Friday, February 10, 2012

In Progress: The Joan Rose Applique Dress

I realized that I don't do a lot of posts as I'm working on a project lately. Being a drama queen, I'm all about the "big reveal." But I feel like there's something useful in watching the progression of a project, right? So I thought I'd do a little post about what's in my sewing machine right now.

So, you all realize I'm obsessed with Joan from Mad Men, right? I know I'm not unique in this obsession. But I do feel a personal connection to that character. It has nothing to do with her personality, it has to do with her hips. That's right, hips.

I know lots of us find it refreshing to see Christina Hendricks's body type on a current program. And for me, it's become almost therapeutic. You know those "OMG my hips are huuuuge!" moments? When that happens, I say two words to myself: Joan Holloway. ( I refuse to call her Joan Harris, it's true.) And it actually works! Instant therapy. Actually, it only works in conjunction with a mental image like this one:

So, long story short. I think about Joan a lot. I also think about her dresses a lot. And one of my favorites is the rose applique dress she wore on what I call the "accordion dinner party episode."

I recently had the idea to copy this style by taking vintage rose fabric and using it for appliques. I found this tablecloth:

source
It has many large stains on it, so I didn't feel bad about cutting it up. (I don't think I could bring myself to cut a usable vintage tablecloth!) The background matches the pinky-red merino wool I have. So I started cutting out individual roses, leaving 1/4" around them. I experimented with appliqueing them by hand, but found I preferred the polished look of machine applique instead.

I assembled the bodice of my dress and arranged my roses around the neckline, pinning them in place.


This took a lot of playing around and squinting at it. I even had to sleep on it one night, and come back to it fresh the next day. When I was happy with the arrangement, I glue-basted the roses in place.

Next, I began machine appliqueing them in place, using a narrow zig zag on a very short stitch length. I did a couple samples to get the setting I liked best.

And here's where I am! It needs a little work cleaning up the edges of the appliques, but you get the idea.
More to come!

38 comments:

  1. Oooh, should be beautiful--that is a great dress! Of course it needs appliques!

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  3. I love this! You speak the truth, woman! Joan is an icon!Keep us up to speed!

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  4. I channel Joan for her figure and red hair so I know what you mean. I have my first applique project waiting in my queue so I can't wait to see your finished dress!

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  5. I love this dress! I've been thinking about trying to re-create it for The Sew Weekly Mad Men Challenge!

    I to am a fan/identify with Joan not because of her character but because of her curves and a specific body part... her lady lumps. It's really refreshing to see large (presumably un-enhanced) lady lumps wrangled into "real" clothing. It's nice, in general, to see a body that resembles my own on TV. I got those hips, I've got those lady lumps. Now, if only I had that lovely red hair!

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  6. Thank you for sharing your WIP. Can't wait to see the final dress.

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  7. I can't call her Joan Harris either. Though part of me would love, someday, to call her Joan Sterling...I'm a Rodger-Joan 'shipper, it's true!

    Love this applique. So classy! That scene was so sad, when he made her play and sing. Joan, you can do better! Gertie,you can do no wrong.

    strugglesewsastraightseam.wordpress.com.

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  8. what a beautiful effect! I like how you put things together (flowers from a tablecloth onto a dress)
    No one else will have a dress just like it.
    Love that.

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  9. ooohhh...LOVE this! It's looking fantastic and what a great idea to cut the roses out of a tablecloth! The question is will you find an accordian for the photoshoot? ;)

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  10. Too cute! I love pinkish-red. And Joan, too. I used to work for a woman with a similar shape who had all her suits made for her - always in my jewel tones, always looking so sharp. Her style was far less romantic than Joan (it was the '90s), but still... your appliques are perfect for that merino wool! It's going to be a gorgeous dress.

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  11. It looks gorgeous already. I can't wait to see the finished dress.

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  12. That is my second favorite Mad Men dress of all time, and I love the color combination of the white roses with the red fabric. I can't wait to see the finished product.

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  13. I absolutely love that Joan rose dress but had never thought about the roses being applique, duh. I actually love applique-ing by hand and strongly suspect I'll be following your example and making my own version soon, now that I know!

    P.S. Your dress looks like it's going to be amazing. Can't wait for the reveal!

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  14. Yesterday I made an "I love Joan" post on my blog too :)

    http://misscrayolacreepy.blogspot.com/2012/02/i-love-joan-from-mad-men.html

    Your dress is beautiful!

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  15. Gertie it's a lovely idea but there are way better and easier ways to applique these days than that one. Check out my hat tutorial, where I am appliqueing big roses onto the brim. This technique slightly adapted works a dream on clothes too :)
    http://www.amamus-amatis-amant.blogspot.co.nz/2011/03/hat-trick-making-wide-brim-hat-tutorial.html

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  16. Ooooh, pretty! And so neat looking once it's all done. I can't wait to see the finished dress!

