The “Playing Dress-up” Trudy Dress
Fabric: 3 yards royal blue polyester taffeta, $15 from Fabric.com; 1 yard white polka-dot cotton, $4 from Walmart
Pattern: Simplicity 3536, $2 from local antique shop
Year: circa 1960
Notions: invisible zipper, $1
Time to complete: ~5 hours
First worn: For photos, March 19
Wear again? Not until I make some major modifications but, hopefully
Total cost: ~$22 (plus $10 for the nearly-perfect-copy vintage necklace)
I picked up this pattern from an antique store in January, knowing it would be a top contender for this week’s Mad Men challenge. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to channel Joan or Betty but, this little pattern had both.
Truth-be-told, I had only ever seen two random episodes of Mad Men so, while doing my fair share of hand sewing last month, I opted to catch up via Netflix – in part to see what the fuss is about and in part to seek inspiration for this challenge. Well, there was certainly inspiration aplenty! I particularly adored Betty’s dresses from the first season (I knew I would!) and thought for sure I’d replicate one of those. Then, I looked up for a moment during “The Grown-ups” (season 3, episode 12) and saw Trudy’s bright blue party dress – I was sold. Decision made.
Sourcing the fabric for this bright blue number was tough. I settled on a polyester taffeta to give a similar look but keep costs down (since I hadn’t tested the pattern). Besides, the primer recommended synthetics. I hate the feel of synthetic fabric though so, I underlined the bodice with a much softer cotton. This makes the dress wearable and gave me a handy way to hide my hand-stitches.
This was my very first vintage pattern attempt so, technically, I considered this a muslin. As such, there is a lot of tweaking to do. I forgot little things like, accounting for the change in undergarments over the last 50 years (by the way, as a vintage pattern newbie, I’m totally in awe that someone used this very pattern five decades ago!). I also underestimated just how much volume polyester taffeta would have when every pleat is double stacked! Who needs a petticoat!? This skirt is billowy all on its own!
Right now, the dress feels a bit like playing “dress up” – a thought I find amusing given the title of the inspiration’s episode. I think I’ll go back and take the volume of the skirt down a bit, making it look more like Trudy’s version. Then, after a few tweaks to the bodice and a chop to the sleeves, I’ll be ready to get dressed for a wedding… or curl up on the couch. Either is fine with me :-)