lace it up: vogue 9253

I’m in a sewing groove, if you will. I know–after many a style stumble and failed attempts at being trendy or wearing things that I’m not comfortable in–what works for me and what doesn’t. 99% of the time, I stick with my formula and my projects come together very well. I know where I can experiment and try new things (mainly through color or prints), and I’m happy to challenge myself and venture a little outside the box from time to time. But for the most part, I’m quite happy to stay in my lane, and I happen to really, really love my style.

Every once in a while, though, I find myself wearing a newly finished project that I’m not completely thrilled with for one reason or another. Most of the time, the projects I dislike are the ones where I’ve forced myself into a style that doesn’t work for me or I’m not comfortable in. (See a few examples of previous disappointments in this post of project fails from the first part of the year in this post. If you read that post, just be sure to follow it up with the successful projects post, just to balance it out. 🙂 ) The dress in today’s post has me feeling a little torn, and I can’t decide if I’m truly disappointed with it or not. It’s entirely possible that I’ve just been looking at it too much and I’m being overly critical, but I can’t decide if it’s a styling issue or a it-looks-like-a-robe-to-me-now kind of thing.

This dress is Vogue 9253, and it’s hardly a stretch to call it one of Vogue’s most popular patterns of the summer. I’ve seen some truly stunning versions on social media, which is where a lot of inspiration to sew it came from. It’s also a very flattering design and easy to sew. The plunging neckline is elongating and frames the face beautifully. I love the skirt and the pockets and the kimono sleeves and the ties and the pleats on the bodice. Lots of good stuff there.

For me though, I can’t really pull off such a plunging neckline, which is my way of saying that I can wear it but I’m not actually comfortable wearing it. My solution to this was to cut the dress as is but add lace trim around the neckline. My original idea was to only add the trim around the neckline, hem, and along the edges of the ties. I wanted it in those three specific areas so that the eye was drawn there, top to bottom: neckline, empire waistline, and hem. I had no plans to put it on the sleeves or down center front.

This dress has a center front seam in the skirt, and it was really distracting. I didn’t like it all, so in order to cover up the ugly center front seam, I added lace on either side of it. Then, I eliminated the idea of lace around the hem and the self ties, and I added it to the hem of the sleeves instead. I really like the placement of the lace (mirrored down center front, hugging the edge of the hem on the sleeve), but it does bother me that the lace around the neckline isn’t set against the white fabric like it is on the skirt and sleeves. If the lace was around the neckline but on the dress itself, I think I might like that a bit better for continuity. But then we’d have the low neckline again. Quite frankly (and this is my honest thought as I’m typing this), I think I should make that change and get over this silly nonsense about not being comfortable in the low neckline. So I have a dress in my closet with an extremely low neckline that I only wear twice a year and requires body makeup and special bra cups and nothing less than perfect posture at all times? Would that be the worst thing?

I didn’t make any significant adjustments to the pattern, except to shorten the waist ties a little and make the skirt hem 1 1/4″ instead of 5/8″. I made the hem deeper because I added 1″ horsehair braid to the hem to give it a little more structure and support the added weight of the lace down the front.

I made bias tape for the full measurement of the neckline, not just the back as the pattern suggests. This way, I could sew the lace in between the bodice and the bias tape. Keeps it in its place nicely. I also added a piece of grosgrain ribbon next to the zipper. The pattern instructs you to sew the bias tape on first and then install the zipper. That would have been fine if I hadn’t waited to serge my center back seams until after I’d sewn the bias tape. The result was a bit of a mess that I didn’t like.

The cover up.


The sleeve hem.

Back view.

I’m always saying that sewing and creating is a journey, and it’s projects like this–the stuff we’re less than thrilled with–that prove that point. Everything can’t be another oh-my-goodness-I-love-this-so-much winner. Now, you better believe that I do aim for a steady stream of outstanding pieces I absolutely adore, but it doesn’t always work out that way. To not share this dress with you would be disingenuous to the process. It would also be insincere and icky. Because I don’t care who you are, the “meh” stuff happens every once in a while. We all have the box of unfinished or abandoned projects or a secret closet where the disappointments stay hidden until the end of time. The point is to figure out why something didn’t work and make a note of that for the future. It’s also worth mentioning that you should never feel like you have to force yourself into something that you know won’t work for you just to try something “new” or simply because you’ve seen so many other people look fabulous in it.

