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This month I have a retro sewing theme; what a perfect excuse to attempt recreating a Mrs Maisel dress I’ve been eyeing for quite a while!

In case you’ve missed it, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is a series on Amazon Prime about Midge, an upper class housewife who pursues a career in stand-up comedy in the 1950’s. Absolutely recommended! Fabulous garments and a great show.

There was actually a poll about which dress I should recreate between two choices, and this one was the winner. The costume designer is Donna Zakowska, but it seems that this dress in particular is based on an actual vintage dress from the 50’s by Mollie Parnis.

From Amazon Prime series The Marvelous Mrs Maisel.

Analyzing the Dress

To recreate this dress, we first need to figure out how to draft the pattern.

The top is fitted and divided into panels. It has a wide neckline and sort of a bow detail that consists of two overlapped rectangles. There’s a fabric-covered button in the middle. Short sleeves.

The skirt is pleated. I’d say inverted box pleats, but you can’t really see how many there are. I’ll make 5 in the front, and 5 in the back. There’s also a matching belt.

A fitted top means the starting point is the basic bodice block. The presence of the sleeves requires 4cm of ease along the underarm line. However, I’m going to reduce the amount towards the waistline.

There’s no need to have a separate skirt block, as we can draft the skirt, too, from the bodice block:

Mrs Maisel Dress Pattern

The Top

Trace the basic bodice pattern. Let’s start from the trickiest part: the bow detail!

Plan the neckline first to evaluate where the bow will end up. I decided to lower the original neckline by 12cm at the c.front. It seems that 4cm is a good width for the rectangle. You might want to draft both halves of the bow onto the pattern to get a better idea on how it’ll look like (see the dashed line). I decided that the rectangle length should be 10cm from c.front.

The bow uses the bust dart volume to create a fold, so unite it to the bust point as shown, and then cut to close the original bust dart.

Mrs Maisel dress pattern

Now you’ll be able to draft the neckline. The shoulder seams are quite narrow. I left 4.5cm. After you’re happy with the front neckline shape, you can draft the back neckline. But first, remove 1cm of the back shoulder dart width from the shoulder tip.

Re-draw the new bust dart (which will become a fold), centering it 2cm from the bust point. This will change the inclination of the rectangle slightly.

Remove some ease at the waistline by taking in at the side seams and the c.back seam, and enlarging the waist dart(s).

Then divide the front piece into 2 panels, following the waist dart shape, passing through the bust point, and ending the seam at the neckline so that it remains hidden underneath the bow detail.

The bow will need a facing. You can make a separate piece or unite it to the main layer as I did here.

To make it possible to overlap the rectangles, you need to cut the dart allowance in the center (right side only). Mark the cut on the pattern. It’s 4cm long to match the rectangle width.

Separate the panels, and measure the front piece width at the waistline. You’ll need this information for the skirt.

The Skirt

Now, copy the lower part of your bodice. As mentioned earlier, this will become a skirt with inverted box pleats.

Lengthen the front and back pieces until you’re happy with the skirt length. Add a slight flare to the side seams. I drafted a midi skirt, so it was 70cm measured from the waistline.

Now you need to match the skirt waist with the bodice: take in at the side seams and c.back, just like you did with the bodice.

Then make some calculations on how to match the pleats with the bodice seams and darts. Divide the skirt front and back waistlines evenly into 3 sections. These will become the pleats. Divide the waist dart volume between the pleats, as shown. The remaining waistline measurement has to be the same as that of the bodice.

I ended up having to move the bodice panel seam and waist dart slightly to match the pleat placement.

 

Finally, add the pleat allowance. There’s a pleat also at the c.front and c.back. You only need to add half of the pleat allowance, as the pieces will be cut on the fold. Notice, that the c.back pleat starts at the hipline. There will be a zipper that ends just above it.

The darts will be absorbed into the pleats. Cut the waistline with the pleats folded to get the correct shape for the pleat allowance.

The Sleeve

This one was easy! Just shorten the basic sleeve and lower the sleeve cap to eliminate some ease (not completely though).

The Lining

This dress also has a lining. For the bodice, you can use the same pattern pieces, except for the c.front piece. That needs some modifications: eliminate the bow detail and absorb the bust dart into the seam.

Of course, first, re-draw the dart again so that it reaches the bust point. Then close the dart. You can also cut this piece on the fold now.

The skirt lining will be without the pleats and 5cm shorter than the main layer. Draft it like a normal A-line skirt:

Before cutting the final fabric, I made a toile to check the bodice fit and to test the bow detail. The only thing I had to adjust, was the front neckline, that was gaping slightly. I resolved by drawing a tiny dart going from the neckline to the armhole and closing it.

Sewing the Mrs Maisel Dress

My initial idea was to find a fabric in a similar color as the original Mrs Maisel Dress was, but that turned out to be impossible. So instead, I got this petrol blue (mixed with black) light-weight wool, which I really liked. This allowed me to use a black lining, zipper, and thread.

I also got Prym’s 19mm cover buttons, which turned out to be very handy!

mrs Maisel dress

Here are some pictures I took while making this dress.

I started by closing the bodice darts, stay-stitching the neckline -which seemed it would stretch very easily- and sewing the c.front seam.

Also, I stitched the skirt pleats in place.

The Bow Detail

This piece required a certain amount of hand stitching, but the first part, sewing the two rectangles, could be done by sewing machine. I added an interfacing inside to make them more stable.

Luckily there’s a lining to cover the back side, as it wasn’t very clean with all the stitches keeping the structure in place.

I stitched the folds from the wrong side. It’s actually quite difficult to get them straight, as they are on the bias! Here you can see the bow first from the right side, all pinned, and then the stitching that goes on the wrong side.

I prepared the front panel first, before attaching the side panels and the back pieces. Then I finished the neckline by attaching the lining. The bow also needs to be stitched at the edge of the neckline or it will not stay in place.

Here’s the button!

And after it’s stitched in place:

mrs maisel dress bow detail in the making

The Skirt

I hemmed the skirt by hand. When using wool, it’s pretty easy to keep it completely invisible:

mrs Maisel dress

When attaching the skirt to the top, there are some extra pins involved to match the lines!

matching the pleats with seams

Here’s how the c.back pleat acts with the zipper. First, you have this hole, but the zipper brings the pleat sides together. You just have to stitch the folds in place afterwards and add a few hand stitches below the zipper to cover the edge.

mrs Maisel dress before and after the zipper

To be honest, I ended up not having enough lining at home and the shops were closed due to lockdown. So I must add the skirt lining afterwards. Another thing I was unable to finish was the belt: no belt buckle! Maybe next month. But in any case, the dress is already wearable.

The Resulting Dress!

First, some detail pics of my new Mrs Maisel dress. The belt is just tied around the waist.

mrs maisel dress project details

And then me wearing the dress! Not quite like Mrs Maisel, but I think the dress looks pretty similar. 😀

Yeah, the dress was too long to fit in the picture completely. But it’s just below the knees..

mrs maisel dress recreation

6 Comments

  1. Sheila Schulz Reply

    Amazing tutorial and remake! I also live for Mrs. Maizel 😀

  2. Thank you very much for your blog on how the draft a pattern for this dress and construct it. My daughter loved this dress and I have been trying to draft with my limited knowledge.

  3. Love this and great explanation. I’m in search of information to make the ‘Strike up the Band’ blue halter dress – it’s my obsession.

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