1950s | 1960s

Mad Men / Peggy Olson Inspired 1960s Wiggle Dress

By on June 2, 2012

Hi all!

This is my first post after pretty much stalking this site on a daily basis for a year! This is also a post about the first ever major project that i have sewn. I usually sew small things around the house such as curtains and that sewing staple- bunting! Being 4ft 11″ i have also had to become ofay with taking up hem lines.

This dress, however is my painstaking labour (sometimes laborious!) of vintage love! This was made every few stolen hours i could on and off for about 3 months. I wanted it to be as close to perfect as i could get on my skill level so took my time on every stitch (especially if i intend to wear it out).

The inspiration came from an episode of Mad Men from season 4 in which Peggy Olson wears this navy and red dress:


My inspiration (http://www.carlaastudillo.com/vintagemylife/page/2/)
There’s just something about navy and red that oozes style- I had to recreate it!
I’ve always worn vintage (a small sample of my vintage wardrobe can be found here www.jamesandlianne.com/i-lovelovemissdaisy/ and always valued how the little details that you find in vintage clothing, especially from the 1950s and 60s, make an outfit.
The pattern i decided to go for was Simplicity 4038– a 1960s wiggle dress with a bib style front and kick pleat. While i love the dress Peggy is wearing above with its fuller skirt, i much prefer the silhouette you would find on Joan instead- so decided to modify it.
Simplicity 4038- The carefree life of a pattern model!

This pattern, i dare say, was not easy my fellow sewists! My main problem (as i’ve come to realise with most vintage patterns), was the sparse descriptions on how to sew the more complex sections. Case in point, the bib was a nightmare! The diagrams were not help whatsoever! Lucky i made a toile first before i made it for keeps but man-o-man that bit took ages! Everything else was fine but that!

Disclamer! No make-up and hair not coiffed! I am not normally this scruffy- i just took these during a lazy day at home!

Heres the finished dress:
Front View
When i made the toile the pattern was too small for me so i had to grade it up 2inches. But in the folly of my first dressmaking venture it appears i graded it up an extra 4inches instead! i dont know how i did that as i know i only added an inch on each seam. Ho well, it’s all a learning curve! So when i first tried on the dress i had to do some major alterations. So i took in the bust darts, the side seams and the darts at the back.
To my dismay, it seems i have the dreaded rounded sholders! So there was a huge gape at the back of the dress at the top of the neckline. I have a feeling it many have something to do with the front bib tho. To fix this i took in the 8inch (?!?!?) gape using darts. I am sure this would have worked fine had it not been that i bought a rather bulky zip and regrettibly its causing a bit of a bullge!
My poor attempt at fixing a gape!

 And here’s the back:

The back, inc a shot of the darts i had to put in the neckline

 I had to mimic Peggy’s flash of red in her dress so i decided to insert some red fabric in the kickpleat.

A flash of Red!



Some might say the inside looks better than the outside! All in all, i think it was a pretty good first attempt at making a dress and i have worn it out

and got nice comments about it so on that basis it was a success.


If anyone can give any tips on how to solve back gape- i’d appreciated it!


Now time to start a new pattern!


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