“Don’t go to the well, Peter, there’s no more water there”

People, sometimes being a planner can be a problem. I’m all about the plan, the inspiration board, the concept. I thought I had this Mad Men Challenge in the bag people. IN THE BAG. The best laid plans of mice and men. Am I right? AM I RIGHT?

Let me start by saying, I am a huge fan of the TV show. Just a really huge fan. I know there are people out there who are into it for the vintage style and the pretty ladies, and that’s all well and good. And I know there are people who don’t even like the show itself, and while I literally can’t understand that, I totally respect your right to not invest in the story. Hey, man, I couldn’t get past chapter 1 of The Hunger Games (but I swear I’m going to try again! It’s such a  disturbing concept…) and I don’t even watch The Wire! So I’m guilty of some stuff. When it comes to Mad Men, however, I am a fanatic. So if you don’t get some of the references and direct quotes coming up, just ignore them, that’s totally fine by me. But know this. They will be coming at you fast and furious. Get excited.

Let me first say that I knew from the very begining that I didn’t want to emulate Joan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joan. I love Christina Hendricks! I loved her on Life! Remember Life? Great show. Sorry it was canceled. Damien Lewis, please feel free to CALL ME. But I didn’t want to go for Joan. SO mainstream. How can I express my true and complete fandom by dressing like the one character everyone knows? So I thought at first I was going to replicate something of Trudy Campbell’s. Not only does she have the same last name of one of the best people I know (talking to you, Lisa!), but I just adore her. Yes, she has gotten repeatedly screwed (on many levels, HEYo!) by Pete, and yes, she wears some insane hats. But I love her. Girlfriend is a treat. “This is America, you don’t just SHOOT the President!” Fact. Love her. But then I realized that because Trudy is so fashion-forward (read, trend obsessed) she rocks a lot of ensembles that don’t suit my personal taste. Okay, I thought, I have a near-encycolpedic knowledge of this show, let’s do this. I did love me some Helen Bishop! All progressive and pro-Kennedy despite her son Creepy Glen and her scandalous divorce. But she’s clearly an Autumn. And I’m a winter. That’s no good. Megan and I have simular coloring! But she’s a stick. And also more into the late 60’s aesthetic which frankly is abhorrent to me on so many levels. (Mod and I do NOT get along.) Allison is pretty! But she dressed pretty terribly, let’s admit that, shall we? Plus, she slept with Don and then freaked out and took it out on Peggy (and I’m very protective of Peggy) so I don’t want her life. Kitty is cute! But rather garish, though I do love her! And I don’t want to end up married to a gay man. Dr. Faye is super cute! But she’s a blond. That’s not happening.  And I’m not really into the boho thing going down with Madge (though I love me some Rosemary DeWitt). As a Jew and the decendent of department store owners, the Rachel Mempkin thing seemed a TOUCH on the nose, plus her best thing were her suits, which I don’t feel up to right this minute, or this amazing nightgown: Super practical. Where WOULDN’T I wear that? I loved this golden dress Bobbie Barrett wore, but I really have been trying to shop my stash and there is a curious lack of gold up in there: Besides, who wants to emulate Bobbie? Girl had issues. “The full Don Draper treatment”? Gross. I’m not going to discuss Betty and Peggy, because my mom already thinks I dress like a little girl, so those full skirts and florals aren’t going to do me any favors, and besides, I already have a ton of ’em.

So there I was. Sigh. I didn’t want to go there, I really didn’t, but in the end, I ended up with Joan. Still, if you have to end up with anyone as your inspiration, oughtn’t it to be the most gorgeous woman on television? With curves for days and some of the best most silkily delivered insults anyone has every heard? “The last thing I would have thought Paul was was open minded”. GOOD lord. “I’m not a solution to your problem. I’m just another problem.” JOAN. Be my friend, please. Thanks.