Your style is exactly that: your style. Just because you may not look as amazing in a plunging neckline as someone else doesn’t diminish how ravishing you may look in something else. Be true to who you are and make what you like and what works for you.

We got the keys to our new house this week, and the movers will be here in a couple of days. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks with the sorting and packing and excitement of it all. I’m to the point where I’m ready for the actual move to be over and done with so I can start enjoying the new space. We went to the new house as soon as we got the keys the other day, and it was the first time we’ve seen it empty. I really like seeing houses empty. I don’t need to see staged rooms or other people’s things scattered everywhere. I can visualize what a space will look like much better when there’s nothing in it. We have big plans for the terrible kitchen, and I’m also making a few updates to the studio next weekend. Looking forward to sharing that with you soon.

Wish us luck for a smooth move this weekend, and I’ll be back soon with more new garments. I’m really excited about the things I’m showing you in the coming weeks. It’s good stuff.

We walked out of the new house yesterday morning to this. Deer, everywhere. I’m over the moon about the charm of this house and the neighborhood. Definitely getting some rockers for those magnificent porches too.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Beckie | 15th Aug 17

    ps: I didn’t mean to make my name a clickable link to a non-website, just meant to convey that I have no website

    Sorry about that.

  2. Beckie | 15th Aug 17

    Hi Emily,

    I only recently found your blog, but spent a few days reading it from the beginning and I echo the above poster who said I love your style BECAUSE it is more modest than a lot of what it out there. I am tired of seeing the same ity knits being made into so-so garments that look no better than RTW. I am already inspired to make the insides of my garments prettier after seeing how gorgeous yours are!

    As for this dress…it does read *robe*, but depending on how you are feeling about it now (don’t we all have a garment or 2 we waffle over before finding the love for it?) and how much you want to “rescue” it, I have a few suggestions:

    Either make it sleeveless or maybe cap sleeved? The sleeves themselves I feel are giving the robe vibe the hardest and also, maybe make some darts in the front, like the kind that are in the back to take away a bit of the fullness there?

    It’s a really pretty garment, I do hope you find a way to love it.

  3. Katherine Crisp | 12th Aug 17

    I love this version. I have the pattern but the plunging front is too low for me! Other people have raised the neckline which seems to detract from the drama of this dress. Your solution works! I am now thinking of other possible neckline alternatives to lace. Your version is stunning; you look fabulous!

  4. Pam | 12th Aug 17

    I happen to love your style and your ability to make choices about pattern and fabrics and alterations that reflect that. You did a lovely job (as usual!) but I must say my very first thought was that this one was not ‘you’ at all. And I thought it was a robe, not a dress. One of the many reasons I love this blog is the way you talk us through decisions and sewing methods. I have been a discouraged sewer more times than not because so many of my finished pieces don’t look anything like what I thought they would when completed, or they just don’t look like ‘me’. I have learned so much from you!
    I love love love your new home! One piece of advice: become very aware of what flowers and plants your neighbors keep successfully. Deer can eat entire BEDS of beautiful new flowerbeds. Overnight.

  5. Marian | 12th Aug 17

    Emily, I would go with the comment from Sewtoall, it will make a stunning robe. I love your blog and am so pleased to have found it. I love your style. Good luck with the move, the view from your porch is so lovely.

  6. Heather Myers | 11th Aug 17

    Thanks for another insightful post.I appreciate you posting and discussing hits and misses. I also really like your personal style thoughts in every post- it has prompted thought about my own. To not be judgemental, but I happen to dislike almost every photo of this pattern I’ve seen because it does look like a cover-up to me with way too much skirt fabric. Plus I think ( maybe incorrectly) bell sleeves rarely flatter. So I haven’t made any of the sleeve looks this summer…. :>\ hopefully I’m not just in a habit or rut! But I appreciate you making me think about it. :-))
    Your new house looks so welcoming! I hope moving goes smoothly!

