Once a year I bite off more than I can chew for a Mad Men sewing challenge.
Two years ago, when I started sewing proper, I made a dress from a pair of curtains for the Sew Weekly Mad Men challenge:
It wasn't perfect, but I began to learn about sewing princess seams, fitting bodices to my narrow shoulders and chunky middle. And as you can see I had fun doing a photo shoot.
Last year, I made Megan's Zou Bisou Bisou dress for Julia Bobbin's Mad Men 2 sewalong:
Actually, this wasn't too bad. I had fun learning about sewing with chiffon (it's moving around when being cut and fraying) and stepped out of my comfort zone sewing a form-fitting shift dress.
So this year, for Julia Bobbin's Mad Men 3 sewalong, I thought I'd push myself even further. I'd make my first pair of trousers (only dared to make a pair of shorts before....and an exceptionally baggy, low-crotched onsie) and adapt a 60s pattern I scored at a charity shop years ago and never found a use for. When I saw Peggy's pantsuit of power in the final episode of last season's Mad Men I actually clapped because it looked so much like the pattern I'd had all this time:
But you'll notice that the pattern says its for a size 7 Petite.....and I ain't even a size 17....or 22.....
So I decided to make myself a trousersuit (sorry, I couldn't keep the pantsuit business up, I might have lived in the USA four and a bit years but I still can't hear pants without giggling like a schoolgirl) from a pattern nine sizes too small....and then there was finding a fabric that looked close enough to Peggy's version.
Well, that was my first mistake. I didn't manage to find anything exactly right. But I did find these options:
The one I should have gone for was the middle left red, black and white houndstooth on ebay....but it was coming from Seoul and I panicked that it wouldn't arrive with enough time for me to sew...... If I hadn't gone for that one (and I should have), I should have chosen the white and red Michael Millar large windmill houndstooth, middle right, from Fabric.com, but I didn't. I went from the bottom red, white and black plaid tweed. And it was a big mistake.
It frayed like no fabric I've ever breathed on has frayed before. It frayed if I dared look at it and frayed when I looked away.
I tried to solve it's problems by stay stitching every edge straight after cutting, and cut the pieces out with a rotary cutter (as it also stretched and moved when cutting....oh joy).
As you can see, I'd graded up the pattern to create my own, but I also for the first time ever made a couple of muslin versions of the trousers to refine it (I can't say perfect yet, because I'm still experimenting with it). I cross-bred the vintage Simplicity 8298 pattern with a modern (but vintage-styled) Simplicity 4044 pattern for trousers.
Anyway, that's the best you're going to get of physical photos of me for this project. Developing a pattern to fit me for the trousers and the long-line waistcoat/vest, working with the fraying tweed and a really tough Spring Break where all the family went down one by one with an acute stomach flu......well, I lost my mojo and finishing this project and then photographing myself when not in the mood was too much for me.
When a princess seam in the front of the waistcoat burst and started frayed AFTER I'd sewn in the full lining, it was the last straw and I didn't have the energy or willingness to go on any further.
BUT......I almost finished.
I got this far:
And I now have a trouser block pattern that fits pretty well (as I say, I think it still needs some refinement).
And I now DEFINITELY understand why shop/store bought trousers usually don't fit me right and/or look awful. I have a short crotch depth but a long crotch length, amongst other things ;)
AND I'm now at a point where I don't fear the making of the trousers......so I'm going to carry on and make myself some shorts (because I never find any that fit right or even attempt to flatter).
AND on Betty the Draper (my dress form), this doesn't look too bad....
I did sensible things that I wouldn't have the past like underline the side pieces that are cut on the bias to stop them losing their shape and stretching. Actually the whole thing doesn't look too bad on me, I just couldn't be bothered to tart myself up and do the photos. I want this project finished so I can move onto something I'll actually wear out.
Someone persuade me to just make a pretty Betty shirtwaister next year? Please?!