So I decided to try and emulate one of her outfits. No big deal, right? Of course not, easy peasy lemon squeezy. I wanted to use Simplicity 4558, which I had bought on Etsy. HOWEVER. When I took said pattern out to make a muslin, I had the shocking realization that this pattern is skirtless. I mean, I’m sure there was a skirt originally included but somehow I had bought the pattern without a skirt. No wonder it was so cheap….

Okay, I thought, I can use a skirt from so other source, no problem. Then I make the bodice muslin. And I just thought, no. This is not good. I do not like this. A. it needs a FBA (god, that’s just going to be my life, isn’t it? How did I get away with not doing them for TWO YEARS?) and B. I just didn’t love it! So what was I to do? Then, like manna from the heavens, I thought, the Pastille dress! I like the pattern, I’ve already adjusted it to fit my frame, I know how to make it, let’s do it! I ditched the pale pink and pulled out a hot magenta viscose I had bought at Mood Fabric all those months ago. It has a great drape and a nice hand (look at me, using fabric words!) and I thought it would be perfect in replicating that amazing magenta dress Joan wears. Of course, it’s a promo dress, I don’t think it ever made it onto the actual show, but you know what? I don’t even care. I DON’T EVEN CARE.

Ah, Joan, you help me stay calm.

So anyway, I’m almost done the bodice and then it’s skirt darts, attach skirt, install zipper and hem. I’ve made a few adjustments to the original pattern that I will outline later in more detail, but I’m just so thrilled to have something that I’m happy with and happy to be making and, hopefully, pays homage to one of my favorite things on television. And I watch a LOT of TV, folks, so that’s a stiff competition right there.

So, what’s going on with you? Are you a Mad Men fan, or do you just not get the hype? Did my Hunger Games confession concern you? I promise, I’m going to try again!


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Inspiration, Sewing

24 responses to ““Don’t go to the well, Peter, there’s no more water there”

  1. You know, i hadn’t realized how rabidly I’ve missed the show until you started talking about Trudy- God love some Trudy! Those little suits! The bizarre giraffe art! The parents! She is my fav!

  2. beebeesvintagedress

    I am with you on being obsessed. I wish I didn’t have so much crap going on at the moment! I watched every season in the space of about three weeks. I LOVE it.
    I am going with a boring shirt in the mad men vein because as much as I love shifts in silk I already have 5 I don’t wear 🙂 Love your idea though I love the colour of that dress!

    • The color is to die for. To dye for! Bahahahaha.

      I used this 17 month (oh my god it’s been so long I’ve missed it so much!) gap to re-watch the whole series. And then I re-watched season 4 a third time. Sigh. I can talk along with it now…

      • I’m rewatching the whole series again….I spent so much time watching it, I almost didn’t get my Mad Men outfit done! haha!

  3. You know, when I was agonizing about this challenge, I totally thought, “I hope Leah does Joan. She is a perfect Joan.” So I can’t wait to see your rendition! Also, even though I loved HG, I had several friends who couldn’t get over the premise of sending teens into an arena to kill each other. And you know what? Those friends are some of the most compassionate, kind, uplifting people I know. Whereas I, HG-lover, am mean and selfish and have to remind myself to be nice. So I don’t think it’s a problem that you don’t want to read it.

    • Would you like to know what inspired me to try the Hunger Games again? You did, Cindy Chan, you did. With your AMAZING dress full of AMAZINGNESS and GLORY and WONDER and CHIFFON. So I’m going to do it. Because if you like it, it can be bad. You are my arbitrator of Sci-Fi and fantasy, and I will follow you into the (child fighting) dark.

      • CAN’T be bad. Struggle.

      • Oh Leah, I hope your trust in me is not misplaced! Now I am concerned that it will not live up to hype. But really, I have to say, for a series focused on children fighting to the death, there is an amazing amount of food & fashion pr0n, and I do love me a good dose of both. And you know, just to be fair, I will give Mad Men another chance. After all, I don’t have Downton to watch anymore, and this is a sad admission, but I think I’ve finished all the “good” documentaries on Netflix.

