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Julia Bobbin’s Man Men Dress Challenge

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So at the last minute I am happy to say that my Mad Men inspired dress (as part of Julia Bobbin’s mad men challenge) is complete!

Those who follow me on instagram have witnessed my dress angst. I love the final result, but I am not exaggerating when I say: this dress made me crazy! I even became a bit superstitious about it towards the end. It seemed like a simple and easy design, but much like Don Draper attempting to have a monogamous relationship- it was doomed from the start! Anyway, more on that later (the dress, not Don sorry)…So here is the inspiration:

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I am not even going to attempt to do a Megan Draper impersonation, shes so fabulous and beautiful but I look nothing like her and besides the old fashioned telephone is at my parents house…my boyfriend and I don’t even have a landline!  Kind of wish I had my ears pierced so I could rock some earrings with this dress!

Feel free to click on the images to englage! They look better that way and my blog template shrinks them down a lot 😦

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I lost track of all the alterations I made to this dress, because there were so many. The main problem was the neck and the stand collar. When I originally tried it on, it was so tight and restrictive that I could not see myself ever wearing it. I think the burda pattern I used was an original repro pattern! Folks back then must have been used to things that were restrictive around the neck, but I just can’t handel anything that is too tight there (and my neck is not big)!

I took the side seams of the dress in and because of this alteration I also had to take the sleeves in, which in turn probably made the neckline even tighter!

Initially I thought I could just reduce the tightness in the neck by sewing out into the seam alloance a bit, but that did not do enough. I eventually ended up cutting off about 1 cm from the collar and the neckline and reattaching the collar. Golly there were a lot of tucks to contend with.

This project got me very well acquainted with my unpicker! Another challenge was the unusual darts at the shoulders. Even though these sleeves are raglan sleeves, they had these curved shoulder darts, which probably enhanced the fit, but boy did I re-sew those shoulder darts many times, very tricky to get them right (everyone’s shoulders are unique especially mine).

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I really like the fit of the dress, it’s sort of semi fitted. The print placement is OK. I am pretty proud of the placement on the little stand collar…The sleeves are so cute! I love the slight belle effect. Going through my photos I noticed how many of them had me with hands on hips, but that’s just because it makes the sleeves look cool, I promise!

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I really like the curved bust darts! So many 60’s dresses have them and I was surprised that they give a good fit. I also really enjoy wearing this fabric, it’s a cotton of some description and it has a bit of stretch, seems to be the perfect dress weight! Sorry about the shoes! I wish I had cute 60s shoes, I have been on the lookout for some!

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Despite my lack of expertise on the topic, I feel like this really does have a late 60s feel, I don’t know if someone as glamours as Megan Draper would wear it, but for a silly gal like me it works. As soon as Sydney gets cooler I will wearing it with some tights perhaps black or an embellished fishnet pattern!

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I can’t wait to see everyone Mad Men dresses and I am VERY excited about Mad Men’s return. I actually thought last season was one of the best, but if I told you more about my views on the show, I would risk revealing spoilers….

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The fit of the back is good :). Ugh 😦 I hate short hair that is long at the back! this is before the back of my hair was trimmed…Looks better now.

Who else is looking forward to the final season of Mad Men?

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Click the above image to enlarge it. The image is nice and large but my wordpress template shrinks it in the post 😦

Now that I am completely enamored with shift dresses, I thought I would create a collage of inspiration. That way, when I have found a shift dress pattern that works for me, I can add some cute details and tweaks inspired by vintage sewing patterns of the 60s. Hope it inspires you too!

Now we’re getting somewhere…..I do have a soft spot of the crowded house song for the same name haha. Wow I just discovered that was released a year after I was born hehe… yey 80s!

ANYWAY…Check out my 4th Muslin or Toile for  Simplicity 3823 (Its just the bodice/top part the skirt i’m wearing is just to stop you getting and eyeful/seeing my belly)

LOL I do kind of love my goofy expression!

I almost gave up on this dress but now I figured out the obvious fitting issue that would make the top of the bodice sit better (I am still working on the back and the band).

It was so obvious but for some silly reason I originally resisted my urge to lower the streamline connecting the gathered front halter piece to the midsection/band. It was not sitting under my bust, resulting in a bad fit.

If I just asked myself “How do I differ from a size 10 fitting model?” I would have made the right adjustment a long time ago.

So how do I differ? I am not a small bra cup/size and I am not ahem as erm….lets just say my breasts don’t naturally sit high up near my armpits and I am NOT a teenager.

Moral of the story is WHERE things are sitting can be just as important as HOW things are sitting.

