovely job of making chevron stripes on her sleeve. Ahhh. Lol.

    • Thanks Gjeo… :) I like them too, I thought black cuffs would have been just a little too matchy or something. And yes, Kelly did a great job!

  12. It is just splendid! I love the extra black peplum – it coordinates perfectly with the black bow and pinstripes, making for a very classy ensemble :) Love the top with the pants as well – very versatile!

  13. This looks fabulous on you! You did an impressive job on those stripes! This is certainly giving me some ideas for another Hummingbird peplum. I’ll be working on #2 this weekend. ;o)

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