Sewing for Me: Vogue 8511

v8511-grey1 So I initially planned on ranting about what an absolute failure this dress was. Then M saw me in it, and made googly eyes, and when I hear words like “Wow, that looks like something from Mad Men!”…Well, I had to revise my plan.

It has a lot going for it, this Vogue 8511 dress. I like the grey. Of course I do. It has a bit of shimmer, and could potentially rise to a party occasion if paired with some sparkly accessories. The fabric is maybe some kind of suiting? There’s a good amount of stretch, which allows for comfort, yet the fabric holds enough structure for the pleats and keeps the blubbery bits of my body hermetically sealed. The style is surprisingly flattering – I thought I would look too hip heavy, but it may actually give me an hourglass shape, sort of va-va-voom.

v8511-grey3But it was a pain to make from beginning to end. This was my first Vogue pattern attempt, and it claims to be “very easy”. I’m sure it is for those not having a sewing mojo crisis moment like I am. Frankly, I’m surprised it fits me at all. Somehow the only super obvious mistake is that I mangled the neckline and made it an unintentional cowl and it pulls significantly on the left side (exhibit A above). The back is a little askew too (the right arm hole scoops out a little more than the left):

v8511-grey2Gotta love those wrinkles from sitting for several hours.

The skirt was actually a breeze to construct, especially since I didn’t bother with the vent due to the stretchy fabric. The pleats looked great, and I was prematurely pleased with myself. The bodice, though, had given me all sorts of trouble, from pieces not matching up and the lining appearing to be too short, etc. etc. And then I tried to attach the bodice to the skirt and there was a four-inch discrepancy. FOUR inches. The bodice was much too wide, and I couldn’t figure it out. In the end, I chopped two inches from each side of the back center opening (where the zipper would be inserted). Miraculously, the princess seams were exactly where they were supposed to be. Not sure what this says about my bust.

And I tell you, I could not get the darn invisible zipper installed correctly. I gave my seam ripper a rigorous workout, and I’m dead serious when I say I redid it 10 times. I’ve had no problems with invisible zippers before, but there I was checking tutorials and watching youtube videos and still, rip-rip-rip. I let out an epic sigh when I finally got it right, hours later. I wonder if watching the final season of Dexter had anything to do with it. I may have been a little distracted while trying to sew that zipper.


Emboldened by M’s positive appraisal, I threw on a cardi and wore the dress all day. I got compliments! True, I hid the neckline with a scarf, but still.


One thing’s for sure: I am never sewing another dress with a back zip. How can you possibly get dressed on your own? You should have seen the contortions I put my body through and in the end, I had to get K to zip it up. Not fun. Otherwise, it’s a really comfy dress, and it’s growing on me. So, not an absolute failure, and maybe next time, it will in fact be “very easy”.

27 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: Vogue 8511

  1. I sewed this same pattern a few years ago and had the same issue with the weird extra fabric at the neckline, so I don’t think it is anything you did! I actually think it is the pattern pieces. This looks great on you.

    1. Oh good, I was thoroughly confused as to how things got so off-kilter – glad to know I’m not the only one who had issues with this pattern! Beautiful photography, by the way, Martha! I loved looking through your Flickr images!

  2. With the exception of the neck thing.. which I wouldn’t have noticed if you wouldn’t have told me. 🙂 … I think it looks awesome on you! I also am sad about zip up the back dresses… I always have kids or hubby help. I saw a tutorial for moving it to the side seam under your armpit… I think I’ll try that next time I make a dress that is supposed to have a back zip. I sewed up a built by Wendy raglan tee (lengthened all over) with a cowl neck. I’ll give you a link to my favorite pic. I was still deciding on a length and pocket options so it’s not quite finished. I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot but I should perhaps rethink this particular color combo in wide stripes… I’m feeling a bit like a jailbird. now my Halloween costume is ready for next year! 🙂

    1. Nice! You’re getting lots of use out of the Built By Wendy books, that’s so awesome! I like the idea of pockets to break up the stripes (or maybe you were thinking of matching up the stripes?). I end up feeling like a jailbird too with wider stripes, but those are cool!

  3. I’m with M – I love this dress! I’m sorry it gave you so much trouble, but it’s really lovely. Also!! A friend of mine in fashion design said that his instructor told him that Vogue puts newbie patternmakers on the very easy vogue patterns so they’re the ones most likely to have flaws.

    1. Good to know about very easy vogue patterns! I also read somewhere (probably Goodbye Valentino?) that all the non-designer patterns for each of the big 4 patterns are created by one person. So one person designs all of McCalls, another designs all of Vogue, etc. but maybe they have another designer for certain types of patterns like Very Easy Vogue or Sew Simple Simplicity.

  4. Ha…good point on the back zip. Despite the neckline, this dress looks fantastic and definitely hour-glass-va-va-voom esque! I completely (oh-so-completely) understand the frustration, and I’m always worried I won’t know how to fix things like inches of extra fabric, but your honesty is so encouraging. I think ‘put a scarf on it’ should be a way to fix many bodice issues!

    1. Ha, ”Put a scarf on it’!! I love it! Have you seen the Portlandia episode about putting birds on everything? So funny…thanks for the sweet comment!

  5. I too think it’s a great save. Especially with the cardigan and a scarf. As others have said it might not have been your fault as much as the crummy pattern’s.

    1. Thank you Em! The pattern may have had a little to do with it, but maybe watching serial killing doesn’t go so well with sewing. I was doing my own butchering while watching it onscreen!

  6. As long as you smile like in that last picture nobody is ever going to notice that anything is “wrong” with that dress! The fabric looks lovely, a bit like velvet. And thank´s for mentioning that zipper problem…It is the first time I ever thought about it! In the movies they always ask the guy with the whiskey and then leave the room to change into that silk robe….. What am I going to do? Teach the dog? I wanted to make the colette peony next – with a zip in the back!

    1. Aw, blush, blush…thank you, Ute! The Peony is such a pretty dress, definitely worth making! I did in fact manage to get in and out of the dress after much huffing and puffing the second time, and I imagine you’re way more flexible than I am so you might not have any problems! 🙂 And you’re right about the whiskey guy!

  7. Wow, the dress looks fantastic! I love the grey colour, and it sits so well on you. Sounds like the pattern gave you a hard time, but I wouldn’t have thought about the neckline if you hadn’t mentioned it. It looks great!

    1. The Coletterie tutorial is my go-to usually, but for some reason I couldn’t get the zipper installed. It was very weird. Funny you should mention pockets because the dress doesn’t come with them, but I kept trying to stick my hands into imaginary pockets!

  8. You look so beautiful Sanae! And that “faux cowl” totally works with this dress – what a serendipitous “mistake”!

  9. I’m inclined to agree with Lucinda. If that neckline was smooth against you it would be a bit of a boring dress. The loose neckline works well with the skirt gathers, and looks like it SHOULD be there. Fantastic luck with the princess seams as they are perfectly placed.

    1. I should probably stop pointing out my mistakes as it seems like I can get away with them, but it’s a compulsion, this need to point out everything I did wrong….:-)

  10. I’m years late to this post, but after looking through the comments, was surprised that no one knew the answer to how to zip up a back zipper on ones own. You take a long length of twill tape and put a safety pin or locking knitting stitch marker into one end, that will go through the eye hole in the zipper. Put the pin through the zip, put the dress on, grab the twill and pull up and when it’s at the top, undo the pin!

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