Sunday, 21 April 2013

Mad Men Challenge - Joan Blouse

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse worn with By Hand London Charlotte Skirt sewing pattern

I have a confession to make. This isn't what I had planned to submit for Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Challenge. That lovely dress is still not finished, well pretty much only just about cut out. It's taken quite a lot of planning as I'm attempting to incorporate elements from a few of her looks into something that suits what I can wear every day.  I initially pinned a lot of images to my Pinterest board devoted to the challenge but couldn't see any one dress I wanted to exactly copy which I knew I would then get wear out of afterwards. So I decided to go down the 'Joan inspired' route. I want to get it just right and not rush it so I went with a much simpler idea and am very pleased with the result!

Joanie is by far my favourite Mad Men character so I stuck with basing my garment on her style. I still wanted to make something I would get some wear out of as a lot of my sewing projects err on the side of evening or special occasion wear. I went back through my pins and settled on her coral pink pussy bow blouse in the top picture.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse worn with By Hand London Charlotte Skirt sewing pattern

I used the La Sylphide Blouse pattern from Papercut Patterns; I thought design wise straight out of the envelope it was pretty perfect to imitate Joan's look. Sleeve length, neckline and fit, spot on! This was my first time using a Papercut Pattern and I'm very pleased to report they are a big hit with me! The packaging is gorgeous and the pattern pieces are printed on a couple of robust brown paper sheets, meaning you have to be a lot less gentle with them than the usual tissue versions. You also get to make up the instructions into a lovely little booklet which I thought was great as it's a good size to keep next to your machine and very satisfying to keep turning the pages as you move through.

I cut a size XS based on my measurements and am pretty happy with the fit. It skims the waist and has a nice amount of ease elsewhere to help it sit and hang well. I've always liked the idea of the peplum look but when I've tried any peplum tops on in the high street found it to be a very unflattering style on me! I guess it was therefore a bit silly of my to choose a peplum top to sew up but there's something about this which works for me. I think it's a combination of the bow and loose three quarter length sleeves balancing the amount of fabric around the hips and just plain good drafting!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse worn with By Hand London Charlotte Skirt sewing pattern

Even though I don't think I would have been drawn to this 'smart blouse' style of top in the shops (it's too 'office wear' for my purposes) I really love it! Paired with my brocade Charlotte skirt I think it makes a great Joan outfit, particularly when tucked in and this is a great top for tucking in to high waisted skirts as it's already shaped to fit closer at that point before flaring out into the peplum.

I used some type of imitation sand-washed silk I bought for about £2 a metre in Walthamstow market a while back. The fabric is very lightweight and drapey but didn't cause too many problems as the slightly sand-washed texture stops it from slipping and sliding about to much against itself or the machine. Even though I love the coral pink of Joan's blouse it's a colour that doesn't suit me in that solid a block close to my face. This soft green is much more my colour and I stuck to a solid rather than a print as Joan very rarely does prints or patterns.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse worn with By Hand London Charlotte Skirt sewing pattern

Sewing wise this was definitely my most challenging make to date. I didn't really think about it when I set out but there's quite a lot of fiddly aspects to making this blouse; and quite a few of the techniques I had never tried before! To start with there are darts and sleeves to set in which are both things to be careful with but I've done at least a few times before. Then there there's the neck tie which I was sort of dreading but actually really enjoyed putting together. I am very proud of my lovely even topstitching around the back of the neckline!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse sewing pattern

There's also a button placket to deal with down the centre front. I don't know why I didn't pick up on this until I basically got to this step but I've never sewn a button hole before. Let alone a row of them on a stabilised placket. I usually avoid patterns involving buttons like the plague; my brain must have just decided to ignore that this was a feature on this one until it could ignore no more! Anyway, I cheated. I did fully intend on doing it properly and sat down with some scraps of my fabric to practice machine buttonholes. Then I realised I have no idea where the manual for my machine is. I can't recall ever seeing it or using it even. And I don't have the faintest idea how to make my machine make them. I have what I think is a buttonhole foot and a quick bit of googling tells me my machine has the capability to do them but I don't know how. I really do intend to learn how to do them, and am requesting a new manual from Janome so I can but for this I just faked it by sewing the buttons on the front and using press studs behind to fasten. I'm still chuffed with my neat plackets!

