Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sew Weekly Challenge: Mad Men or "The Sassy Secretary Dress" UPDATED!

Friends, I don't watch Mad Men but even I know that Joan Harris is a POWERHOUSE.  I mean, she has  red hair - it's practically a given, right?  Right.

When I made that magical trip to New York so many months ago, I managed to acquire this lovely pattern from a gracious meet-up participant.  I apologize for never finding out which person supplied this pattern, but if you speak up, I will send you pretty things BECAUSE THIS PATTERN IS AWESOME.


I won't lie - I had my doubts about the awesomeness of this pattern until hour 8 of working on it.  Then I attached the collar and it was like that moment in Harry Potter when Harry gets the wand and everything lights up and there is a breeze and he says "Whoa."


The collar chooses the sewist ... or something like that.


I flat-lined each dress piece with the leftover bed sheet remnants from this dress - so those sheets are gone, never to match the bathroom again.  You can see a little bit through the sleeve opening here.


I ended up choosing this blue linen for the shell fabric simply because there was enough to cut out all the pieces.  I did not expect to love this dress so much, and to be so grateful that the color worked out the way it did!


Here's the secret to collar: don't attach it the whole way around.  Leave a two inch opening, attaching the collar at all other points around the neckline.  Take a ten inch piece of fabric (mine was two pieces sewn together, turned right side out and top stitched) and thread through opening.  Tie so the long piece of fabric encases the collar.  It was so easy to do that I may try this on other dresses in the future.


I was originally hoping to do the 3/4 length sleeve, but sadly, I did not have enough fabric.  I decided to go with a short sleeve, which I still had to shorten to a comfortable length.  I ended up taking 3 inches off of the bottom of this sleeve in order to make it the current length.  I guess short sleeves weren't so short then?

You can see my main problem with linen fabric below.  I shed hair like a long haired cat, and this fabric picks it all up.  (You should see the vacuum after a stressful month.  Rob complains that he has to give it a "haircut."  Hopefully that will be better now that I've chopped off six inches!)


The fit of this dress took a bit of tweaking.  At first, it was a bit boxy and unflattering, so I just got crazy with my pins and chalk.  Eventually it came down to back seams, which meant I would have to take out the zipper and adjust.  This was not going to happen as this zipper is probably the best zipper I have ever done.  It's so straight!  I took in the side back seams and that seemed to do the trick.  Oh, princess seams, I love you so much.



I took two inches off for the hem, since I prefer dresses to hit me at my knee and avoid getting too close to the dreaded monster calves.  (I'm not saying I don't love my monster calves.  They are pretty spectacular.  I just don't want to make them look any bigger.)


Hemming with pleats wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  A bit of patience and some dedication with the iron helped them to lay flat, which definitely polishes the overall look of the dress.


Is it my favorite thing ever?  I don't know, but it's pretty close!  Even Rob, the man of few words, said, "Wow.  That is a great dress."


I have to tell you that this dress sat on my dress form for about three days before I could touch it for hemming.  I was feeling completely burnt out by this dress and the Couch of the Irish dress.  I've noticed that when I put two time intensive projects back to back, I burn out very quickly.  I feel like I am not getting anywhere, and I find myself standing in the middle of my sewing room but not being able to work on anything.  And then I get on Pinterest.  Nothing gets done.


I've found that I need to incorporate shorter projects in between these longer ones.  I feel like I am crossing things off my sewing list if I make multiple projects in two weeks, rather than sludging through two and avoiding the finishing details for as long as possible.  It's not that I sew quickly, but when I am excited about a project, I will get up early and go to bed late just to work on it.  Two long projects in a row find me sleeping in and watching TV late at night instead.

When I first started sewing, I did not take my time to line dresses or do any seam finishes.  Now that I've been sewing clothes for myself for over a year, I feel like I've graduated into the mindset of "I'm putting the effort into making this piece - I should probably put the effort in to make it last."  This has added hours onto my sewing time, but given me pieces that I love and I'm not afraid to wear for fear of them falling apart.  Hopefully adding short projects into the mix will allow me to keep this mindset about the more time intensive pieces.  I've got a Sencha blouse on my table right now and that's proving to be one of the quicker variety - I only have buttons and buttonholes left.   


Friends, do you incorporate shorter projects into your schedule?  Do you ever find yourself burnt out after long projects?  What are your secrets for staying excited about sewing?

