ā€œIā€™m not a solution to your problems. Iā€™m another problem.ā€ {Self Drafted Joan Dress}

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Today, my brain had had enough. Or not enough, depending on how you look at it. I’ve been madly cutting and sewing dresses for the shop, giving myself a *cough* motivating tight deadline so I can get this release done and have a break over Easter. But today I put myself a day behind. Today I decided to pick up a totally different project – one that had been giving me trouble for months. Today was the day to figure it all out and give myself a break from the monotony of cutting and sewing the same dress 24 times.

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Meet the Joan Dress. Named after my Nanny (Dad’s mum), not the Madmen character (but she was also very rad, so she gets a quote in the title of this post). I was determined to add the perfect new dress to my store. I was convinced the would have a simple, darted bodice and a gathered skirt with pockets. Sounds easy, right?

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I think the trouble was that I was thought I needed a dress with a lower neckline available in my shop. I do favour higher necklines and I know that’s not everyone’s jam. But after many attempts at tracing out the perfect bodice, sewing up muslins and then even a couple of entire dresses, I wasn’t happy. My heart wasn’t in it and the whole idea was shelved.

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Until this beautiful Cotton and Steel fabric was delivered a few days ago. I received it for winning their #cottonandsteelcloset comp on Instagram last month and it’s so lovely. I knew what it had to be – a classic boat necked tea dress with half sleeves. There was no doubt about it. While I love a bit of colour these days, I wore a lot of black for a long time and this feels like home to me. The little gold moons and stars are superb.

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Which prompted me to dig potential Joan out of the naughty corner and start afresh. A boat neck it had to be. But a pattern drafter I ain’t. I ended up using a mash of 4 different vintage patterns to get this one right. Different armsyce, dart placements and necklines all helped me find that elusive look I was after. So simple, yet so hard to create all on my own.

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It’s done though. A few more little tweaks and then I can grade the sizes. Still lots to do, but the hardest part is done. And I have a pretty new dress too.