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April 25

McCalls 6802: Mad Men Dress

I’m sooo late to the Mad Men Dress Party, but better late then never right???

(This is my best attempt at a straight-faced Mad Men pose.)

Outfit Details:
Dress: McCalls 6802 pattern, c. 1964 in a blue wool twill
Shoes: Cole Haan, Nordstroms (last year)
Accessories: Scarf, earrings and gloves from A Touch of Vintage

The last time I blogged about this dress was when I was encountering a bubble-dart issue  in which all you smarties gave me some good feedback on how to solve it.  :)

It ended up being a lining vs. fabric issue where I was only catching the lining as I was sewing up the tip of the dart and not the fashion fabric.  You bet that I’ll be sure to baste down the middle of the dart before stitching it next time.

As you may have seen, I was quite taken with the powder blue version on the pattern envelope.  So much so that when I saw the blue (twill weave) wool I nabbed it up.  The wool looks like a twill weave, but feels like a light-weight gabardine.

Truth be told I’ve had this dress 99% finished for the last few weeks, but never completed it since I still feel a bit *mehh* about it.  I could have had it done in time for the Sew Weekly challenge along with Julia Bobbin’s but it wasn’t quite right so I wanted to mull it over before finishing it up and taking pictures.

When I tried it on, I was expecting the skirt to be more A-line and less frump-line.  What was happening was that the skirt wasn’t creating that early 60’s A-line shape, but was falling limp and flat towards my knees; hardly attractive for this design and for my pear-shape.  I’m certain that if I used a stiffer, crisper fabric I wouldn’t have had this issue, but I still thing it should have been okay with my own fabric.

I went back to the sewing machine a week or so afterwards and stitched both side seams close to 4″ narrower, gradually towards the hem.  This was a decent quick fix and solved the issue nicely.  I added some narrow horsehair braid (1/2″ wide) to help the skirt retain it’s A-line shape at the hem also.

The last hurdle was to complete the hem on the lining, which I did this past Sunday morning, the main reason why the dress sat for an additional 2 weeks.

When all’s said and done, I’m still very *mehh* about it.  I think it’s fine… it’s just not for me.  This will most likely be a decent spring 9-5 (work) ensemble paired with a coordinating, cropped cardigan.  It’s a shame since the design is great.  I think I would like it loads better if I would have made the pencil-skirt version to create a wiggle dress.

Alterations for next time:  Create a pencil skirt version, lower the side-seam bust darts by 1/2″ to 3/4″, and take in the front neckline a bit to prevent gaping or add in some twill tape.

I have a one or two more images on my flickr page if you’d like to see a tiny bit more.  And I hope to add in some of the inside construction details there soon as well.

  1. Sue / Apr 25 2012

    I love the way you styled this outfit – the light blue of the dress is so pretty! This version looks lovely, and the horsehair braid in the hem really helps the skirt shape, but I agree about trying the pencil skirt version next time for a wiggle dress. That would be stunning on you! :)

  2. Dana Tougas / Apr 25 2012

    I love it! I really love the color and the A line skirt. I do see what you’re saying about the skirt not being as full as the picture depicts but I think it’s great!

  3. Annabelle / Apr 25 2012

    A shame that you do not love this dress, because you look just gorgeous in it. Light blue is definitely your color. It’s been fun to see everyone’s MadMen inspired creations, I just finished season 1 and now know why everyone has been talking about it for years. I’m just starting to come around the idea of having some early 60’s influences in my wardrobe too.

  4. Cation Designs / Apr 25 2012

    Oof, you have my sympathies on making a Mad Men-inspired dress that you don’t love! I just went through the same thing, and I will say as everyone else said to me, your dress looks beautifully done, but it’s hard when you just don’t love it personally. I’m glad you’re still going to try to wear it though; it deserves to see the light of day! That color really suits you.

  5. Tasha / Apr 25 2012

    Oh, it’s so pretty! I love the detail at the waist. But I’m sorry it didn’t quite fulfill your hopes for it. Would a slight crinoline underneath it give it a bit more fullness?

  6. Sassy T / Apr 25 2012

    Ooo the powder blue is stunning. It looks like a fancy lunch dress, or out for an aimless wander on a warms summers day.

  7. Clare S / Apr 26 2012

    Great styling and this colour combo is lovely on you! It’s a shame you’re not too keen on the dress, but it is one of the most annoying pitfalls of sewing – unlike shopping, you can’t try on the item first!

    You were saying you wish you’d made the pencil skirt version – couldn’t you make this one into a pencil skirt?

  8. Meg / Apr 27 2012

    I agree with Sassy T – this looks like a perfect dress for taking lunch – the powder blue is so stunning on you! Maybe a crinoline would help the skirt puff out a bit? I would definitely love to see you pair this with your cropped cardigan because I’m sure that would be FABULOUS.

  9. Ginger / Apr 27 2012

    Oh, Liz, I’m sorry you don’t love this dress! I think it’s gorgeous! I agree with Meg and Tasha– maybe you would get a bit more loft from the skirt with a small crinoline underneath?

    • Liz / Apr 27 2012

      I think I’d agree, but I don’t have one…

  10. Linda Baker / May 26 2012

    I quite like your dress as is, it has made it more modern and wearable day to day. To get it to look very late 1950’s early 60’s, then it is necessary to copy the actual sewing construction of the day. I have had oooodles of vintage dress’s pass through my wardrobe the past 20 years, and noticed that most of the Aline dress’s from the late 50’s that flared out, as per the pattern picture had an iron on interfacing, adhered to the fashion fabric. Alot of the time it was in poor condition and had to be removed, or it fell apart when washing, and then the dress did not sit properly except with stiffened A line petticoat underneath – it was not possible to iron on a new interfacing to the constructed dress.( I still have just found an original petti like this, a fabric that feels like a dish rag with wet, but dries oh so stiff..wonderful – so intend to try and find similar fabric to replicate.
    Keep up the good work!

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