Inspiration for my Mad Men SewCieTea dress

When Julia announced there was to be a second Mad Men challenge, and then Mel began organising the High Tea for a week earlier, I did what any Sewcialist would do.  Started a Pinterest board for inspirational dresses.  Very quickly, I found the One.  Betty Draper in a full circle skirt with lace overlay and a crinoline?

Source: via Sarah on Pinterest


I didn’t want to do a direct copy, but this Vintage dress (shown below) had my heart thumping. I was up for as direct as direct a copy as I could get.


Source: via Sarah on Pinterest


The next biggest factor in design is the most practical, being cost.  The cost per wear (excluding labour costs) needs to be not ridiculous.  This unit of measure (ridiculous) varies significantly from dress to dress as it is affected by how much I love the dress.  Knowing using a lace overlay was going to get a bit pricy, when rathdowne remnants had a scoopon for $100 worth of fabric for $30 I scooped it up (see what I did there? :P), as I LOVED the idea of this dress.

And then my dreams died a costly fast death.  I’d planned on using some cream satin from my stash for the dress, but when I laid it out for cutting, as its vintage it was too narrow to accommodate all the pieces of my full circle skirt.  *sad face*

Resigned to the additional cost of buying all that satin, I went shopping, starting with the lace.  The cheapest back lace that was pretty was $50 per metre, and the hemline of my dress is somewhere between 4 and 5.5 metres.  (Incidentally while shopping I ran into Blogless Anna who doing a quick fabric dash before bag making, who must have thought I was mad while in the throes in lace based despair)

Back to the drawing board (also known as Pinterest).

Rapidly flicking through the pinned images, this was the look I settled on, completely forgetting how much it looked like Julia Bobbins maternity mad men dress!


Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

See the detail in the hemline, the scalloped hem?  That detail right there was the real deciding factor on dress design.  The final version will be sleveless and have a side zip.  I’m also thinking about basting on a waistband, but this dress is clearly one being made on the fly!  What I returned to social sewing with the below (just a sneak peak!) ready for hand basting at the seam edges to treat as one piece right?

Lace and satin basted bodicetwo laces and satin sewcietea dress
Wrong.  This lace is getting hand sewn onto the bodice.

Wowsers!  What will happen next int his crazy adventure of lace and satin and full circle skirts?  Will Sarah get it completed in time? Will any short cuts be taken on construction? How will the zip be inserted without ruining the lace?

Stay tuned for the next thrilling instalment, the construction and fitting of this madmen sewcietea dress


21 thoughts on “Inspiration for my Mad Men SewCieTea dress

  1. Good luck! Let me know if you want to get together for a sewing session while your’e working on it. I’ve been working on my second practice dress this evening, hoping it’ll be done for Saturday (yeah, i’m delusional!) but stalled at how to sew the bodice together nicely.

  2. It was lovely to bump into you Sarah. I’m sorry I had to dash. I would have loved to have help with the choosing dilemma. Looks like you came up with the goods. Can’t wait for the next installment. Let’s hope our next meeting is not so brief 🙂

  3. … oooh your first inspiration piece is heaven in a frock!!! I wonder if you could use plain sheer fabric and then print the lace design onto it? Y’know with screen printing or something …. just a thought ….

  4. I can see why you were so thrilled about the cream and black lace dress, it’s stunning! Oh how I wish I had opportunities to wear something like that! I’m a bit behind on reading blogs so you might have already finished your challenge by the time I write this, but I’m really looking forward to your next adventures!

  5. Stephanie says:

    How would you preserve the scalloped hemline on the circle skirt? I’ve been contemplating a similar dress and have started drafting patterns…but the usual way of making a circle skirt makes that hemline awfully difficult.

    • To use a lace with a scalloped hem, you need to overlay a circle skirt lining with an essentially dirndl skirt out of lace. If you look at the picture above, the lace appears to be very gathered around the waist. You would need to have a very lightweight lace to support that much gathering. My hem was 5 metres, and the waist 91, so that’s a whole lot of easing.

      The other alternative is the sew a circle skirt out of a fairly stable non-stretch lace and sew a border lace onto your skirt lace. That was what I intended on doing before it stretched too much to support that weight.

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