Continuing our conversation around design, craft and fashion, this week we present a Tracy Reese pattern from Vogue Designer Patterns for DIY Thursday.  In all my years as a designer, I have not had the chance to meet Tracy, although I have been familiar with her work since the launch of her collection in the mid-1990s. At that time, I was working as a stylist in Europe and spent much of my time in boutiques, reading fashion magazines, and working with clients.

In an effort to understand Tracy Reese’s philosophy, we reached out to her press office for information and received a note stating that they could “not provide any information at this time.” However, this is what I found on the CFDA website:

“Detroit native Tracy Reese is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. Reese apprenticed under designer Martin Sitbon and worked as design director for Women’s Portfolios at Perry Ellis before launching her eponymous collection in 1996. The collection blends the ultra-feminine and nostalgic with modern polish. plenty by Tracy Reese, was introduced in 1998, after a trip to India provided endless inspiration. A joyful color palette, art-inspired prints and playful details are seen on essentials with a bohemian spirit. With flagships in Manhattan and Tokyo, the Tracy Reese and plenty brands have expanded to include footwear, handbags and home goods.”

Martine Stibon remains one of my all-time favorite designers and I used those pieces often during my days as a stylist.  I do love the dress that emerged using our organic lightweight cotton jersey fabric with Tracy Reece’s pattern.

To make your own basic Tracy Reese à la Alabama Chanin dress:


Tracy Reese Vogue Pattern #V1225
2 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey (We used Carmine.)
1 spool Button Craft thread
1 yard 1/4inch non-roll elastic
Basic sewing supplies: fabric scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter
Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to make our version of this dress.

Follow the Vogue instructions exactly as written for everything but the armhole finishing. Hand-sew all seams with a straight stitch, using a single strand of thread on our lightweight cotton jersey. We omitted the petticoat of the dress, as our fabric is substantial enough that a petticoat is unnecessary. We felled our seams for the dress above, but that is a matter of taste and desired style.

For the armholes, we applied a basic rolled hem, turned under twice, and blind-stitched.  Leave hem raw.

To make your own Tracy Reese à la Alabama Chanin backstitch reverse appliqué dress:


Tracy Reese Vogue Pattern #V1225
2 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey for top layer
2 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey for backing layer
Alabama Chanin Large Medallion stencil
1 yard 1/4″ non-roll elastic
Textile paint
Basic sewing supplies: fabric scissors, embroidery scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter

Cut out your pattern pieces in the desired size from your fabric for the top layer and repeat by cutting matching pattern pieces for the backing layer. Stencil your cut top layer of the dress with the Large Medallion stencil and textile paint.  Pin together the top and bottom layers of each pattern piece, right sides of both layers facing up.  Using 4 strands of embroidery thread, embroider the Large Medallion pattern using Alabama Chanin’s back-stitch reverse appliqué technique from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

After all of the pattern pieces are completed, sew the dress by hand using a single strand of Button Craft thread and following the Vogue instructions–included with the pattern–for everything but the armhole finishing.

For the armholes, we applied a basic rolled hem, turned under twice, and blind-stitched.  Leave hem raw.

Design Choices

Fabric weight – 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey
Fabric color top layer – Ochre
Fabric color backing layer – Italian Plum
Stencil – Large Medallion
Treatment – Backstitch reverse applique
Textile paint – Pearl Brown
Button Craft thread– Dogwood #155
Embroidery Floss – Burgundy
Knots – inside


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Click to read 12 comments
  1. Jennifer Willard

    I heart heart heart! Question: did you choose to use lightweight jersey because of the amount of draping and gathering in the pattern? (And is the lightweight Italian Plum available for sale?) I am getting ready to adapt a Vogue pattern, but it is a structured shift, so I assume it will be more successful in the heavier weight jersey.

    1. Alabama Post author

      Yes, we chose the lightweight fabric for the draping (unfortunately, Italian Plum not available yet). For a more structured shift, we would choose the medium-weight fabric and for very structured, you can use two layers of the medium-weight… hope this helps. Happy sewing.

      1. Elizabeth Ernsell

        Ian I wrong, or are most of the Alabama Chanin patterns/ directions using a double strand of button/ craft thread to sew a garmet?

        1. Alabama Post author

          With our lightweight fabric, we use a single strand of button craft thread. AND, Italian Plum lightweight is on order, should be in soon. Thanks for your patience!

  2. Sherry

    I love the plum with the ochre. Will the medium weight plum be available soon? I had looked for it earlier for the passementerie scarf too. Thanks!

    1. Renae

      The original pattern requires 3+ yards of fabric. Is 2 yards really enough to complete a single-layer version of this dress? The final results are absolutely lovely. I want to make both versions exactly as you did. Fabulous!

      1. Louise

        My question exactly. I have the pattern and Vogue recommends at least 3 1/4 yds of fabric for the dress (single-layer).

  3. Sharon

    I just cut out this pattern. You need less fabric due to the fact you are not making the slip/petticoat. 2 yards is the perfect length for the pattern pieces you will be using.