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