Four years ago I made myself a fitted red dress with a tie neck, heavily influenced by the lovely Joan from Mad Men. That dress has been a real success. It's made from double knit, so as well as being warm, it has a handy amount of stretch to accommodate festive eating marathons. Alas, it's now gone slightly bobbly and is a bit past its best so I needed to replace it. And what better pattern to use than Sew Over It's very own Joan Dress! It has just the right amount of festive dressiness and fifties glamour and was actually inspired by the beautiful Miss Holloway herself - perfect!
For fabric, I applied the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy and went for red again. I picked up some posh double crepe at a recent John Lewis fabric sale, which at £11 a metre was an absolute bargain for such lovely quality fabric. For the lining I kept it simple and used a plain red poly viscose from Goldhawk Road. The girls at Sew Over It had kindly sent me a copy of the Joan pattern when it first came out so I was ready to rock.
Having read on a couple of reviews that the finished dress was very fitted, I decided to err on the side of caution and cut a size 12. Big mistake. Once it was sewn up the dress was way too roomy - it was wearable but just didn't have the oomph that comes with a closer fit. Doh! I did actually compare the pattern pieces to my bodice block pieces beforehand and they were pretty similar, so I think it may had been something to do with the fabric which has a bit of stretch to it. Never mind, a bit of unpicking* and re-sewing of seams later and it finally fitted correctly. Not too skin tight (I need to be able to stuff my face in it and pick things up off the floor remember!) but just right. *This is a slight euphemism - it actually took an entire day.
Apart from the cock up with sizing, the only other changes I made to the pattern were to shorten the skirt by two inches and reduce the height of the back kick pleat by another two inches. I'm a shortie (5'2") but even if I was normal height I'd still have been in grave danger of flashing my arse. That split comes up very high! I'd recommend taking a few leg measurements beforehand.
The dress is fully lined (including sleeves) so it took me a loooong time to cut everything out and mark all the pattern pieces up. I then spent a whole afternoon on the sofa when my son was ill, pinning the darts ready for sewing. Including the outer dress and lining this adds up to a LOT of darts - 20 in fact! It was worth the tedium though, I think the darts are what gives the dress its fabulous fifties shape.
The pattern instructions were easy to work from and I had no problem following them. For trickier steps such as attaching the tie collar and sewing the back kick pleat, there are additional tutorials on the Sew Over It blog. One good thing about the pattern is that all the seams are hidden inside the lining, which means you don't have to finish them if you don't want to, hoorah! It gives the dress a very neat, professional finish - in fact this is probably the most polished looking dress I've ever made. The picture below shows the dress inside out, apart from the hem being visible, it's almost wearable!
It's not a quick sew by any stretch of the imagination (there's quite a bit of hand sewing), but it's definitely a pattern to consider for a special occasion. The fabric, the lining, the design and the finishing details all add up to a very smart dress! I'm delighted with it and I think it will be perfect for the festive season. x
|View of the lining|
The Joan pattern was given to me free of charge for review. All views my own.