Saturday, June 29, 2019

The "Made Like Maisel" Rose City Halter Dress

While scrolling through Instagram about a month ago, I happened upon a sewing challenge I immediately got excited about. The "Made like Maisel"challenge, hosted by Mini Maedel Creates, is all about making an outfit inspired by the Amazon show "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", which is set in 1950's New York City.

Now I started to watch this show a while back, and never really got into it. So I stopped watching it about 5 episodes in. That said, I loved the costumes in those 5 episodes. And I might go back to watching the show some time just because the costumes are, well, marvelous. I do love 50's style clothes!

Somewhere in the 5 episodes I did watch, I saw a dress I just had to make. Actually, I wanted to make all of them, but for this one I already had both a suitable fabric, and a suitable pattern, sitting in my stash.

There is very little that could be found on the internet about this dress that caught my eye, as it appears to only have shown up in one scene of the show (I guess). Thus, unfortunately, all I have to show for my time tracking down the inspiration dress is a few very grainy pictures. That said, with out further ado, here's the dress I've been wanting to (loosely) recreate for months now, which the "Made Like Maisel" sewing challenge has inspired me to finally make (before the July 5 deadline) rather than only dreaming of.

Despite the horrid quality of this picture I scrounged up, you can still see the basics of the design. It's a purple plaid halter dress with a very full skirt. What really caught my eye is the amount of movement and swish that gathered skirt has when you actually see it in motion on screen. It's marvelous. 

Immediately, this plaid beauty brought to mind a 3 yard length of the softest, floaty-est, white and black plaid linen I happened to have in my stash. No, white and black isn't quite the purple shown in the show, but the plaid had the same feel to it. This once upon a time thrift store acquired fabric was begging to be turned into a Mrs. Maisel inspired halter dress.

The pattern which immediately sprung to mind for this plaid halter dress project was the Rose City Halter Dress by Sew House 7, already in my collection. I received this pattern, free of charge, last summer in exchange for testing the Sew House 7 Montavilla Dress (formerly known as the Montavilla MuuMuu) The Mrs. Maisel dress had a modest v in the front, and a surprisingly high (for a halter dress atleast) back. The Rose City Halter pattern too exhibited these features. Thus, the choice was a no-brainier.

This fabric and pattern pairing, and the inspiration for it, has been in the back of my mind since some time over the winter, or even possibly last fall. Finally, last week, thanks to the encouragement of the "Made Like Maisel" challenge and the looming July 5 deadline for that event, I made my full-skirted halter dress.

 Now in my tracking down of the inspiration dress on the internet, I discovered Mrs. Maisel's dress was patterned a bit differently than the Rose City Halter. The bodice of the inspiration dress is fitted with tucks and gathers, rather than darts, and the back of the skirt is a partial circle to allow for extra fullness and movement at the hem. I considered majorly altering the pattern to reflect the cut of Mrs. Maisel's dress, but the reality was I did not have enough fabric for that endeavor.

I had 3 yards of 44" wide plaid linen to make my dress from. Full-skirted 1950's dresses use a lot of fabric, and 3 yards is the bare minimum amount of fabric required. This is just enough fabric for a straight-cut full gathered skirt and a sleeveless bodice. To make the gathered top and partial circle skirt of Mrs. Maisel's dress, I would have needed 4 or 5 yards of fabric to play with, which I just didn't have. Thus, I decided to make the bodice of the Rose City halter dress exactly as the pattern was designed.

The front bodice is fitted with two waist darts. Hidden in the straps are some deep tucks, which contribute toward an excellent fit. 

The very first thing the pattern instructions tell you to do is stay-stitch your neckline so it doesn't get stretched out, being cut on the bias and all. I was lazy and skipped this step. That was a mistake. My neckline is now slightly stretched out. Thankfully, not too horribly. But still, next time I make this bodice I will definitely be stay stitching as I should have done this time.

The back of the dress is cut on the straight-of-grain, as the pattern dictates, and comes up just high enough you can easily wear a bra underneath.

I didn't use any pattern for the skirt. It's simply two full 44" widths of fabric, cut as long as I wanted, and gathered to fit the bodice.

Each side seam features a very large pocket, which is anchored at the waist seam so as not to drag down the skirt seam.

The dress looks marvelously 50's-ish worn over the net crinoline I made several years ago. And I think it pairs well with my black boots - even though cowboy boots are distinctly not Mrs. Maisel-ish.

I love this dress. Being made from linen, it is very cool and comfortable to wear on hot summer days.

And, even though I'm not really into the show, dressing like Mrs. Maisel is marvelously fun!


  1. Hi Alyssa,
    I haven't been keeping up with blogs lately, so I am catching up today since it is my birthday.
    You could try a fix for your neckline. if you run a thick thread along the inside edge of the neck seam, trying not to catch it much, then you can snug it up a bit and tie off. Not so much that it makes gathers, but enough to keep the bias from stretching out more.

  2. I love the show!!!! And everything she wears, well done!!!!