1960s | Dresses | Mad Men Inspired

Mad Men Challenge – My Joan Dress

April 4, 2013

My Mad Men dress for the Mad Men Challenge. I had to copy Joan. Just about every episode I ogle something she has worn. I used the wiggle dress from Gertie’s Book and added arm flounces and drafted my own collar. I deviated from the original collar, making it a bit more mod, as I don’t have the strong bust to balance out the original collar (and, I will admit, couldn’t figure out how to get such ample ripples). I used Gertie’s suggested period construction by inserting a hand-picked zipper, sewing my hem by hand, and inserting the underarm gussets using a silk organza facing. The dolman sleeves, despite a couple rounds of fitting, still aren’t quite perfect over my strong shoulders. Check out my blog post for more details and photos.

Does anyone know how to get the ample ripples in the original dress?

Has anyone successfully fit tight dolman sleeves over strong square shoulders?

  1. It looks like the lining of your arm flounces on the original are gathered–sorta like an uneven puffed sleeve or an unevenly gathered dirndl skirt.

  2. I think the collar flounce is a large circular piece that after being sewn to the collar automatically drapes into folds. ( does that make sense?)
    I’ve never done this, but I have seen it in my sewing books. I will recheck that in case I am wrong. And you probably need to use a drapier fabric too.
    Your dress came out really cute btw!

  3. The dress has a V-neck and the collar piece is a full circle ( like a mini circle skirt).
    Since the necklines don’t match the V-neck causes the circle to drape down into folds. That’s not a very good explaination, but I hope it makes more sense than my first post. I wish I could post a picture.

    1. Thanks for the idea. I tried a full circle but it wasn’t anywhere near enough volume to make those ample ruffles, even when I used just the drapier contrast fabric.

  4. I agree with Bree, the collar was cut as a circle, or a “C” shape that is almost a complete circle. When you sew the inner edge to a straight seam the ripples will fall like that. Then some good pressing and you’re good to go. I love your dress as it is. I have ample bust (not as much as Joan, though) and I avoid details like on Joan’s dress because I feel it makes them seem bigger! Joan can pull off anything, can’t she?

  5. It might even be more than one full circle. I’d get out the scrap fabric and cut a few tests. This shouldn’t actually be very hard to do with a little experimentation, and it would definitely be worth figuring out.

    1. It’s definitely more than a full circle. I tried a few tests, but they weren’t working as I couldn’t figure out a way to elegantly get more than a full circle of fabric. I remember cutting a flounce out of a spiral years and years ago, so perhaps that’s how they did it? I decided to make a design decision to move on with something different and finish the darn dress, but I agree that it’s worth figuring out.

  6. Beautiful Dress! I think the flounces are a series of smaller circles that are connected together at their radius, to get the tight curves that cascade down. Also, how drapey your fabric is will determine how it will lay. Great Job!

  7. I agree with PepperReed; I made a flamenco skirt last fall and that’s how the ruffles were made: many, many circles, with a small circle cut out of the center of each, and a cut on the radius into the little circle. Sew the circles together and then apply as one big piece.

  8. About fitting the dolman sleeves: First, what are “strong shoulders”? There could be 2 separate issues there. If your shoulders are wider than the shoulder measurement for the dress, do a slash-and-spread: cut (on a copy of the pattern) from the shoulder straight down to the waist on both front and back, and spread the pieces a little bit at the top, so you’re adding a very long, skinny triangle into the middle of it. If your shoulders are more square/less sloping, then draw a new shoulder line, slanting from the existing point at the neck up to maybe 1/4″ added at the outer edge of the shoulder, then back down to match the sleeve (the opposite to what you’d do to remove shoulder pads.

    However, it looks to me like you may also (or instead) need to do a full-bust adjustment, adding a bust dart, give how the material is pulling. Try both on a muslin of just the bodice, and see which give you a better result. If the shoulder adjustments don’t leave the waistline of the muslin exactly level with your waistline, consider the full-bust adjustment.

    Pepper Reed & Laurie Brown are correct about the circular-flounce collar (and probably the sleeve flounces, too) – it’s the ratio between inner and outer circles that give you that volume.

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