Joan’s Robin Egg Drape Sleeves Dress
Fabric: 2.5m silky poly fabric from chinatown $10
Pattern: Simplicity 3445
Notions: Invisible zipper
Year: c. 1960s
Time to complete: 4 to 5 hours
First worn: For these photos
Wear again? Yes :)
Total Cost: $10
I was really excited to see the Mad Men theme on The Sew Weekly! There were so MANY dresses from the Mad Men series and cast photos that I wanted to sew and after many hours of research, I managed to narrow the list down to just four. To make things easier for myself, I got my blog readers to cast their votes. The results kept changing initially which was exciting for me. I was getting high just by taking out potential fabrics from my cabinets and imagining how each dress would look in the respective fabrics. By the later part of the week, it became clear that the drape sleeves dress which garnered 38% of the 123 votes was going to win and that was when I settled on using this silky robin egg blue poly fabric for the dress. I would have looked totally pale in the luxurious baby blue dress on Joan, which is a shade or two away, but this robin egg blue, I love!
Having only watched two and a half series of Mad Men, I have no idea if Joan Holloway actually wore this drape sleeves dress on the show. It could be just a dress from the cast publicity shots. But, I adored the sleeves enough to want to give this a try.
The pattern was where all my “Mad-ventures” began. First of all, I have forgotten why I avoided this pattern previously. It’s a Juniors size pattern so I had no idea if it was going to fit me at all! By looking at the measurements at the back of the envelope, I figured I had to add a few inches to the bodice length/width and waist width of the skirt. But, the number of inches to add was really guess work and I hated uncertainties like these and definitely abhor the possibility of ruining a fabric in that cute color. That was when I took out all the pattern pieces for the very first time and Oops! Oops! The front skirt piece and facings were missing! Thank goodness the critical bodice pieces were all there or I wouldn’t have been able to sew this dress! I used the top of the bodice pieces as guide to draft the facings so that was pretty straight forward. Phew! And after hours of searching through my pattern stash, I found a similar front skirt piece from another 60s pattern which I again guessed could be used as replacement for the piece. With all these uncertainties, I am just glad everything worked out…well kind of.
Those drape sleeves were what attracted me to the pattern in the first place as I’ve never sewed sleeves like these. They turned out to be surprisingly easy to sew. What I really love about them is how fluid they are in terms of movement and how my posture changes could create so many different looks in them. I also found the boat neck and inverted v-shaped opening of the upper sleeves very feminine and flattering.
But, for some reasons, the fabric seems rather unkind to the stitching at the ends of the sleeves. There is this annoying wrinkling effect and I have no idea how to resolve this. It bugs me because the rest of the dress is rather wrinkle free. I have worked with other poly fabrics before and this issue has never occur until now. Any advise on resolving this will be greatly appreciated.
The other issue I have with this pattern are the side seam lines. The side seams of the bodice and skirt do not match. Not even close. And I know that’s the case with the original pattern pieces since the back piece was intact. I think I may add a tie belt just like version 2 in the pattern to make it less obvious since I do have some fabric left. I had originally planned to sew a cumber band from version 1 of the pattern but after adjusting the fit of the dress, I liked it the simple way it was and decided to scrap the idea. I was also skeptical of how flattering a cumber band with horizontal gathers would have looked.
Still, I am totally into this robin blue hue and the drape sleeves so despite its issues, it is a dress I’m mad enough to be wearing this Spring.