Hot! The ‘Better Betty’ Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Double bedsheet, thrifted, $3 and leftover white cotton for the lining
Pattern: McCall’s 3718, thrifted, $2.99
Notions: hand me down zipper
Year: 1955
Time to complete: About 6 hours
First worn: March 2012
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: $5.99

Oh Betty Draper! There are few characters on television that I want to shake some sense into, but at the same time marvel at her contradictions and somehow find myself championing her to success. That could actually be said about the whole Mad Men cast, you love them, you hate them… and the show just keeps getting better so I am overjoyed for the season return!

And HELLO again! It’s been too long! After last year’s epic Sew Weekly, I’ve been slowly pottering around the sewing room, making lots of stretchy summer dresses, but nothing too spesh. So the Mad Men theme totally rebooted my drive to try out a new pattern and aim for something dazzling!

It’s a McCalls pattern from the op shop in Bendigo, and from 1955, which could be a smidge too early for the Mad Men era. I decided with the ‘peek a boo’ slit it would be a Peggy type style (she’s a high neckline modest gal) but this fabric just turned it into Betty Draper category. After a bit of pinteresting searches, I noticed blue florals (for both Peggy & Betty) were more dominate in Mad Men’s style guide, so instead of the green and white cotton plaid I’d bought especially for the theme, I searched my stash and found this blue/fawn floral bedsheet. I know, I bought new fabric and still used a bedsheet!! Some things just never change! I’ll have to use the green stuff another time, I just thought it would be too bold and blocky for the era of the Mad Men theme.

As this dress was a little more detailed for me (with the neckline and the bows), I had originally wanted to follow the instructions step by step, but of course I zoomed ahead and missed out the double neckline entirely. It wasn’t til I tried on the bodice I realised how loose and gape-y it was, and *then* I understood what the neckline pieces were for! (I thought they were facing pattern pieces, and ditched them as I decided to line the whole bodice cause the bedsheet was a little sheer) A-ha! I reattached the neck piece to the bodice, taking oodles of time to do so carefully… and I think the clean & flat ‘peek a boo’ looks great! Always read all of the instructions all the way through before sewing! (Will I follow my own advice, I wonder?)

The rest of the dress was great to sew up, the little bows attached easily into the 6 gored skirt pieces, and they come across looking like edges of pockets! They’re also on the back as well, which is sweet. I am wearing a few petticoats to fluff out the shape of the skirt though, there’s stacks of fabric there! There’s a lovely side zipper, so the back sits nice and flat too… all over, it’s a lovely pattern and I’ll be totally sewing it up again! I over exaggerated the sizing for this one though… It’s a 32 and I’ve been feeling I’m a 33 or 34 of late (in the bust, it changes so often!) but really I should have just sewn it up as the pattern pieces suggested, as it’s a *little* loose around the darts. Not that I can tell now looking at these photos!

Husbie and I looked around town for a 1950s/1960s cafe (there are a few with loads of vintage chairs and tables and lino floors), but as it was a Sunday it was so busy! We thought if I had other people in the background (wearing modern clothes), the photos wouldn’t look Mad Men enough! As we drove past the old Town Hall (and now Council building, I think), we both thought it’d look like Betty Draper attending the divorce court, or paying a visit to her lawyers! Unfortunately, I couldn’t frown as much as Betty does (!) in the show so I’ve named this the ‘Better Betty’ Dress in ode to her happier times.

So lovely to be here again, can’t wait to see the radical 1950s and 1960s attire this week! My fave eras for clothing & sewing!



Veronica Darling

Veronica Darling has been sewing well for about 4 years, blogging for 5 years and smiling for over 33 years. In 2011, she joined Mena's Sew Weekly in sewing through the year, and in 2012 will keep challenges slightly smaller in scale.


Comments are closed.

  1. Yay! Welcome back Veronica!!! As always, your bedsheet garments look amazing, and this one is no exception.

    I did think those little bows were the tops of pockets… they look cutie cute cute. :)

  2. This dress is so fantastic! I’d love to make one like it! It’s so flattering on you too!

  3. Great to see you back. I love that length of dress on you. Very pretty and very flattering to your figure. I think designers knew something then that they’ve forgotten now (namely, most real women have curves).

    • Before Sew Weekly, I’d have thought this length was weird on me (because of the short nature of my height) but you SW fans egg me on to keep making them! I love sewing things just for my curves, shop bought clothing just never fits my shape! xoxo

  4. I was just thinking last night about how I missed all the ladies from last year and was wondering how they were! So great to see you back, you’re dress looks awesome, as usual.

