Get Inspired: Mad Sewing

Last week we looked at a few fall fashion trends, and it got me thinking about where sewists look for inspiration and ideas. Inspiration is all around us! It’s on the street, in magazines, on style blogs, on the runway, and in the media, especially film and television shows. For the past few weeks, it seems as if all the pop-culture talk has been about the television show Mad Men. Even the lofty New York Review of Books offers an analysis of Mad Men style.

As the show takes us from early-1960s midcentury modern to (we hope) groovy Carnaby Street style of the mid to late 60s, Mad Men is fueling quite a few trends: vintage clothing and home decor, a more pulled-together style of grooming, and clothing that suits a range of body types–we see model-thin Betty, but also petite Peggy and gorgeously curvy Joan (check out our Peggy-esque dress from Stitch Spring 2009, designed by Beki Wilson, at right). We know what’s coming–miniskirts, bell-bottoms, wide ties, sideburns–and yet the show has its audience eagerly anticipating these changes.

It’s especially fun to watch interviews that the show has posted online with costume designer Janie Bryant, and to read style-focused episode recaps such as Fashionista’s tart weekly reviews. We start to think about clothes in the context of character and culture — who’s wearing them and why? What’s going on around them? What was already in their closet? Clothes and accessories really do speak a language–what do yours say? Even if you don’t want to do a total time warp a la Mad Men, it’s fun to open up to style influences and think about the image you project with your wardrobe, style, and color choices. What would you sew if you were living your fantasy life?

If you love Betty or Joan’s chic vintage silhouettes, you have so many sewing options to add a little or a lot of the Mad Men look to your closet.  We love vintage style at Stitch, and our “Vintage Modern” feature in Stitch Spring 2010 is a great place to start; it’s full of resources and ideas for vintage patterns (which are plentiful on the Internet, and some are even being reissued with modern sizing), fitting suggestions, fabric sources, and more. For Betty’s chic suburban style, look for a full-skirted dress with fitted bodice and smart detail, like the Simplicity 3965 pattern at left; for Joan’s pitch-perfect curves, look for an urbane fitted dress like the Vogue designer pattern below right.

Whatever era you love, think like a costume designer and research authentic fabrics, colors, and notions, or modernize with an unexpected mix of new and old. You may even find, as some of Mad Men‘s actresses have, that you walk and move differently when you put on vintage silhouettes. It’s a great way to time-travel and escape to another era in perfect style! And, as always, we love to see what you make, so send us pictures or descriptions in the comment thread.

Happy sewing!



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