Monday, July 1, 2013

Vogue 1353 dress,

Based on recent comments there is a lot of interest in this pattern, Vogue 1353 dress by Kay Unger. For once I have sewn up a brand new Vogue pattern in its release season instead of letting it marinate in my stash until summer, fall and winter have flown by and it is unearthed in the spring thaw.  How about some technical details? I have been a blogging slacker and not shown my process for a while but I have lots to say about this pattern. For my efforts here is the result.
Vogue 1353 front view 1
As the title of this post indicates, I am on the fence with this one. The fabric I used is a stretch cotton poplin, and poplin is one of the fabrics suggested along with lightweight linen and silk duppioni. However it is a bit stiff, which is good for the pleated skirt but doesn't allow the soft pleats in the bodice  front to behave as I would like. However it is the design that really bugged me, and by that I don't mean the fit, which was suprisingly good for the most part and needed only slight adjustments. Well, slight to me, you might think I did a lot.
Here is where I started, with a muslin! yes, for a change. Because I pinned the pattern pieces together just to check where the waistline hit and noticed something odd right away. The small (and annoyingly unnecessary bust darts were way too high) which is not a problem I ever have. In the image on the right you can see where I have used a marking pen so they show. Plus small darts in a princess seam, can create a point where you don't want a point! So I decided to lower them, using the slash method and you can see I wielded the scissors while looking in the mirror, thus the shaky looking slice but it worked. About 3/4" was added and tapered out at the side seam.  This did serve to make the bodice  too big around but that was fixed in a later step.
        wedge detail on V1353front muslin slash method2
Once I sewed up the bodice I needed to take out some of the extra fabric now in the princess seam. It looks like I took out about an extra 1/4" on the stitching line which makes 1" around the garment. For interfacing the pattern included a piece for the neckline, I used silk organza which was just right. Fusible doesn't work with those neckline pleats.
front with princess seam adj V1353
For construction order I used my tried and true method of bodice first, shoulder seams, baste the side seams, baste in the zipper and check the fit. The back is always too wide for me, when I start with a Vogue size 12 so I always have to take in at the zipper, here about 1.25 inches on either side of the zipper tapering to nothing at the waist. I leave the zipper unstitched about an inch from the waist edge which allows me to add the skirt pieces later and then finish putting in the zipper. This may seem like a lot of work but really it is only one more step and the bodice is where most of the fitting issues seem to happen for most people.

back showing zipper V1353
There were some drag lines on the back bodice even after this zipper adjustment and I extended the back darts a little bit. Red pin is original length and then yellow pin is the extension, a tiny adjustment but it made a nice difference.
back dart adjustment 2
Here you can see the lining sewn in, up to about 2 inches from the shoulder seam, but the side seams are not closed. This may seem convoluted but it really allows you to fit on the fly. 
V1353 front inside armhole
I wanted to use rayon lining (not polyester - the temps are too hot around here for that) and only lined the bodice so all I had was this dark for me :)

V 1353 liningVogue Pattern V1353       

V 1353 back viewV 1353 back side view
So my thoughts on this pattern are:


  • love the skirt, could make it as a stand-alone item.  Especially how the pleats go all around in the same direction. 
  • the waist seam is about 1 inch above the actual waist, with the pleating I think this is very flattering. 
  • The neckline shape in front and back are pretty, especially in the back.

Not so much:

  • The shoulders really bug me, I think they are too chunky and against my better judgement I did not narrow them. Which I ordinarily would but I thought, hey, just this once, make the pattern as designed.
  • That darn bodice front dart. Totally unnecessary in a princess seam. I would smoosh it out if I was to make this again, which I am not. 
  • Fabric suggestions, I think in a soft cotton lawn or voile with a lightweight cotton lining it would be very nice, the bodice pleats would be softer and the skirt a bit more flowy. I understand the silk duppioni but I warn against that strongly unless you are really comfortable with that fabric plus marking a lot of pleats etc. 
  • Try a print, which can hide a multitude of issues. I kind of wish I had made it in a print but since I have so many print dresses I thought of this for a change, and I do like this color.
See what I mean, look at those wide shoulder sections.  Mentally doing alteration as I write this...put it on my to do list. This photo is a "run outside for 10 minutes and take a picture because it is 102 in the shade." I will not be wearing my new blue dress for the 4th of July barbeque. Something else in the works for that.

V1353 on me

And another Vogue teaser for you, DKNY pattern V1351 is just about finished, and I declare it a winner. 
Hope everyone is staying cool if possible and now I need to run out and give the tomato plants another watering. Here are some gladioli that I photographed before they wilted in this heat.
Happy sewing, Beth

Pink glads 2


  1. oh oh! i am unconvinced and actually really love this on you! love love the bodice pleating!

  2. Regardless of all your struggles with this make, the end result is quite stunning. The pleats look amazing.

  3. One of my favorite colors! See what you mean about the shoulders, but still a very flattering dress, I think.

  4. The dress is lovely, and you look great in it. I feel you about the shoulders, I have the same issue with them.

  5. It's still a flattering on you and the colour is great.
    I can see why V1351 will be a winner too.
    You do such phenomenal tailoring.

