Sewing Project: Mad Men Challenge Dress (Simplicity 1191) | Mint Green Sewing Machine: Sewing Project: Mad Men Challenge Dress (Simplicity 1191)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sewing Project: Mad Men Challenge Dress (Simplicity 1191)

I'm so excited to finally share my dress for Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge!
This is the third year she has hosted this challenge but the first time that I've participated. I don't actually watch the show (I tried once, but I hated the characters so much after the first episode that I had no desire to watch more, even despite the fabulous clothes- maybe I'm just weird!).  I still couldn't resist the idea of making an outfit from my favorite style era, so I decided to participate anyway. From what I can tell, my dress most closely resembles the style of Betty Draper:

I had to get out a vintage scarf, pin, and sunglasses!

I decided that I would make myself use one of the many vintage patterns I've been stashing away, and I chose this one, Simplicity 1191. I thought it was from the late fifities or early sixties, but a quick look-up on the Vintage Patterns Wiki showed it was actually earlier- from 1955.
I had to grade my pattern up a few sizes, which made me a bit nervous. I used the technique which Casey of Elegant Musings explains in these posts (One, Two, and Three) and I'm happy to report that it worked very well despite an initial miscalculation that resulted in a way-too-big muslin! My only issue came in trying to match the grading on the skirt. The pleats ended up being totally different from the original pattern but I think they managed to look alright anyway. Just don't look too closely, ok?

I bought my fabric at Birch Fabrics on a fun fabric shopping trip with my friend Erin of Miss Crayola Creepy. I was so happy to find a good fabric on sale for only $5 a yard! I think that it really fits with the 50s/60s style. (It's sold out, but you might be able to find some on another site if you're interested!). I'm also proud to say that I used buttons from my stash and didn't have to go out and buy more! (If you saw how many buttons I have you'd understand why I love de-stashing).

Erin and I got together last weekend so we could snap some pictures of our Mad Men Challenge creations:

I lined the bodice with a white cotton-poly blend. I was going to line the skirt too, but it ended up way too heavy and bulky. The pleats greatly reduce the see-through factor anyway! I gave it a wide (3-inch) hem and hand-stitched it with a catch stitch.

Just in case you might want to know: belt: Target, shoes: Old Navy, cardigan: Target, pin: vintage, scarf: vintage, sunglasses: Anthropologie, earrings: a Renegade SF vendor, leather bow: my shop.

Here's to fun sewing challenges and for having great sewing friends to share them with! Thanks Erin!

In the spirit of getting into the 1960s theme, I couldn't resist making Phillip take some pictures of me with "props" around the house:

This cake-carrier picture is my favorite, even though I look pretty cheesy. It's fun to dress up like my kitchen!

Hope you enjoyed this post! Did you participate in this challenge too? I can't wait to see what everyone came up with!


  1. i love the dress! i wouldn't have noticed anything different about the skirt pleats! i'm taking pics this weekend of my dress.

  2. Oh those are such good props! And yeah, I haven't even tried to watch the show because I'm pretty sure I'll hate the characters and the blatant misogyny of the whole thing. I am quite happy to google the dresses though :)

  3. Lovely dress!
    I participated last year despite also never having watched the show. Searching for the dress images on the internet was hours of fun!

  4. You're so talented!
    And I love the collar/neckline.

  5. Very cute! The fabric print is fab and you are so cute in your prop photos. You did a wonderful job grading your pattern, excellent! Pattern grading it is always my least favorite task.

  6. Ohmygosh you and your dress are too cute!!! Love your photos!!! You did such a beautiful job making your dress. :)

  7. These photos are fabulous! Erin did a great job. Your dress is beautiful (I adore the fabric!) and I think it's perfectly inspired by Betty. I bet you'll get a lot of wear out of it. :)

  8. LOVE it! You always have the cutest little contrasting bits on your dress that remind me I should give them a try!

    PS The dress came a couple of days ago! It is beautiful :)

  9. The picture with you and the cake carrier is too cute! Very pretty dress.

  10. The pleats look good! Remember the pattern cover is a drawing, and they would have been wearing a crinoline. I love the pic with the aqua cake carrier, too.

  11. Oh that fabric is gorgeous! Well done on a really successful pattern grade, the dress looks great!

  12. You are a sewing queen! That dress is fabulous!!! Great fabric choice.