Thursday, 7 March 2013

Mad men challenge - dress inspiration

I've been really looking forward to Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge.

When I started sewing garments and reading blogs last year, everyone was participating and I was too new to sewing and still losing weight, so I didn't enter.  But this year I am definitely in!

I've had a pinboard since Julia announced the challenge in January.  I pinned loads of dresses and patterns, but only a couple really stuck in my head.
I have finally chosen the dress i am going for. I was keen to pick something I would definitely wear in future - much as I love a Joan-style wiggle dress or a full-skirted Betty frock complete with petticoats, they aren't all that compatible with my usual daily life or work/ commute/ sit on floor playing dolls with 4 year old!

So it was always going to be one of Peggy's dresses for me. I need it to be a bit cake like - not totally frosting! I love her peter pan collars and subtle patterns or solids.  I also wanted one that I haven't seen too many different versions of. So I picked this one:

Source:  Vanity Fair
  It's a lovely plain navy dress with inverted box pleats with lovely flashes of red inside them. It's a quite high at the neck as is common in vintage dresses from around that time I have tried. And by a happy coincidence I think I have a great start point for the bodice - the ubiquitous New Look 6000 aka the polkadot frock!

Source:  Pattern Review

 I bought the pattern planning to do Scruffy Badger's sewalong but the pattern was out of stock until mid February and I ran out of time. I'm thinking view E bodice with the short sleeves (on view A) - the slightly lower neckline will work better for me. And I'll draft a skirt. I have found a tutorial for the pleats and inserting the contrast panels.

You can see on this one that it's actually navy rather than black as I had originally thought:

And on this image, the cute buttoned side tabs are clearer - ideal that NL 6000 has a centre back zip.  Although I am now taking a closer look and realising the side tabs are actually a belt!

Can anyone help on how big the skirt should be? Am thinking maybe a half circle? I also need to choose fabric. Would you go for a stable knit or a woven (as the pattern works for wovens or doubleknits)?  Would the pleats work in a knit or would I be better to go for a woven?  Any help/ advice much appreciated!

Oh, and I'm now on Twitter and loving it!  You can follow me on the side bar on else find me on there @jolittletime


  1. LOVE your dress inspiration choice! I would make it with a woven because of the pleats - they will hold crisp shape better.

    Try a mockup with scrap fabric (cheap bedsheets are great for this!) and just straight pleat a skirt rectangle to match waist seam size to see if the fullness is good at the hem. You can adjust from there but straight (not tapered) pleating would be the easiest.

    Can't wait to see your version! =)

    1. that's what i was thinking brooke. that's a great help on the skirt - i always use bedsheets for that sort of thing! i guess i could add more fullness to the mai fabric sections and keep the pleats straight. thanks for your advice (and the pattern link on twitter!)

  2. oh fab inspirations.. cannot wait to see it ready

    1. thanks rachel! hope it looks as good in real life as it does in my head!

  3. I have the NL6000 and my polkadot frock only half finished :-/ ... But I love your plan. And that is definitely a great "cake" choice for the madmen challenge! Looking forward to seeing it! ~Laurie

    1. Thanks laurie! Since I have the pattern I might as well use it (and I'll have the bodice fitting done for when I make the actual nl 6000 dress!). Look forward to seeing yours when you get it finished

  4. Ooh, good luck! You've chosen a stunner! xx


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