  4. Sue

    I’m not into Hunger Games either, and I think my love of Mad Men is near your level of fanaticism. I went on a mental roller coaster trying to figure out which female character to use as inspiration (my fav is Trudy), as well, and somehow also ended up with Joan, even though I see myself as more of a Peggy with some Trudy thrown in… and a splash of Dr. Faye, but whatever.
    I can’t wait to see your Joan dress. Yay!

  5. now, you may not believe me, but i’ve only seen few episodes of mad men in my entire life.. every time it was on tv, i’ve been away digging up some prehistoric thingies.. but i’ve seen pictures, hundreds of pictures of gorgeous dresses and ladies.. and i fell in love with the show, without even watching it.. now, for some time now i do have all of the episodes on dvd.. and i plan to see them all when i go away for my next excavations in few weeks.. but i do plan to make my mad men dress, and i plan to replicate one classic betty draper look, maybe blue-white shirt dress, with really full skirt.. and when i finally get to see the show, then i’ll probably have some other favorite 🙂

    • I do believe you! You have a job that takes you into tombs and dinosaur villages (in my mind that’s what dinosaurs had, please feel free to NEVER correct me) you don’t need to religiously watch Mad Men, I will forgive you. I can’t wait to see your Mad Men dress! I think it will be divine, and put Betty to shame.

  6. Wow! I think you should get 10/10 for how hard you thought about it before arriving at that dress!

    I’m pretty sure personality wise i’m a Peggy. although style wise I like Betty.

    Did you know… Betty Draper’s character was based on the feminist author Betty Friedan!

    • REALLY? I did not know that! That is so odd because I love me some Friedan but I am not in love with Betty! However, now that you say that I can totally see that making sense. I hope however that Betty has a revelation Feminist Mystique moment and just wakes the hell up and becomes a better person. I live in hope…

  7. P.S I started reading the hunger games this week, i’m not as hooked as some other books but i’m finding it ok. That said i have been reading for my dissertation for the last six months so reading ANY fiction is a welcome relief.


  8. Girl, I can’t even tell you how much I’ve missed Mad Men! It’s a little sick. I know some people don’t like it ’cause Don’s such an a-hole (and really, so is everyone on the show), but it’s so perfectly done and all the characters are so REAL and you care about everyone so much and they can balance so many storylines without dropping or burying any AND it’s funny as hell and the clothes and the production design and omg I’m gushing now, aren’t I? I think it’s the best show on television (Breaking Bad is really good, too, but I have to close my eyes occasionally when it gets too… graphic.).

    Haven’t tried Hunger Games yet… doesn’t seem like my cuppa tea, but maybe I should give it a shot…

    • I know, I know, I know everyone on the show is awful but that’s kind of why I think it’s so good, that these are awful people who at the same time are SO UNDERSTANDABLE and SYMPATHETIC. Because that’s why life is like. Also the writing is spectacular, I think it’s one of the best crafted shows on television.

      I feel like I have to try again on the Hunger Games. I just have to.

  9. All I have to say is that I love every. thing. about this post. All the girls (let’s call them girls because it’s fitting with the time) chocked up in perfect descriptions. Can I hug you? I’m going to hug you. I totally took myself out of this challenge because I’m a season behind and didn’t want spoilers. And I want to make a perfect Mad Men outfit. Or at least try. And it’s just not happening right now.

    Also, Hunger Games? I mean, hasn’t anyone seen Battle Royale? Am I the only one who thinks the author definitely saw Battle Royale? Am I a total snob?

    Also, also, Drive? Isn’t it hilarious to see our little Joanie get her head blasted off? Am I also sick?

  10. Gina

    OMG I came across this page because i’m dying to get that nightgown tthat Rachel is wearing! any ideas?

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