Monday, June 29, 2015

Mad Men Dress

Betty is a hell of an inspiration for a lot of us, isn't she? Specially at the beginning of the series, still submerged in the 50s, with the American Look...because let's face it, those 50s dresses are eye candy for a sewist, aren't they? Crinolines, great silhouettes, structural rods, wonderful natural fibers dresses...
Gertie is such a sewist, and in her new book presentation, I peeped a sketch that hooked me. It is a Carolyn Schnurer red dress, a designer exemplifying the American look:

Isn't it just perfect?
On the other hand, I have been fantasizing with a red cherry fabric since I saw some in a street market in The Netherlands and I did not buy it. I have been dreaming about it for years! Finally I had a suitable project for it, so I bought it from the Fabric Godmother. It was very expensive, but the fabric is worth it: solid, good old cotton for a classic dress.
I had the clear idea of doing my own pattern. This is a tight design, and it had to be constructed to my exact measures and tastes. I consulted Armstrong book, and found a section  about strapless bodices. It has a bodice foundation that is exactly as the one I used in my previous project, with a dart under the bust that combines bust and waist darts (if you have the book at hand, it is on page 475). 

So, I followed the indications to make the necessary adjustments, added some halter straps, and made it into a muslin for a perfect fit. I only had to enlarge the bodice 2 cm at the waist, as for the rest it was so perfect it fitted me like a globe. So it was good to cut the fabric. I cut it double to use one as facing and lining.

Meanwhile I was planing my skirt... circle skirt? half circle? pleated? what kind of pleats? gathered? After cutting the bodice I had three skirt lengths left, so I sewed them together and finally decided to pleat it. I did some research about 50s pleated skirts, and chose box pleats, starting in the middle front and going around to the centre back. 
I applied fusible underlining to the whole bodice, stitching both bodices at the upper part and straps. After turning it over, I pressed and pressed and machine-stitched some channels for plastic rods at the sides and back panels.
Then I attached the pleated skirt to the bodice and machine stitched it closed. I put a long zipper at the centre back and finished the skirt: hem is rolled and machine topstitched.
I added the tulle crinoline I had from a previous dress, and the result is stunning, and yet wearable and comfortable enough to sit through a 5 hours family lunch, where I had massive success, hehe... one of my best projects, it is perfect and really special.

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