Wiggle Dress

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I love the style of clothes in Madmen, the earlier series mainly.  The contrasts are fabulous, from the demure wife with her full skirts and beautifully contoured bodices, to the overtly seductive, figure clinging dresses of the office secretary, Joan Holloway.  Very different looks, yet both are extremely feminine and, in my opinion, overtly sexy.

oh my!

oh my!

I also love the figures that fill the dresses, January Jones, who plays Don Draper’s wife, is petite shapely, whilst Christina Hendrix, who plays Joan has larger than life curves and she uses them.  I assume both looks are helped, at least in part, by good foundation garments, but there is something so sexy about dressing to accentuate what you have rather than hiding away.

I loved Gertie’s wiggle dress from her book.  It has diamond shaped gussets under the arms to enable movement.  I had never seen this before, but have since found it in the ‘how to’ sections of my Lutterloh books.  The concept fascinated me, so I have given it a go.

My first wiggle was in a light cotton.  Gertie has her own sizing, based on the American sizing, so my top was a size 10 (UK equivalent 14) but, for the first time in my life, I had gone down a size at the hips to a size 8 (UK12).  I couldn’t quite believe it, even though Gertie does say that she has her sizing is based on herself and those women she has come across, so I stuck to a 10 all the way down.  It was massive – not only were the hips too wide, but they reached their widest much too low as well.

The dress is heavily shaped along the side seam – much more reliant on this shaping than other dress patterns I have used.  Given this, it is one time when drawing an outline of yourself on a large piece of paper and using this silhouette to decide the widest/thinnest points of your figure would be a good idea.

2014-06-16 12.28.15 2014-09-13 008 I like the dress as it emphasises/exaggerates natural curves.  I like this but it means you have to get the fit just right, otherwise it will just bag out at the sides – more obviously too large than when that extra fabric is shared around your body.  That said, if it is close, tweaking is relatively easy.

I made the second dress in a heavier, plain green cotton with a slight stretch to it.  I went down to a size 8 for the hips and it was a much better fit, needing a couple of centimeters reduction around the hips as they were still a little low.  I love this green but am now debating whether to scoop out the neckline at the back into a deep curve.  I think that as it is complete I shall wear it a couple of times before I consider changing it.

Update:  I have done a third version in a very heavy, vintage jersey fabric.  I didn’t do the underarm gussets this time as the stretch permitted movement.  This is a very warm and comfortable dress for winter.

Bombshell (Part 1)

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F1309_2-vintage-style-mother-of-the-bride-dressJust look at it!  Possibly the most perfect dress ever created.  Unfortunately I cannot take credit for it, it isn’t one of mine.  It is a creation of the fabulous Whirling Turban who make the most beautiful, vintage styled clothes ever!  Unfortunately they are a little out of my price range but one day……..

It’s the neckline that I love most, so I have set about making something similar.  It is going to take a while, but all good things come to those who wait.

My starting point is from Butterick B5814 by GertieBombshell starting point

I appreciate that this may not look that much like the dress above but when you look at the construction it is an excellent place to start, and a damn fine dress in its own right!

Having read some reviews on one of my favourite sites, Pattern Review, I decided that a muslin was a must.  In most modern patterns I am a size 14 on top, increasing to a 16 for the waist or hips depending upon the style.  The reviews had said that this pattern is a snug fit, and having read the finished measurements I decided to go 16 all the way.

 

 

2014-03-24 003The muslin was not impressive.  It didn’t excite me and needed tucks here, and adjustments there.  The shoulder adjustment was expected as I have slightly narrow shoulders, and Gertie has done a whole tutorial and making this adjustment.  I needed to also do a toil for the skirt to see how low the top came.  So I made the skirt and then couldn’t find where I had put the top!  House turned upside down, I even remember vaguely thinking to myself that I shouldn’t put it there as I’d never find it again!  Anyway, I haven’t and as I knew it didn’t fit I had to do it again.  Given that it had seemed quite large, I decided to try the 14 so did it again.  Please excuse the fabrics – curtain lining skirt and son’s quilt cut offs for the top.The ugly fabrics did show me something though – how nice it was to have the stripes running down the left hand front side – just a lucky cut as the lower left front is a separate section.

The fabric I had chosen from my stash as a first attempt is a rather loud floral cotton.  My only concern is that given the details within the dress, it might become too busy, but I am going to try and match the pattern in some of the most eye catching places to reduce this issue as much as possible.  I am considering it to be a wearable muslin but hoping it will be fabulous.

It has been a slow process – most of the pieces were cut out separately as it is asymmetric and also to pattern match as much as possible.  I haven’t used boning since the early 90’s and managed to sew the first piece in the wrong way round.  I unpicked it, then sewed it in the wrong way round again!  Luckily the third time was a charm.

2014-06-09 23.22.38

Gorgeous but a little too revealing!

The dress is fully lined/interlined and has, in my opinion, been quite fiddly, but gorgeous takes time and effort.  I was delighted with the final result upon first try on.  Unfortunately, upon wearing it (around the house) I have discovered that it is too low/short in the bodice for me.  It is supposed to be a low dress and I was prepared for that and, in a snap shot it is fabulously saucy!  But when I pull the waist down to my natural waistline, it gets a little too low and shows my bra.  I deliberately added the skirt to the muslin to check if it would be decent, but didn’t face it.  That 1.5cm seam allowance can make all the difference.  My plan is to separate the bodice and the skirt and insert a ‘belt’ panel, possibly in red if I can find a good match.

This was never expected to be a one attempt wonder, I am glad that, once altered, it will be a fabulous dress, and one step along the road towards the dress of my dreams!

TO BE CONTINUED…………………………….