Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

The Day Donna Came to our House


I was futtering about the house the other day, still in my jammies, with no definite plans for the day when the door bell rang. DSC00676Our front door swells when it rains and it sticks and I can’t open it, so I go out the back door, walk round the side of the house to see who’s there. Would you believe it? It’s Donna Karan herself!

She said she was in the area and thought she’d call just on the off-chance that I was home. Well, I had to invite her in didn’t I? – her having made the effort and all. I made her a cup of tea and then she asked to see my sewing room.

“It’s a mess” I say

“Oh that’s OK” she replies, “all the best ones are.”

“But I’m not sewing anything at the minute; there’s nothing to see.” I try to squirm out

“I’ve a few hours to kill” she insists, “Maybe I’ll help you tidy up.”

Geez! So we go the stairs to the messy sewing room and what’s lying on the table but Donna Karan Vogue 1440. That was convenient, methinks silently. She notices it straightaway and asks what fabric I have.


“I don’t have a stash” I admit a little sheepishly.

“Well, let’s see what you do have.” says Donna. “You must have a few bits and pieces.” I’m thinking – there’s just no dissuading this woman.

So I managV1440-2e to drag out  a bit of pink and white cotton gingham just to keep her happy. If she messes it up, it’s no big loss: I wasn’t that convinced of its wearability anyway. Donna decides to make the blouse.

“Brilliant! Fabulous! Darling colours! So on trend! It’s perfect!” Donna gushes. And I think “How long is this woman going be here?”

Within an hour, she has the blouse cut out and tailor tacked and the main pieces pinned together. Yes, Donna tailor tacks!

As I subsumed the role of Donna’s apprentice in my own sewing room –  I made more tea, threaded the machine and picked up the scraps of gingham off the floor. DSCN4969

Off she went sewing like a demon – demanding endless cups of tea (and I believe toast at one point but I lost track). I got bored and went to have my shower at long last and get dressed. Do I wear some DK stuff that I’ve made I wondered or is that a bit too sycophantic? I opted for Alabama Chanin instead – at least it’s American I convinced myself.

I’m doing my make-up when I hear the call “I’m done! Come and see!”

With a silent sigh and a false smile, I go back to the sewing room to find Doris wearing a genuine Donna Karan blouse.  And oh my gosh, now it’s my turn to gush and squeal. It’s lovely, fabulous, summery, unusual – so Donna Karan!


“I should have told you this before” I say to Donna, ” But Doris and me are actually completely different shapes. She’s a girl from the ’60s and I’m a middle-aged, overweight woman from the late 20th century.”

“Don’t worry about that.” replies Donna, “I could see the differences and I adjusted for them.” At this point I’m impressed but I still haven’t tried on the blouse.

“Take off that hand made stuff and try it on.” she commands, “Do you have some plain black or white jeans?”

“Emmm, perhaps” I admit, again sheepishly. This woman can make me feel like I’ve nothing to wear! So I go back to the bedroom and change; despite all that thinking about what to wear when Donna Karan is in your sewing room!


I try on the blouse and really, it is fabulous. The fit is perfect. I love the long length, almost tunic but not quite: the covered buttons: the shirt-tail hem with a little back split: loose but not billowy: the detail at the back shoulders. V1440-1The only gripe I have is lack of sleeves but there’s always cardigans for cover up and really, sleeves would be impossible on this blouse with the very specific shoulder details. I might just get over my sleeveless hang-up with this blouse………There’s just one little problem and the back shoulders are cut so that bra straps are visible – racer-back bra needed. And for Mrs Mole, the dart points are are in the absolutely perfect place!


Late in the afternoon Donna left and I was left with a very wearable, summery blouse that did not waste my gingham fabric. I now own a genuine Donna Karan blouse – she sewed it herself! I’m missing a label and a £XXXX price tag so I’m the only one who actually knows it’s genuine.

If you sew a DK pattern, or any other designer for that matter, can you say that “This is a Donna Karan”? What makes a RTW item DK or yours?


Elaine, you can tell your students that you read it on the Internet, so it must be true!

45 thoughts on “The Day Donna Came to our House

  1. Wow! You’re living the dream!!!!!!! I would still be inside the door, on the floor, unconscious.

  2. The blouse is smashing. This whole story made my day. Thank you for sharing it!

  3. Amazing! She’s over here RIGHT NOW sewing me a faux suede jacket from the SELF SAME PATTERN!!! The shirt is of course fabulous- it’s a lovely pattern isn’t it?

    • I know, I gave her your address!
      Hope you showed her where the kitchen is……

      • Well she’s not working as hard as she did at your place- the jacket is still sans sleeves and hem. Lazy mare! I’m laying a trail of bits of bananananana cake between the sofa [where she crashed] and the sewing machine to lure her back to work. More later.

