Monday, 10 March 2014

Mad Men Dress Challenge... I'm in!

I'm taking part in a sewing challenge, and I'm actually on track for finishing! Can you believe it? I can't ha ha.

The Mad Men Challenge is something I have looked at over the past couple of years and have slathered over all the beautiful dresses that everyone makes. Set up a few years ago by Julia Bobbin the challenge has grown in popularity ever since.

With the end of Mad Men drawing near, I didn't want to miss out on making something inspired by these fabulous ladies.

Julia has posted a lot of amazing inspiration in the past, and some lovely round-ups of those taking part. I started here looking at what people had made, what options there were and then (as is usually the way) found myself on pinterest pinning to my hearts content. You can see my inspiration board here, as you can see I wanted something in the vein of a work dress, as this is where I feel I'm lacking the most in the wardrobe (as discussed in my previous post).

I finally settled on this collared beauty from Modcloth:

My dress therefore won't be a direct Mad Men copy, but Mad Men inspired, as, well, this was my favourite so what ya gonna do?

My version is based on the By Hand London Anna dress, as I felt the lines were very similar. This will be my first make by these amazing independent pattern makers. I am at the moment doing some finishing touches, and will hopefully have some pics to show you by the weekend. 

In the meantime, hope you're enjoying this amazing weather! 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Stars in their eyes interview dress

One of my goals for this year is to develop a 'work wardrobe', staple dresses and skirt/ shirt combinations that I can throw on in the morning and feel smart. I want to able to show my unique style, whilst feeling like a boss (not for sensitive eyes).

This dress is the first step on that road! I love this dress, I feel smart and stylish, I can wear dramatic tights of all colours and shapes, and I got to stretch my embroidery skills on something other than home projects which was cool. I might try and do some more of this, maybe some flowers like the one from this cushion on the bottom edge of a similar dress? I feel the need for a bit of a spring make.

The dress is a combination of the pastille bodice, and New Look 6128 (shocker of a skirt choice). I made a christmas party dress last year (yet to blog about) and I love the neckline for a night out, but for work it's a bit on the low side. I altered the neckline of the bodice by lying out the pattern piece on some medical paper, drawing out my adjusted pastille bodice and free-handing a scooped look with my french curve.

I then cut out my lining in black linen-look cotton from Minerva, which I bought to make another New Look 6128 (never blogged... hmm sensing a theme), which I made last year for something light to wear in the summer months. I've got loads left and have been using it to muslin dress bodices, and then using this muslin as a lining for the actual bodice.

I am very proud of the finish of this dress, it is fully lined, with black bias edging on sleeves and the bottom of the skirt. It really picks out the black of the embroidery.

I went for a non-static generic lining for this project. I like the way it swishes when I walk, and I know my tights aren't going to get stuck on it. Probably should have ironed the lining for this pic but you get the idea.

In order to do the embroidery, I completed the bodice, attaching the lining to the neckline, and under-stitching. I then tacked on some silk organza to stabilise the fabric, and to give a white surface to draw on. I then free-hand drew on the design I was after with a water soluble pen, and stitched with black polyester thread the outline of the stars so that it would show through on the right side of the dress.

I then filled in these stars with a combination of backstitch, french knots and brick stitch.

In order to create the design, I pinned some images of stars on my pinterest board, to give me an idea of what I was looking for. Originally I was planning on creating a pdf which I could use as a template, but once I reached that point, I found it easier to draw the stars on by eye. It was easy once I knew what I was looking for. I thought about doing free-hand machine embroidery for the stars but after some practice realised I liked the control of the hand-stitching.

I even got to match my pockets to the star-theme, with some stitched together very last scraps of my planet fabric.

And now, for making it through all the techie bits... me and an umbrella!... and yes, I chopped off all my hair! :-D


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