  6. Great dress! Don't think the shoulders look baad at all.

  7. I Love it! This has such a nice feminine line to it. I think I'm going to put it on my to-buy list :)

  8. Beautiful job constructing this dress! I can understand your disappointment in the width of the shoulder (some things just bug us), but I think the elegant neckline compensates for this. It's a very flattering dress on you and a really pretty color.

  9. Here are my did a great construction job on this! I love the bodice pleats...although I am with you on that dart. I would probably split the dress in two to make a skirt and a top...if I were to sew it. But I do like the shoulder width, don't see anything wrong there.

  10. Thank you, Beth for such a helpful post about fitting the upper bodice!bYour dress is beautiful and the wide shoulders look just fine.

  11. I love the color, design and your construction. I think it looks wonderful.

  12. I'm glad you talked about the different fabrics and what might have proven to be easier to work with. And I'm glad you showed the detail of the difficulties you had with the bodice. Good grief. It was by no means a straightforward sewing project. I disagree with you, though, about the wide shoulders; I like them on you. They give balance to the overall picture of the bodice and show the bodice tucks to their advantage. It's a very attractive dress on you, and you look very pretty in it.

  13. Beth - first thanks for the indepth construction methods you used and your upclose photos. That said, it looks like a wonderful little dress and you look really lovely wearing it - because it fits your beautifully. Enjoy it - whenever you decide to wear it!

  14. The dress looks so lovely :) Very beautifuly constructed.. I am preparing myself to make one like this .. Inspired by attending couture sewing class on craftsy

  15. That is *very* lovely on you, Beth!

  16. I was looking at this pattern yesterday and really liked it but the higher waist turned me off because my torso is so long that higher waists end up looking like empire waists on me and make my tummy stand out all the more. But, I'm loving the way it looks on you and I might just have to give it another try with some cotton lawn. It is a very flattering dress.

  17. I love this color on you! Thanks for including all of the interesting details.

  18. I also think this looks great on you. I really love the color and the pleats on both the skirt and the neckline. I've sort of taken an extended sewing hiatus but I think this is a pattern I will buy when I start sewing again.

  19. You did a lot of work to fit and perfect that dress, and it shows. It turned out beautifully and that color is fabulous on you.

  20. I do something similar when cooking - I'll look at a recipe and think, y'know, that's too much cream (or whatever), but then I decide to make it as written since it's a published recipe by a well-known cookbook author. Well, darned if it doesn't have too much cream in it for my taste when the dish is finished. Trust your intuition!

    The color is fabulous. I can see what you mean about the shoulders, but will anyone really notice? Or maybe you have an airy lace shawl or something you can throw over the top (I know, 100-degree weather, but aren't you in air conditioning?) to distract a little. All of the fit adjustments are just amazing. Wish I had those skills!

  21. Despite all the alterations you had to make I do declare your new dress a beauty! The colour is so good on you! Love it, love it! But I´m happy I didn´t buy the pattern, I wouldn´t have know what to do with it... Doesn´t it feel great to be the first one to review something? I´m a lot like you who let a long time pass from purchase to make, or buy the old ones just because they have very good reviews.

  22. Thank you everyone for all the positive comments. I just wanted to say that I do like this dress, the color makes me happy and the pleated skirt is fun. It does have a retro yet modern look that I like. I plan to wear it next weekend. I put all the positives and the pitfalls in this blog post since it is a new pattern and I figure these designer patterns deserve a thorough critique.

  23. Beth, it's a really lovely dress. Sewing is all about the positives and the pitfalls, right? It's good to "keep it real" and say what you really think. No need to hold back if you have anything negative to say!
    I do admire an honest and forthright person, indeed I do.
    Keep up the great work! I am sure you will.

  24. OMG...that lovely dress is begging for a belt! Belt it and you will not notice the wider shoulders and you will look even more amazing! Love you braveness at slashing the front bodice!!! I do that all the time on clients just because I can...ha ha. Patterns are so short-waisted in front, don't you think? It would make a killer skirt!

  25. I like this. Looking forward to 1351!

  26. Great looking dress!!! I follow some of your sewing/fitting techniques. Yet, I don't do what you do with zipper basting and fitting---and I really should because like you my back is narrow and end up doing other fitting things and taking deeper zipper back seam maybe a better fix for some styles I sew. Glad you posted this information!!

  27. This is a post I need to come back to again and again. Your fitting work resulted in such a beautiful dress. I like the pleats, and the neckline. The shoulders do not look wide to me and seem balanced and retro.

  28. Phew- once more a talented gal takes all the guess work out of a Vogue for me. I say belt it and enjoy the summer shoulder awnings. That blue is great on you!

  29. This is a great review. I have this pattern sitting on top of my sewing stash. I was considering adding small caps sleeves to the pattern though. I wonder if this would make the bulky shoulder bands a little less obvious. I think you have done a really great job even with the alterations that you did. Looks gorgeous and as always so well made! xx

  30. Wait, I'm fascinated by this idea of putting in the zipper without the skirt...then sewing the skirt on later. Hmmmmm...I have to think about that and how that works. That could work for me with my sway back....hmmmm.....
    I think the dress looks great on you! The shoulders don't look too wide to me. and that is a great color.

  31. Thank you for the tips on this! I hope it grows on you, as I don't think it's as bad as you think (that said, I am familiar with items that photograph nicely but are terrible to wear). Thank you for the tips on the pattern. I bought it and have been deciding what fabric to use.


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