Julia Bobbin’s Dress Challenge

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By now it should be all over the sewing interwebs – Julia (of JuliaBobbin fame) is holding a Mad Men Dress challenge. 

Now, I’m a regular admirer of both the Mad Men aesthetic and Julia’s taste in dresses, but I’m not exactly the biggest dress wearer myself. In fact, I bought a day dress for the first time just about 18 months ago (we’re talking day-dresses here, not fancy ones) and am slowly getting more comfortable with the concept of wearing them (sewing has had a big influence on that). 

I have a rather large (and continually expanding) collection of 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s dress patterns thanks to Etsy – the garments and cover drawings are so pretty so how could I not? But wearing them in real life? Hmm. So Julia’s challenge would ideally be the perfect outlet.

My dilemma – between now and leaving for my South American trip early next week, I’m just not going to have the time to sew it all up. Damn. My Inspiration shot was going to be Joan in this blue high waisted skirt, belt and silky top combo:

And I even found the perfect pattern – a loose silk blouse from a 1983 McCall’s pattern (top right) – which was actually described on the packet as a ‘Disco Top’. Hilarious.

Matched with this me-made skirt and of course assuming a Joanie pose, I think the resultant effect would be Mad Men reminiscent… (and apropos to my soon-to-be jet-setting status) kinda like this:

So whilst I’m not going to be able to officially join in the Mad Men fun, I’ve decided that on my return, I AM going to sew up one of those vintage dresses from my collection – in all it’s completely unnecessary-dress gloriousness:

And you get to choose which one. So – do you prefer the 1960’s Simplicity dress in the full skirt or straight skirt, or the 1950’s McCall’s? You’ve got until the end of March to vote!



  1. I am also in general uncomfortable wearing dresses – but I have noticed that sewing them makes me want to wear them more? Perhaps because it is hard to find a dress that fits well in RTW, so I have avoided them for many years? Hmmm, either way I approve of your sewing plans – I will be excited to see your frivolous vintage pattern dress.Also, have fun on your trip!

  2. Have a fantastic trip!!! My vote was for McCall's 4567 – something to look forward to on your return. I haven't got time to make this challenge either – I might be joining you later too. Bon voyage!!!!

  3. I couldn't agree more – being able to have the fit, fabric and style I like in a dress is a huge incentive for wearing them! And thank you – I certainly will!

  4. Julia's Mad Men dress challenge is indeed tempting – but I agree that in the reality that is my day to day life, wearing curve-hugging beautiful dresses usually makes me feel overdressed and a bit self-conscious. That being said, I always think its a good idea to have a few dresses you love in you wardrobe for when the occasion arises! The vintage patterns are beautiful.Have a wonderful trip! Is it for work or play?

  5. I'm making a muslin from a vintage dress pattern as we speak for a fitting lesson. I'm hoping if I get the fit and comfort level right, I'll use it as a standard pattern. I love Julia's idea, just not sure I can meet the time lines but it will be fun watching.

  6. I LOVE those shirt patterns. The early 80's are an unfairly maligned time period. I remember watching Valley Girl recently and thinking that all the clothes were adorable.

  7. You know, I've been coming across quite a few 80's patterns lately that I really like the look of! It initially made me a bit wary, but I figure if I like it then that's all that counts :) I'm still totally going to make up one of those shirts though – they'd be perfect in lightweight fabric for hot summer days!!

  8. I think the McCall's or the straight skirt in the other pattern would be more wearable for a dress newbie than the poofy skirt.As much as I love the mad men (and julia's) style, wearing slinky wiggle dresses doesn't fit into my everday life. I just have no where to wear them and in the summertime when it is so hot I don't want any fabric touching me at all! So I guess I'm going to pass on the challenge but that doesn't mean I'll never sew a 60s inspired dress.I hope you have a great trip! I'm jealous – I really want to visit South America!

  9. Ooh, I love these patterns! Truthfully, I don't wear dresses much, either… I work mainly outdoors with all boys, so they're not very practical and I don't feel that comfortable in them. But I think you might like having a few in your closet that you can pull out when you have the opportunity to wear them (or when it's waaaay too hot for anything but a sundress!). Can't wait to see what you make!

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