Mad Men Challenge 2 – part 1: Draping

So Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men Challenge 2 is the first project for me and my dress form Dollface. So exciting!

I’ve been draping on the stand instead of using and fitting a commercial pattern, and boy has it been liberating! The pattern stage has been like going to work as a ballerina instead of going to work ploughing an acrid plot of land the size of China with only an elderly donkey to help.

My inspiration choice had to be a design which made me need to chop up and manipulate the pattern. So far my makes have been mainly fitting a pattern, then straight onto construction.

So how about this little Megan number?:

Where did I put it? Oh here. No of COURSE I'm efficient, Sir.

I analysed the sections of Megan’s dress design, to work out the best way to knock-off this construction. Not too taxing.

With great gusto I gathered the Swedish tracing pattern, pins, scissors, knitting wool, ribbon, markers and Gertie’s drafting posts (Since then I’ve bought some PROPER designer tape!) and I went over to Dollface.

I tell you, I’ve had the best time ever. It was easy, fun and creative a la Kindergarten every moment of the way.

Click the first image to start the carousel and see the full captions:

In words:

I pinned bits of paper to the different sections one by one, drawing in the lines from the design lines. It’s so simple and intuitive. This paper is a good substitute for fabric: it behaves like calico, but you can see the design lines through – a real bonus.

I played around with the front bust darts, tried various positions until I settled for what I think might compliment the design the most. I NOW know that it was all too much to gather in just one dart, the angle at the bust point comes in too steep and the dreaded bullet boob was the result. I should have made a vertical dart towards the waist, that would have disappeared into the midriff section, just like the back top dart did.

Not shown in the photo carousel: I traced each pattern piece, truing up lines and curves with my French Curve and added seam allowances (1cm for the smaller pieces, 1.5cm sides and shoulders). I added 0.5cm ease in centre front (BUT FORGOT in the centre back), as unlike Dollface I sometimes need to reach things.

Oh yes, sleeves… tricky lil things, aren’t they? I followed two different tutorials showing how to draft one based on an existing bodice. This one is easy to do but gives a more basic fit. I wanted to compare, so I also followed this beauty (here, here, and here). I ran out of time but REALLY wanted to see where I ended up with following the most exciting tutorial I found (Softly spoken Sten Martin’s video), but maybe just as well I ran out of time, because the first two… please!



Both turned out with quite frankly ludicrous shapes! I treated myself to cut the second one (the one shaped like a frog jaw from underneath) in fabric and fitted on my muslin just so I could have a really good laugh/cry. It didn’t disappoint in THAT respect. I EVEN did a full bicep (a.k.a. fat arm) slash and spread alteration – why know when to stop?

Dodgy sleeves - bodice is the problem

I was convinced I had followed the tutorials right, which meant the problem was the bodice. Tricky! How am I supposed to know if the BODICE’s scye is OK – one inch more or less isn’t a big deal on the actual bodice?!

In the end I jumped off the learning curve and took a short-cut and just used my tried and true basic pattern (a 100% bastardised New Look 6808, but the armscye and sleeve has miraculously survived all attacks) to re-shape my new bodice. But who can resent 12 hours of trying instead of 10 minutes of easy solution?

Comparing with tnt pattern

I then called it a day for the pattern making stage of this project, and moved on to the construction fun.


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