Have a great day all, and I hope you're having fabulous weather where you are!

UPDATE: If you want to buy the pattern, I found several on Etsy, including one here

42 comments:

  1. It is definitely a 'wow' dress! It fits beautifully and the pleats and collar really kick it into another category.

    I get easily burnt out; in fact, I get burnt out just thinking about complicated projects! So then I knit or embroider. I have to do something with my hands. And then eventually I work up enough spirit (or the guilt kicks in or I'm just sick of seeing it on the table) to work on the project. So far, it seems like the ones that I think will be complicated aren't *so* complicated. And the ones I think won't be so bad...yikes! ;)

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    1. I think I may need to take a lesson from you and try embroidering in the meantime when I am feeling stuck. It keeps my hands occupied, which I need, and I'll be working towards a goal of a finished project or skill. Oooo...its always the ones that I think will be easiest that end up nearly defeating me - I totally feel you there!

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  2. I happened to find you on sewweekly.com and had to come comment. I agree with the burnout aspect. And with the "and then I get on Pinterest and nothing gets done" aspect.

    But this really is a fabulous dress. And the color suits you beautifully! If you do find out who makes the dress, please pass on the info because I think it's a lovely pattern. Somewhat vintage in appearance but without looking frumpy (Or maybe that's just you!) And the collar is lovely!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth! I found the pattern on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/90850796/printed-pattern-9388-1960s-dress-bow-at?ref=sr_gallery_20&sref=&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=bow+collar+pattern&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_order=price_asc&ga_page=2&ga_search_type=all&ga_facet=

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  3. So cute. The color is stunning, and it fits you so well! I too often push myself to the limit in a day's time and end up screwing something up -- like accidentally serging into the front of a garment and chopping a huge hole in it (who me? Yes, twice). When I'm feeling burnt out after something like that, all I have to do is read my blog roll and quickly get re-inspired by everyone else's lovely projects.

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    1. OH NO!! Sergers can be so evil sometimes!!! I cannot blame you for feeling a little burnt out after things like that happen - but I agree, reading my blogroll can definitely help getting over the dry spell :)

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  4. Wow! Wow! Wow! So glad the collar chose you :) This is a fabulous creation. And to answer your question if I get burnt out on longer project---OH YES!!! Challenges like Sew Weekly are good for pushing through....I now tend to spend more time not sewing when I'm burnt out...grumble, grumble :)

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    1. Thanks, my darling!! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who gets burnt out - and like you, when I'm feeling that way, I spend more time doing anything else rather than sew. I even do the dishes. I fold laundry. I don't think I'm supposed to look at my favorite hobby like that ... :)

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  5. Vavavaroom! You+ This Dress=Gorgeous! Love that you paired it with a nude shoe. Love the look of the collar and the zip in the back. Well done!

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    1. Thanks Melizza!! Vavavaroom might rank up there with one of the best compliments I have ever gotten - heehee!

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  6. This color looks great on you, and the dress itself looks fantastic!

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    1. Thanks Meli!! It's always a treat when it comes out the way you hope! I LOVE your HRC outfit by the way - the green looks amazing on you!!

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  7. Beautiful dress & the colour is fab on you!!!
    (And I agree, quick, almost instant gratification sewing projects are a must in between the longer time consuming ones.)

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    1. I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who needs quick projects to get through the long ones! Thank you for all of your kind words!

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  8. This dress is sensational!! You need to wear that sapphire blue more often - fantastic!! I love your bow collar and all the pretty pleats. Well done, Meg!

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    1. Thank you, my dear!!! I will definitely wear blue more often, especially because you said so and I trust you like whoa ;) XOXO!

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  9. Holy cow. Meg! This is the most awesome dress in the history of dresses ever. That collar! Those pleats! That blue! What luck that the fabric was a chance pick, because it really looks fantastic both on you and as this dress. Fantastic, all around.

    Also, I definitely get sewing burn-out easily. Recently, I warred way too much with a dress (Simplicity 1873) and I still haven't properly recovered my sewing mojo. I made a pencil skirt, hoping that would bring it back, but no. And curved hems? Ugh. Not happening again for at least a month.