  7. Lisa G | 11th Aug 17

    It’s beautiful, but i did think it was a robe at first. To be honest, I think the pattern pictures also look like robes. Maybe I’m crazy?! I love your blog and your style, so glad I found it!

  8. INGRID BALTHAZART | 11th Aug 17

    Your new house is really beautiful to say the least and I wish you all the best, sincerely !

  9. T | 11th Aug 17

    I can’t help but wonder how the dress would look if you split the difference with the lace around the neckline. Mostly on the white, but with some of it off to give you more coverage? And maybe with a white tie instead to let all the focus be on the lace? Just a thought…

  10. Kendra | 11th Aug 17

    This is a really pretty garment, but I definitely thought it was a robe at first. I think the combo of the lace on the front and the wide sleeves makes it read that way. I say turn it into a robe and then you’ll have the fanciest, prettiest thing to wear, and you’ll get way more use out of it! Plus you’ll be a hell of a lot more comfortable. I know every time I wear one of me “meh” makes out, all I can think about is if people notice it’s quirks.

    On the subject of failed makes, I’ve had a string of those recently, and totally know how it feels. I wonder if your navy striped dress might be salvaged into a skirt? The skirt part looks so sweet and really elongates your legs (though that’s probably helped by the short bodice), plus then you wouldn’t have to waste all those lovely stripes!!

  11. Sew2all | 11th Aug 17

    PS I didn’t mean to wear a robe and nightie in front of company, was just throwing out another option

    • Emily | 11th Aug 17

      Oh, no worries! I know what you meant! 🙂 <3

  12. Sew2all | 11th Aug 17

    Emily, don’t you dare “get over the silly nonsense of being uncomfortable in a plunging neckline”. You have style, class and standards and I for one like it. I’m sick to death of styles that leave things sticking out all over the place. Be true to yourself and your instincts. One reason I follow your blog is because you’re different from the crowd and I find that very refreshing and appealing. I like the suggestion to make this garment into a robe to celebrate your new house. You could open up the center front seam, make a matching nightie and wow! Or leave it as is and sit on your porch in the morning and drink your coffee as you watch the deer.

    • Emily | 11th Aug 17

      What a truly kind and humbling comment to read. Thank you so very much! I adore your idea – and what a robe/nightie combination that would be! I’m so glad my blog is different, and I know I have a style that is more “covered up” than a lot of what’s out there. It absolutely makes my day to know that people appreciate that. I look forward to drinking my morning coffee on the porch while watching the deer. What a sight to behold! Thank you again, and have a wonderful weekend! <3 <3

  13. Marilynn T. | 11th Aug 17

    The black lace front garment does look more like a robe. Suggestion: wear it when you have company at your new house.It would be comfortable and somewhat fussy for your company. Just a suggestion.

    PS: I think the garment being so much white caused the dress/robe quandry.

  14. Marilynn T. | 11th Aug 17

    First of all with regard to your misses (not so fond projects). I disagree about the navy blue stripped dress. It looks SUPER on you. The stripes are thin. The vertical striped in the dress’s skirt are pulled in by the gathering. As a result, it pulls one’s eye inward at your waist. [What woman wouldn’t love that?

    As to your new house, the view is charming. My husband always said that I like the porch. Oh, and by the way, a house attached to the porch is a “good thing”.

    Having lived in an area in Ohio where deer are prevalent, good luck with your foliage. Those pesky creatures like a lot that can occupy a yard.

    Enjoy your porch…oh, any your new house.

  15. PsychicSewerKathleen | 11th Aug 17

    Beautiful wrap Emily! It’s so gorgeous – that black lace on the white stiff fabric is glorious. It looks like you had just TOO much fun with all those fiddly bits 🙂

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