Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

The Last of the Donna Karans


When Vogue lost the licence to produce DKNY patterns, my little sewing world became yet another wee bit smaller. However, I did take advantage of a $4.99 sale earlier in the year and bought them all up – I’m only sorry I didn’t buy more designs when I had the chance…..

1489To be honest, I only bought this dress pattern because it was the last one and I never really intended to sew it up, rather to keep it as a collector’s item. A very good friend was having a birthday night out recently and I thought I should show my admiration for her by making an effort and dressing up – I was thinking of something a little unusual, special, dressy but not dressed up, if you know what I mean?

I reached for the sacrosanct V1489 (OOP), bought 4m of lapis blue cotton jersey from Fabworks and got mentally and physically prepared for gargantuan pattern pieces the size of Montana and three thousand tailor tacks (I’ve made DKNY before!). The sewing table was cleared of all debris and extraneous items; nine hundred needles were threaded ready for those crucial tacks, one deep breath, bit of yoga and meditation and I’m ready to go.









Most pattern pieces in this pattern are cut on a single layer of fabric because it’s an asymmetrical dress and left and right are different – this makes cutting out only slightly easier. There are still three thousand tailor tacks to sew (well, in reality, about 12) but every one of them is important – so don’t scrimp. Best advice I can give is, if you have a mannequin, use it now: cut out, mark and pin on your own Doris so that you know what piece goes where and, more importantly, what side it should be on.

Cutting out and marking up all safely negotiated, the sewing is relatively simple. I do own an overlocker and it would be easy to construct the main body of the dress on such a machine, but the pattern instructions assume that the sewer does not have one and directs you to sew a double seam. I did this and still achieved a lovely, flat finished inside seam. Just remember to trim carefully after sewing the second row of stitching.


The pattern includes a slip that the shell dress should be sewn to: this helps with the drape and fit and additionally provides an extra safety layer below a rather low front and back neck neckline and a high front split.


Usually I cut a 14 in Vogue but with DKNY I’ve learned to cut a 12 due to use of stretch fabric and the pleats/drapes/gathers that add yet more ease. For the actual finished dress, my plan worked, except for the under slip! I should have cut a 14 for the slip because it is very, very fitted.


Please excuse my blotchy legs – I have deliciously sweet blood that Donegal midges just could not resist. It’s not just my legs – my arms, feet, scalp, face, neck, back and any other easily accessible skin was subjected to intensive feeding in the last two days. I’m applying anti-itching/anaesthetic lotion.


This is one really and truly fitted slip – mine’s that tight that it’s acting like a corset and I was somewhat concerned about undressing after a night out with the girls! The original photo from the catwalk shows the dress to be rather loose with no sight of the slip but I rather like my dress slightly more fitted.

I splashed a wee bit of extra cash on some silk crepe de chine for the slip (also from Fabworks).  In my defence, it was a perfect colour match for the cotton jersey shell fabric and it’s luxurious against the body. It has managed to hold the dart stitches despite of my best efforts to tear them apart with indulgent dinners and perhaps one or three cocktails. However, I didn’t sew the dress to the slip as it was just too tight to comfortably pull on. So I have a separate slip with a wrap dress on top. It works for me.


Sewing notes and minor alterations:

Lengthened slip by 4″, merely for modesty’s sake and decorum.

Did not add a snap fastener to the front side closure as per instructions as I didn’t think this would hold fast against the onslaught of my current diet and stomach. I adapted this to a long loop with a toggle-style button that will provide extra ease and flexibility around the mid-front while providing a stylish, yet secure closure.


I also raised this closure to waist level. The original pattern is for the closure to be about 5″ lower – somewhere  around hip height (one of those tailor tacks, if it hasn’t fallen out by this stage).  The offset closure creates the asymmetrical hemline (as seen in the photos) but I was totally prepared to forego this look in place of a dress that stayed closed.


Ultimately, I totally adore this dress. The fitted slip keeps me feeling secure, while the draped, crossover neckline at front and back and the front split can drape and gape as much as they want without any personal embarrassment to me whatsoever.

Because I work hard and am (usually) really nice to other people I treated myself to a matching DKNY handbag (in the sales, of course) …..

Other completed versions of this dress that you might like to see are:

Pomona with a beautiful chartreuse version.

Mousseline in totally Greek goddess vibe and shows the original front wrap placement


I’ve just completed a marathon photoshoot today: this was Blue, next time will be Green, specifically the Burda peasant blouse showing my special adaptations and additions. Then, we’ll do the monochrome – black and white. So there are at least another three blog posts this summer.

So stay tuned by friends – much more to come…..

As always, truly grateful thanks for all encouragement, enthusiasm and engagement with my sewing and sewing exploits on this blog.



70 thoughts on “The Last of the Donna Karans

  1. WoW great dress and great style for you !!

  2. This dress looks so lovely on you. The color, the design, the execution…everything. Your skills are impressive!

  3. I love this too. Its such a nice, interesting cut. It has a bit VW about it, doesn’t it?

    I also love the look of the slip on you. I thought you were Princess Diana. Your hair looks amazing. I hope one day you will make a body con dress that finishes at the knee as you have such great legs.

