The longest dress – Vogue 1239 again

Vogue 1239 is one of my favourite patterns. It’s a Chado Ralph Rucci wrap dress with many of his signature features: kimono sleeves, high collar, and endless top-stitching. Oh, the top-stitching. I first made this a couple of years ago and it took about a month. That was when I had more free time to sew and a working iron.

When Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time kindly invited me to do a post for her Desert Island Sewing series I picked Vogue 1239 as one of my eight patterns on the grounds that on a desert island I’d have time to sew it again. And then I thought, why not sew it again anyway? I wear my original one at least once a week so it’s worth the time.

Well, this took two whole months. OK so I stopped in the middle to sew my mother’s Christmas present and then my iron broke and I didn’t have time to go and buy a new one. But even so it was a slog. It took two evenings just to cut and mark the fabric and lining.


The fabric is a navy blue cotton poplin. I think I bought it on Goldhawk Road at Rachel’s epic blogger meetup last April. It feels like it’s got a bit of poly in it which (heresy) I quite like because it keeps the creases away. The lining is a 100% polyester fabric called Eton taffeta which I got from John Lewis. It’s quite heavy for a lining which works well for this dress. I nearly didn’t buy it because it was suspiciously cheap and I’ve had bad experiences with cheap lining fabric. But it had a good hand so I took the risk. I will certainly buy it again as it sewed up very well.

The pattern doesn’t call for any interfacing despite the crisp final effect. The sharpness comes from all the top-stitching.


This is a very practical dress despite its fancy origins. The style is great for cycling (with leggings underneath) and it has pockets. Pockets are good.


There’s a lot of detail on the back view of this one. All those seams. All that top-stitching. Did I mention the top-stitching enough yet? I think I got through four or five bobbins.


Even after I finished the dress it took forever to get photos of it because of New year celebrations and the bad weather. So this is technically the last project of 2013, not the first of 2014. I’m not going to do an end-of-year sewing round up because I’ve sewed so little in the last 12 months I think the numbers would depress me. So I’ll give you a silly photo instead. Happy new year!


31 thoughts on “The longest dress – Vogue 1239 again

  1. I love the dress and the way you look in it. I bought this pattern, but thought it was rather a summer coat 🙂 Now I feel inspired to buy a light fabric and make a dress being ready that it will take me forever
    Best wishes for 2014!

  2. Wow, such a perfect dress, but really?, all those seams and all that topstitching?… you’re a much better sewist than me 😉 it is clearly worth it – as that is one gorgeous classic dress – with a twist – love the funky comfy sleeves & pocketess

  3. so lovely! The navy blue is gorgeous, and it looks amazing. I have that pattern & I keep saying that someday I’ll get to it, but that hasn’t happened yet, so I love seeing other people’s versions to keep reminding me that it’s such a great dress 🙂

  4. I’m so glad you made another, since the first one was such a favorite! And have you seen the new Chado Ralph Rucci dress just put out by Vogue? If you thought this dress had a lot of topstitching, that one will boggle your mind.

  5. What a great way to end 2013! I love the CRR Vogue releases and this was definitely worth the 4 or 5 bobbins on you!

  6. I remember really wanting this pattern ages ago but when I read about your toils with it (the first time) I thought I wouldn’t bother, though it’s a beauty.

    But once again you have made a thing of total awesomeness and I’m feeling I may have to at least get the pattern in my clutches even if I don’t make it.

    The dress is brilliant. So are you! Happy new year!

  7. I know why you’d take this with you to the desert island ~ it’s a beautiful dress on you! So glad you took the time to make another one!!!

  8. This looks great on you! Topstitching can be a drag while you are doing it, but doesn’t it give a fabulous effect when you are done? Makes it all worth it!

  9. Wow. a) you look amazing and totally ‘own’ that dress. b) I’m obsessed with epic big sleeves at the moment and now really want this pattern. C) that collar line!

  10. That dress is perfect for you! You carry it so well on your tall, slender frame. It looks like a fun but challenging project and one I want to tackle…top stitching and all!

  11. Very nice! I nearly bought this pattern a few weeks ago but was too indecisive in the end about the big sleeves. But it was great to see it sewn up and you have totally sold it. I think I might have to track it down again!

  12. This is fab. It really makes you look eye catching and pretty darn classy. Congrats on surviving the top stitching

  13. Beautiful dress Catherine. I love the colour of the fabric the whole thing is very flattering.

    I’m very impressed that you have taken the time to make such a complicated garment. Quality is so much more important than quantity particularly when you are making your own clothes.

  14. Lovely dress that looks very nice on you. I’m blown away by your patience for all the topstitching. I know it’s worth it, but wow.

  15. I must hesitantly add that there is a new Ralph Rucci Vogue dress pattern out for spring 14 that looks to have even more topstitching than your lovely new dress has.

    I’ll link it and apologize in advance:

  16. This is so lovely, Catherine! The fabric is a great choice, and I can see why you made a second version because it suits you so well.

  17. Wow! Yet again you’ve created ‘high end’ style. What an amazing dress, it’s stunning and such a wise choice of fabric. I love it, totally suits you and that you say such a smart dress is also practical for cycling, what an unexpected bonus. You look stunning Catherine.

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