Hot! The “If You Don’t Like What’s Being Sewn, Change The Fabrication” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: 3 curtains from local Goodwill thrift store $23.97 (and plenty left over), 2yds green poly satin $5.98, white queen size valance $2.99
Patterns: Adapted from Vintage Vogue 2902 & Butterick 4443
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 22″ cream zip $2.99 and thread
Time to complete: 20+ hours
First worn: 19th February 2012
Wear again? Yes, once taken apart and made to fit me better

Total price: My most expensive yet, but worth it = $35.93 (£22.61)

Challenge: “Mad for Man Men: This week, in anticipation of the Mad Men season 5 premiere, we’re inspired by total mid-century splendor!”

For much of this week this dress was going to be called the “It made me do a Draper” dress. To “do a Draper” is now a standard phrase in our household. I believe the exact definition is “when things go so wrong that the only option is to get drunk” but there is some dispute whether it may also mean “when things go so wrong that the only option is to smash some furniture and collapse in a runny make-up mess on the bed”…eg.

Yes, that’s me trying to do a Betty’s ‘breakdown’ in her sad clown dress (from Season 2 Ep 8 ‘A Night To Remember’). But let’s have a flashback to happier times earlier…

Yes, the week started so well. I’d never watched an episode of Mad Men in my life until a fortnight ago but thanks to Netflix and a serious MM marathon I’d done the first two seasons by the start of the week, and had plenty of ideas what I wanted to make. (But as Joan so rightly points out, life is… “One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawnmower”).

But which from my list of ‘wanna-makes’ should I choose?

The 'let's use Picnik's 1960's filter before it disappears' edit

So many, many lovely choices….some of which I’m sure I will revisit some time this year. Too many choices. Enough to drive me to do a Draper….

And if you haven’t checked it out yet and love Mad Men fashions you simply must look up Tom & Lorenzo. And that was even before I managed to get through Season 4 this week and find the scrumptious outfits and hair Peggy has moved up into!

But I had to be realistic. I wanted to make something that looked Mad Men-ish within the Sew Weekly challenge week-deadline, and that would be tough…so I opted against a Joan or Peggy dress for now and channeled an early Betty and a Kitty Romano for inspiration:
In an ideal world with more than a week to make an outfit, I’d have sourced a huge rose print fabric to applique (like I did with the Up balloon skirt) and made the Kitty dress. I’ve been looking out in thrift stores for huge rose blooms on dresses/skirts/blouses but no luck…..I might have a go with this fabric, not ideal but you could get the colours and effect.
Instead I found some beautiful lined floral curtains at my local thrift store. I could probably have done with just 2 of them, but bought 3 to be on the safe side. I got approximately the colours of Kitty’s dress and would match this with the shape and a less extravagant satin cummerbund from Betty’s dress.
I used the circle skirt pattern from Vintage Vogue 2902 but wanted a more 60s neckline, so used the bodice of Butterick 4443 view C. I pride myself this week in mixing and matching patterns for the first time on a dress and moving the position of the zip in the skirt from the side to the centre back to match the bodice design. I also changed the back of the bodice to include a V-back seen on Betty’s dress. These were all firsts for me (thank you again Sew Weekly for letting me learn new things!).
But can you see that? This is the reason I found myself needing to do a Draper on Saturday morning. For some reason, yet again I had erred too far on the side of caution and made the dress far too big. And the V-back just made things worse. It hung off me. I’m afraid it drove me to drink and despair and messing up of immaculate make-up….
This is Goth Child’s favourite arty photo of the week. It’s the one she wants to include in her portfolio and on her Flickr. Great, so her art teacher will think me a drunkard and probably start sleeping with my husband (do you think my 52 episodes in 2 weeks has convinced me I’m actually Betty Draper?)
I’ve temporarily taken the dress in at the side seams and the green satin cummerbund helped a little…..but I had to recognise on Saturday that making a 50s/60s dress in a week….and during Spring Break when both my daughters wanted to learn how to sew (so we stopped and learnt together)….and making a bulky circle skirt petticoat out of a queen size valance… a tall order. So this dress is going to be an on-going side project. I’m going to take the bodice apart and with the extra curtain fabric cut graduating pieces starting a size smaller neckline to bust. I don’t want the shoulders slipping off all the time and the bust curves of the princess line will be more flattering if slightly higher up and closer in.
You’ll also notice horror of horrors that my accessories DON’T MATCH! Oh the humanity…. There were plans earlier in the week to make matching green satin gloves (see the Frankenstein’s monster of gloves on my Tumblr here). These are progressing and I will blog about them soon, but they weren’t finished within the week hence the burgundy velvet ones. I’d also been researching dying shoes, as those brown ones I’m wearing are crocodile-style like the handbag, but this didn’t come off in the week either. Enough to drive a girl to drink and taking up smoking….but not quite. I was only a 2 party blowers a week girl before this challenge, now I’m on 8 party blowers a day:
Anyway, I’m now set for Sunday night’s 2 hour premiere. The only issue I’m having now is having had 2 weeks of wall-to-wall Mad Men, what am I going to watch whilst sewing this week? I feel a Hitchcock marathon coming on….but which film to start with….



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. Tempest I love it! I hear you when you say a good rose is hard to find! Makes you want to learn to paint your own and have it made on Spoon flower! Hey maybe there is a challenge idea! Brilliant pattern mixing and the sash is just the icing on the cake. Its my favourite of all your creations so far. I say wear it every day.

  2. Once again, a lovely dress and fantastic post! Always impressive work coming from you, madame. I wonder, as it seems you have had some bodice shoulder issues before, have you considered cutting a smaller size bodice and doing a full bust adjustment instead? I think this might give you the shoulder fit you are looking for without having to faff with the waist after.

  3. I think you did a fab job! I really like that you shared do many photos of your dress! Thanks, goth child. :-) also, I totally have been in the mood for a Hitchcock marathon! Must be a side effect of sewing a MadMen dress… Maybe I should go do a Draper.

  4. Cool photos, love the Hitchcock reference.

  5. Great story Tempest! I’m still laughing! But really, your dress is spot on Betty! Fun fun photos to boot!

  6. I love your dress, but even more I love love love this post! I totally get the Mad Men-ODing and descent into madness and drinking! You write with such flair and humor, and you express that through your photos. Wonderful. (And thanks for the shout-out! :))

  7. I totally love your pictures, your sad clown one cracks me up and the dress is fantastic, once you have dealt with fit issues I hope you wear it lots.

  8. I absolutely love your post and your photos! The betty on the bed in despair photo is my favourite!!! I love how you did an absolute marathon of mad men! Are you going to fit in the other two seasons before Sunday?? I absolutely adore your dress–such a great print that you found and the sash is fab. It will look smashing with the green gloves that you’re making!

  9. You are a riot! Great job with the challenge and coping with your altered MM reality. I love that Kitty dress too! I totally want to tackle that at some point.

  10. You look lovely Tempest, this style of dress is very flattering on you. Great post too.

  11. Your homage to Betty’s angst is a hoot! You consistently do amazing things with thrifted fabrics, Tempest. This dress is no exception. Oh, and by the way…we may be enjoying our Hitchcock marathon at the same time…I had a similar notion recently…Mad Men’s got me crazy for 1960’s entertainment.

  12. Tempest, you temptress, you! I love it! I love your style and your sense of humor and your awesomeness!