Two 1958 Sheath Dresses: Advance 8617

by Kelina on September 26, 2012 · 9 comments

in 1950s,Dresses,Mad Men Inspired,Pattern Sizing,Vintage Sewing



View 1, Advance 8617, from 1958 – I made this dress first. It has gussets in the sleeves.

Here are two sheath dresses I made from a vintage 1958 pattern, Advance 8617. The yellow “tropical dress” has kimono sleeves and the fitting is more relaxed in general, and I think it is better for it. The blue dress has gussets in the sleeves and a more fitted bodice. The original 1958 pattern was much too big and I re-sized it to my size. My weight has shifted slightly since cutting the pattern, so the fit was longer perfect, a good learning experience for the next dress.  (Don’t wait 8 months between cutting and sewing!)  I ended up taking in the bodice side seams a little and lengthening the darts slightly.

Advance 8617_view3_1958_vintage_sewing_pattern

View 3, Advance 8617 from 1958 – my “tropical dress.” I made this dress second. The kimono sleeves give it a more relaxed fit. Notice that the waist falls in the right place in this version.

What I found in the test run with this pattern: This dress is best in a very lightweight cloth with good drape, especially silk, chiffon or rayon.  The pattern is more roomy than expected, leaving space to take it in or let it out later.

The inspiration was Joan’s dress from the accordion scene in Season 3, Episode 3 of Mad Men, see photo below.  But obviously I am not shaped like Joan, and few people are.

Tropical dress – I imagine myself wearing this dress lounging on a warm and breezy veranda sipping hibiscus cooler.  Since I’d be lounging, who needs a belt?!  So I set aside the belt hardware and I did not make the self-fabric belt.  But maybe I will make it later.  What do you think?

Blue dress – I like the shorter sleeves and the more fitted upper body, but the extra time to do the gussets was not really worth it.  Short cap sleeves or very short kimono sleeves might look just as nice and save a lot of time.

To see much more technical detail on alteration and fitting issues, please go to


Advance 8617_view_3_1958_vintage_sewing_pattern

View 3, Advance 8617, from 1958 – my “tropical dress.” I made this dress second. The kimono sleeves give it a more relaxed fit. Nessa has the best expression in this photo! She looks skeptical.


View 1, Advance 8617, from 1958 – I made this dress first. It has gussets in the sleeves and a more fitted bodice. This blue cloth is a more retro look, but the yellow West African print was probably around in 1958.























Joan’s accordion scene in Season 3, Episode 3 of Mad Men.


Advance 8617 vintage sewing pattern from 1958. The very stylized illustration make it look like Joan's dress, but the actual dress is a bit different. Also notice that the sleeves in this illustration look much shorter than in the complete dresses. I did not change the sleeves for these dresses.

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I like to make things. This includes sewing, pattern drafting, quilting, working with cement, and I like building houses. When I sew, I generally like to make historically accurate vintage reproductions. This goes for construction methods and finished product.

Kelina's posts / Kelina's website

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Foster September 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I love it. Especially in blue.


Bessie Miller September 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm



Ange September 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Great, I’m kind of happy that another sewer cuts and then sews months later… I’m trying to cut and sew as I go, but I’m not very good at it! I also have slightly fluctuating figure, but I find I have a ‘range’ if you know what I mean.

I like both versions of you have made, the blue is very flattering, and more elegant, however, I’m inclined to make belts (or make a more relaxed soft and tied belt) for such frocks, I think it enhances the tailoring, it’s still lovely.

But then, I really prefer well cut and tailored dresses :)


Kelina September 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Thanks! A soft and tied belt is a good idea! I think this dress needs the visual separation of a belt, but I get claustrophobic wearing a belt (the same with turtlenecks and scarves). In the real world, even if I made the self-fabric belt, I would probably take it off an hour into wearing the dress. No matter how good belts look, wearing a snug belt just drives me crazy. Perhaps I could find an orange belt with some stretch? I can imagine wearing something like that. :-)


EmSewCrazy September 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Love the fabric choices! Looks like you got two very wearable pieces that you will look great in despite the time lapse!


lunefantasy September 27, 2012 at 1:30 am

It’s very beautiful and I love the Fabric the green and orange fabric !!


Clare September 27, 2012 at 7:45 am

These dresses are a triumph – I love the fabric of the second one! xxx


Kelina September 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Thanks all for your kind words! :-)


Jennifer Nelson September 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

Wonderful!! Blue is my favorite! <3


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