My Peggy Olsen inspired ‘Reneta’

I love Mad Men, I still watch it on a continuous loop, usually when I’m sewing. The wardrobe has been an endless source of fascination and inspiration. It’s easy to be drawn towards a specific characters sense of style, there’s Joan’s bombshell wiggle dresses, Betty’s classic understated chic, but for me though it’s all about Peggy. There’s many Peggy dresses I would love in my wardrobe but I’ve been particularly obsessed with the cowl necked Damson number for years.

At SewBrum in October I set myself a mission to find the perfect fabric for my own version. Possibilities arose in Barry’s but they were either too purple or too red. There was nothing on the Rag market (I think the reason I bought so little fabric at was because I was so intent on finding ‘the one’) I prepared myself for disappointment but struck gold at Guthrie and Ghani, hiding under the cutting table was the holy grail, one of their Luxury Jerseys (A blend of Silk and Model) the colour was spot on, it draped beautifully and was so soft, it really lived up to its name.

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I used the cowl version of the Sewaholic Renfrew  which I planned to morph into the Colette Moneta skirt. I was initially going to be good and make a muslin but in the end decided to live dangerously and dive straight in (my justification was that I knew both patterns fitted, it was just a matter of how to fudge them together)

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Renfrew in red Moneta in green

The cowl on the Renfrew is quite deep, I wanted to get as close to my inspiration as possible so I raised the neckline by 2 inches and shortened the cowl accordingly. There’s a big difference between the two patterns, particularly around the shoulders and armscye. The best course of action was to keep things simple so I used the Renfew until the bottom of the armscye (sleeves and cuffs included) then measured the length of the Moneta bodice and drafted that onto the bottom half. The skirt was all Moneta.

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It came together without a hitch, there’s quite a bit of weight to the fabric and I was worried it may pull the skirt down as it did on my last Monetas. Just in case I shortened the elastic in the waist seam to keep it snug. When I tried it on it fitted but I felt something was lacking. I’d contemplated attaching a waistband during construction but decided there was far too much chance of making a mess and ruining the whole thing. Instead I made a tube of fabric, gathered it at the side and l hand stitched it to the waist at three inch intervals to allow for stretch.

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(This is the third outfit taken on my windy day photo shoot!)

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 (I’ve just noticed that I hadn’t pressed the hem after sewing!)

It actually turned out better than I’d imagined, the gathered waistband really balances out the drape of the cowl. The fabric feels lovely to wear, very cosy and perfect for the colder weather. Unfortunately I don’t have a cardigan that works with it (I could really do with a black one but it would be so boring to knit) it does need something to break up the large expanse of boob though! I’ll definitely make another but not until the Autumn as my head is full of Spring sewing, I expect yours is too!

Helen x

A Snowdrop Deer and Doe Sureau

As the Camas blouse was the last thing I made I thought I’d show you the first this year. The fabric was a Christmas present from my Mother in Law, it’s one of Liberty’s 2015 collection called Hesketh (I can’t find it on the liberty website but it’s available here) This is the black and white colourway, it does come in navy and white (as well as grey) but I am trying really hard to move out of my blue comfort zone.

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I decided not to risk using a new pattern and stick with my TNT Deer and Doe Sureau. I made it up exactly the same as my other ones (tried one of my other ones on to check it still fitted first!) cutting a 42 at the shoulder and grading to a 44 through the bust and waist.   I used a 9 inch zip instead of the 16 inch one suggested on the pattern and added side seam pockets underneath. Again I added a little cuff to finish the sleeves. I also remembered to curve the waist darts which seems to make a big difference to the fit underneath the bust. Instead of the gathers on the front placket I added two tucks.

Once the dress was finished the print was so busy you couldn’t actually see the placket. I thought adding buttons would look odd and after an Instagram poll agreed I left them off.

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It was so good using an old tried and true pattern. Being able to just cut straight out and sew without all the hassle of working out sizing and fitting was a perfect way to start the year.

It’s a lovely (and very seasonally appropriate) dress.  Snowdrops are one of my favourite flowers and I have a snowdrop necklace which goes perfectly. While we are on the subject of Snowdrops mine in the garden have been behaving strangely this year. They are usually the first things to push through in January but they’ve been really late, only coming into flower at the end of February (I’ve even had Daffodils flowering before them) I think they must need a period of sustained cold before they start to grow and the mild winter we have had has confused them somewhat. Anyway, I digress! My other Sureaus have had so much wear, with boots in the cooler weather and sandals when it warms up.  I know this one will get year round wear too.  All in all it’s a lovely little pattern I’m so glad I gave it another outing!

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And then the wind got up….

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If I look rather dishevelled here, you should see the next ones!

 

This was a wonderful Christmas present and one which will last for years to come. I gave her a similar present this year, some beautiful Malabrigo yarn (which I really wanted to keep myself) and the Casu Cowl pattern as a ‘knit your own Christmas present’ thankfully she was pleased, so much nicer than perfume and pyjamas!

Helen x