Pattern Review: Vogue 1086, Tracy Reese Dress in Ghanaian Wax Print

I have to make a disclaimer here and say that I sew very infrequently from the Big 4 Patterns. I’m so used to the skeletal directions provided by Burda that I find myself almost confused when sewing from Big 4 patterns. So many words! So many markings on the pattern!

I pretty much buy every Tracy Reese pattern from Vogue that comes out. I love that she’s a young African American designer and I think if I want to keep seeing more from her, than I need to financially support her too. Luckily, her designs are worth every penny.

I decided to make a dress for my East Coast to Far East capsule because I have four days of business meetings and two banquets in Xiamen. Plus, I have a nice dinner planned for Saturday night in Shanghai.  A dress is perfect for these situations. There was some talk of business attire. I snorted. I *refuse* to take a business suit with me.

Alterations: I just raised the neckline up by 1.5 to 2 inches. I didn’t do a swayback and I didn’t make a FBA. I do find the top very roomy (I made a size 14) but suspect that’s partly the look of the dress. If I had thought about it, I would have piped the waistband as it gets a bit lost on this dress with my fabric.

For interfacing, I used a woven from Sew Exciting. It adds a wonderful crispness to the wax print. I used straight of grain interfacing on the neckline of the dress to stabilise it.

I planned to line the entire dress, but couldn’t figure out how to do the bodice. Well, I could figure it out, but I didn’t have time so just the skirt was done. I thought for like three seconds about trying to match up my print to cut out. But, I didn’t bother. It’s not a huge scale and I made sure to avoid having big flowers on my bust apex.

As I was sewing this dress, I was a little worried that it would be too ethnic looking. Not that it’s bad. But, I wanted the fabric to stand on its on and not look like I was misappropriating a traditional cultural print. The busy print of the fabric makes the details of dress hard to see. But, there is some lovely gathering in the shoulders and waist.

The fabric was purchased three years ago when I went to Ghana. I bought an OBSCENE amount of material. I salivated at the beautiful colors and tradition. I definitely purchased far more than I should have in retrospect. I have one last piece left and am still waiting for the perfect project.

So, in my last post I said I should rent a Kindle. Well, I went to the bookstore to get a guide book for Shanghai and made a TOTAL impulse purchase and bought the Nook. I loves it. I’m still taking my netbook with a few movies loaded. Thanks for the tips regarding iTunes. It sounds like the rented movies should work since I don’t have to login to the internet to watch them on my netbook.

And, now that I have a remote control for my camera, I take an OBSCENE amount of photos. And, you can think I’m vain, but I’m going to post them because I LOVE THIS DRESS. I feel fun and cute and skinny.

This is my Trena picture. Because I’m wearing my lime glasses, LOL. Totally retro, right?


  1. I absolutely love this. The fabric is just perfect and the dress has such a flattering cut. That fabric was saved up for a reason and this dress is definitely it. Congratulations!

  2. I realy like your version.
    Your fabric choice is interesting. I would never have thought of using that kind of fabric though I love the result

  3. I love, love, LOVE this dress and it looks fabulous on you. Robin may be right — your best yet. Do these beautiful fabrics from Ghana feel different to the touch? They certainly ~look~ special. Congratulations and have a wonderful trip!

  4. The dress looks beautiful! Nice work and it should serve you well on the trip. I’ve been contemplating this pattern for a long time and your dress has pushed me to move the pattern up to the “buy” list.

  5. Delurking to say THAT IS BEAUTIFUL. Wow! That’s just a gorgeous, gorgeous project, and it looks great on you. It’s lovely and tailored and looks so fresh and comfortable. Full of covetousness over here. 🙂

  6. I like your dress with the glasses. I think a pretty bright green slip or petticoat peeking out underneath the dress would be smashing.

  7. C – you and the dress are just stunning. It came out perfect. The colors are perfect on you and the lime green glasses gives some ooh la la. Love the little Nook!!

  8. Oh, I love it! I would be all terrified of using such a bold print, but it looks amazing! Wow.

  9. I’m so glad to finally see what you did with this fantastic fabric! I remember when you bought it!

    You’re right, tho. A lot of the details get lost because of the busy print, but it’s still incredibly flattering and make you look so slim! (and who doesn’t love that?) You can rock it, girl! (esp. with the specs. Very retro cool.)

    You bought the Nook because it was pink, didn’t you? 🙂

  10. Absolutely love your dress as well as your blog. My daughter has a Nook and is thrilled with it!

  11. I think the fabric looks gorgeous and not at all “too ethnic”. I’m only slightly disappointed that the gathering doesn’t show through very well in the pictures (just because it’s such a lovely detail), but it still looks fabulous! I’m very tempted to pick this pattern up at the next sale…

  12. Very becoming, and wow, what a terrific colour combo for your skin (slightly jealous). I’m getting tempted to maybe make more than just placemats out of my own Accra collection….eh, maybe next year!

  13. So fun! I love that you didn’t shy away from a bold print with a detailed dress. I think it looks very nice.

  14. I don’t see ethnic. I see a beautiful print made into a great dress. This is so flattering on you. Not only does it make you look thinner, but you look a whole lot better in this dress than the skinny model. Tracy Reese is not a skinny girl and her clothing flatters a wide range of women. Love the lime glasses on you.
    Have a wonderful time.