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  17. What a great blog you have! I found it searching for sewing blogs. I myself sew in Norway, but not at the fantastic level you are at. I will put a link on my blog to your if its ok, as I would really like to follow you for great inspiration!!

    Have a nice weekend!

    Nina

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  18. This is wonderful! I can't wait to see it finished up in all its Joan-tasticness!

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  19. Ooh it's looking beautiful - can tell this is going to work so well!

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  20. http://vimeo.com/16443611

    not so much about roses, but about tailoring passion, which beats with the same heart

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  21. I'm watching this closely to see how this project turns out. If it works, I may try it! I've got lots of old linens lying around that can be re-purposed!

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  22. I love works in progress! I have a title suggestion for your second book - "How Many Red Dresses are Too Many?" (the answer of course, is infinity).

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  23. LOVE the colour you've used, can't wait to see the finished product xx

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  24. Yes!
    Isn't Mad Men an inspiration for us sewers??!!
    I also had a dress out of it (http://mertxeshomesewing.blogspot.com/2011/09/nightmare-of-pattern-and-dream-of-dress.html), although it was more inspired in Betty Draper, and of course it was a little bit of a letdown because I do not have HER hips (hahaha!), so of course it is a better idea to be inspired by Joan's curves.
    I'm also a Sterling-girl, but we still can hope for the best... at least one more season...
    Regarding the flowers, it is a wonderful idea, but I would prefer to apply some embroidered motives, I find your flowers too flat (sorry to be critical). Maybe it is also the colour, they are kind of plain-looking. Maybe some very narrow zigzag around and in the inner lines of the flowers would give them some more volumne. The red merino is too thick and wonderful for those flowers, although the idea is great.
    It is wonderful that you share the porcess with us also. It makes it more exciting.
    Thanks!!

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  25. It is looking like the project is coming along fabulously! And I absolutely adore the red (especially since Valentine's Day is Tuesday)! You were very creative by glueing the appliqués first and then stitching them down. I'll keep that in mind for my future projects. Thanks for posting!

    Sincerely Always,
    Maddie

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  26. Ohh, this is going to be crazy awesome!

    Also, I do the same thing with Chel from The Road to El Dorado, haha. If I catch myself thinking "giant hips and big thighs" in a negative way, I remind myself that maybe I'm just built like everyone's favourite spunky awesome Aztec girl :). (somehow this works despite the fact that I'm of German ancestry and couln't pull off a loincloth and tube top if my life depended on it, haha).

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  27. This is going to be amazing! Can't wait to see the finished product. Leave it to Joan Holloway (I won't use her married name either) to make an accordion look sexy!

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  28. I'm obsessed with Joan too! I love the way dresses look on her, so womanly, she has inspired me a lot as a starter in sewing(I know what I looking for in a pattern)! I also love your dresses for the same reason (your last purple dress almost made me scream wOw!).
    As for your project and your appliqué idea looks clever and awesome, if I will ever "steal" your idea I would probably put something between the roses and fabric to have as a result something poping out a tiny bit! That's all, looking forward for your finished piece! ;)

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  29. I love watching vintage movies for sewing inspiration and it deepens my appreciation for my curves. Even Marilyn had a "belly" in many of her movies, it resembles mine and I have had four children! Now that's an ego boost!

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  30. This is wonderful! - Tosi kaunista!
    Thanks for posting! - Kiitos postauksestasi !

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  31. Hi! Could you write something about the copyrights of old patterns? I'd like to use old 40's patterns to make and sell clothes, but what does the law say about that?

    Thanks!

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  32. Easiest thing to do is to stitch your cut-out to Sulky wash away stabilizer. Cut a slit in the stabilizer. Flip inside out. Ta da - no raw edges! Forget glue stick! Use KK2000 to stick your flower to fashion fabric. Use satin stitch around flower. Wait 24 hours for KK2000 to evaporate. Wash out Sulky! You're done. No tears, no fears applique!

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  33. I think Christina Hendricks looks great in the series. But the character Joan undermines herself by the way she dresses. If you want to be taken seriously in a formal place of business you should not be drawing undue attention to your body. There's a reason that men wear suits that function like body armor. They don't want to distract from their purpose and the more revealing your clothes are, the more vulnerable you are.

    Women don't have to go to the same extremes, but they should not be wearing overly figure-revealing clothes. Peggy's clothes are the ones to emulate.

    Joan is obviously very smart and competent. But she often acts like a courtesan and tends to get treated like one.

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  34. Love the dress and the appliques. Nice job!

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  35. Great dress!I like that!The colour is great!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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