Mad Men dress challenge: It’s done!

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It’s done! It’s out there! Here it is!

Um… can you tell I’m super-excited about this dress?

As soon as Julia Bobbin laid down her stylish gauntlet for the Mad Men challenge, I jumped in with both feet. ‘I was so excited I almost peed my pants!’ (Can you guess the film quote?)

After thinking long and hard, I simply had to follow Julia’s lead and take the Joanie challenge. This is the dress I chose:

Joan Holloway - blue

Now I know what you’re gonna say – hmm Joanne the trim is a bit different and it’s not exactly the same shape and I’m pretty sure that’s not wool crepe in the Joanie pic and… LISTEN. It’s an inspirational starting point right? And, um, I forgot to check the original pic when I was putting on the trim and by the time I realised I should have had the ribbon going DOWN instead of ACROSS the dress it was too late and anyway I love my little dress so shush. Let’s not speak of it again. Just like that time with the chihuahua and the lit candle ok? Our little secret.

So, onto more pics.

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I used Simplicity 5961 for the challenge. What a lovely easy pattern it was to sew! Honestly, once I had the bits all cut out it was a cinch to put them all together. In terms of adjustments I reduced the shoulder width by 3/4″ each side and reduced the bodice width by about 1/4″ to the waist area.I had bought ribbon for the trim but bias binding worked much better on the curves. I liked it so much – I stuck it on the sleeves as well!

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Hmm where is that naughty Scrappy doo? And has anyone seen Scooby?

The whole thing is underlined with royal blue polyester satin – it really feels like a properly-made dress. My first lined dress – hooray!

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Channelling Bowie in that pic. TBH this dress kinda reminds me of my school uniform. But this is a GOOD THING because actually I really loved my school and have many fond memories of time there. So this dress is going to be called: The Rathmore in honour of my former alma mater.

How about you? Have you done your Mad Men dress already or are you frantically sewing away to get it finished in time for Julia’s big post? Don’t forget to check out Julia’s blog on 1st April for the big reveal of all the dresses!

Mad Men dress challenge – a wee tiny peek

I know I’ve been very quiet this last week but it’s not for want of sewing to talk about! I’ve been uber-busy on my Mad Men dress (part of Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men challenge). I made massive leaps and strides over the weekend and the first part of the week. I danced on the heads of pins, leapt gazelle-like into the gaping maws of the zipper and skipped my way to the hem-finishing-line… then I got a tummy bug.

So it slowed down a bit. But wanna see a sneaky peek? I just have to hem it now and all is done! Apologies for crappy mobile phone pic but it is a peek after all :)

I mustn’t reveal the finished item until Julia says it’s OK. Then I shall pirouette across the interwebs in it. Can’t wait to see all the other Mad Men dresses busily under construction out there – can you?

Mad Men: The challenge

Disclaimer: If this all goes t*ts up, please don’t be disappointed in me.

Fact 1. I love Mad Men. I’m a relative late comer to the series and had to catch up using certain nefarious websites and DVD box sets, but now I’m absolutely 100% hooked.

Fact 2: I love Julia Bobbin. Her dresses are always super-cute and flattering and her pics are to die for. She’s also a dab hand at adapting and creating her own patterns.

Fact 3: Julia Bobbin is also a BIG fan of Mad Men, and when I say fan I mean she’s openly admitted to hunkering down for the night with binoculars just outside their open windows (in her head anyway).

Fact 4: Julia has thrown down the gauntlet to stitchers everywhere with her Mad Men Dress Challenge: Recreate a dress from the series by the end of March.

Fact 5: I must be certifiably insane as I have signed up.

Fact 6: I have no more facts so let’s stop this nonsense.

Yes, it’s true. Despite the fact that I am woefully behind on the Minoru sewalong and I’ve signed up to Tilly’s One Pattern, One Week challenge which entails making at least another – possibly two – Violet blouses, I said YES JULIA.  I quite literally dribbled when I read Julia’s post. I may have had a little cry too, right there at my desk.