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse sewing pattern

The one technique that I wasn't fretting about was the rolled hem after I'd had such success with my new rolled hem foot on my Dip Hemmed Scout Tee. Guess which technique involved the most time and swearing! My fabric just did NOT want to roll. It was rolling too much, rolling too little; my hem was all kinds of uneven and wobbly when I got round. I've re worked it but am still not 100% happy. Think I'm going to need to spend a bit more time on that. I used french seams throughout with the exception of the armhole seams which I bound so it seems a shame to ruin such a neat inside finish with an awful hem.

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse worn with By Hand London Charlotte Skirt sewing pattern

I really like that the cuffs are interfaced by the way. It seems to help keep a bit of shape and body in the sleeves however you hold your arms.

I can't wait to see everyone else's Mad Men inspired makes in Julia's round up post! Here's one final attempt at a Joan pose to amuse you all on a Sunday evening:

Diary of a Chainstitcher Mad Men Challenge Joan Holloway style Papercut Patterns La Sylphide blouse worn with By Hand London Charlotte Skirt sewing pattern

23 comments:

  1. Hi Fiona, it was lovely to meet you yesterday :)
    I think your blouse looks fab. Have you tried searching for a download for your sewing machine manual (which model is it BTW)?. P.S. I sent you n email with the link to the patterns you wanted to download too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely to meet you too Claire! Thank you so much for remembering to email me and for getting on to it so quickly!
      Good idea about looking for a download, I hadn't thought of that. It's a Janome 7021

      Delete
    2. Fiona - I managed to get hold of the PDF file from Janome UK and I've just emailed a copy to you... enjoy :)! Apparently your Janome Model 7021 was produced for John Lewis = the same as their own Janome 521.

      Delete
  2. Ohh this is very cute.. Really lovely meeting you yesterday x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rachel! Thank you again for an amazing day, you did such a great job!

      Delete
  3. You know what? I totally prefer your version! Nicely done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the best compliment I could get, thank you!

      Delete
  4. really lovely! good to see you again yesterday - sorry we didn't get a chance to chat. i went for it with buttonholes (but i don't think i'd have tried them in such a lovely almost finished project!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They're the next technique on the list! I think practicing on scraps is the way to go though!
      We'll chat next time I hope!

      Delete
  5. I love this outfit! Tucked in is so flattering and definitely looks of the time of Mad Men. (I also prefer your version to Joan's!)
    And press studs behind buttons is just genius!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I did feel a bit bad not doing a proper buttoning fastening, but it works so why not!

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Thanks so much Vicki, makes me like it even more knowing other people think it's good!

      Delete
  7. Beautiful blouse, Fiona!! I've never heard of Papercut Patterns before. Thanks for the introduction. What a lovely pattern, and you look stunning in it.
    Shelley

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Shelley!
      Papercut haven't been around long, but they have released two beautiful collections of patterns! I've also got the Coppelia jersey top waiting to be sewn up. I think they're based in New Zealand but I've just spotted that they are currently offering free worldwide shipping!

      Delete
  8. This looks beautiful on you! I love it! What a chic outfit this makes! I'm a big fan of Papercut Patterns, too. Their designs are so fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I've just spotted they've got free shipping going on at the moment so there might be a few more appearing!

      Delete
  9. This outfit is super cute! I love the colors on you (great job with the matching shoes), and I think you did a great job pretty much replicating the original look. Yea, the colors are different, but Joan would have totally worn those exact colors anyway! Beautiful job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, and good spot on the shoes! I think the fact that I can match them to my hand made garments is telling me I have too many!

      Delete
  10. Amazing!!!!! You look so stunning in this- I think you should make one in every colour!! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Ami! I think I might!

      Delete
  11. I am in love with this blouse and the pattern. One of my favorites from the challenge! I bet this will make a gorgeous dress too. Nice meeting you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a compliment, thank you! There were so many amazing outfits in the challenge, it's such a great idea isn't it?!

      Delete

I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!