Friday, March 30, 2012

Betty at the Bakery Dress

When Julie Bobbin posted about her Mad Men Challenge, I thought I'd be a crazy person and join in.  Sure I already had lots of other things planned, but why not go on Etsy, find and buy a vintage pattern and make a dress from it?  Why not eh?

I remembered this dress from Season 3 episode  "Seventy Twenty Three" when she meets up with her eventual new husband Henry Francis at a local bakery.  I loved its simplicity and that bright bold floral!  Totally not my normal silhouette, but something I was interested to try.


And the result!  Taken on a ridiculously hot day during a Sunday walk.  It was 25 degrees celsius.  Normal temp for this time of year? maybe 5.  It was gorgeous!

The pattern I used is actually from 1963, the same year that the episode takes place in.  

And just to add a bit to the vintage vibe, I tried to style my hair a bit like Betty's in the episode, It didn't stay in place too long, sans tons of styling product, but it still works I think.  Sadly, I had no shoes to go with it, so you'll have to excuse my pairing it with flats.

The pattern did vary a bit of course from the inspiration dress.  It had the bodice pieced, whereas the inspiration dress did not.  The neckline is also a bit different, which I wish in hindsight I had actually adjusted it for, I like the straighter boatneck and thinner shoulders of the inspiration dress.  The pattern did have the nice low back, but alas, not the lovely tie detail.

So I added them in.  I'm actually not sure how wearable the dress based solely on the pattern would have been without them, they definitely help keep the shoulders up and everything neat and in place.

So I'm pretty pleased with it.  I'm not 100% happy with the bodice fit, the band under the bust is a weird fit and had to be adjusted along with taking in the sides in a ton for my skinny self.  Vintage pattern dimensions are funny things.  The pattern is a size 12, and the waist was just perfect, but as I'm pretty boyish figured, my bust area definitely does not meet the pattern expectations.  But on the bright side, the skirt fit perfect!!  And I really like it.  I may use it with another future dress.

Oh and partway through our walk I found some cheap pearls to wear and got me an ice tea, just like Betty.

Other lessons from sewing from a vintage pattern are to sometimes just ignore the directions and go with what you know about piecing garments.  Some of the directions are way over complicated.  And while I suppose if you want to go for all the vintage details you could follow them,  but I got frustrated with some of them, and just did a simpler method the I already know. (i.e. with the waistline)  And sewing the back of the skit was particularly interesting with the little pleat, but once I laid it all out it made sense.

The whole dress is also fully underlined, a new experience for me, but definitely necessary for this lightweight cotton fabric.

So that's it!  I'll leave you all with a final photo from our walk.  It started to get a bit cooler so I had to add a sweater, and well, I was also carrying a small purse and occasionally a small child :)


  1. Oh wow I love it! Gorgeous! That fabric is so mad men, the shape is so great on you and I love how you've turned it into a completely wearable outfit with a cute cardigan.

  2. I love it too. You are lucky to be such a skinny thing that you can pull off a figure hugging dress like that one. I just adore the back :)

  3. Very beautiful, Johanna! Change the blog name to Sexy Old House Mama.

    How do you find/pick patterns?

  4. WOW! This might be the perfect pattern for imitating your inspiration dress! I love that you took the extra step to add the tie back! It looks meant to be! Very well done! Beautiful project!

  5. Woww! Your version of this dress is amazing! I am so impressed!

  6. I am so in love with your dress! The detail you put into it is incredible and it looks so beautiful on you! I just love the shot with the pearls, coffee, and sunglasses. It's so perfect!

    I was thinking of doing this dress for the Mad Men challenge, and I'm in awe that not only did you find all of those screenshots (I could only find 2!) but that you found that pattern! I've been looking for weeks for some version of that pattern, and I can't find anything. If you want to swap or sell, let me know. ;-)

  7. Gorgeous dress - it looks fab on.

    I love the detail at the back too - very chic!


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