Inspired by Betty Draper header

Inspired by … Betty Draper

July 22, 2013 · 27 comments

It has been a little while since my last ‘Inspired By…’ post and who better to break the drought than my all-time favourite Betty Draper. Mad Men has never really been the same for me since the greatly reduced Betty focus that happened in series 4 but recently she seems to have come sneaking back into the spotlight a bit. Hooray for that!

Generally the fashions in the show are no longer really to my taste either-  the late sixties aren’t really my thing. I was ecstatic when I first discovered the series, hours and hours of very well done, pretty, early sixties outfits; I literally couldn’t believe my luck and so I was a little sad when there was such an obvious and dramatic styling change at the start of series 5. In the current series, however, Betty sports a super-cute little outfit that I found myself coveting.

Betty Draper Mad Men

I loved how classic and retro this outfit was and I had just the fabric for it in my stash: Liberty tana lawn in Nancy Ann. I love this print so much- it has little strawberries and cherries on it! Can’t get any more kitsch than that!

I recently made up Simplicity 1880 and I really love the shape and fit of the top half so I decided to be lazy and just make a blouse pattern based on that rather than pattern cut it myself. In order to convert the top half of the dress pattern into a blouse I followed the following simple steps:

1-     Traced the dress pattern back and front down to the waist, marking in seam allowances and all markings.

2-     Extended the CF (centre front), CB (centre back) and the button-stand line about 20cm (8 inches).

3-     Mark the length I wanted the blouse to be on these lines, in my case this was 15cm (6 inches) down from the waist line.

4-     Squared across from the CF and CB line at the 15cm (6 inches) mark.

5-     Calculated the width I wanted the blouse to be at the hemline based on my high hip measurement plus adequate ease and then marked a quarter of this measurement from the CF and CB on the line squared across to create blouse hemline.

6-     Added seam allowance to the hem.

Betty Draper Blouse and Top

I didn’t mark in the waist tucks/ release pleats on the paper pattern initially; instead I wanted to make up a toile of the blouse first and position them whilst wearing the blouse. I chose to do this as blouses don’t want to be nipped in at the waist to the extent that Simplicity 1880 is, so I wanted to adjust the amount of fabric in the tucks and check their position at the same time. With the toile on I pinned away the correct amount in the desired positions on the front and back of the blouse and then transferred these amounts back onto the paper pattern.

Construction wise I used all my usual favourites: French seams, hand- worked button holes and bias strips as facing on the armscyes.

Betty Draper Boden Cardigan

The shorts are my lightweight denim version of the vintage McCall’s pair I blogged here. As predicted I have worn these a LOT as they go with everything, they are definitely going to be more of a staple than the fun yellow pair!

I am also wearing a yummy cashmere cardigan from Boden that I am loving this summer, the shape is perfect over summery tops and dresses. Although it’s been really hot in London over the last couple of weeks having a few summery-looking but super-warm cardigans is so handy over the British summer if you actually want to be able to wear your dresses. This cardi definitely falls into that category and is such a summery colour too- it was described as soft red but is actually a beautiful coral in reality. It’s as close as I could get  within my cardigan collection to the lovely collarless cable knit worn by Betty later in the same episode.

Betty Draper Knitted Coral Cardigan

Boden Cardigan Betty Draper

Vintage Shorts and Blouse

Vintage Shorts and Blouse Front

Are you watching the current season of Mad Men? What do you think of the fashions in the show these days? Are there any you have been inspired to replicate?

Thanks for reading!

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Leila July 22, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Love your Betty outfit! You look great. I’m not following the show but I appreciate the costuming.
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amelialowden July 23, 2013 at 9:09 am

Thanks Leila! Yep the costumes are fantastic, hold my attention more than the storyline! Hehe :)
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Marie July 22, 2013 at 11:30 pm

Very Betty indeed, love it! Like you, I was in love with the early Mad Men series for the stunning styles, but I’m really not into the late 60s clothes at all…even though I’m still an avid watcher ;o)
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amelialowden July 23, 2013 at 9:10 am

Ah yep such a shame the styles have changed so radically isn’t it! :(
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erin July 23, 2013 at 2:43 am

Love your version of the blouse, it’s so pretty!
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amelialowden July 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

Thanks Erin! Love your blog- that Batik on your last post is stunning!
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Haylee July 23, 2013 at 6:31 am

Ami this is gorgeous!! I am absolutely in love with that gorgeous fabric- so similar to the inspiration photo. I don’t watch Mad Men but I have heard so much about it so I kind of want to start, even though I realize I’m way behind on the times. ha I agree though, I’m not as big of a fan of 60s styles, though I still do like them! Just not quite as much.
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amelialowden July 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

Ah thanks Haylee! You should watch some of the beginning and see if you get hooked! If you do you have hours of entertainment ahead of you! Beware tho it can be sewing inspiration overload! Hehe
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Danka July 23, 2013 at 6:39 am

Lovely blouse! The whole outfit is stunning, the colours are so sweet together.

