Monochrome Kay Unger

Yep, I made another dress and this time it’s from one of the big 4 – shock horror! It’s a long time since I’ve made something from the big 4.

This pattern has been on my wishlist ever since I saw this geeky version by one of my fellow Wellington sewers. I had to have it, fitted bodice, pleated skirt? What more can a girl ask for? The impetus for making this was The Monthly Stitch monochrome month which was in July. Yeah, well the dress was actually finished, but it’s winter here in NZ and photo sessions are not easy…


This is the Kay Unger Vogue 1353 pattern with a scoop back and scoop front. The front neckline is pleated, as is the skirt. The fitted bodice has princess seams with additional bust darts. The whole dress is lined as well.

Strangely enough, Vogue describes this pattern as easy. I have to say I disagree. There are a LOT of things which could trip a young player/beginner with this pattern. Let me start with the pleats… There are a lot. Around the front neckline and also around the skirt. The lining does not have the pleats of course, but somehow the lining and the main bodice need to be the same size. The back skirt pieces (because of the pleats) are actually a different size which can throw you off the scent a bit too.

The princess seams are actually set closer to the side seam and so there is also a small bust dart from the bust to the princess seam. Strangely the front bodice lining also has waist darts, the main shell doesn’t.

The zip is also meant to be an invisible zipper, one side of which goes very close to one of the skirt pleats… (Oh, by the way, I didn’t do an invisible zip. I toyed with an exposed zip, but it would have meant moving a pleat – too much hassle!)

Nope, sorry Vogue, I completely disagree with your easy rating.

I used the lining as a muslin for this dress. The pattern states the waist sits above the natural waist, but I’m not really a fan of that and I often find the waist length is too short anyway, so I added an extra inch to the bodice length. I also found the bust darts were too high – as usual…

Having checked the pattern I also decided the skirt would be a tad short, I added two inches to that.

Having made up the lining I could start on the main bodice with this beautiful quilting cotton I bought from MrsC‘s shop back in April/May time. The fabric was bought especially for this pattern. It’s not something I do much anymore as I have a large stash, but sometimes a girl must do what a girl must do! The fabric was amazing to sew with, the pleats went in like a dream as I could hand press them to help me. I didn’t stitch down the skirt pleats. I’m not really a fan of stitched pleats and felt it would fit be better left unstitched.

I did follow the instructions for the hem and used embroidery floss to hand sew saddle stitch around the bottom. I think I could do with practicing this a bit, it’s not my best bit of hand sewing! This was quite time-consuming, since I also had to remove the basting stitches I’d sewn to show me where to sew the saddle stitch. 

The deets
Fabric:  A black and white flowered quilting cotton from Made on Marion in April 2014 (it didn’t stay in stash for long!) The lining is a plain white cotton.
Notions:   Thread, interfacing for the neckline, dress zip and pale grey embroidery floss for the hem.

Pattern:   Vogue 1353 Kay Unger design
First worn:  For the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards at the National Library of New Zealand on 4 August. To this event I wore it with opaque black tights, black shoes from Overland and a RTW cropped black cardigan from Next, UK (about 2006.)

Excuse the squint – it was sunny!

These photos are a mix from my deck and somewhere on Mt Vic here in Wellington taken by Kat last week.
Changes made:  I lengthened the bodice by an inch and also lengthened the skirt by a couple of inches. I shifted the bust darts down about half inch. I also put in a centred zip as opposed to the invisible zip.
Recommend? I actually think this is a really great pattern. It’s a great fit and shape and I’m really happy with my make. I don’t think it’s “Easy” though, not for a beginner.

I’ve actually got loads and loads of photos and found it really hard to choose which to put up in the post! But I know how much you like the outtakes…

And in an effort to look like the Vogue website…

 Mm, OK, I’ll not give up the day job 😉


15 thoughts on “Monochrome Kay Unger

  1. Sometimes I almost forget that the Big 4 exist 😉
    This looks so great on you!. It will look amazing paired with a coloured cardi and tights to get you through to Summer. Also now I understand the embroidery floss!

  2. Yep, there are so many indie patterns out there which are fab, but this I had to make. It's so me! Thanks for enabling the fabric choice 😉 I'm thinking bright pink cardi and tights to keep me cheerful for the rest of the winter.

  3. What a fantastic dress. I didn't even pay any attention to the easy rating on the pattern but I agree, I wouldn't call this pattern easy. I do like how the lining is simple with no pleats which I think would have added bulk. Your choice of fabric is perfect, you can do so much to add colour.

  4. Great to see this as I made this same dress a few months earlier. It looks great! I really like the fabric. I am a beginner so I am glad to hear the easy rating may not be so accurate. I made this dress for a friend's wedding and actually got a lot of compliments so I am happy with the pattern overall as well – although did not attempt the hand sewing part. Maybe next time.

  5. Well, we think this dress looks great on you and we're glad you decided to make it. We're going to pass on your comment about the Easy rating to our team, because that's something we are actively reviewing right now—whether our rating system needs to be revamped. Thanks so much for the valuable input and we hope you sew with us—Vogue Patterns, Butterick, McCall's and Kwik Sew—again soon.

  6. Thanks Sandra. Yours was just so beautiful I had to have it! Good point about the lining, There's no bulk and my lining is very fine cotton, so it's beautifully soft next to my skin!

  7. It was amazing fabric to work with Maryanne. I loved it. It behaved, pinned and stayed pinned, I also love being able to finger press stuff like pleats, etc to help the basting before stitching. It is also so soft!

  8. Thanks. I'm glad you like it. It would be the perfect pattern for a wedding. Well done you for making it. I've been sewing a number of years, so wouldn't consider myself a beginner, so kudos to you for giving it a go with all those pleats!

  9. Thanks. It is an amazing pattern, I love the shape and design. Thanks for looking at the rating, I don't consider myself a beginner who I would normally aim Easy patterns towards.
    I have made a number of your patterns already, so take a look around for others of your creations. There's still a few more in my queue to make up!

  10. Such a pretty dress, but some really good class about the construction! I had a sewing teacher who once mis-pronounced Vogue patterns as 'vague'… very good call, that!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s