Friday, March 22, 2013

Mad Men Dress Challenge : At the half way point

Hi all!

I meant to write this blog post sooner, but the week kind of got away from me.  That may have something to do with going to the Chris Isaak concert on Wednesday night....

Yes, we got this close
Too much champagne + too little sleep = shockingly late blog post (and a lot of other things besides!)

But we are here now!  Last weekend was really productive on the Mad Men Dress front.  I pretreated my fabric (Easy!  Read more about it here) and organised my pattern.  Oh lawd the pattern!

I chose a pattern out of Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.  Now, I haven't made anything out of this book before, or any other books like it.  Let me describe the process for you.  I will leave out the bit where you tear out your own hair...

Inside the front cover of the book is an envelope that contains 5 big pieces of paper that are all folded up neatly.  These five pages are printed on both sides and contain every pattern piece needed for the patterns in the book.  All the pattern pieces randomly overlap each other and some go across two pieces of paper.  Also, they are all multi-sized, so each pattern piece has 6 or 7 outlines (one for each size).  Sounding like a nightmare yet???

And this one is an easy one!

You have to trace these onto pattern paper to make up the pattern you can use.

All I can say is that I'm REALLY HAPPY that this dress only has five pattern pieces (centre front, side front, back and two facings) cause tracing this thing nearly did my head in.  To be honest, it kind of puts me off sewing anything else from the book (any thing else more complicated anyway).

After the drudgery of tracing the pattern pieces I really couldn't bring myself to sew a muslin, so I went straight for the wool crepe and crossed my fingers.

But wait!  I tell a lie.

I did cut the top half of the centre front out of some crappy fabric so I could make the adjustments to it that I needed.  The original centre front looks like this:

And I obviously need a different shape to the front with my dress, so I attacked it with the scissors and ended up with this:

Much more like what I need!  I adjusted the paper pattern, made a new front facing and then went at the wool crepe.

And can I say that I am a convert.  I love wool crepe!  Oh so lovely to sew with HOWEVER god help you if you need to unpick anything.  You will NEVER find the stitches!

The dress came together really easily - even doing underarm gussets for the first time was simple.  Although I will admit I had to google for some more detailed instructions.  It led me to a post on Gertie's blog that contained much more information and showed photos - lifesaver!

By the end of the day I had this, which I am calling the wool outer of the dress:

 Please excuse the mess!

AND IT FITS!  Always a bit of a nightmare when you make something new without making a muslin...

So this weekend I will be making the lining and the detail pieces and putting it all together!  Its been so easy so far I'm waiting for something to go wrong!!!

Enjoy your weekends lovelies!



  1. Wool is just the best to work with - it is my favourite by far. So easy to sew - doesn't slip - hides stitches - is forgiving...I can't fault it :-)

    Loving your make here - bravo for attacking the pattern without a muslin. I haven't got to the Gertie patterns yet and I probably wont. They're too 50's for me and the single 40's style pattern I can easily find in vintage.

    How much are you looking forward to winter and being able to wear all that wool!? :-)

    1. Thanks Esz :) I'm either brave or silly depending on which way you look at it ;)

      I'm really looking forward to the cooler weather - so much so that I've already purchased more wool crepe to make another version of this dress. I think its going to become a wardrobe staple for me this winter!

  2. I understand fully your frustrations regarding the multiple pattern layouts in Gertie's book!! However if you are familiar with Burda Style magazine, that's exactly what you get!!

    I still haven't brought myself to copy out those patterns in Gertie's book. As for Burda style, I subscribe to the magazine, but if I see a pattern I like, I'll be that extra and purchase the downloadable version - just to avoid coping out the pattern. I think Gertie should have a similar scheme too!

    1. I'm not familiar with it Tanya. We don't have it here in Australia :)

      And I agree about the downloadable versions - I'd do that too. Maybe we should suggest it to the publishers, because they are working on Gertie's next book now!

  3. That is gonna be one sexy dress. Looks great. A lot of the Japanese patterns that come in magazines are multiple layouts. Pain in the butt to not get confused.

    1. Especially when the lines get really close together... Sometimes I just had to say 'oh, this'll do!!!'

  4. That dress is looking HOT! great work so far!

  5. oh so exciting!!!!! cant wait to see next steps!
    i've decided - exec decision as of about 30 min ago - that i'm NOT goign to keep myself from getting into my pretty summer and spring fabrics purchased on sale last fall (or 2 falls ago?) nor keep myself from all the fun dresses i want to wear this spring. my coat is going into the UFO bin not to see light til next fall! bring on the dresses :D

    1. Rebecca I think I just fell off my chair laughing hahahahahahahaha

    2. But yes, put the coat away - your not going to wear it now anyway :)

  6. On the thread thing, for lofty fabrics like wool crepe I use a contrasting thread (like a dark grey) for just that reason. The threads won't show in the finished garment and it makes it *much* easier to see things if I have to rip seams. Also wool crepe is notorious for showing press marks so when I press seams I always place a piece of muslin under the open seam to avoid a ridge on the right side. Pressing wool crepe from the right side really requires a press cloth (I like silk organza) for the same reason.

  7. Oh, Beccie... that looks AMAZING! You are going to look incredible in it when it's done! Love the little flip collar thing you did. So darn cute!

  8. This is looking so fabulous! I cannot wait to see the finished project.