I’ve been pinning pics of Mad Men dresses on Pinterest and doing google image searches for hours, but I keep coming right back to one dress. In fact, the dress which may have inspired Julia to create the challenge in the first place. This one:

Joan Holloway - blue

It’s just too wonderful to resist. Julia has created the most divine version of this dress. I only wish I had her skillz in being able to draft patterns, but after a long search I think I’ve come up with a pattern to fit. I hope she doesn’t mind me shamelessly copying!

I’ve just purchased Simplicity 5961 on Etsy. I think the empire bust line is perfect and in fact the A-line skirt will be more wearable for my small height. I really do want this dress to be something I can wear a lot.

Simplicity 5961

I’ve already chosen and purchased two metres of royal blue pure wool crepe from Truro fabrics. Sheeesh – it was expensive. Whoever said making your own clothes is a money-saving option needs their head read.

If you’d like to sign up to this awesome challenge just mosey on over to Julia’s blog where she has a button and deets all waiting for you.

Wish me luck!

Completed project: New Look 6000 – The Holloway

It defied a lapped zipper, it balked at a lining, it tried to do a vanishing act before my very eyes! But I defeated it! Ladies and gents… introducing… The Holloway, brought to you in association with New Look 6000 frock fest.

Inspired by Scruffy’s fabulous Pan Am photoshoot I’ve tried and failed to recreate a sixties office in North London, so instead here is Joanie (aka Joann-ie) at home, dusting and whatnot, as ladies in the sixties were wont to do. Thankfully we now live in more enlightened times and take husbands to do much of that for us.

Out with the old and in with the new as Joannie takes down the Christmas tree…

Holloway at the Christmas tree

Who wants a Dark and Stormy? (some odd creasing going on there around the bust – think I just need to pull the dress down a bit there. Plus I see my eager ironing of the bias bound hem has resulted in a visible border around the hem! Ack!)

Who wants a dark and stormy?

I subscribe to the Dean Martin school of drinking: “I’d hate to be a teetotaler. Imagine getting up in the morning and knowing that’s as good as you’re going to feel all day.”

Drink for one

Tidying up the armoire…

Dusting the armoire New Look 6000

And now for the infamous Joanie shot. Will it hold? Will it???!!!!

The Holloway shot

Jeez Louise… just about… hooray!

This year I will be trying to add more thoughts about the patterns I attempt, not just to give more info to anyone who might be thinking of trying it out but also for my own (entirely selfish reasons) use when I revisit.

Pattern review: New Look 6000 (View C with gathered waist)

Difficulty rating for StitchandWitter: 2.5/5

Fabric used: 2m of golden brown tweedy woven wool(?) that frayed VERY easily once cut (yikes) and some spare teal corduroy-covered buttons from making the Betty Blue Beignet, plus a 22 inch all purpose zipper and interfacing. Fabric was a couple of quid a metre from Walthamstow market.

Total cost of dress (not including pattern): Approx £6 (pattern was £12.72 including shipping from US)

Fitting issues: Well I was a little optimistic with my sizing, after all those Christmas feasts. I looked at the finished garment measurements and cut out an 8, which was a smidgeon too small in the waist and butt in my muslin (thank god I did a muslin). I had already cut out the pattern (instead of tracing it as I normally do on to swiss tracing paper – the impatient me was dying to get on with it) so I just sellotaped on a bit more paper around that problem area on the back piece and added about a centimetre to the outer edge. I also scooped out some width across the back with a crazy dart in the pattern piece, removing about 4 centimetres in total which on reflection might have been too much (not to mention probably the wrong way to remove width in that area) but hey ho.

Making issues: The pleated waist and the cutting of the front on the bias was a new thing for me and a little daunting, but it all made sense when you gathered up one side. My lapped zipper totally and utterly failed and just looks like a normal zipper. Must go back to lapped zipper school…

Skills learned: Adding a vent, adding a cuff with a kick, pleating, cutting on the bias. NOT a lapped zipper. Adding bias binding to finish the hem.

