Circus 1st Birthday Dress from a Repurposed Bridesmaid Dress

My friend, Danica’s, daughter, Aaralyn, turned one a couple weeks ago.  And for her party, I designed and sewed a dress as a gift from our family to the little princess.  Danica is a professional photographer (Flora Danica Photography), so she had definite visions for how she wanted this dress to look.  She had shown me a bunch of different ideas that she had, but she couldn’t quite pin down exactly what she wanted.  You know that feeling?  Where you know what you want, but you just can’t quite find a picture of what is in your head.  So with great faith, she allowed me to go to town with the design and trusted that I would come up with something that she loved.  Talk about pressure.

So here’s where the tricky part came into the mix.  Danica wanted to incorporate the bridesmaid dress (the maid-of-honor’s dress, to be exact) from her wedding into the design along with this adorable circus fabric she had found.  But let me tell you about this circus fabric, though the printed design is absolutely adorable…….it is upholstery fabric!  Yes, it was one of the most difficult fabrics I have ever worked with, but luckily it turned out.


The above pictures were taken by Danica of her little cutie patootie at the over the top girly circus party she threw.  There was a candy bar, circus food, games with prizes, and so much more.  Danica has become known in our circle of friends as throwing the best parties around!  No detail is overlooked.

As for the bodice, I used a basic peasant style silhouette.  I wanted to do puff sleeves, but I also wanted the little lady to be comfy, so I thought an elastic neck and sleeves was the best way to go.  I incorporated some trim that I had on hand into the bodice and re-used the little buttons from the back of the bridesmaid dress as well.

The pink fabric yo-yo was from a deconstructed vintage yo-yo quilt that I had picked up awhile back at a flea market.  The pink fabric just happened to match perfectly.  I covered a large button with the part of the fabric where there was a monkey since I knew Aaralyn’s big brother, Roaron, loves monkeys!

I did a double layer skirt to make sure there was plenty of fullness.  The under layer is fabric from the bridesmaid dress.  I made the top layer a little shorter and left it open in the front to add a little interest.  I also added a small ruffle around the bottom.  The circus upholstery fabric was so dense and thick that I couldn’t use a single straight pin constructing the dress.  Every time I went to put one in, it bent my pins in half.  For someone that pins everything, this made me really nervous.  But, by the grace of God, it all came together.

The sash on the dress is made from the bridesmaid dress.  I wanted it to have a big full bow in the back, but didn’t want the sash to be too long.  You should have seen this dress after I had cut it all up……..pretty sad, but it was so neat to be able to repurpose it into something new and special. 

I mean really, do we ever wear those old bridesmaid dresses again?

I gave Danica the dress the day before the party and just hoped that it fit and that she loved it.  
And thankfully, it did fit and she did love it!
I don’t know if I’ll be sewing with any more taffeta and upholstery fabric anytime soon, but I’m so happy that I could be part of creating this special memory and heirloom piece for Miss Aaralyn’s First Birthday!

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  1. That is beautiful! I love how you left the front open, with the ruffle on the edges. It’s adorable. 🙂

  2. The dress is so so lovely, Aaralyn looks incredibly cute in it! The lace, the sash, the peek of red on the front with the delicate frills… it all comes together beautifully!

  3. SO SO Precious and sweet as can be!!!

  4. Beyond expectations!!! The dress is so very special and I will keep it for Aaralyn to pass along to her baby girl one day. I can’t thank you enough my friend!!!! You made her day all the more special with a dress that was designed and made by a friend, was in our wedding and worn by my closest friend. xoxo Danica

  5. It turned out so pretty!! She looks beautiful!

  6. Beautiful. So elegant and refined with a touch of whimsy and charm. Perfect fabric to tie it all in. She looks timeless in it.

  7. Absolutly too cute! How special for that special little one.

  8. Oh how I love this dress!!!! I am going to be making my 4 year old daughter a dress like this very soon.

  9. How great – wonderful job.

  10. It really is beautiful! I love the design.

  11. Such a gorgeous creation, what a lucky little girl!

  12. It’s just perfect! My grand-daughter will be celebrating her first birthday next month and I’m sure I could never come up with something this gorgeous. You’re so talented!

  13. That is an amazing dress! You did an awesome job on it! It is perfect for her party. The style of the dress reminds me a little of the dress I made for my daughter when she was a flower girl way back in 1987.


  14. Beautiful work, adorable recipient, BRAVO!!
    Isn’t it the BEST feeling when you can give friends something so special? I just love doing things like that and nothing is too hard then. But I know the feeling of sewing with these different fabrics…slippery, stretchy, tough, fuzzy…always make me want to go back to my quilting cottons as fast as I can! 🙂

  15. this dress is terribly beautiful in every way. oh i love it i love it i love it!!! your so talented

  16. What a fun creation! I love that circus fabric … I’ve used it for many, many things around here!