Mad Men Dress Challenge

You might have noticed a new badge on the left: the Mad Men dress challenge. The goal is simple: Find a dress on Mad Men that you love and create your own version. The idea comes from JuliaBobbin and being a Mad Men fan… I just couldn’t resist.

I ploughed through countless images and videos of the show, trying to find something to make. Then I found this article from Tom & Lorenzo, featuring a pretty purple dress worn by Joan. Ha! There you go! That’s what I’m going to make!

I have a purple double knit I’ve meant to use for ages, but could never find enough inspiration. I love the color. And I think the shade is pretty close to Joan’s dress, don’t you think?

To make the dress, as much as I would like to use my pattern sloper and draft everything on my own, because I’m short on time I decided to go for my trusted Simplicity 2648 Amazing Fit pattern, with the V-neck. I’ll make simple sleeves (probably borrowed from another Amazing Fit pattern I own – I love that collection!) and draft the collar and the ‘tie’ at the front.

Let’s see what I end up with 🙂

But no sewing for me today, it’s time for some pampering at the hairdresser!


Little red jacket

Finally! I finished my jacket! I meant to make that jacket last year already, but never got around to do it (struggling with RSI doesn’t exactly help either). The Lined Jacket Contest on PR gave me the extra motivation boost I needed, and I managed to enter my project a few days before the deadline!

I’m cross-posting my review below, I hope you won’t mind…

Pattern Description:
McCall’s 5525: MISSES’ AND WOMEN’S LINED JACKETS, COATS AND BELT: Semi-fitted, lined, double-breasted jacket and coat have collar, lengths and sleeve variations, shoulder pads, princess seams and side front pockets;

I made view A, but without the belt: 1) I didn’t have enough fabric for the belt, and 2) I don’t like belts on jackets.

Pattern Sizing:
8-16, 18W-24W. I graded the pattern up to what would be the equivalent of a 26W. By the way, on the garment picture it appears that the jacket is too narrow at the hips area – this is only because my dress form is ‘wearing’ a very poofy petticoat underneath! On me, the jacket isn’t pulling at all.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
I think it does yes. Of course I ain’t as small as the model (and neither is my dress form!) but the general look of it is spot on.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, they were. The perspective of making a lined jacket is always daunting, so I was really pleased to find clear, concise and logical instructions. I made the jacket, lining included, in about a day, there weren’t any moment of doubt. All the pattern pieces went together beautifully, all notches and circles and squares matching.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the rounded collar detail, it’s so different from the classic trench coat style. I also like the top-stitching of the princess seams, the collar and the front flaps, it gives it a neat finish.

My major dislike is the sleeves. I have large upper arms, so I need all the extra room I can get to be comfortable. I measured the sleeves and added an extra 2 cm, using an alteration method similar to the one described here. Unfortunately, I guess I didn’t measure properly because the sleeves are still a bit tight. Not enormously tight, I am still comfortable, but I could have used an extra centimeter! Silly me for not trying on the jacket BEFORE putting the lining in – and I struggled so much with the lining fabric sliding away in all directions (ugh – I hate linings!) that I really didn’t want to unpick the lining to sew the sleeves again with a smaller seam allowance. Lesson learned. Looking at the pictures on the pattern, the sleeves actually look very narrow, which doesn’t really make sense for a jacket or a coat because you’re always going to wear something underneath! (well, most people do 😛 )

Fabric Used:
For the outer shell, I used a cotton/lycra blend I had in my stash, of light-to-medium weight. I pre-treated my outer fabric with a wash-in waterproofing liquid. Look at the pearls of water, illustrating the water-repellent effect!

The lining is an animal print polyester, if I’m not mistaken. Very slippery. It reminded me why I hate sewing linings! Perhaps I should invest in better quality lining fabrics… but I just couldn’t resist the animal print on that one, it looks so nice in contrast to the red outer fabric!