  15. It came out so cute! And will be way comfortable on your trip. I took my version to Malaysia where it was HOT and Spain where it was just hot and it wore very well. You’re gonna love this one for years. I like the way the sweetness of the design counterbalances the ethnic-ness of the print, so both are toned down and appropriate.

  16. Your dress is adorable! Not too ethnic looking (not that it is a bad thing). The style of the dress suits the fabric well or vice versa.

  17. Absolutely beautiful! I love everything about it and the style is perfect for you. When you come back, you could always topstitch a trim around the midriff to show off the lines a bit. Honestly, your Ghana fabrics are so beautiful I too would have lacked the self-control not to purchase a ton! I probably would have had to ship a box home (not that that’s ever happened or anything…).

  18. You did a super job of large-print placement! If you did it on purpose :-). Seriously, it’s fabulous.

  19. Great dress! And I don’t think it looks “too ethnic” at all.

    I don’t quite get what your job is, but it sure sounds awesome. I can’t believe we’re the same age. You have such a grown-up life.

  20. Just wanted to say that my family is from Ghana and this dress would be a knock out there. Everyone is using wax print to make cute little dresses and separates these days. I’m in Japan on a business trip this week. It is roasting and I would do anything to have that dress with me for a reception tonight! A little ethnic is good in Asia. We stand out anyways, it’s cool to show some African style!

  21. This dress is so you and you’re right; you DO look cute and skinny. My toenails are currently painted the same blue as in your dress. Yes, it is very retro and I love your lime glasses. I’m keen to hear how you like your Nook. A colleague loaned me his Ipad yesterday to try but they’re a whole lot more expensive when all I want to do is read books!

  22. You LOOK fun and cute and skinny! That is such a flattering dress! It will be perfect for your Shanghai events. Have fun on t.he trip. I have always wanted to go to Shanghai.

  23. I was going to say exactly what Claudine said! Congrats on a fabulous piece, and for a rush job too–you are amazing.

  24. I LOVE that dress! And you have a cute figure anyway, but the dress is very flattering.

    I always have to raise the neckline. I don’t have enough bust to support a lower one. You’d just see the bottom of my bra.

  25. Oh wow, you look gorgeous in this dress! The style is so flattering on you. You must sew another next summer.

    I laughed about the impulse Nook purcahse. I wonder if it had anything to do with it being pink? Don’t answer this, I already know. 🙂

  26. This dress is beautiful and you look wonderful! I have this pattern too and now I’m very inspired to make it. Now if only I had this fabric too…

    There’s no such thing as buying too much fabric on a trip. My suitcase somehow gained 25 pounds between Hawaii and NY. This dress is beautiful and you look wonderful!

  27. This is such a gorgeous dress on you. It looks fantastic in the print and I can also see a bunch more of these dresses in different prints and solids too.

  28. I found your site a few days ago and I love it. I am also totally in love with wax prints. I am making a denim skirt and I am using wax print for the gores between the panels. I also really like Tracey Reese. I had no idea that she did patterns for Vogue but I am definitely going to look. Keep up the good work. Shug would be proud :).

  29. Hi Celie,
    I just finished this very same dress today! I didn’t have anyone to take a photo of me in it, but it is posted on my blog. I love the dress too. I didn’t raise the neckline like most have done on pattern review, because I wanted to wear a camisole under it, but you did a great job on yours and I now wish I had raised the neck line.
    It looks adorable on you.

  30. Hi Celie, I’d describe this dress as sunny. Love the style and the use of the vibrant print. Interesting what you say about potential for cultural misappropriation. I’d been looking at some Australian Aboriginal printed fabric but decided against it for the same reason. The issues are a bit more political in Australia because of the poor conditions in which the Indigenous population live.

  31. Very pretty! Even though you didn’t think much about where to place the print, it came out perfect. I really like the way you have a little medallion piece on each shoulder and one in the vee of the neck. Just right!

    (And I do not see the problem in using beautiful fabric from all over the world. Bying cloth from local artisans is a lot more ethical to my mind, than bying chain store garments made in slave labour factories. It’s not like you’re dressing up in “hottentot” costume complete with with a bone through your nose, after all.)

  32. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, both the dress and you wearing it. You did such a great job!

  33. You know, I’ve loved so many of the things you’ve created, but I think this might be my favorite yet! Such a great marriage of fabric and pattern. You look absolutely beautiful in this dress!!

  34. This looks absolutely adorable on you – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the length of that skirt – very sexy and sophisticated at the same time. You will have a blast in the dress cause you look so good in it!

  35. Great JOB!!This is my favorite thing that you have created great fabric choice Thanks for sharing!!!!

  36. When you look fun & cute & skinny you can never have too many pictures! Beautiful dress. I really like seeing the fabric choice, as it isn’t one I would have considered, but it looks great- I like it better than the pattern example! And it looks like the perfect travel dress – post pictures of it in action overseas! Great job!

  37. Love it – I have this pattern and haven’t made it up yet, your version is super flattering!
    I want a remote for my camera too – lucky! I bet it makes it way easier and avoids the weird face I get when waiting for the self-timer to go off… 🙂

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