If the Women of Mad Men Sewed & Wore Our Patterns in 1969

Sob!, the last episodes of Mad Men are upon us. Have you enjoyed this trip back to the 1960s as much as I have? Having previously covered Downton Abbey, Girls and Scandal here on this blog, I’m ready to play our little pattern imagination game with the women of Mad Men circa 1969.

The pattern Joan of Mad Men would sew for herself in 1969. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.

JOAN: My guess is that Joan, being the incredibly resourceful and attention-to-detail type that she is, would rely on sewing her own clothes as the best way to achieve a perfect fit for her voluptuous figure. You bet she’d have a sloper. Joan would have chosen this Valentino for Vogue Patterns design: The minimal gathers at the waist flatter her slim torso while the bodice seaming draws the attention to her pretty face. Yeah, Joan knows how to work the details.

What Sally Draper of Mad Men would sew for herself in 1969. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.

SALLY: I see Sally as a future Jenna Lyons. You know she has creativity in her blood. Maybe there was an artsy home ec teacher at her boarding school who encouraged Sally to express herself through fashion design. (I hope some kindly adult pays a little attention to her.) Sally would have sewn this Butterick jumpsuit in a bright floral corduroy. Not having been taught about nap layouts in home ec yet, she would rip it up and throw it away in a fit when she realized she cut the pattern pieces with the nap going in different directions.

Mad Men: What Betty Draper would sew for herself in 1969.  From the McCall Pattern Company blog.

BETTY: Betty would be an angry sewer. Mad that she has to spend time making costumes for the kids’ school plays. Mad that she can’t find drapes she likes, so now she has to make them. Mad that Henry says she spends too much money on clothes, so now she has to show him she can be more frugal by making her own clothes. Betty would secretly adore this Vogue Patterns dress design by Patou and would make it out of wool crepe bought on a trip to the garment district in NYC. The outside of the dress would look beautifully sewn, but the inside would be a mess. Just like Betty.

Mad Men: What Peggy would sew for herself in 1969. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.
PEGGY: Peggy probably would not enjoy sewing or spend much time doing it. For one, it reminds her of her mother. And she had to take home ec in Catholic school and she hated the nun who taught it. And she’s way too busy at work to have time for it, plus cutting out patterns on her apartment floor is miserably uncomfortable. But every now and then she gets the desire to sew something unique that says “I’m Peggy Olsen, goddammit.” Peggy would have made this little Butterick babydoll dress pattern specifically to turn some heads at client cocktail parties. Because, cleavage.

Mad Men: What Megan would sew for herself in 1969. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.
MEGAN: Megan has a little more time now for sewing in between auditions, and sometimes she may need to make something unique for a character, you know, to impress the casting directors. Plus California fashion in the late ’60 and ’70s was about individuality and wearing clothes that said “hey, I’m comfortable with my perfect body.” Megan would have loved this Rudi Gernreich for Vogue Patterns dress, and she’d have sewn it out of the boldest poly chiffon she could find in the LA garment district.

Mad Men: What Dawn would sew for herself in 1969. From the McCall Pattern Company blog.

DAWN: [4/13/15 update] A reader felt I was remiss in not including Dawn in this post, so I asked her to choose a pattern for Dawn to be added here. Another character I’ll miss when the show signs off all too soon. “The character Dawn played by Teyonah Parris is conservative, so the Butterick pattern 5351 from September 1969 on the Vintage Patterns Catalog Pages board [on McCall’s Pinterest page] would be a good pick.” —Donna

We hope you enjoyed this journey back to 1969, when—imagine this!—fabric stores were plentiful and sewing was taught in school and not on YouTube. Will you be watching Mad Men’s final season?


Style a Celeb Instagram contest: Our Style a Celeb Instagram contest just kicked off on Tuesday and it goes through 4/14, so there’s plenty of time for you to enter. It’s loads of fun to do, and an easy way to win $100 worth of patterns. Read all the contest details here.

If the women of Mad Men sewed their own clothes in 1969. As seen on the McCall Pattern Company blog.

We’ve been sewing since 1863.

  1. I knew those clothes were bad at the time, and now they just give me the ‘willies’!!

  2. Oh, well done! Your synopsis on Betty is hilarious! The Style a Celeb Instagram contest sounds fun, but I don’t have an account. Hopefully, you’ll offer non IG contests down the road.

  3. I feel like I’m being teased! These beautiful vintage patterns and no pattern numbers! I would sew Megan’s dress in a second.
    But to answer your question, yes I will be watching Mad Men and then probably going into a manic episode in my sewing room

  4. I made that jumpsuit (out of emerald green velveteen) in my grade 9 home ec class in 1969. I had forgotten all about it until I saw the photo. Thanks for the memories!

  5. This is awesome and you totally nailed it!! I can hear Sally having a fit right now!

  6. Sorry, I don’t think ANY of these are even close to the styles on Mad Men.

  7. I graduated from high school in 1969. I swear my graduation dress (white eyelet) was the exact pattern as the Megan dress.

  8. Mad Men did a lot for the resurgence of Retro/Vintage sewing patterns 🙂

  9. Loved it- your comments about their interest and sewing desires were spot on too! I’m not sure about the Peggy one though, I can’t really picture her in that.

    I love that people are commenting who made the patterns. Perfect!

    and of course I’ll be watching 🙂

    1. Do you remember the episode where Peggy showed up at a meeting at the agency wearing a very short minidress with a plunging neckline? That’s what made me choose this dress. For that other side of Peggy.

      1. “Harper Valley PTA” personified.

  10. (Spoiler for Season 4 of Mad Men)

    And of course one of they ways that we see that Betty’s moving on after Don leaves her is the scene in Season 4 when he calls her and she’s moved her sewing machine into Don’s old study!

  11. I haven’t been watching Mad Men and still enjoyed this post. It was hilarious. Thanks!

  12. Haha brilliant, loved this.

  13. Great work. Totally unique and creative idea.

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