Mad Men Dress Challenge III, Simplicity 2444, Betty Draper Roses Dress


All the lovely makes for the Mad Men III dress challenge are now on Julia’s website. If you are a fan of Mad Men, or of sewing, or of late fifties/early sixties fashion, please do check them out!
Last weekend, I was in a wee time crunch and didn’t post any construction photos of my Betty dress. For those that are interested, here they are, along with the usual bit of ramble.
I used a high quality 100% cotton fabric. It’s called Fairy Briar and made by Hoffman Fabrics, to state the obvious. I purchased two meters and utilized the fabric to within an inch of it’s life! One of the interesting things I noticed, and appreciated, about this fabric, is that it does not fray! It has a lovely high thread count, and a soft, silky feel.
Having said that, I lined the whole dang thing! Why? Well, I’m not overly fond of slips, so lining a skirt is almost always a given. I used a cotton broadcloth for the skirt, and my custom A-Line Skirt Pattern serves as the pattern. By using an a-line skirt for the lining, I’m eliminating gathers and pleats, effectively eliminating bulk. ‘I need more bulk at my waist.’ said no woman ever.
The bodice and sleeves are lined with feather-light bemberg rayon lining. Why? Lining a bodice and sleeves means no facings. Yes, but why? I dunno! I just do. I like this style of construction and I use it a lot of the time. I machine stitch the lined sleeves to the bodice, in essence treating them as one piece, and then my last construction step is to hand sew the bodice to the armhole. Does anyone know of a different, um…yeah better…technique for this step?


The hem! I was swooning over Oonaballoona’s Pink Project Runway Dress….you love it too, don’t ya?…and I had to try using bias cut horsehair trim just like Oona does. Me likey, me likey very much, thank you Oona darling! It gives a little oomph to the hemline, a little bigger whirl on my twirl! All good, it is!
And last, but not least, a boob shot. Kidding! But how ’bout we chat about the pleating on the bodice. Not sure if I did this the right way, but it worked out well for me, so here goes; I pleated a rectangle of fabric to a size that I was confident my pattern piece would fit on with room to spare. Then I placed my pattern piece on it, pinned, and then cut it out.
All righty peeps! Thanks for reading! Have an awesome day!


  • Reply Connie April 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Oh Sue!!! I go to the fabric store. Look at the patterns and if they require a zipper or buttons I move on. You on the other hand take a challenge and go. Beautiful.

  • Reply ann wood April 6, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    I appreciate the fine craftsmanship of this dress. The lining makes sense to me. The blue dress I just wore in my last post has a similar lining in black. Almost like a underdress or slip. These colors look great on you!

    blue hue wonderland

  • Reply dreamingofavonlea April 6, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    That fabric is so pretty. Perfect for Betty and made up so beautifully in your dress. I always line dresses too, and yes, it's mostly to avoid doing facings! Your lining looks so neat!

  • Reply amy mayen April 6, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    The bodice looks awesome! I hadn't seen the horsehair trick before. I love learning things like that! Love your fabric; I have touched it and it is very nice 🙂

  • Reply Sew little time April 7, 2014 at 1:41 am

    i love it! you really nailed the shape and the bodice pleating is perfect. i must get me some horsehair canvas! does it catch on tights?

  • Reply pastcaring April 7, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Oh Sue! You are so damn good at this! Look at all the lovely (and skilful) attention to detail.
    Did I mention the Betty dress is my favourite ever of all your amazing self-made pieces? Well, it's worth saying again. I LOVE it! xxx

  • Reply sewingpies April 7, 2014 at 3:21 am

    I've always wanted to use horsehair on my hems. And great idea lining a full skirt like that with an a line to reduce bulk! I'll be using that tip from now on!!

  • Reply two birds April 7, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Gorgeous!!! I love the pleating detail on the chest!

  • Reply oona balloona April 7, 2014 at 5:49 am

    i seriously cannot believe a woman with your twirl power doesn't have a closet full of horsehair!! lovely pleating, which makes it right, no?

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:23 am

    …well, the tide is turning. There WILL be more horsehair, I can promise you that. And yep…if it works, it's right!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Thanks lovely sisters!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Jenny! Happy that you found this post of value!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Oh Curtise! You REALLY do love this dress, I can tell! One day I will get to England and contrary to my usual packing light, I will attempt to pack the roses dress. Or I could be completely retro and wear this dress with hat and gloves on the plane…yeah, no.

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Oh, very good question! The potential is there for catching on tights, yes! I followed a tip from Gertie's blog for better sewing and sewed a small strip of bias tape over the exposed cut end of the horsehair. Obviously, there are two cut ends, but one end is lapped under the other. Let me know if that doesn't make sense. The actual surface of the horsehair is really smooth.

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:29 am

    I KNOW! Isn't it fun picking up all those fabulous tips!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Yeah, a kindred spirit….just thinking of Anne of Green Gables. Thanks for popping by and leaving such a lovely comment.