Anything to add? I really really wanted to add a lining to this dress but when it came to the crunch I was just a little too scared by the prospect, having not lined a dress before. I’ll revisit once I have more skills under my belt. I also wanted to finish the inside seams better than they currently are, but at the rate the fabric was fraying it was all I could do to add a zigzag stitch before they disappeared! As a result I’m not sure how long this dress will last or whether it will hold up to serious wear or whether I will be able to stand the scratchiness of the inside (so that’s what hair shirts feel like – I see!). But for now, it’s all mine…

Will I make again? Hell yeah – love this style. It’s so flattering and grown up. Better get me some kind of serious job just so I can wear it to work now…

Dusting

Paying my dues to the pattern blues

Faced with the self-realisation that I am a sewing slattern, brought on by last week’s tussling with a certain Peony we shall not mention, I decided to turn over a new leaf this week and make a bladdy muslin.

It was inevitable really, since I wanted to adapt the pattern anyway. I’m hoping to transform Simplicity 4082…

Simplicity 4082

…into something resembling Trudy’s elegant jacket in Mad Men. Given that I’ve never adapted a pattern before I’m pretty circumspect about the whole thing. But if we don’t try children, how can we ever lean how to f@$! things up as adults, huh?

I started by checking out the back of the pattern to work out which size to cut. According to that I needed to cut out a size 12. But when I looked at the pattern pieces it was obvious even to my untrained eye that these pieces were humungous. Come on Simplicity – at this rate you’d have me in a deflated beach ball. So I chanced my arm and cut out a 6 which looked way better, although even still slightly billowy and boxy.

Simplicity 4082 - before the chop

I wanted to create that nice curved edge that Trudy has on her jacket opening, as well as reduce some of the extra roominess under the arms and around the shoulders. So I got my pencil and my scisssors out – and this is where I’m at for now.

Simplicity 4082 - after the chop

Simplicity 4082 back pleat

I think there’s a lot more still to do if I want to try and copy Trudy’s jacket. Mine is still very roomy, and those shoulders (is that a raglan sleeve?) don’t fit the Trudy brief, nor does the pleat at the back. Or the high neckline. Hmpf! I’m slightly worried about veering too far off-pattern though. What do you think? Should I ‘channel’ Trudy rather than try and copy whole-sale? Does that way madness lie?

A cute little jacket inspired by Mad Men

Call me Ginny-come-lately if you like, but I’m finally getting into Mad Men. We got series 1 & 2 on DVD recently and we’re already more than halfway though (no spoilers please!). So now I see what all the fuss is about. It’s not just some flippant little period piece with less substance than one of Christina Hendricks’ bra straps, oh no. But I’m not going to wax lyrical about it – it’s all been said already. What I will say is ‘hello you little swingy cheeky polka-dot jacket you’, modelled so prettily by Trudy, Pete’s wife.

Isn’t it so cute? Inspired by Handmade Jane‘s latest coat project I went off in search of a suitable pattern to bring this little baby to life. I figured as long as I got something in the right dimensions with the Peter Pan collar, I could  adjust the front to be a little more curved and swingy. I found Simplicity 4082 for that very purpose.

Simplicity 4082

Cover shots aside (hello? can someone call the granny out of Golden Girls and tell her someone’s stealing her style?) this is a very cute jacket pattern and has the possibility of infinite (well alright – let’s say ‘lots of’) permutations.

I’m toying with two possible versions: a polkadot (naturally) for a sort of indoors jacket to be worn over a long sleeve top with jeans, and a light coat for spring (or even a mild winter’s day if over a jumper) using the remainder of the teal corduroy I used for the Betty Blue Beignet. I feel it’s a suitable stepping stone towards making my own coat, something which I’d love to do at some point next year. There’s no way I’m ready for it at the moment, and to be honest nor do I feel the inclination to start such a scary project this side of Christmas. So this is good.

P.S. I’ve just realised that the title of this post indicated some kind of finished project for you to view.  Whoops. I haven’t even started it yet… I’m just thinking aloud…