Thursday, 17 December 2015

Christmas Joan Dress

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!

View of the lining
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


The Joan pattern was given to me free of charge for review. All views my own.




60 comments:

  1. This dress is beautiful perfect for Christmas !! Very impressed!
    Frankie
    Www.knitwits-owls.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. really gorgeous jane =- it looks great on you!

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  3. Absolutely stunning. Well done!

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    1. Thanks Colleen! Very relieved I finished it! x

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  4. Love this on you. The fit is spot on!! Definitely adding this pattern to my make list for 2016!!!

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    1. You would ROCK this dress, you have to make it Christina! And thank you! x

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  5. Ooh, lady in red! This is lovely - enjoy your Christmas dress!

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  6. Quite a little number! It looks fabulous on you.

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  7. That's just gorgeous on you! I can see why you went with red again, it's perfect for Joan... but really, perfect for Jane! ;)

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    1. Glad you think so love, I happen to think it's perfect for Jane too! x

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  8. Wonderful dress Jane. You look fantastic! Susan

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  9. Gorgeous dress; beautiful colour.

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    1. Thanks, I love the colour too! x

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  10. A fantastic dress - really suits you in red. It looks great, inside and out!

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    1. I'm really proud of the insides! x

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  11. The perfect Xmas dress. It looks fab on you x

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    1. Thanks Claire, I'm hoping it will perform well at Christmas! x

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  12. very beautiful dress and this red colour is very suits you!!

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  13. I LOVE this. One of my most favourite makes of yours. Very tempted indeed to sew a straight up copy. I shall enjoy imagining you wearing this on Christmas Day.

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    1. Ah thanks Karen! Yes please, make one immediately! I'm optimistic that the slight stretch will make it a forgiving dress to wear on Christmas Day! x

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  14. Just gorgeous, Jane! Happy Christmas to you & your family from sunny Brisbane. x

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    1. Thank you! Happy Christmas to you from an unseasonably mild west London! x

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  15. This is a great dress on you. The colour and fit are lovely.

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    1. Thanks Manju, I'm so pleased with it! x

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  16. Totally gorgeous dress. It looks amazing on you.

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  17. Just superb - it suits you so well!

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    1. Merry Christmas to you too Anne! x

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  19. Fabulous! Love the brooch placement to add a little festive glitz.

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    1. Ah, so leased somebody noticed my brooch! x

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  20. Absolutely beautiful Mrs M xxx

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  21. Ooh it's so very you! How perfect for Christmas Day ( and other events I'm sure!!) I am totally coveting it and just wish I had time to make one for myself!

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    1. Thanks darl, if you do ever find the time you should give it a go, it would look fab on you! Can't quite believe I found the time to finish it to be honest! x

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  22. Very well done. It's a lovely dress and suits you perfectly. Wishing you and your family all the best for the holiday season

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    1. Ah thank you very much and a Happy Christmas to you too! x

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  23. Wow! You look even more fantastic than usual. It was certainly worth the effort involved.

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    1. Oh what a lovely comment, thank you! x

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  24. Oh yes! The perfect Christmas dress. Jo x

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  25. Really suits you! I'm glad you managed to persevere with the unpicking, it was worth it! Merry Christmas x x x

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    1. I think it was worth it too! Thanks and Merry Christmas! x

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  26. What a fab version of this Jane, I do like you in red! I've only worked with crepe a couple of times, but I was really pleased with the results. Sounds like a lot of work, but well worth it!

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    1. Thanks Teresa, I love red too, I even got married in a red dress! I'm pleased with the final dress, definitely well worth all the hard work! x

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  27. So funny! I saw the picture in my feed before I read the source and just knew it was for you! I enjoyed your review, and love the dress on you!

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    1. Ha! That's hilarious! And thank you! x

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  28. This is gorgeous in red Jane! I love the way this pattern turns out so cleanly finished and professional looking, definitely worth the time and effort. Your fabric seems perfect for it too, a tiny bit of stretch is definitely needed!

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    1. Aw thanks Fiona! I think the tiny bit of stretch will be very welcome and Christmas Day! x

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  29. Stunning dress! You look amazing!

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  30. It really looks great! So festive! And the fit is spot on so worth the unpicking.

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