As for the midriff band I made so many dodgey winging-it alterations on things I can sort of see why it would be pulling. But I am addressing that next!

Rather than following the dreaded suggestion from the pattern of putting boning in the back I am planning on just adding shirring to the back . I know Betty drapers dress would be a lot more dressy but this is my spin on the dress so I decided its still accepatable.

I have never worked with shirring/shirring elastic before but I found a good tutorial here.

Gertie also has one called “Making a Shirred-Back Dress”. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

That would solve the fitting issues in the back and ensure it stays up rather than the dreaded suggestion from the pattern of putting boning in the back.

Rule of thumb: The uglier the pattern pieces become-the better the fit. Haha Amateur pattern adjustments TO THE MAX.

I SHALL FINISH THIS DRESS.

I am going on a big trip to Europe soon so I better keep working on it.

Hmmm  Perhaps I should name every post after songs I like. Would that be wrong?

So far, so….um…. this is the best I can do at the moment!

I have wasted what feels like the whole day on trying to fit this dress.

I  had better remind myself that the things that are the most frustrating are often what you learn the most from.

I don’t even think I should wear/suit a halter neck style dress for reasons I’m not sure I should share (lets just say it is to do with my bust and leave it there).

After my third muslin I decided that I am just going to sew up/in lots of/most of/hopefully all of my corrections  directly onto muslin version 3. I changed the thread I used for different corrections.

I am semi worried about how I am going to transfer all these alterations at least semi-accuratley to my pattern, because I usually do some small corrections then new muslin, small corrections then new muslin etc. But this has a ton of alterations and it is very confusing. Use Muslin as pattern?

Other concerns:

The back is wack as you can see! According to the Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook  “Tight diagonal wrinkles mean that there is not enough fabric to go round the curve. you will need to add fullness to the curve making the area both longer and wider”. Apparently where the wrinkles are pointing too indicates where you need more fullness. Shorten back bodice increase mid to lower waist? or perhaps decrease volume where back goes in and add fabric to side seam. God only knows!

After reading more of the Colette Handbook I realize I need to be using techniques such as spreading or and pivoting to alter my patterns and stop doing things the dodgy way.

Also after all these dodgy changes I made the side seams are not where they are supposed to be.

Another thing to consider: I am not putting boning in so perhaps I should have a elastic in casing on the back. Or I could kill this whole back problem by shirring (which I have never tried before)

Also must add:

Gape darts. Doesn’t look gapey but what about when the lining is added and the excess SA is folded in…

Must make underarm bigger and ensure it covers my bra. Have to wear a one strap bra with this style when you are busty.

Phew I am sure I am missing some more issues but trying to get the fit right on this dress has totally exhausted me.

Simplicity 3823 just may haunt my dreams and continue to trouble me in ways never imagined possible.

I have decided I am going to participate in Julia Bobbin’s Man Men Dress Challenge.

She is an amazing blogger who’s creations are always super cute/inspiring! I just love her Peggy Olsen Gingham Dress!

The deadline for creating a Mad Men-inspired dress is Friday, March 30.

I have never participated in a challenge so whether or not I get it done by then is anyones guess.

The above dress is what I am planning on making… (To read more about this dress visit this site)

Last night I went trawling through Mad Men images. I remember after I watched the first season of Mad Men I took a bunch of screen caps. It is just filled with inspiring looks, but you dont need me to tell you that… Janie Bryant does such an amazing job.

Ah the 60s has always been my favorite era in fashion as I love the femininity and glamour.

I found so many dresses I wanted to try and make. I think Joan is the most stylish and her looks always compliment her gorgeous curves so well (eg the tailored sheath dresses and pencils skirts)!

Unfortunately I don’t have any fabric in any of the colours that she wears :(.

I got a little sad and disheartened because I thought I had lots of fabric… but I have NO FABRIC that resembles any of the looks that I love on the show! I have a lot of bright colours and bold patterns in my stash!

I went fabric shopping today and I found a cotton in a hot pink that is sort of similar in colour to the dress worn by Betty Draper (or whatever her new last name is now) in the above photo.

My fabric is a lightweight cotton with a very narrow pinstripe, while the dress Betty is wearing is a Silk Taffeta.

I know Taffeta behaves very differently to a cotton but thats OK. I am more of a casual girl (I never have occasion to wear taffeta gowns!).

Below is my fabric and possible pattern choices

Simplicity 3823 most resembles the bodice of Bettys dress (there is a seam under the gathered bust) but I want to add some kind of wrap-over detail and the waist like butterick 4919.

So I just may be making a Betty-inspired dress which she chose because she was inspired by Marylin Monroe.