The Dress that Started it All (Plus a little bit of Mad Men)

DSCF1598One day a year or two ago, I found Dangerfield, a brand of clothes (mainly dresses) in Myer that I absolutely loved.  It had a bit of a retro feel and the skirts were knee length!  No butt cheek flashes!  I immediately wanted to fill my wardrobe with these dresses, but sadly at $100+ a pop that wasn’t going to happen.

Anyway, I remember standing in the change room trying these dresses on and thinking about how basic the lines seemed to be.  “I could make that”, I thought.  At the time, I couldn’t.  Not in a million years.  But I went home and asked my mum to teach me to sew clothes.

And now, a year or two later, I have done it!

This is the pattern for Butterick 5748.  The bodice has darts rather than princess seams and the skirt is a circle rather than pleated, but it’s still pretty close to that first dress.

I was sort of planning this for Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men Dress Challenge.  My inspiration came from this photo (the dress on the far right).

This dress was a little bit of a process.  I usually sew in large blocks of time, but with uni in full swing that wasn’t going to happen.  I tried out the 15 minutes a day thing and was pleasantly surprised by how much I could achieve.

I made up a size 14 toile.  Way too big.  I made up a size 12 toile.  With the help of “The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting”, I played around with the dart placement.

And then I made it up.

I used this blue quilting cotton.  I know what they say about quilting cotton, but it was only $4/m and considering I needed 4 metres…  Also, it was a first attempt and I have no faith in my abilities, so didn’t want to spend to much.

I love it though!  The bust darts don’t sit very well – I need to lower the top ones, but for a first ever attempt at making fitting adjustments, I’m pretty happy.  The original store bought dress has similar issues, so at least I know I can live with them.


As for the Mad Men Challenge part of the dress –  It was a nice idea and all, but I don’t think I quite captured the look.

I’d need a petticoat for one, to get the boof-factor happening.  But also, it lacks the shiny, party look.  Also, it was technically a 60s repoduction pattern, not 50s.  So, yeah.  Mad Men fail.  

But I can’t quite feel disappointed.  This is a definite Laura dress win.  I made something I absolutely adore and will make again.  I pretty much made the dress I’ve always wanted.


I’ll wear this way more than if I’d gone for something fancier, just to fulfill a challenge.

The plan is to play around with my muslin some more and then make it again – this time in a lovely Michael Miller cotton I got from  It doesn’t seem to be on their website, but I bought it after seeing this gorgeous Elisalex dress from Dolly Clackett.  I don’t usually completely stalk other peoples makes, but really, this wasn’t a choice.  It had to be done.

circle(On a side note, I was pleasantly surprised by how affordable was – the fabric per metre, plus $15 postage still worked out to about what I’d expected to pay before postage.  So very happy!  I probably didn’t need to add all that extra fabric to get my money’s worth on the postage.  Somewhere in my head there’s a little voice that thinks buying more makes the postage better value.  Oops…)



The Maths:

Thread – stash

Fabric – $4/m x 4m = $16

1 pack black bias tape (because who lines a practice run?) – $2.50

Pattern – Probably about $10.  I only buy Spotlight patterns on sale.

Not bad for $28.50