Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mad Men Dress Challenge : Its Finished!!!

After possibly the biggest marathon sewing binge of my life, the Mad Men Dress is finished!

As we know from the last post, I started the weekend with the wool outer complete and a rather large amount of work ahead of me.

Excuse the mess...

Now this last Saturday I knew I was going to have extra time to sew, because my husband was attending his team's cricket grand final, then going out to either celebrate the win or drown the sorrows of the loss.  I would be going to pick him up at some point but I knew it was going to be late!

So first job was sewing the lining from that amazing magenta rayon.  This went together relatively easily apart from the underarm gussets.  They are not fun to do in this fabric...

Seriously, how fabulous is this colour!

Then I trimmed the facings with some bias tape, and sewed the lining and the facings to the wool outer.  Then came the arduous process of hand sewing the facings down to the lining, and the lining to the zipper.  And you know how much I love hand sewing.....

However, I thought I'd employ my new friend Wondertape!

I first saw this the other week over on Male Pattern Boldness (my favourite blog by the way) and I knew I had to have some.  Luckily I found a supplier in Australia that shipped it to me pretty damn quick!  I used it to put in a zipper on a top I was playing with and let me tell you its FAAAABULOUS.  It will change your life.

So anyway, I used it to secure the lining to the zipper tape so I could handsew it smoothly.

And as I thought it worked a treat!  I will be using this stuff all the time now... although probably more than I should considering how much it costs (AUD$8 a roll + shipping!!!).


Stella sleeps on...

Then I sewed bias tape to the wool hem, and turned it and hand stitched it to the lining.  More hand sewing!  Thank goodness for my headless helper and trash tv!

By this time it was dark outside, but considering I had no-one to look after but myself (and Stella - who I managed to feed at some point), I kept sewing.

Next job was the dickie, and this involved some thinking.  Now, to be the same as the reference dress, It should sit quite high, but still under the collarbone.  I know from past experience, that this isn't the best place to have a neckline for my figure.  So do I put it lower where I would like to wear it, or put it higher where it is on the reference dress???

Considering that the back neckline is different on the reference dress too (its up around the base of the neck, whereas mine dips to a V) I figured I could change this bit too - so I put it down where I wanted it.

It was right about now that I started to get super focussed / tired and therefore forgot to take photos of anything else I did... sorry!

Next, I made a 'belt' piece that gathered up at each seam or dart line.  I did this by making a hemmed long rectangle of the wool, pinning it to the dress and marking where to gather.  I then put a gather stitch at each of these points, pinned it back onto the dress and pulled the gathers - knotting off the threads so they wouldn't ungather them selves.  Then I took it back to the machine, stitched down the gathers so they would never ungather again, and turned the raw edge under where it met the zipper.  Then pinned it back to the dress and did yet more hand sewing to attach it to the dress.

It was about this time that I wondered why my husband hadn't called and I checked the time on my phone - 12.40am!!!!!!!

WHAAAAA!!!!   I had been sewing for about 14 hours!!!!!

I decided it was about time Steve came home so I headed off to get him and made it back to bed by 3am.

But of course I couldn't sleep in for thinking about getting this dress finished so I was back up again at 8am to finish it off.  I sewed in the cuffs, and made the bow for the front and finally I was finished!!!!

And here is my masterpiece!

This is the inside.  I love the way it looks good enough to wear this way around!

I have made a minor alteration to the cuffs since this was taken, 
but probably no-one but me will notice!

Here is a detail shot of the front where you can see the 
gathered 'belt' bit and the bow.

So now all that remains is to put it on and have someone take photos of me!  And given that it is autumn here I was hoping to have a coolish day where I could wear it to work.  Not so - its been 30+ celcius (so over 86 fahrenheit) since last Friday, with no cooler temps in sight!  Looks like I'll be putting it on briefly for photos only, so I don't sweat in it!

I personally am REALLY HAPPY with how this dress has turned out, even though its different in places to the reference dress.  The original pattern was simple and flattering and I'm now in love with wool crepe.  In fact I've got more coming so I can make another dress - I have a feeling wool crepe and this pattern are going to be a staple for me in the coming winter!

So what do you all think?  How have I gone?



  1. Oooh lovely, the best is adorable, the colour of the wool crepe is great!!
    Love to see pics of you in it ;)
    I think you made the right choice with the pattern too!

  2. It's fantastic. I love the cute bow and the colour. Can we see photos of you wearing it please?

    1. You will Claire! Just hoping that it cooks down a bit in the next couple of days so I don't sweat instantly when I put it on! If it doesn't I'll turn the air conditioning to very cold and do it anyway!

  3. Thanks for all those detailed photos and descriptions of your process. I just love those rare occasions when you get into the swing of something without realising the time! So productive.
    SUPERB dress!!

    1. Thanks Nessa - and yes its fabulous to have the opportunity to get into the 'zone' with a project. But gee I paid for it the next day... so tired!

  4. FANTABULOUS ! And you're going to look a million $$$$$ ! Well done and thanks for sharing it all with us.

  5. Both are so cute! I love the bow!

    1. Hi Marianne - by both do you mean the inside and the outside? I love the way both look too - love the magenta on the blue!

  6. Amazing fit and thank you for sharing your process.

    BTW, wool's for warmth, but it's the most breathable textile in the world. Forget those "breathable" textiles that stink like their petroleum forebears when you sweat in them; fine wool is cool in the summer, warm in winter, and doesn't have the stench of synthetics. Oops, a rant. I love wool and I hate synthetic fibers. Back on point: your dress is lovely!

    1. You totally have a point about it being breathable... but I did line it with rayon which probably cancels out the breathability... I think I'll look for something natural (silk maybe) to line my next one :) Thanks for the reminder! Oh, and I'm glad you love it!

  7. That is fabulous! Of course I expected nothing but fabulous from you! :D

    The Fictionista

  8. Beautifully crafted. Who won the cricket grand final?

    1. Thanks Alex!

      To be honest, I didn't think anyone would be interested, but now that you've asked - it wasn't my husband's team. It was a long night of drunken commiserations...

  9. LOVE it! cant wait to see it on you! and as alex asked who won ?

    1. Thanks Rebecca - will hopefully be taking photos tomorrow :) See above for who won ;)

  10. Vavavoom! This dress is beyond fabulous!! I love the bodice material as well and that bow is amazing!!

  11. Admin can you show the photos with wearing this dress..??
    Cus this dress is looking gorgeous and funtastic.
    And m waithing when you show me picture of wearing this dress...
    Clother Style

    1. Hi Jhon - you can find pictures of me wearing my finished dress here : http://www.sewretrorose.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/mad-men-dress-challenge-at-last-its.html