Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Little Too Successful: My Take on Mad Men's Peggy

Peggy dreams of being the head of her own advertising agency with a huge office building.

Remember how I decided on Peggy's boring, drably-colored dresses, with little girl collars and bows at the neckline as my inspiration for the Mad Men challenge? Yeah, well, I think I succeeded; my finished dress is just a little too bland, gray, cutesy-but-not-cute for my taste. I thought I could transform all those elements into a workable working girl look, instead of Peggy's frumpy schoolgirl look, but I don't think it really worked. Only the fact that this dress is sleeveless saved it from being exactly like Peggy's all-covered-up-prudester work outfits. And I can't even pinpoint exactly what's wrong with it; I like all the individual parts, but the whole leaves me slightly dissatisfied.

Side view.
Front of the bodice. I am not actually that tan in real life; the sun was setting.

Back of the bodice. I went so far as to switch thread colors for the bodice and skirt when topstitching the zipper.

But let's rewind a bit. I knew I wanted drab neutral colors, and I also wanted to avoid buying any new fabric, so I pulled out this gray leaf-patterned IKEA fabric from a few years ago and paired it with a black thrifted bedsheet. I also wanted to finally try out a Peter Pan collar, as it is on my Check the Technique list. Also, I was inspired by Neeno of Sew Me Love's absolutely smashing red PP-collared dress. I doubt mine will be landing in any newspapers, though! The actual collar drafting process was pretty painless, although I had to modify Gertie's instructions a bit and use a manila folder over the carpet due to the lack of a cardboard cutting mat.

I used parchment paper instead of real tracing paper. *shrugs* It was what I had. Otherwise, I followed Gertie's directions.

Except that Gertie's directions never say when to pull the adorable sleeping cat off of your fabric.

There's not much else to say about this dress; the bodice is from McCall's 5927 and the skirt is just a normal A-line cut on the bias for better draping and movement, plus knife pleats in the back that line up (mostly) with the back darts. I added my standard pockets, did my standard baby hem, pinked the skirt seams, and followed my standard lining procedure. So standard...and boring. Just like my perception of Peggy's wardrobe! The saving graces of this dress are the collar (in a cute dotted white cotton), tiny bow (gotta have the neckline bow -- it's so classic Peggy!), and the fact that I took the time to slipstitch the lining to the dress to make the insides prettier. Still not as pretty as Neeno's insides, but better than my usual.

Love the tiny bias tape bow and the tiny dots on the collar!

Wrinkly muslin lining, but otherwise neat attachment to the zipper.

And now, let me raise my hand and make a solemn promise: NO MORE SLEEVELESS DRESSES. Especially not if they have a fitted bodice and flared/full skirt. Good golly, how many does a girl need?! I said at the beginning of the year I wouldn't make any more when even Shayna's mom noticed it was all I seemed to make, but what did I do? Turn around and make seven more of the same! I need to make something with sleeves. Or something fitted on the bottom. I do solemnly swear. And if I do not fulfill my oath, I will be doomed to haunt the path to my sewing machine, unable to rest forevermore. These are the Paths of the Sleeved Dresses. The Sleeved Dresses keep it and do not suffer the sleeveless to pass. The way of the sleeveless is shut. *shakes self out of prophetic mode* My apologies.

I see you thinking about more sleeveless dresses. You stop it. Stop. Right now.

Back view. I am so glad I added those pleats in the back.
Also, a something flew by right at this moment.
Fabric: 100% cotton for everything (gray IKEA leaf print from 2008 for bodice shell, thrifted black sheet for the skirt, muslin for the bodice lining, gifted white dotted fabric for the collar)
Notions: black 22" zipper, black narrow double-fold bias tape for the bow
Techniques: Drafting a Peter Pan collar, slip-stitching the lining to the zipper/waist-seam
Hours used: My standard five; the dressmaking went quickly, but drafting the collar and slipstitching by hand took at least an extra hour.
Will you make this again? I like the bodice of M5927 because it fits relatively well for having only two huge darts in front; not marking and pinning and sewing the extra four darts from M5845 really saves a lot of time, so I'm pretty sure I'll utilize this pattern again when I want a quickie project. I also really like the PP-collar look, and now that I have the collar drafted it will go much quicker next time. But next time I make this, I'm definitely using drapier fabric and a fuller or more fitted skirt; this A-line is too stiff and in-between for my taste.
Total cost: All of these fabrics have been in the stash so long, I count them as free. But for the sake of accuracy, I probably spent about $4 on them at the time, plus the $2 zipper, so let's say $6 total. Gosh, that might almost be a Mad Men-era price!
Final thoughts: I don't think I captured any aspect of the 1960s at all in this dress. And I captured all the right parts of Peggy's look in the wrong way. All in all, a decent summer dress that I can't complain much about, but totally redundant for my wardrobe and not my favorite.

