Hot! The “Playing Dress-up” Trudy Dress

The Facts

Fabric:  3 yards royal blue polyester taffeta, $15 from; 1 yard white polka-dot cotton, $4 from Walmart
Pattern:  Simplicity 3536, $2 from local antique shop
Year:  circa 1960
Notions:  invisible zipper, $1
Time to complete:
~5 hours
First worn:
For photos, March 19
Wear again?
Not until I make some major modifications but, hopefully
Total cost:  
~$22 (plus $10 for the nearly-perfect-copy vintage necklace)


I picked up this pattern from an antique store in January, knowing it would be a top contender for this week’s Mad Men challenge. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to channel Joan or Betty but, this little pattern had both.

Truth-be-told, I had only ever seen two random episodes of Mad Men so, while doing my fair share of hand sewing last month, I opted to catch up via Netflix – in part to see what the fuss is about and in part to seek inspiration for this challenge.  Well, there was certainly inspiration aplenty!  I particularly adored Betty’s dresses from the first season (I knew I would!) and thought for sure I’d replicate one of those.  Then, I looked up for a moment during “The Grown-ups” (season 3, episode 12) and saw Trudy’s bright blue party dress – I was sold. Decision made.

screenshot from Netflix

Sourcing the fabric for this bright blue number was tough.  I settled on a polyester taffeta to give a similar look but keep costs down (since I hadn’t tested the pattern).  Besides, the primer recommended synthetics.  I hate the feel of synthetic fabric though so, I underlined the bodice with a much softer cotton.  This makes the dress wearable and gave me a handy way to hide my hand-stitches.

This was my very first vintage pattern attempt so, technically, I considered this a muslin. As such, there is a lot of tweaking to do. I forgot little things like, accounting for the change in undergarments over the last 50 years (by the way, as a vintage pattern newbie, I’m totally in awe that someone used this very pattern five decades ago!). I also underestimated just how much volume polyester taffeta would have when every pleat is double stacked! Who needs a petticoat!? This skirt is billowy all on its own!

Right now, the dress feels a bit like playing “dress up” – a thought I find amusing given the title of the inspiration’s episode. I think I’ll go back and take the volume of the skirt down a bit, making it look more like Trudy’s version. Then, after a few tweaks to the bodice and a chop to the sleeves, I’ll be ready to get dressed for a wedding… or curl up on the couch. Either is fine with me :-)




Jennifer took up sewing in 2008 as a new hobby after a move. Now, with endless ideas running through her head, she's making an effort to fill hers and her fiance's closets with custom clothing.


Comments are closed.

  1. This is beautiful, Jennifer!! I love the color and fit. It’s a perfect match for your inspiration look, too!

  2. Hey Jennifer, the pattern you picked really captured the style in your photo and I love that color blue on you. It’s really a beautiful dress

  3. You look just like the actress!

  4. I love your Trudy dress! So cute. She can be a trip sometimes but she always looks awesome, and you captured her style very well.

  5. I really like the dress and hope all your changes work out well. The color looks great on you!

  6. This is one of my favorite dresses in all Mad Men history, but my favorite part about it is the half bow on the back. Nice work.

    • Thanks! I actually really like the bow too. I hesitated putting it on the dress as it was already a bit over the top for modern wear but, designer Katie Ermilio uses a similar bow on some of her Spring designs so I’m thinking of trying it on something more subtle (ex: she has one on the back of a pair of shorts).

  7. You did a great job. It’s a very classic shape. I hope you make the alterations you need to make you feel (even) happier with wearing it.

  8. I LOVE this color on you! Bravo for tackling your first vintage pattern – I would say it looks very well even if it’s considered a muslin!

  9. Great inspiration and really lovely colour, it suits you.

  10. I love how much volume you get with the lovely pleats on that skirt. Nice work.