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    1. I love your pencil skirt SO MUCH. Seriously. It might be one of my favorite pieces you've ever made, and it might be just the thing to inspire me this week when I am dragging my feet :)

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  10. I haven't gotten burned out because I can't seem to get going lately! It's a real problem and I need to figure out a way to just start sewing. Sheesh. But anyway your dress is so cute with that bow and I LOVE that blue. A stunner!

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    1. Ugh - I have totally been there! After I got back from vacation, I was dragging to try and sew something. It was completely frustrating! It's nice to know I am in such good company (haha!) - but thank you for all of your sweet words! How is the Big Apple treating you??

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  11. Of course, this is my favorite color blue. AND you have it in linen. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

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    1. Thank you!! This blue makes me so happy - I swear I will never doubt the color blue again!!

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  12. OMYGAWD!!!! That is a FABULOUS FREAKIN' DRESS. Good grief. You have every reason to be FLIPPIN' AWED BY THIS DRESS. And that FREAKIN' AMAZING COLLAR.

    Um. I like it. Is what I'm saying.

    Also... all my projects are short because my brain is bad. Or I should say, all my projects should be short but in fact are astoundingly long. But you can't really go by me.

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    1. Thank you, you fabulous lady you :) I love your projects! Your quilt that you are working is astounding, and definitely a lovely piece full of love and skill - seriously, I sit in awe of you, my friend :)

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  13. Yeah, I need the occasional quickie too. The longer stuff is more satisfying overall, but sometimes it gets to be a bit much. Also - that is a *fantastic* dress.

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    1. I just feel like the quickies sustain me through the longer projects - glad to know I am not the only one!! Thank you!

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  14. I try and do short/quick projects but I'm usually unsatisfied with them because they tend to end up looking like quick, cheap projects and they don't sustain my interest because the lack of challenge. As I said on my SW comment, I contributed that pattern :) and I LOVE the dress.

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    1. YOU GET PRESENTS!! LOTS AND LOTS OF PRESENTS!

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  15. Oooh, great dress! I love the colour and the collar looks awesome!
    I'm a bit of a quick-project-sewist. I do the occasional more difficult project, but I need a quick top or knit dress in between!

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    1. You do have some fabulous knit projects that I envy to pieces - I may need to follow in your footsteps for awhile!!

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  16. Super sassy! This is just a beautifully fitted dress and the color and style is perfect on you. Could it be a coincidence that it is practically a Tardis-like color?

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    1. I just love you! You know me too too well!!

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  17. Oh heck yes, that dress is amazing on you! Love it! The style, the colour, the collar. Beautiful. :-) (And hopefully safe to wear to work?)

    I hear ya with taking more time this year - I've been taking a lot more care after last year's weekly sewing, and finding myself doing things like hand-stitched blind hems and the like now, where a year ago the idea wouldn't even have crossed my mind. It's a bit like 'growing up' in a way, isn't it? (The non-scary 'growing up', that is.)

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    1. Definitely the non-scary growing up, but I agree - I definitely feel myself changing in terms of how I finish things. It's no longer a nuisance to hand stitch a hem - now it just seems necessary if I want something to look the way I envisioned. Look at us growing up!!

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  18. MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEG! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEG!

    if i could scream this in a bigger font I WOULD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  19. I love this color on you! I think you do Joan proud. Also, I am totally going to have to try that collar trick sometime!

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    1. Thanks, my dear! I would love to see if you try the collar trick on one of your fabulous creations!

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  20. It does look gorgeous and the zipper is straight too, even I noticed that and I am usually oblivious to these details:)

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    1. Ha! Thanks Emm! Rob even noticed the zipper too - he was very impressed that I didn't do my usual foot stamping tantrum when it came time to put the zipper in ;)

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  21. that color is a STUNNER! i don't know why i am surprised at how fabulous and amazing you look in that dress--the blue is just such a wonderful and unexpected choice!

    puu

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  22. Meg, that IS a great dress! Your color, for sure. I don't quite get the collar trick-- maybe if you do it again you could take some photos?-- but I love the result. I'm having the same issue with sewing weekly. It feels terrific to finish garments, but I have to alternate ambitious and easy projects or I quickly lose energy and excitement and my fun hobby starts getting stressful. I'm also paying more attention to details and seam finishes than when I started, adding time but also a lot more satisfaction with and wear out of the finished garment. I'm trying to be realistic in my planning and scale back from my first (too ambitious) impulses. I see some interspersed Sorbettos in my future.

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