in the navy: vogue 9197

It’s hard to name a favorite color. I love them all equally.

Just kidding, I can’t get away with that. Navy blue does it for me. It’s a classic color that is universally flattering, and it looks and feels much less severe and harsh than black. I actually don’t like wearing black at all. I feel sad in black, and I don’t want to spend my time in anything that makes me feel sad. I don’t even own that many pieces in black, just a basic pencil skirt and a blazer. No other dresses or skirts. Now, just because I love navy doesn’t mean I don’t like other colors. Quite the contrary, I love all the colors. I go through phases where I lean towards certain colors (red has my attention at the moment), but my one true love is navy. Oddly enough, though, I don’t make as many things in navy as I’d like. It’s hard to find the right navy, and it took me years to find the navy floral eyelet in this post.

Even when I don’t have a “need” for fabrics, I’m always on the lookout for must have fabrics. (Aren’t we all?!) Prints, lace, wool, linen, sateen, you name it. On my wishlist for years was the perfect navy eyelet or lace. I looked everywhere. I found a couple things I liked, but they were always lacking in one way or another. Too washed out, too thin, too much polyester, too much not good enough. I visited my family in Nashville last May, and my mom and I went to a fabric store called Textile Fabrics, just a few blocks from downtown Nashville. Side note: we’d just had brunch at a place called Biscuit Love (you must go there, it is so delicious you’ll want to cry tears of joy), and then we’d walked a block to the Lucchese store, only one of the most fun places if you’re a cowboy boot lover like I am. Anyway, back to the fabric store. My mom and I probably spent close to two hours in there, slowly making our way around the racks of fabric. There were buttons and ribbons and notions, and it was fantastic.

Then I found this navy floral eyelet and got really, really happy. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a navy floral eyelet: it’s a true, deep navy; 100% cotton; and the floral design is delicate and beautiful. I kept this fabric in my stash for months, knowing I wanted to make something truly special with it. I thought about a shirtdress or separates but I landed on Vogue 9197, because it’s truly the ultimate dress. A nicely fitted bodice with a jewel neckline, sleeves, and a full skirt. Because the bodice is so classic and it hits at the natural waist, I knew I would get a lot of miles out of the pattern because I could draft any number of skirts onto the bodice, making for endless options. Also, the bodice has a French dart, which is perfect for lace or eyelet because it hides that element the best.

So, here’s what I did to this pattern:

#1. I added a little more fullness to the skirt. This meant I had to cut it on the cross grain, so I also cut the bodice and sleeves on the cross grain so that the pattern would match. My fabric is 100% cotton so I didn’t lose any stretch cutting it like this because there wasn’t any to begin with, but if you’re using a fabric with some stretch in it (like a poplin or sateen), be mindful that there’s little to no stretch when you cut on the crossgrain. So make sure you’re cutting the right size so that you’ve got enough ease.

That’s it. I got really lucky this time in that I didn’t make any fitting adjustments either. I cut a size 16 without doing a thing to the pattern pieces. I didn’t even adjust the length of the sleeve. I liked it just as it is.

I used an underlining in this dress because I wanted continuity and clean lines in the dress. I also wanted the fabric to pop, and putting a nude/gold lining underneath it achieved that. So, after I cut out the navy, I cut out the nude lining, and then I cut the actual lining. I put the navy on top of the gold and sewed them as one, together. So, for each piece I placed the navy eyelet on top of the nude underlining and then treated it like a single layer. I serged the side seams and center back seams of my skirt, and then attached the pockets as I usually would.

My original intention was to put an invisible zipper in this dress. Again, keep things as clean as possible. The night before my last opportunity to photograph this dress before my family came to visit us for Christmas, I tried on this dress and the zipper broke. I’m telling you, I have never met an invisible zipper I liked or that liked me back. So I went from having a little hand sewing to do to ripping out a broken zipper, reinstalling a new one, and then finally getting to my hand sewing–all in one night. I went with a regular zipper in a centered application, which is not ideal but it’s what works, literally.

The zipper:

The French dart, and skirt gathered into the waistline:


The construction of this dress is straightforward and uncomplicated. I think gathering is a bit of a pain, but this was easy and I even added about 6″ of flare to the skirt. I went with a hem facing, and I let the dress rest on the dress form overnight to let the bias fall. I knew it would only fall a small amount, but with the underlining and hem facing happening, I didn’t want any ugly pulling or puckering anywhere. I cut off about 1/4″ in some places when I leveled the hem. Not a lot, but enough to make a difference.

Read about leveling a hem here, and read about hem facings here.

I cut the hem facing in navy sateen, and I used the blind hem stitch on my machine to attach it to the underlining:

This dress is fully lined, and I couldn’t be happier with it. The extra effort and time invested in a piece like this is always worth it. I know I’ll get tons of wear out of this one.


I’m excitedly figuring out my projects for January which definitely include a couple of outerwear pieces in addition to the usual lineup of dresses and a few separates. I’m in the mood to add a few fabrics to my stash, but I’m not finding too much that inspires me. If you know of a great supplier, let me know!

Happy Sewing!


  1. Misty | 18th Jan 17

    What a pretty dress!! I love it!!

  2. Chauntelia | 29th Dec 16

    Thank you so much for your help! I also wondered if you have had any experience with exposed zippers? I was considering using one in this dress. I love the look of them! Thanks again for your reply!

    • Emily | 2nd Jan 17

      Hi, and Happy New Year! I have put exposed zippers into projects before, yes, and it’s really quite easy. I’m considering writing a tutorial for how to do it because there’s not much out there that is clear and informative. I thought about an exposed zipper in this dress too, but went with my usual centered application because of time constraints. Good luck, and let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  3. Chauntelia | 28th Dec 16

    Hi Emily! Thank you for sharing this post! I adore this dress. I had a question about adding the 6″ of flare to the skirt – do you add the 6″ from the waistline or do you start at the waistline and taper out 6″ all the way down to the hem? I hope that makes sense!

    • Emily | 28th Dec 16

      Hi, Chauntelia! Great question. I added flare to the skirt by splitting the pattern in the three spots and adding 2″ in each area. I split it evenly from the waist to the hem. Your question totally made sense, and it’s a good one. Another way to add some flare to a skirt like this is to taper the additional flare like you described. Either way will add some flare to the skirt, just in different ways. I’ve gotten similar questions like this before, so I’ll dedicate a post to adding flare to a skirt sometime in January. Thank you for your question, and let me know if you have others. I’ll do my best to help! 🙂

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