At the very last minute, I decided to participate in the Mad Men Challenge 2 hosted by the beautiful and wonderfully talented Julia Bobbin. After dithering for a number of months (yes, months!), considering whether to commit myself to a project, given how busy I normally am with work in the first few months of each calendar year (and the last few, so let's face it the only "quiet" time is the summer), I decided to just get on with it and copy this shirt dress as seen on the stunning Betty Francis (nee Draper).
For one thing, I wanted to make use of something from my ever-increasing stash, rather than buying more fabric, and ending up not using it, thereby making my stash situation even worse. I remembered this white and pink check medium weight cotton (it looks like gingham, but the check pattern is printed, rather than woven) that I bought in Prague last year, and thought that it would be a good candidate for the stripy pink dress as worn by Betty.
Another key criteria for me is that I wanted to make something that I would actually wear. However, with hindsight I am not sure if I have achieved this goal as the whole outfit looks a bit like a nurse's uniform! What do you think? I am considering wearing this with a leather belt, but I have not ruled out making a matching self-fabric belt (I even cut out the fabric for it, but have nott manage to track down a plain white/clear buckle for it...).
So I used the tried and tested Simplicity 2246 Lisette Traveler (I am going with the spellingo on the envelope this time, ignoring the spellcheck) with a few changes from my last version:
- I made the skirt fuller - instead of following the pattern, I cut out a rectangle for the skirt, and gathered the top to the width of the waist seam. Based on my calculation, this increased the fullness by just under 50%;
- I reduced the amount of SBA that I did, as I find that at times, usually after a three-course meal, some parts of the placket gapes a bit. The problem was that I ended up with a much looser fit for the bodice, which I then had to alter again... It turned out to be a much bigger job in the end!
- I used the sleeve pattern for view A/B (I made a view 3 dress) but shortened the sleeves and rolled them up to make the copycat more similar to the original.
- I changed the collar from a square one to a rounded one for the same reason.
- I also lowered the buttons slightly, for the same reason as above, and also because I think the top button on my previous version was a bit high.
OK, so my fabric isn't exactly stripy, the button placket runs all the way down (I did not fancy inserting a side zipper as well!), and I've not yet made the self-fabric belt, nor am I wearing a petticoat... But overall I was pleased with the dress, obviously with the slight concern that I am not going to actually wear it other than at a fancy dress party...
Even the gathering (which is my pet hate when it comes to sewing!) didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. As it turned out, the trick (to keep myself calm) is 1) to buy a gathering foot (raved about here) and 2) to use extra-strong thread so it doesn't break all the time when you are pulling hard. I may just be getting over this irrational fear, can you tell?
So this is my attempt with copying Betty's dress, and my first year of participating in the fantastic challenge. I am very excited to see everyone else's entries, and am already looking forward to this challenge next year ;)