Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

Sewing Circle: Betty Draper, c. 1963: that long, bold geometric dress!

Mad Men fans, do you remember this dress?  Here's a Sewing Circle with a question about recreating one of Betty's fashionable summer dresses...

Q: I am absolutely in love with this dress from Mad Men Season 3.  I know a big part of making it will be finding the right print fabric, but do you have any recommendations on patterns or fabric type? My guess is that it's a reasonably simple bodice shape with a gathered skirt (the article says pleated, but it definitely looks more gathered to me), probably made in a silk fabric. Have you seen any patterns that have a similar bordered bodice, or should I just draft my own alterations from a regular bodice? 

A: First off, wow, that is an amazing website/blog. They have analysis of so many costumes and movies! So much fun for someone like me!

But, the dress. It’s very cool that they did an analysis/description of it, very helpful—you’re right, the skirt is definitely gathered, though. Looks like two long rectangles, so you don’t need a pattern for that part. I think I’ve seen patterns for a similar bodice, although never anything exactly the same! You’re right that you could modify, but I wouldn’t start from a basic dress pattern; I’d get as close as possible and then draft things like the scoop back and center front slit; pretty easy. Here are my top suggestions:

Vogue V8574. Very similar, except it has a full back and no waistband/midriff panel. You could easily add some rectangles to the front and back for the wide waistband!

Simplicity 1881. Very similar except the halter back. Could be modified…

Simplicity 2588 or New Look 6799. No slit, different back, but basic yoke. Could add a slit in the center front.

Simplicity 2180. Also a different back and no slit, but it’s a lot of fun!

Simplicity 2692. Also a different back and no slit, and gathers under bust instead of darts (you could dart it) but great for a knit—the hot pink on the bottom left is closest.

Simplicity 1803. No yoke, but has the back you want, and an opening in the front like the original.

Butterick B5353. Princess seams and different back, but yoke:

Whew! Well, that’s quite a lot of not-quite-there to start with!

As for the fabric, it may be silk, but that sounds expensive, and a silky poly would cling to your legs annoyingly, I predict. I’ve seen some really bold print knits at JoAnn before; maybe a lightweight knit would work? Some of the patterns above are also perfect for knits. And what I’ve seen of originals from that era, knits were very popular.

I’m sure that gives you some things to think about.

Readers, what would you do?  None of these patterns were perfect, so do you have any ideas, or would you modify one of the ones I listed?  What parts would you tweak??


  1. Awesome selection of patterns! I would use the first one and alter the yoke to either be very thin or maybe replace it all together with some blue binding. That fabric is amazing. I have been seeing a lot of 60's style prints at JoAnne and Hancock too!

    1. That would be good! Yes, I think you could get lucky at one of the big fabric stores this summer...

  2. Anonymous5/15/2012

    This dress is amazing! Super cool!

  3. I think a nice lightweight rayon would work well!

    1. That would be a good substitute for silk! If you wanted a woven!

  4. Lots of options that would probably all work - LOVE that print so much! I can't believe more stores, BR the exception, haven't reproduced/replicated more of the Mad Men style with its popularity!

    1. True! Wonder if they have special rights... good thing we can sew!

  5. Katherine5/15/2012

    Yay! This was my question submission - I almost feel famous! :)

    I really wish they did more reproductions of the 60s Mad Men stuff. It fits my figure a lot better than the 50s stuff.

    1. Glad you checked back, Katharine!

      That's funny, I feel kinda dumpy in some of the 60's stuff but can wear the 50's easier!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Denise5/17/2012

    Very cool dress! Theres a new look pattern (6864) that has pretty much the same bodice, but looks a little more angular around the armpits. I have made up the bodice from this pattern but was still playing around with what to do for the skirt but now I think I'll use this as inspiration!

    1. You're right, that one would be great! May be for knits but you could add a zipper on the side!

    2. I was thinking that one as well as I am making this one up at the moment! It is a good pattern and I totally love the Betty dress.

    3. Oh, very cool! Hope it turns out awesome!




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