Hot! The “Maddening Diversion” Dress

The Facts
Fabric: Wool that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother
Pattern: McCall’s 5308
Year: 1960
Notions: Interfacing, metal bar tack for the belt, and, I’m embarrassed to say, an invisible zipper
Time to complete: A few nights
First worn: March 2012
Wear again? Yes, I think it’s very wearable.
Total price: $5 for the notions

It’s hard to follow the online sewing community without being caught up in the Mad Men craze.  Though I’ve watched only a single episode of the actual show, I couldn’t help but want to participate in this challenge.  I’m supposed to be focusing on finding tried-and-true patterns for the Sewing with a Plan challenge over at the Stitcher’s Guild, but why not throw a maddening diversion into the mix? This dress gave me the chance to not only use one of my vintage patterns, McCall’s 5308, but also use a piece of vintage wool that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

My favorite feature is the neckline. This pattern combines pleats with a bow and a keyhole, all in a lovely curved line. I really like the way the squares in the wool break and reform across the pleats and in the bow.

The dress also has kimono sleeves and a simple kick pleat to add movement into the narrow wiggle skirt. I like the look of both features, though the next time I try kimono sleeves, I’d like to try out adding gussets to see if I could get the sleeves to fit more closely. Another feature is the matching belt. The pattern cover art shows the belt with a matching buckle, and the pattern instructions even walk you though how to make eyelets in the belt itself, but I couldn’t find the kit I needed in time for this challenge.  Instead, I took advantage of the fact that I had cut out enough fabric for two of the little bows used at the neckline (thanks to cutting everything out on the fold and not reading the directions for the bow pieces, which clearly stated “cut one”.) and hand stitched the second bow to the belt, Tilly-style.  The bow on the belt kind of disappears into the pattern in a way that the neckline bow doesn’t, so I will be keeping my eye out for an actual belt buckle kit as a future alteration for this dress.

To keep in the spirit of the dress, I battled a cold, brusk wind to take photos near Foster’s Freeze, a fast-food restaurant that was around in the 1960s (at least in California). I tend to shy away from taking photos in such public places, but I had a surprising amount of fun this time! Laughing even when approached by a strange man who asked my husband if he’d snapped any good photos today.

I hope everyone else enjoyed this Mad Men challenge as much as I did!



Amy slowly eased her way into sewing in 2010. In 2011 her hobby truly blossomed, aided in part by the wonderful Sew Weekly community. She can also be found writing on her own blog, Sew Well.


Comments are closed.

  1. This is such a cute pattern! Great job working out the belt and the whole thing!

  2. I love that pattern! It came out beautifully and the natural lighting in the photos is great.

  3. Love the bow detail on the neck. Great job.

  4. Great styling, and pattern. I really like the keyhole and bow detail at the neck and on the belt. That was a clever idea. You look like you are really having fun in front of the drive-in!

  5. What a cute dress!

  6. That is so wonderful that you were able to use fabric once owned by your husband’s gran! I love it!

  7. This is adorable! And I love the story behind it and how gorgeous the fabric is up close!

  8. You and your dress are lovely! Gorgeous pattern and fabric. (my fabric is from my husbands grandmother too!)

  9. I love the bow at the neckline too! Great fabric, great dress!

  10. Very pretty! You did a great job on this dress — it’s got that vintage cool while still feeling very modern :)

  11. Very nice. Love the print on that inherited wool fabric. Oh and Fosters..yum!