  4. This is gorgeous! Great colour, wonderful adaptations.

  5. What a knockout! This dress is fab on u. Great color, great fit.

  6. I love your version and the colour is wonderful on you. Can’t wait to see what else you are sewing this summer

  7. Just this morning I told a friend about the 2 DK patterns (V1341 and V1417) I did NOT buy on Saturday and was supposed to go back for today. I stood with them in my hands at an OOP bin, and thought “No! You are NOT! You have too many patterns you are never going to use” And then later I realised how short-sighted that was… I am going back again tomorrow!
    This dress is gorgeous on you. Hope you had a great night out on your friend’s birthday!

  8. Your version of the dress looks much more wearable than the designer original (too much loose fitting, looks like one has to check the fit of the shoulders and slit permanently). And your colour choice is lovely! I hope those itching stitches will be soon a thing of the past.

  9. Hi Ruth

    Honestly, your dress looks far nicer than the one the model is wearing. Great colour on you, by the way.
    Hope the discomfort from the midges subside quickly.

  10. Va voom! The news makes me sad that I didn’t buy this pattern or enough other DKNY patterns! Gah. It’s smashing on you. Real life clothing, but with a cool twist. Exactly what I seek in a pattern.

    Please please don’t stop blogging.

  11. Gorgeous! What a star Donna Karen is and what a great interpretation you’ve made of this pattern in fabric and colour choice and your changes to suit you. You look fabulous!

  12. I didn’t like this pattern at all.

    Until I saw yours. You look stunning in it. And like everyone else I regret not buying it. Too bad so sad 8-).

  13. WOW! This is just so gorgeous! I love this on you! It is just so lovely! And in all honesty, your changes have made this so us average chicks–aka, not rail thin models, can wear this and not look like we are trying WAY TOO HARD! If this pattern is still available at my local JoAnns, I am snatching it up!
    LOVE THIS–oh wait, did I already say that?

  14. Now if you could just trace it off and copy to pdf… Lovely frock and that colour is soo good on you. x

  15. Wow, what a glorious dress! The vibrant color, and the security of the lining to make sure there are no serious shifts, make it a real winner! Congratulations!!

  16. Gorgeous! The colour is great on you. I was so sad when Vogue had to stop doing the Donna Karen patterns as they are some of the best.

  17. Absolutely lovely! Donna Karan is certainly a class act.

  18. Fabulous dress! Love the colour on you.

  19. This is gorgeous! You look amazing in that colour and the style is fabulous.

  20. I love this, and now want the pattern. Beautiful colour!

  21. Lovely dress … WELL DONE!!! FIESTA!!! 🙂

  22. It looks wonderful on you. You look like you should be in a fashion show.

  23. What a gorgeous dress! Lovely color. And kudos for taking on all those pattern pieces – I have a Donna Karan pattern that I occasionally eye, but then decide I don’t have enough space to cut it out! ( : You have inspired me, though, so maybe I’ll take the leap.

    • Hands and knees on the floor Ellie or lay out fabric and pattern on the lawn on a sunny windless day – sometimes we have to suffer to succeed! LOL!
      Thanks very much

  24. Wowsers!! This is absolutely gorgeous, and I love the toogle and loop idea. Also, it would have been rude not to buy the DK bag because it’s fabulous!

  25. You look wonderful in the dress and the colour. Burn the shirtdress!

  26. This is a lovely style and the blue is perfect on you! Nice handiwork with the pattern too! Lovely!

  27. What an amazingly wonderful color on you……I would never have thought that the pattern would turn out like this, your eye for style is phenomenal. Too bad about the bug bites….we bought some dab on anti itch thing years ago in Mexico that has finally sadly run out of juice, it was the best thing ever for bug bites!


    • Hi Ceci, my lotion is one I bought in Germany 9 nine years ago! I’m not even sure it’s still effective. It’s bad news when we run out of of favourite things isn’t it?
      Thank you

  28. I think the pattern photo on this does not do it justice. Must be the fabric they chose. The lines on the drawing show the lovely details, and I love what you did to make it yours. Such a beautiful dress. And that is a beautiful blue for you!

  29. I wouldn’t have thought that pattern is as wearable as yours is, if that makes sense. I love it, actually I think the slip looks pretty great too. That colour is fabulous on you. Total success. Have a great summer! X

  30. Magnificent dress Ruth, and well done on having the foresight to buy the DK patterns when they were available.
    Have you tried Avon Skin So Soft to repel the midges? A diver I met who was in the forces informed me that they buy it in bulk to keep the Scottish midges away.

    • Thanks Kim, I don’t think midges are aware of nation or political borders but thanks for the into as I’m heading to the Scottish Highlands next summer and will need defence.

  31. Pingback: Sea of Silk | corecouture

  32. Pingback: No Fabric…. 2 & 3 | corecouture

  33. I keep coming back to this pattern in my collection… do you think it would work in a silk – non-stretch?

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