Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Mad Men Dress Challenge 2: The Betty

Well, here it is. After months of work, and learning new things, and a few screw ups, here is my Mad Men Dress Challenge 2 dress: The Betty.
So, it's not an exact replica, I know, but it is as close as I can get it. So, here's the rundown.

I am so immensely proud of all the pattern changes I did with this dress. Considering I really have only just started sewing a few months ago, I've impressed myself. I have changed the shaping of the front dart, added a bust dart to get rid of front neck gape, altered the way the back pieces came together, and added shoulder darts, to get rid of the back neck gape.

The Niagara River and a giant cliff right behind me. I live on the edge to bring you the best photo shoots. You're welcome.
THEN, I made the two back bodice pieces into one piece, accounting for the lack of zipper, seam allowances, etc.; I separated the one front bodice piece into two pieces, adding a button placket to both sides. I then drafted my own button placket stabilizers, and drafted my own collar (!). It's nowhere near perfect, but I'm pretty stoked.

I also changed the skirt pattern so that instead of two small pleats on the front, the skirt was box pleated, showing the green stripes at the front, just like the original Betty dress.

This is the best I can de-wrinkle this material to show you my box pleats. I know, you are not impressed. I am. Deal with it!
 I learned how to use my buttonhole maker (This was frustrating because it was just a tiny step that I kept skipping over.), I made some bias binding without one of those bias-maker doohickeys, and closed the armholes with said bias tape.

I am laughing at.....

...this beast.
I took my time, and ended up with some killer top stitching on my button placket. Like, killer.

I feel pretty good about my pattern matching on the skirt portion. I matched it up on the sides pretty well, and also, where the seams were on the front middle, and back middle, I made sure that the pattern followed exactly so that you can hardly tell there is a seam at all. Hooray!

In order to get into the dress, I knew I would need a side zipper in addition to the buttons, just because of the way the dress is drafted. Well, I wanted to put in a lapped zipper, and I nearly cut off the fabric I needed to do so. So I did a sort of hack job of fixing it, not helped at all by the weird-o stretching ways of the fabric (see below), but it doesn't look horrible. I was rushing to be finished (I was excited) and next time I will try to remember to think things through more.

Here I am trying to show you my zipper, but I didn't tell Trevor that is what I want to show, so you get this awkward photo. :)
Also, on one of the armholes, I didn't think the bias binding through as well as I should have. So instead of a pretty finished look, one of the armholes is just haphazardly stitched together. Again, I need to slow down, especially near the end.

That's right, you have the pleasure of seeing my stupid faces. :)

I think the hem might be a little off, but it is hardly noticeable, no biggie there.

The collar, although in "the good", isn't perfect. It sticks up a wee bit in the back, and I had to tack the front bits down so that they stayed where they are supposed to. I think it is because on my muslin, there was more seam allowance to keep the collar in place, whereas here, I miraculously managed to create only a tiny seam allowance. Which, worked out not in my favour, go figure. But that can be easily fixed next time. Plus the front where it meets in the "centre" isn't quite perfect, but hey! Get off my back, wouldja!?

See, I am unimpressed with you for not getting off my back. GEEZE.
This fabric. I don't mean that the fabric itself is ugly. What I mean is I should have waited before choosing my fabric. Or at least I should have researched it. But I grabbed it because it was almost the exact colours I was looking for. Oh well, live and learn.

Weird-o wrinkles. Like my new pin? We went "antiquing" for the first time!
This fabric, to put it kindly, was a major bee-otch to work with. It is a woven 100% cotton. I prewashed it like normal. BUT, the green bits are woven much more tightly than the ivory bits. Which means that this fabric warped and went crazy on me basically. So no matter how much I pressed this stupid stuff, it always ended up wrinkled. That sucks. I mean, I could have went back to the store and got a new fabric, but once I start, that's it, I'm not stopping. So anything that was cut on the bias ended up twisting really weirdly. My sash, for instance, which I threw together because I didn't know if I would have time to make a belt (I don't), is messed up, bad. It's not really noticeable when I wear it, but, really, it's screwy and not pretty to look at on its own.

Look how wrinkled the skirt looks!
 So there it is! I've learned so many new things from making this dress! Like I've said before, I don't even watch Mad Men (I don't have cable), but, it is hard not to notice the fashion from the show on the world wide web. I have been wearing this dress non-stop, basically. It will be a while before I get to make another dress (June), but I can't wait until I get to do so! I look forward to using all my new skills and I will force myself to take my time more often.

Oh, and before we are done here, would you like to see the most awkward photo shoot modelling pose of the year? Yes you do.

"I'm just casually walking in the woods."

Did you participate in Julia's Mad Men Challenge? Have you learned anything new lately?

{Overall, my feelings on this dress are that...}


  1. Charity Shop Chic21 April 2013 at 05:37

    I think your dress is gorgeous! Your fabric is much closer to the original than mine. I actually like the way the cotton shrank in prewash, it gives it a seersucker vibe, perfect for a summer dress. Well done!

  2. Well, thank you! I agree that if I was going for a seersucker thing that I would have succeeded, but I am such a perfectionist that it literally drives me crazy that it isn't closer to the original (re: not wrinkled to hell). Yours is still so much more skillfully made than mine! But, I'll take the compliment :)

  3. That dress looks so great, I never could have told you have just recently started your sewing hobby.

    Oh yeah, things can get pretty crazy near the end, cause you want the project to be finished yesterday, haha :D

  4. Wow this looks really great! I can't believe how close it is to the original!

  5. Thank you! That means a lot.

    I know, I always do that. I always say I will take my time but by the end I just rush through it because I am so excited to have a new piece!

  6. Thanks! I would add a belt and a petticoat next time, but oh well. I guess it does look pretty similar. Hooray!

  7. Great awesomness are showing in pictures.
    Great picture and dress and also nature in the pictures.
    Clother Style

  8. Love a little retro.
    Featured on SSB https://facebook.com/sassysewingbees ❀

  9. Excellent work! I think all you need is a crinoline to match the original! Love your poses, and how daring you are with the self drafting stuff. Have you heard of a product called 'best press?' It's a gentler version of a spray starch. Might help you iron out the wrinkles. But i wouldn't worry. The best fabrics do wrinkle. I mean, who doesn't love real linen and silk?

  10. I know, I wanted to make a huge poofy petticoat but I didn't have the time. It remains on my list of "things I really need to get sewing". I have not heard of best press, but I will have to look it up. Thanks so much!