Monday, August 8, 2016

Vogue 1191 Michael Kors knit dress

The sewing resolution for this summer was to stay away from the dresses - but that is a very difficult resolution to keep! Particularly since this pattern has always been calling out to me to sew it up again since its first version, back in 2011. Really? It has been that long?

Of course I still have not sewn it up as pictured on the pattern envelope - with the long sleeves.

green knit front view on me

Earlier this spring at a Bay Area Sewist's meet up I chose this fabric. A few times a year the group does a swap day, either fabrics or patterns and they are a fun way to get rid of stuff you don't want (and probably bring home stuff you don't need) In any case, everything is put out on the tables grouped by fabric type - we stroll around and check out what is there and then there are a few rounds of picking. I spied this green knit print right away and it was 2 full yards so plenty to make a dress. I have picked up some other useful fabrics there as well, and at the very least it is a good way to get some otherwise unloved items that can be used for pattern testing etc. The pattern swaps are fun too, I  have a Vogue Donn Karan pattern that Laura Mae insisted I take as she said "it looks great on everyone" although it is still in my wishful thinking pile.

greenknit front on form

Just in case anyone is ever wondering - that dress form is not my measurements, it is near enough in the bust, but the waist and hips are smaller. I bought it at a garage sale and it is great for everything but exact fitting. Having a custom dress from with length measurements as well as the circumferences would be so nice but I am not about to invest in one now when this one is good enough :) plus it has wheels on the base so quite handy.

Pattern, Pattern, what's the pattern? It is this Vogue Pattern 1191, a Michael Kors design. He has long since stopped doing patterns for Vogue but the ones he did are outstanding. The other one I made is the Vogue 1117, sewn in my first year of blogging. That became my go-to fall/winter party dress for awhile. Do you get to a point where you know all your family/friends have seen a particular item and it is time to move on? This is a small dilemma of sewing, you want to wear the stuff you made and absolutely love - but then there are other newer things that should get worn as well.  Ok not the biggest problem in the world, just an observation.

V1191 ptrn

V1191 tech drawing

This dress has a lot of quirks -sewing wise. Here is the link to my first version of this pattern.

Most obviously I made both my versions sleeveless, as it seems ideal for a summer dress. And I won't say this is not a bit complicated. I laughed at myself a bit, as I must have been going through an analytical phase when I made it the first time, I had noted the number of minutes it took for me to do  step on the instruction sheet. And oh yes, I did look at the instruction sheet, both times. For the record the first version took about 7.5 hours to make, not including staring at the pattern pieces to figure out the origami of it all. This second version was more like 6 hours which for a twisty pleated dress like this I was pretty happy with! But I had worked out all the fit plus the mystery steps in the first version so just sewed without stopping to tear my hair out as happened in the first one :)

green knit fron view on me3
Because yeah, this is a bit confusing and there are a zillion dots, pleats, tiny darts, twists etc to keep track of.  And you know I am a mad tailor tacker so it looks like cat's whiskers or something once I get them all done.

tailor tacks green knit

Also I keep the pattern piece tacked up on my bulletin board while sewing, so I can see which way the stupid little pleats get folded etc.

pattern piece green knit

The result of all that marking, pleating and twisting is this.

green knit dress form closeup

Now a couple of warnings for this pattern. It is very low cut - as many of the Vogue designer dresses are. Fine for the runway I suppose but not for real life - at least not in my comfort zone. Plus I am shorter by 2 inches than the pattern is designed for - so keep that in mind when things don't hit you at the right spot - that is often the culprit. Those "shorten or lengthen here" lines are there for a reason! although not on this pattern. This is one of those "no provision for adjustment" patterns, other than the multi-size that is in the envelope. I made a size 12 on top - moving to the largest size at the hip, and then shortened at the shoulders by about 1/2 inch. But on top of that I sewed the center front seam longer by 1.5 inches which serves to raise up the center V neckline. I saw that adjustment in a review on Pattern Review when I made it the first time and it was really good advice.

Also after you do the twist and have the whole front completed I found it needed some hand stitching on one side to have the fabric cover up the bunch of pleats. Wasn't much but it makes the front much neater and it stays in place and drapes properly. I also raised the armholes by around 3/4" since it is designed for sleeves.

For those of you who like to see the construction: A lot of pins and pleating.

stitching pleats green knit

And the insides: this pattern has a self-lined front - all one piece, and then the back has a lining. For this I used the polyester knit lining fabric as I do in most knit dresses, it is called Jet Set and available at Joanns. In this older Random Threads post there is more info on this fabric.

green knit inside view

The back on this dress is plain, the front/back skirt is all one piece and it seams together down the center back.

green knit back on formgreen knit side on form

The sun was going down as we took these pictures, you can see the garden lights are on behind me. I really like color of this fabric - it lands in my jewel tone color preference. Plus it feels like a nightie, super soft and comfy.

green knit front view on me2

Onward to other things - not dresses! More tops in the works (ok confession I just cut out another dress that I could not resist, stripes! that is the only hint for now)

Whew summer is fading fast, the garden has moved from blooming to crispy and slightly bedraggled. Kind of how we feel when the temps soar over 100˚F for a few days in a row. Which we had about a week ago. No time to think about fall sewing when that happens!

Happy late summer sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, I forget the name of this plant which I bought at the local junior college horticultural department sale about 2 years ago. It was looking kind of wimpy - I planted it in some shade but it has reached out branches into the sunshine and now doing quite well. I like the papery white flowers - the look like lanterns before they open up.



  1. Wow! This is really beautiful on you, Beth. All that pleating looks like a bear to sew, but it resulted in such an effortless, chic dress that suits you perfectly. I'm going to have to hunt down this pattern now! Thanks for sharing!

  2. What mary said: I am a sucker for anything draped/ pleated especially round the midriff area. This looks fantastic on you. Such a great pattern!

  3. It is beautiful, and as always your fitting is completely on point.
    I think I now need to start stalking eBay and etsy for that pattern!

  4. Oh Beth this is lovely! It's a gorgeous color and super flattering.

  5. Gorgeous dress and the plant is know as Chinese lantern (very non botanical name )

  6. Very pretty Beth! I guess I missed the MK's patterns (one of my favorite designers). I did get to purchase some of his fabrics though and loved them too! You did a great job on this dress and it was worth your efforts!

  7. Love the dress - I bought a similar Simplicity pattern on sale several months ago, but haven't gotten the courage to try it yet. I don't think it's as detailed in the gathers, so hopefully it won't be as difficult! Your flowers are pretty, too! :-)

  8. So that one IS as complicated as it looks! I love that fabric and the color and design really suit you. I also ha no idea that JoAnns has a knit lining. I'll have to search for it the next time I stop there.

  9. This dress is so flattering on you. I agree -- the color suits you quite well. Good job on a hard pattern!

  10. I love this pattern too and have made it a few times now (my pattern tissue is looking a bit tatty from all those tailor tacks!), but it has never occurred to me to try without sleeves which I feel a bit stupid about now!! It's a lovely dress and your summery version looks fantastic.

  11. Looks great on you. And the colour is perfect.

  12. Such a lovely style and it looks so good on you! I have to get this pattern...

  13. what a gorgeous dress! lovely colour and all that interesting detail really lifts it, and makes it more interesting for you to make too!

  14. I love these posts. They seem like musings and not strictly about something in particular.
    I love the olympics - particularly the swimming... which I play hockey I don't find watching it as exciting as playing it!
    Circular ruffles... I've attached them to a few things - and now tempted to sew up the Papercut Patterns Adrift dress as we head into spring & summer here.