Mad Men and Woman in the Snow


I actually wanted to title this post “A petition to Julia Bobbin”, followed by a plea to change the date of the Mad Men Dress Challenge for next year (I hope there will be next year?) to later in the year. I mean, c’mon, doesn’t your heart just break looking at me modelling my lovely summer dress with heaps of snow in the background?

Hello? Is it spring you’re looking for?

But anyhoo, this dress is inspired by Betty’s dresses. She is not one of my favourite characters, but fairly early in the series they showed her working away at a sewing machine, and at that moment Betty stole a piece of my heart. How could anyone not love her day dresses, or those breezy, summery party dresses?

PicMonkey Collage

Fitted bodice, and a full skirt, in pretty, pretty colours. That is the general style that I desperately wanted to duplicate, because I have never had a dress like that. Since a very early age my mother discouraged me from wearing dresses, she believed that they did not suit me. So I abandoned the notion of dressing pretty and turned into a total tomboy. It is only now that I have the confidence to embrace my body the way it is, and I acquired  certain amount of sewing and fitting skill that I want to try to regain some of the girliness that I never had. So here it comes:

Circle skirt: check!
Twirl: check. OK, kinda, too windy and too cold to twirl.


Now for the deets: the bodice is the same as the black dress. This time, I boned the front and side seams with plastic boning (in the black dress I put boning only in the side seams). I really enjoy the look and feel of a boned bodice, and again I am so surprised how easy it is to work with plastic boning! The front of the bodice, after drafting and installing straps, became quite short, so I drafted the waist band (a loooong rectangle), to which I added the circle skirt. That circle skirt was cut in the summer, and at that point was not meant to be a dress, just a stash busting experiment. Then it was marinating on a hanger for the next 7 months (to get the stretch out from the bias sections, I think the 7 months did the trick)! I lined the whole thing with cotton batiste, installed the zipper, discovered that I did not have any more hook and eye closures, trimmed the skirt, and added the lace to the bottom. Then I went to install the horsehair braid to the bottom of the skirt, following some well-meaning but wrong advice. The advice was to use thinner horsehair, since I made a narrow hem. Later, when I was flipping through Gertie’s book, I read that the more drama you want, the wider the braid you should use. So tomorrow at work I will be purchasing some 2″ or 3″ horsehair, rather than the measly 1/2″ that I was working with. And I will probably shorten the lace a little bit, it seems to be too long for the proportions of the dress, no?

So that is that. This is a dress that makes me feel like a million bucks. This is the dress that trumps ALL of the sewing messes that I’ve made so far.  This is the dress I’ll be wearing in bed when I catch a cold from twirling in 3 centigrade weather. And the dress also wants me to buy me a string of pearls…

Keep your eye out on Julia’s blog and the challenge roundup on April 6th, to see what other participants of the MMDC3 came up with. I expect it to be inspiring, as always!



I love you Gertie! I have boobs!

Hello there, I’m back from a little vacation, freshly baked and tan-line enriched in spite of wearing SPF 60 THE WHOLE TIME. Yes, we were camping in THAT heatwave. We were camping in a tent. It was effin hot! But pretty!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese days I seem to be playing catch-up, with almost everything in my life. To keep with this tradition, let me fill you in on this major revelation that I had maybe 2 months ago. You see, I bought Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. I will not be reviewing it, since everyone else has already reviewed it backwards and forwards. Let me just tell you that I loved it, sooooooo so much, in so many different ways! And the patterns! Gasp! Immediately I decided to start with the Portrait Blouse. Ugh. Why does it look so good on her, and so bad on me? Then I decided that it must have been the “sleeves”, they were just too sticky-outy on me. So I decided to cut the sleeve a bit shorter, with an intention of making a few copies of the blouse, eventually turning it into a tank. Also, I did not bother with the tucks on the front and back, since I wanted a bit more room in the waist. Version #1 turned out like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASomething was off. Those folds just above my boobs? Yeeeeees, that’s it! But I did a nice job with the self-made bias binding around the sleeves and neckline.

Version #2 turned out like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore tank-y, and I took care of the folds by pinching out the excess fabric above my bust and making darts. It helped. This print struck  me as being very feminine, so I kicked it up a notch by adding a lace trim to the hem:

Isn’t it pretty? I love this print…

Version #3 went like this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made it out of a beach cover-up that my mother-in-law brought me from Thailand or Bangladesh or something like that, gazillion years ago. I was quite convinced that I washed it before, after all there must have been a beach excursion that I wore it to? So I did not  pre-wash it. It turned out nice, same bias tape technique around neck and armholes. More of a tank. I wore it, I washed it. And…


It shrunk! So much! Awwwwwwwww…

So what’s my point here? Sure, pre-wash no matter what, bla, bla, bla… My point is that I need a full-bust adjustment! I had to put myself through the whole “reinventing the wheel” (aka pinching out the folds above my bust and making darts nonsense), just so I could be faced with a hard reality that I have boobs. Above average, whether I like it or not. There is no way around it, no use pretending that I’m a B cup. Now that I’ve settled and accepted this fact (as I mentioned before, this happened about 2 months ago), I pondered why it is that those who have them, try to ignore and deny them, or simply hate them. Those who don’t have so much of them covet the extra flesh, and often will pay big fat bucks to have the appearance of having bigger boobs. Human nature is truly boggling. It finally dawned on me that I needed to accept my body the way it is. If I want to sew fitting clothes, I need to sew for  my body the way it is, not the way I pretend it is… This realization of self-acceptance feels good: I am not angry at my body, just like I was angry when I realized I needed a swayback adjustment. I’m finding it amazing that I’m learning self-acceptance through sewing. Amazing!

Or maybe I should just suck it in, and look confident, like it was meant to be so tight?

Care to share what sewing taught you?

PS. Off I go back to portrait blouse pattern to do the FBA, just to discover that the bust apex is not marked on the pattern… Bleh!