  5. I love that that Sew Weekly pioneers are back for Mad Men week (I spotted there’s a post from Adey in the wings too). I loved your jersey dress you made a couple of weeks back but this is delightful. Love those bows and your styling.

  6. That dress looks really beautiful on you. So lovely to see you back here :)

  7. Veronica this dress is so lovely on you and your photos are gorgeous, lovely eye candy for sure!

  8. OH, you look so adorable! This is such a lovely dress, I love the details. I wish Betty was a better person. I’m glad you are happier then Betty, girlfriend needs an INTERVENTION, I swear.

    • She’s such a contradiction too, ups and downs and sometimes I prefer her to be a bit bad instead of prissy! I wonder what will happen this season? Thanks Leah!

  9. Hi Veronica! I have missed you and your bed sheets and I always think of you when I am rummaging in op shops, and I never miss the sheets section! What a great pattern and dress. Makes you want go out and get a really ugly antique day bed and flop down on it.

    • Thank you Trish! I’m glad to inspire! And honestly, I didn’t really like this as a bedsheet at all, but with vision (and it’s not going to cost you much if you stuff up!) it’s something else wonderful!

  10. Smashing! I love the neckline, and I adore the bed sheet you chose! A fantastic dress – we’ve missed you here!

  11. I echo Zilredloh and love those little ties! Such a great dress to make a return in – missed you!

  12. YAY for a Veronica Darling post!!! And such a cute dress to boot!

  13. STUNNING! This is my favorite, so far, of the MadMen dresses posted for the challenge! I cannot believe you turned a bed sheet into this gorgeous dress! All the little details make this really special!

  14. I adore this dress!! You’ve done such a marvellous job, Veronica! The fabric, colours, and fit are just perfect on you! I really like the peek-a-boo neckline and the bow details – so pretty!

  15. Yay, welcome back! I love this dress! The bows are such a cute detail. Once again, envious of your bedsheet finds.

  16. SO beautiful Veronica!! LOVE the print and the cut – and the little neck cutout!

  17. You look GORGEOUS and the dress is amazing, I love the neckline and little bow details:) As usual, wonderful photos!

  18. Great to see you again! You look as lovely as ever in your “Betty” dress. That pattern is so unique with its little bows and peek-a-boo neck opening. Hope you plan to start contributing again on a regular basis. As you can tell from the comments, you have a lot of fans.

    • Why thank you Barbara, and yes I’m hoping to contribute a little more regularly throughout the year! It was such a busy Christmas and New Year period for us, so I hope to check in at least once a month now! Your tangerine dream dress is gorgeous this week! (I’d totally wear it tight!) xoxo

  19. Wow. I love that neckline! I might have to track you down and steal that out of your closet…. oops…. maybe I shouldn’t have told you that.

    • Let’s do a pattern swap! Happy to share! xoxo Unless you mean to just take this whole outfit completed… hang on, I didn’t notice it in my wardrobe today! LOL

  20. I find your outfits so inspirational and really enjoy the uniqueness you bring to the sewing community. I’m so glad you contributed this week.

  21. Gorgeous dress =) That neckline detail is exquisite!

  22. I love this Veronica. (Oh how I’d love to head out with you in our matching blue floral dresses. hehe.) The neckline is gorgeous and I love those bows.

  23. Seriously Veronica, you are the cutest thing eva!

  24. OMG. Veronica! I’ve never seen a bedsheet look so good! JUST love this pattern….that neckline and the shape of the skirt are just fabulous! Great photos (as always). Fun to be back this week, isn’t it? :)

  25. Great to see you here again! Love to hear about the mishaps along the way and yet smashing, well-fitted result. Stunning photos too, as always.

  26. You look beautiful in that dress! Can’t believe it was once a bedsheet. Bravo!!!

  27. You are adorable as always! xo

  28. Just gorgeous! As always. Welcome back Veronica. It’s nice to see you up here again.

  29. Yay!! It’s so great to see your gorgeous smiling face back here. Your bed sheet couture is always so much fun. As usual you look absolutely stunning perfect for this theme. xx

  30. My eyes can’t stand so much beauty! What a great comeback! :D

  31. Glad to see you back, I love the little peep hole and the ribbons on the skirt, I have to try that!

  32. Whoa. Love this! Truly. A bed sheet. What? Blown away I am at how beautiful this dress is. I have never drooled over Betty Draper’s dresses this much.

  33. That definately does not look like a bed sheet. The neckline turned out great and the little bows! I am not usually attracted to this type of floral but you have elevated it to a much more interesting place. Love the shoes too. Thank you for sharing, you inspire.

  34. Thank YOU Frances! As a bedsheet, it didn’t really rock my boat either, but as a dress it’s a little special!