The pattern calls for shoulder pads, and I used felt pads such as these. The shop described them as ‘old-fashioned coat shoulder pads’, but I would describe them as ‘great shoulder pads for tailoring’! They give a nice and sharp shoulder edge, and because they are a bit larger, they ‘wrap’ better around the shoulder. I’m really happy with these pads and I will certainly buy them again for my next coat or jacket.

The interfacing fabric I used is a very lightweight woven fusible, Vlieseline G785. It was recommended to me because of the lycra content and the lighter weight of my outer fabric. The resulting garment is nice and supple, but with enough body to retain its shape. I’m really happy with my choice!

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
As I said above, I graded the pattern to a 26W, and added an extra 2 cm to the upper sleeve width using a standard slash and spread method. I didn’t make the belt, as I don’t like belts on coats or jackets.

Another small change I made is using a large snap instead of a button on the inside. I first made a buttonhole on the left front and sewed a button on the inside on the right, as instructed. But I struggled so much trying to button it when putting on my jacket, that I decided to go for an easier solution: a large snap. Much more user-friendly! Since the buttonhole was already made, I had to close it with a wide zigzag stitch. There’s no way I can hide it, but I can live with that, it’s the flap that goes inside anyway.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I don’t think I will sew it again, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great pattern. I just have other unused jackets patterns in my stash! But I would definitely recommend it.

It’s a nice pattern with great variations on the classic trench coat style.

40’s Swing Dress Sew-Along – preparing for the muslin

Quick update on the sew-along. It’s been a crazy week, with ups and downs as far as my health is concerned. Stupid cold. I think I’m on my way to recovery, but it’s taking me longer than I would have liked!

Anyway, this week was when we were supposed to prepare for the muslin of the Swing Dress Sew-Along. First, I needed to stick some sheets together:

This part went well. If you don’t change the order of the sheets once they come out of the printer, it’s pretty easy to figure out what goes where. The order of some sheets was changed though, and it took me some time to put them back in the right order! Here are my pattern pieces, ready to be used:

To adjust the pattern, I didn’t use the pieces directly, I traced them first on my tracing paper:

Based on my measurements, I traced what would be the equivalent of a size 28 (the pattern goes up to size 26). And even then, when I compared my block to the pattern pieces… pffff… I had to add sometimes up to 2″ to the side seams! The sleeve head and the armscye were the biggest challenges. Among the other major changes, I lengthened the front bodice of about 2″, along with adding a 2nd dart to the back skirt. I don’t have pictures of all these changes, but I will make sure I highlight them on my muslin once it’s sewn, so you can see (and perhaps tell me what I did wrong, ha!).

To be continued…

40’s Swing Dress Sew-Along – fabric choice

As I said in my previous post, I don’t own many rayon or crepe fabrics.  And when I do, I certainly don’t have enough to make a dress! Following Casey’s suggestion last week, I decided to use 2 different fabrics for the bodice and the belt+skirt:

The fabric on the left is some navy poly fabric that has some sort of very fine ribbing. Not too thick, and just enough body and drape to hold its shape when made into the belt and the skirt. I’m not planning on making the ties. On the right, is a rayon (and poly?) fabric in navy with polka dots in an irregular pattern. With some red accents in accessories, I think the result will be smashing! The solid navy fabric has some stretch, so it will be comfortable to wear to work. On the other hand, the rayon fabric doesn’t have any stretch at all, and that worries me. I usually don’t wear clothes that don’t have any stretch, especially at the shoulders and sleeves. But I’m confident that by altering the pattern using my block, it should be ok. The block is built for wovens, we’ve tested it with a non-stretch fabric and it was actually quite comfortable, believe it or not. (By the way, I haven’t discussed the Swing Dress pattern with my drafting teacher this week as planned, instead we worked on 2 other patterns. They will be discussed in another post ;-))

According to the sew-along schedule, I should be preparing for the muslin the coming week. This should be interesting!