I have yet to catch up on the latest season, but agree that the fashion in the early seasons was one of the highlights of the show.
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amelialowden July 23, 2013 at 9:29 am

Thanks Danka! I may have to make a floral pair of these shorts now after seeing your floral Iris’s! So pretty!
Ah yep the Mad Men glory days- every episode another shirt dress….!
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Louise July 23, 2013 at 7:58 am

Lovely :-) The little pleats really set it off. I’ve yet to watch any Mad Men (hurry uppp LoveFilm!) but flicking through the latest Boden catalogue over breakfast suggests that the 60s are here to stay.
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amelialowden July 23, 2013 at 9:35 am

Oh you are so lucky you get to start at the beginning then!- the first few series are soooo good and so pretty! Hehe!
Yep lots of lovely 60s styles in the new Boden collection! :)
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Nikki July 23, 2013 at 8:39 am

Pretty! Love this blouse, it’s lovely. Very Betty Draper. Love the use of the dress pattern.
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amelialowden July 23, 2013 at 9:36 am

Thanks Nikki!
Nice skirt- love the bias finishing in your seams :)
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Gail July 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Super cute outfit! I like how you sneaked some new shorts into the post about your new top, LOL!


amelialowden July 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

Thanks Gail! :)
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Karen Helm July 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Your interpretation of Betty’s blouse is excellent and really charming. Yes, the fashions in the show are not as nice as they were, but as the transition to the ’70s begins, I expect them to improve. But, isn’t it fun to be able to watch a show as much for its fashions as for its storyline?


amelialowden July 29, 2013 at 10:28 am

Absolutely! And even when they aren’t to my personal taste I think the costume choices in the show are so clever! :)
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Becca July 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Very cute! It’s a lovely summer outfit, and a nice interpretation of your inspiration outfit. Those shorts seem like they’d be very versatile. Great job adapting a previously used dress pattern.
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amelialowden July 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

Thanks Becca! Yep I think these shorts will be worn a lot! :)
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Ann Sinclair July 28, 2013 at 10:50 am

What a cute blouse Amy and great adaptation of your shirt dress pattern. Up here in Bonnie Scotland we don’t have may Liberty fabric stockists but I will definitely be looking online. Can you recommend an online retailer? Hope you are having weather suitable for wearing all your lovely summer makes. We have just come back from a fabulous week of wall to wall sunshine on a beautiful and very remote Scottish island to a very rainy (and I mean very – even in Scottish rain terms). Perfect weather for sewing though! Ann x


amelialowden July 29, 2013 at 10:50 am

Hi Ann, glad you had such lovely weather for your trip! :) And yep rainy weather is soo good for sewing isn’t it :)
Shaukats have a HUGE selection of Liberty fabrics online (classics, current and old season) and there is also a website called Unique Image that stock lots of them too!
Sewbox have a few as well and there tends to be some good bits on Ebay!
I love Liberty tana lawn for the summer- it’s so pretty and so lovely and soft!:)
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Ginger July 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Really pretty! Betty looked so hot in that scene at the gas station– it’s a fun look for her! She always dresses just a wee bit behind the other gals– lots of her dresses in the first three or so seasons really have a 50’s feel even as the girls in the office start to look more mid-60’s. I think that’s pretty interesting! Your take on this top is adorable!
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amelialowden July 29, 2013 at 10:52 am

She really does doesn’t she! Peggy did in the first couple of seasons too but she seems to be a bit more ahead of the curve these days. I loved the 50s feel that was around in the first couple of series!
Have you read Tom and Lorenzo Mad Style- they deconstruct all the costuming choices in the show and make some really interesting observations! :)
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Bec Stitches October 2, 2013 at 10:10 am

eeep so cute! love it
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Catarina April 1, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Hi! I know this is an old post but I’d love an answer to a couple of basic questions. My daughter and I made a dress recently with a collar using your collar drafting instructions and we’re now inspired to make a fitted blouse using the same pattern. The dress is quite fitted though…How much ease should a blouse have at bust, waist, and hips? And – how do you use bias binding as facing for the armholes? How is the edge inside finished off?

many thanks!


Sara May 31, 2015 at 6:20 am

Hi I’m new here. I saw your outfit and I love it! I love Mad Men and I was looking for a top similar to Bettys in that episode. I was just wondering do you make and sell you clothes?
Thank you for your time, keep up the great work! :)


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