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Thank you Ann! You've given me an idea…I may just have a little peak at some couture clothing the next time out shopping. It's always helpful to see how the pros work!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 7, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Oh Connie…You know, it would be a challenge for me to make something without buttons or a zipper. I may just have to take that challenge on!

  • Reply Shirl April 7, 2014 at 9:02 am

    I love that you care to give all the “deets” …….


  • Reply Highland Fashionista April 8, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Oh WOW, I seriously LOVE this dress. I love the structure of these vintage-inspired dresses, and the colour is going to be amazing on you…

  • Reply Suzanne Carillo Style Files April 8, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Oh that I would have the patience to sew!

    I loved the pleated boob shot BTW : )


  • Reply Flo April 8, 2014 at 5:08 am

    I'm so glad you posted this, lots of great information, particularly how you did the pleated bodice, I was wondering about that. Great idea!!! My mom frequently lined the bodice of dresses she made, it makes the whole thing look smoother, less chance of raveling in the laundry and much more discreet. I love the idea of lining the whole thing too, especially for spring/summer dresses. Beautiful job, this is such a pretty dress–I think the hubby needs to take you out to a special dinner in this dress 🙂

  • Reply Ann Huffman April 8, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I always laugh out loud for real when I read your posts, twice today! Oh and gorgeous dress! ~Ann
    Tarnished Royalty

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 8, 2014 at 7:57 am

    The best compliment ever Ann! Thank You!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 8, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Thanks Flo! Yes, smoother is absolutely right. Facings can add more bulk, and bunch up, or flip back. Now…must tell hubby what you said, :).

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 8, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Thanks Shirl. It's been so nice to get positive feedback on this post. I know some readers are not so interested in these details, which is totally okay; but it has been great to know that a lot of readers enjoyed reading.

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 8, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Thanks so much Kristin. They really did get the concept of how garment construction can flatter the female silhouette back then.

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 8, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Suzanne?!!! Seriously?!!!

    The boob shot…yes! But the sewing?

  • Reply graverobbergirl April 8, 2014 at 8:36 am

    Nice detail work. The only other option I see for the sleeves would require putting a hem on the bottom of a sleeve or leaving the side seams until later in the construction (sewing the neckline and sleeves and then turning the lining in first) and then having to finish those seams, so you've probably got the trick for the completely finished lining. Also, nobody I know likes doing facing (for some reason, it's such a pain in the butt, never lays completely flat like it's supposed to… etc. etc.).

  • Reply lisa thomson April 8, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Hi Sue, I just love your profile pic! I'm not a seamstress by any means and can only sew a button but your site is so pretty! Love the dress you made for the MadMen challenge. I'm also a Vancouverite, and a blogger so wanted to say Hi. 🙂

  • Reply Jessica Cangiano April 8, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Oh Sue, this dress is beguiling beautiful! I see a lot of dresses online and off and can sincerely say this is one of the prettiest and most appealing I've encountered in a good long while. The pleating on the bodice is especially awesome!

    Big hugs & many thanks for your wonderfully nice comment on today's Miss L Fire shoes post,
    ♥ Jessica

  • Reply No fear of fashion April 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

    Well done Sue. I am impressed. I had a look at all the women who did their Mad Men sewing. What a large group!! Lots of great clothes. I like it how most women photographed themselves in the same position as the Mad Men figure they chose. Pity your photo in the chair next to Betty in the chair wasn't chosen. Such a striking resemblance.

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks Greetje! It was actually me that chose that photo. I kind of thought it showed the dress better, but I do see your point. I've still had lots of great visitors coming by to comment!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 9, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks Jessica! You are indeed an expert on vintage dresses. Thanks for the compliment!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks Lisa! There is a lot of value in being able to sew on a button, LOL. Seriously, with ready made clothing, buttons always seem to be coming unraveled.

  • Reply Louise Perry April 10, 2014 at 11:13 am

    The dress is so neat on the inside. Wow. I've only lined a few things so far it's definitely something I need to work on.

  • Reply No fear of fashion April 12, 2014 at 8:10 am

    In that case your choice was a good one.

  • Reply M @ My Closet Catalogue April 12, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I said it once but I'll say it again: this is the most gorgeous thing I've seen in a while. And now, deconstructed, it just becomes this amazing work of art. Kudos, my friend!

    Btw, if you get the chance, pop on over to my blog today. No obligation to do anything; just know you're appreciated!

  • Reply Caramella April 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    What a beautiful dress! I wish I could sew.

  • Reply dan April 15, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Once more, a great job Sue! Very beautiful fabric too…the inside of the dress shows well your talent in sewing!

  • Reply shams April 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    “I need no more bulk at my waist”, said no woman ever. LOLOL Cute dress.

  • Reply The Style Crone April 16, 2014 at 5:49 am

    “A bigger whirl on my twirl!” I go for that! Your talent continues to inspire me.

  • Reply Rachel April 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I've never yet made a fully lined dress–the prospect somewhat intimidates me but I am so impressed at how your dress came out!

  • Reply Sue @ A Colourful Canvas April 18, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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