  4. Brilliant! Loved this story and think your new DK blouse will be lovely in warmer weather. The first dress I ever sewed was in pink gingham. I was trying to look like Brigitte Bardot who had married that year wearing such a dress. I hadn’t taken into account that between the Easter holidays when I cut it out and the summer holidays when I sewed it, I would change shape considerably. I was 14. Pink gingham has remained in my mind as romantic, fresh, summery and feminine. Love it!

    • Vivienne, it was the childhood memories that made me resistant to sewing anything with the gingham – but I suppose a grown up DK shirt is a world away from country and western and pinafores – well, at least I hope so….

  5. I love your blouse – the fabric is so summery . Great job ! What a treat to have DK sew with you – I could use inspiration like that 😉

  6. She’s a menace, that Donna, but just put up and wear the fab makes.

    I can’t stand it when they expect endless cups of tea.

  7. Donna Karan’s darts….hmmmm…..while they are nicely shaped they still end too high up on the bust…remember the “no-fly” zone and back them off an inch or so…Donna should have know better but she must have been in an English tea haze. What type did you serve? Tetley or Earl Grey? From the envelope photos it look like the model is not wearing any sort of bra….remember those days?

  8. Are you still walking in a daze? I’d be too distracted by a visit, I wouldn’t sew for a month. Had she seen your blog? How did she find you? Lovely summer blouse. rosemary

  9. What a great story! It’s like the Fairy Godmother has been round and said “And so it shall be!” and everything is sorted. I love the shape of the blouse at the back and I hope you don’t wear a cardi over it!

  10. Ahahahaha! Loved this part especially: “Off she went sewing like a demon – demanding endless cups of tea (and I believe toast at one point but I lost track). I got bored and went to have my shower at long last and get dressed. Do I wear some DK stuff that I’ve made I wondered or is that a bit too sycophantic? I opted for Alabama Chanin instead – at least it’s American I convinced myself.”

    Lovely blouse 🙂

  11. Great story and blouse.

  12. Well done, Donna ;-)))

  13. Did you give Donna my address? I could do with some help too, and I’m good at making tea.
    Designer patterns are fabulous, but they are still our very own. Better than RTW and somewhere near couture, IMHO.

  14. Lol…Took me a min to realise what’s happening. What a fun way to write up a review! And what a cute top!

    I think when it’s their pattern it’s a bit more legit, tho i’d still call it a wannabe. What I find too much of a stretch is name-checking one made from a bog standard looking fabric that just happened to be a designer leftover. True sometimes the fabric is uniquely that designer – maybe specially commissioned for a collection. But in my mind I still associate designer’s name with the garment design, not fabric design. It just seems like trying too hard.

    Before cheap fashion didn’t designer fashion disseminate via licensed copies? I wonder how were they billed and what original features had to be retained.

    • I read somewhere that Vogue take the original garments and make the patterns from those so it’s not really DK’s original pattern but she’s obviously licensed the design for Vogue to use it and sell it. Designer fabric also has a huge price tag, even when it’s just polyester, probably because of the name attached to it. It all seems to back to price.

  15. Great top! Lets face it … it’s not like Donna (add any designer here) actually sews all the stuff themselves and you buy it. You are just the underpaid and overworked sewer, saving some other really poor soul who does makes this stuff for next to nothing. Of course you call it a DKNY! I can make tea too!

  16. OMG…wow…lucky woman! But you earned it 🙂

  17. Donna is everywhere lately! I am so pleased to see your version of her blouse-it is smashing. I want one in a stormy blue.

  18. LOLOL .. you are the funnest! Well, you’ve woven quite a tale there, Agatha .. a very famouos, talented visitor who mysteriously appears .. and who may yet return. Was there something weird in your tea? Are you sure she wasn’t coveting your kantha ? 😉

    Good job .. adorable, summery top.


  19. Ho ho!!! Brilliant! Your blouse is gorgeous, and if Donna calls again, please send her round to me. There are plenty of things that she could give me a hand with!

  20. Pingback: But it can’t be Donna Karan… | thedementedfairy

  21. This was my first visit to your blog – followed your sig on Will definitely be back! Loved your SWAP entry by the way. Really love the details on the back of this blouse – so sweet. It’s a blouse I’d make for myself and wear happily – although I’d convert to a mandarin collar just because I look “wrong” in other types. Would look great with simple blue jeans too. Your skills definitely are on par with Donna’s. 😉

  22. Pingback: The Ponte Club | corecouture

  23. Have been waiting for my doorbell to ring , thought Donna might have called in with me on the way home from yours. I guess I must have been out that day though. Oh gotta run , someone’s at the door.

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