Hot! The “Blue Office” dress

The Facts

Fabric: Blue and white linen from stash, blue poly lining
Pattern: I have absolutely no idea
Notions: 1 zipper, 8 buttons
Year: 1960′s Mad Men inspired
Time to complete: About 4 hours
First worn: September 2012
Wear again? Oh yes!

Total Cost: Free but I think I spent about $18 at some point

This was my runner-up idea for the Mad Men challenge earlier this year. If things didn’t work out with the Pucci print I would have gone with this. Too bad this UFO is also Blue : )

Nothing about this dress was straightforward and it really should have been. I can’t remember what pattern I used for the top. Seriously, I looked through many, MANY boxes and bags trying to find that sucker but no…. I *think* the skirt was from Simplicity 2549 that I used for the Make this look challenge. I have a vague memory of cutting it out but extending the top of the skirt up to compensate for the waistband that pattern uses. I made my own white bias out of a poly linen-like fabric and used my handy bias-tape maker to ensure even width : )

The entire dress is lined so I don’t have to worry about a slip and it helps keep the linen from getting “as” wrinkled. I just like the feel of a nicely lined dress! Here’s my other vague memory of this dress – needing to wear both a spanx AND the tall hose to fit into it. And hold my breath. But now… a few months later, I fit into it just fine : )

Unlike Joan’s dress I did NOT do that little center front neckline piece. I just didn’t care for that design element for me. I don’t like fussy and it felt fussy but that’s the joy of making your own clothing, you do it how you like. I originally stitched the white bias on the skirt closer to the center front and was going to put the buttons on the outside but I don’t remember why. In the end I moved the bias and stitched on the buttons on the inside and then I almost forgot about the bow : )

For photos I wanted to put together a desk set-up that you might see in an early 60’s office. I raided Sue’s collections; the lamp, clock and paper “spike” on the far right are all vintage and authentic. The typewriter in the back, on a vintage typewriter stand, is my father-in law’s Royal. I’ll put more detailed pics on my blog if you’re interested.

My daughter was in Yosemite this weekend and unavailable for photography duties so I used the timed setting on my camera. Ordinarily a good idea, this shoot was fraught with timing issues and heat! I’m using the sewing table in my sewing room which normally isn’t a big deal EXCEPT my sewing room was taken over by mama Chloe and her eight puppies a few weeks ago. To pull this off we had to do some major yard remodeling so the family would be separate from the rest of our animals. You can “almost” see the scratches on my arms from wrestling fence panels and chicken wire… It took us all weekend to get part of the yard safe for everybody, get them moved out, get the room re-styled and then me fixed up. Without my daughters help my hair wasn’t as Joan-y as it could have been, and there was no one around to say “stand up straighter, tilt your head this way, suck in your stomach” etc. I felt a little lost.

When I did this series of shots I started out sitting up very tall and as the camera clicked away I got lower and shorter…I was also utterly exhausted, pretty dirty (you can’t see my feet!) and running like crazy to finish everything before dark.

In the end I really liked this dress ( TOTAL HONESTY – it still isn’t hemmed!) and I can actually ride my bike in it!! It’s comfy and makes me feel good. Now if I could only find that darn top pattern I could make a couple more….



Loran is a Bay Area designer, stitcher and suburban farm girl. Having done theater for years she's finally taking on her most demanding client (herself!) and fashioning a wardrobe from her huge stock of vintage patterns and fabrics, all while writing her daily tablesetting blog. Let's see if she can keep up with both : )


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  1. Oohh – I love this one – so glad you finished it! Blue and white is such a clean an crisp combination. And it looks very flattering, too!

  2. One of my favorite combos, is blue with white trim. I love your tribute to Joan (I sure miss that show). You look so authentic! I really appreciate all your hard work to make your photo-shoot so authentic. It’s a pleasure to look at, even though we don’t see the bottom of the dress, or your unpresentable feet. It’s easy to imagine the rest of the picture as being just as remarkable as the top half. Well done, Loran!

  3. I love it.. It looks so good on you.. the white with the blue is great.

  4. Wow, this would work for the Make This Look Challenge too! It’s suits you completely! Good job well done!

  5. You look HOT! Just like Joan. Your dress is so awesome and so similar to Joan’s. I love it.

  6. You are looking sla-la la linky, I love this dress on you Loran, and the blue is so ‘your colour’ this would look great in green too don’t you think?. With all of the awesome work you’ve pumped out this year I’m fairly certain you could draft up that top pattern, even if it’s off this one. Happy bike riding in your new dress.

    • Thanks Kazz!! Yes, it would be FABULOUS in green and yes, I “could” draft a pattern from this one, I’m just feeling lazy : ) In the end it may be easier to clean stuff up although I did just have an entire box of patterns shredded by the cute puppies…

  7. Yes! I love this dress and I’m so happy for you. You look great in it and I know that wonderful feeling of getting into something expecting it to be tight and realizing you look ultra-hot in it. I WISH my normal photographer would give me direction about tilting my head or getting rid of a wrinkle here and there. Alas, I have finally gotten him to stop focusing on my boobs (seriously) and focus on my face instead. You just can’t get good help…

    • Erin, you completely cracked me up with the boob comment. So funny. I finally managed to stop my phtographer from constantly chopping off my head in the pics. Maybe he, too, focused too much on the boobs and I just never realised what was going on…

      • LOL!!!! THIS is why I have my daughter do the pics! One of my (male) friends is a professional photographer but he can be “distracted” and because we are friends makes some pretty racy comments. Gotta love the men in our lives : ) I think my daugher is taking this whole “take pictures of Mom in her silly outfits” more seriously now that she’s close to graduating and people might see her work so why not make both of us look good?

  8. Love it! My absolute favourite Mad Men dress. You look fabulous.

  9. You look great in this. I have never watched Mad Men (no tv set at home) but I have seen this dress before on Julia Bobbin’s blog and have been in love with it ever since then. It’s actually on my sewing list. I love your interpretation.

  10. It’s a great dress, thank you for making me feel better, because my dress for this week wasn’t hemmed either when I photographed it (bias-cut circle skirts – needed to hang for more time than I had!).

    Sorry you’ve had one of ‘those’ weeks. Your dress sure doesn’t show it!

  11. I am glad you rescued from your UFO pile! it sure deserved it. It is an amazing dress, elegant and sophisticated…congratulations!!

  12. Oh I’d love one of those …

  13. This is a gorgeous dress and looks fabulous on you! I like your version better than the original that Joan was wearing. I also love how the neckline is lower!

  14. Hey Loran! beautiful dress! Wish I had the hips to pull that one off. The details are so cool-

  15. Fabulous! I love the detail on this – it’s fun and unique, looks great. :-)

  16. Loved it on Joan, and your version looks so fabulous! way to go!!

  17. Love this dress, really fab version of it!

  18. I love your dress. It looks great on you. Well done

  19. Wow, this is beyond fabulous. I can’t believe you can knock a beauty like this in 4 hours. You are a genius. And the photos are fab too.