I look a lot like the old pictures of my mom here. That's about the only retro thing going on here.

Mad Men Challenge: accepted. Mad Men Challenge: failed.


  1. I don't know I quite like the dress, but I do think it needs a little something at the waist line. A black belt or maybe a coloured one for a little pop. x

  2. your "fail" has given me the inspiration to embark on my own made men copy, which in truth is not a copy of anything. i just like the style. akin to "but moooooOOOOmmmm cation did it why can't I?!"

    i think it's quite pretty. and very peggy. which of course means it's peggy style pretty. which means you just need to add a wide technicolor belt!

    1. I like that wide technicolor belt idea. Doooo it.

  3. I know what you mean about the colours but I think this is a great staple dress and you could easily add a birght colour skinny belt or bright tights or shoes. Fabulous and amazingly made yet again! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.co.uk/

  4. I like it! It does remind me a bit of something Marsha would wear on the Brady Bunch though ;)

  5. I actually really like this dress! It's just so cute and sweet and fits you so well! I think one thing you could do to make it more exciting for yourself is wear it with brightly colored heels! Just a thought:) Great work yet again, dear friend!

  6. I think it looks kind of Rachel from Glee-y, actually. Not a bad look at all.

  7. I can't believe you're meh about this dress! It's awesome! And the fitting is fantastic, and that collar is cute... and the bow. Ok I'll stop now.

    I like the bodice fabric. Ok that's it. Honest. It's peggy-licious rad.

  8. Sometimes I'm all meh about a dress and then the blog world helps me see that it's actually quite lovely.

    Just like yours! It's really nice, I wonder if you'd feel differently with some awesome accessories? Or maybe put it away for a little while and then pull it back out and think "WOW- this is a great little dress, why haven't I worn it to rags yet?" :)

  9. I think it's totally cute, although I'm less in love with the skirt than the bodice. That might be the fabric, though. I love the Ikea fabric and the little PP collar.

    I fear the beginning of spring is not the right time of year to be swearing off sleeveless dresses. Unless you don't count strappy sundresses, perhaps. Just sayin'.

  10. I'm actually totally into this, but hey, it's your life, it's your dress! How about a bright belt? It might make you feel a bit more into it. I don't know. I really like this but what matters is that YOU like it. I gotta say, love the ikea fabric! Ikea. You give us so much.


  11. Belt and bag and the dress is transformed. I like your creations though.

  12. This is mega frustrating. I have already attempted to leave you two comments, each time, my internet has disconnected and my comment didn't post! GRRR. Here is my third attempt at posting a comment. This comment is much shorter than the original comments...

    Cindy! I love the collars, and your insides look fab!! The A line skirt and length is really flattering. The fabric on the bodice is lovely.

    Very Peggy!!

    <3 Neeno

  13. I actually really like it! If the skirt has pockets, it is perfect. It looks fantastic on you too!

  14. I think it looks great. I've been trying to decide what it reminds me of, and finally figured it out: It makes me think of Lovejoy, the little girl who sold her charity clothes in order to buy something with style in An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden. And, yes, this dress is the "something with style", not the charity clothes. :) Very neat, very simple, very tasteful, but it has an opinion. When Lovejoy grows up and goes to college, this is the perfect dress that she'll find after going through every rack in the vintage shop.

  15. Your dress is gorgeous. I love the collar and bow.

    Because you make such nice things and do a wonderful job sharing them with us blog readers, I have nominated you for a Sunshine Award 2012 :)

    See my blog: http://getmystitchon.blogspot.in/2012/03/sunshine-award-wow.html

  16. There's a Lord of the Ring's quote for everything!!! :)

  17. LOVELY PICS:) I really like your blog and will happily follow. If you want some swedish decor inspiration you can check out my blog:)

    I wish you a great week.

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis.se

    ps..cute cat:)

  18. Wherein I disagree with you repeatedly: Like everyone else, I think this looks terrific. When I read you feel it's too drab for you, I thought, "Switch the little black bow at the collar for a little yellow one." However, this dress may be irredeemable. I've had clothes that I thought looked good on but still left me feeling underwhelmed. Also, I think you look great in a fitted, sleeveless bodice. I've read style advice to stick with what suits one over and over so, if you don't veer onto a sleeved path, I applaud you.

  19. i love this dress on you! I'm thinking a pop of red...even just the bow, and paired with red shoes?? Anyway, looks great.


Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.