Monday, 23 January 2012

The Joan Process Dress


Sometimes you make things and they look great, and sometimes you make things that drive you mad doing it. This is my first real experience of being driven mad and then loving the final outcome. I was actually very worried that I wouldn’t, I had that nagging feeling that, “this is the dress I learned how to sew so I could make and it’s going to suck, or be horribly uncomfortable and I’m going to cry”.

To recap , I wanted a tight fitting, brightly coloured dress that would make me feel like Joan from Mad Men.  I bought some luscious bright blue double knit (It is apparently one of the base colours used to make all Pantone shades, like cyan but stronger, and it’s therefore called Process Blue in that system). I found a vintage pattern for the sort of dress I wanted in knits, Woman W400 (see previous post for more details).
I had already cut out the main pieces, FBAd, and redid the darts on my dressmakers dummy Agnetha, and on Thursday night I decided I wanted to get it finished for the sewing meet up on Saturday. This was partly a desire to get it finished, and partly as I wanted to wear something I had made but most of my self made clothes are summery!

So far so good, I finished sewing all the darts, and then tried it on. Uneven dart disaster. Argh! I tweaked the darts (making them slightly shorter and tapering the ends so they were less pointy), altered the shoulder seams so the thing was straight, and made the whole thing substantially tighter. I wasn’t sure if this was going to work, but it did, the darts pulled smooth and it looked great-yay!.

I decided to put cuffs on the sleeves, so made up a pattern piece and sewed it on-and they went on beautifully. As the first time one sleeve had gone in a little stretched I re set them in using the flat method (I had had to unpick all the side and shoulder seams anyway to adjust the width and I  also took this opportunity to reduce the length of the shoulder seams).

So it was all going quite well. I considered the skirt, decided there was no need for 6 different darts on a stretch skirt and just cut it out. I then got knobbled by the traditional vintage patterns which are bizarrely long problem. On the envelope it clearly sits just below the knee. I am not short but the thing was grazing my ankles, and completely impossible to walk in. This is where it all went a bit wrong. I looked at the whole thing and said, the waist needs to come up a bit, and the bottom needs to come up about a foot. I therefore chopped away. As it turns out, I did not take into account the length lost at the waist, so when I tried it back on, after unpicking pretty much every seam in the entire dress, it was now a mini dress. By this point it was Saturday morning.. I panicked and cut out a folded band and sewed it onto the bottom, which looked fine, except that I had sewn it on with the side seams on the outside… Hannah looked on sympathetically (she had arrived by this point as we were already meant to be there!) as I cursed and seam ripped away again. I also still had to do the neckline, which I had altered and recut about three times as I kept realising it was a bit lopsided, and then merrily cutting away the wrong side (curse you mirrors!). Luckily I sewed the collar on and though I had made it more of a scoop than the pattern, and changed the way the collar finished to it went off to a point at one side. so it was a bit of a gamble,  it looked pretty good!
I then put on my finished dress hesitantly, and LOVED it. I wore it all day, it was incredibly comfortable, and it is probably one of my favourite items of clothing ever! Its tight but not too trashy, so I could wear it for work, but also felt completely at home in the Voodoo Rooms with cocktails-perfect! All it needed was my white belt and I felt just like Joan!












18 comments:

Dibs said...

It is very lovely on you in a very mad-men-sexy kind of way. lol. do I make sense?

Melizza said...

This dress screams 'Va-va-room". It fits you so nicely. This pattern will become a staple!

House of Pinheiro said...

so stunning colour and you looked like a mom shell hun ! was fantastic meeting you and your fabrics went to two good homes ( me and Dibs) Lots of love x

Leah Franqui said...

So gorgeous! Really well fitted and the color is just stunning. Now I want one...
strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com

Roobeedoo said...

Oh what? Seriously? The hem cuff was a last minute panic addition?! Girl - I think that makes you a designer! It is fab! And THAT was the bit of it that made me think "Well she didn't make THAT!" LOL

LaraG said...

I saw your dress on Burda Style and had to check your blog out. This dress is gorgeous! Very well done!

monkeysocks said...

yes you do! and thanks so much! It's such a shame you couldn't make it up to the day, would have been lovely to meet you, next time!

monkeysocks said...

Thanks honey! It makes me feel very Va-va-voom as well, and not in the "falling out, too tight, cant eat anything" way that is normally required for that feel! It was great to meet you on Saturday, I am still quite jealous of your bight plaid-I really want a really jolly shirtdress now!

monkeysocks said...

Thanks honey! It was great meeting you too - we will definitely have to see how all the spotty blouses work out!

monkeysocks said...

Thanks Leah! It was the colour that grabbed me in the fabric store-I am usually a bit afraid of knits but I couldn't let that fabric go by!

monkeysocks said...

Yup, Otherwise it would have been indecent! I was quite pleased though that I din't have to hem anything, hemming knits is not an area of expertise for me.. I am really pleased you like it!

monkeysocks said...

Thanks, it is one of my favourite pieces I have ever made. Thanks for popping over to the blog. This is an unusually cheerful post, they more usually go, "it went wrong and went wrong again and then I threw it in a pile and sulked and never touched it again!" but this one has a happy ending.

Jane said...

Just seen your dress on We Sew Retro and had to comment on how GORGEOUS it is. I'm super excited because I've got that pattern too, so I'll be shamelessly copying you before long! It's a great make and you look wonderful in it. x

monkeysocks said...

Thanks honey! I do love it! Well I can definitely recommend the pattern (though I'm not sure there is a lot of it left in the final dress, but it was an excellent starting point!). I changed the neckline to a more scoopy one and then just attached the neck tie piece so that it crossed slightly off to one side, rather than doing the ties in the middle. And obviously I added the bottom band instead of a hem, and made the sleeve cuffs up. And I can recommend a good stretchy double knit as then you don't need the skirt darts or the zip which simplifies things a lot!

Franca said...

I think I already said this to you, but I actually love the horizontal bottom band (technical term!). So nice to meet you on Saturday!

Miss Crayola Creepy said...

Joan would 100% wear this! It looks great!

Cherise said...

That dress looks gorgeous on you, especially loving the colour :)

Erin said...

Truly fabulous, and you look fabulous in it.

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