Elizabeth McKay Inspired – Vogue 1323


I spent the first weekend of December in New York and was exhilarated by the Christmas sights and festivities throughout the city. I spent the second weekend of December visiting my parents in Southern Pines, NC thoroughly charmed by small-town Christmas celebrations including the cutest horse and buggy parade.


                  I went from being among millions of people dressed in black to hundreds of people dressed in red inspiring me to do the same.

On a mission to recreate this Elizabeth McKay top, I chose a red and white silk charmeuse from Mood Fabrics for my first attempt.

elizabeth mckay top I began with Vogue 1323 because the lines of the front and sleeves were similar.


After making a muslin of the bodice for fitting purposes I experimented with alterations on the bodice neckline and ruffle variations until reaching an acceptable resemblance to the original.  I eliminated the plackets and standing collar and made a new facing for the ruffled neckline. “Winging it” is hard to document, but now that the first attempt is complete and somewhat successful, I have an organized plan for the next time which I will share in detail.


Overall I believe my efforts were successful resulting in a new top that is perfect for the holidays in South Carolina.

Four distinct differences between my top and the Elizabeth McKay original are apparent:

  1. There are two sets of little gold ball buttons connected by a chain on the Elizabeth McKay neckline. I could not find these cute buttons anywhere!
  2. The back of my top features a yoke simply because the pattern came that way.
  3. I added a full cuff.
  4. I did not include a side zipper to avoid interference with tucking the shirt into skirts and pants.

IMG_2168 IMG_2167


But once again I was reminded it never pays to be too proud. While strolling around Southern Pines in my new Elizabeth McKay knockoff, I walked right into this framed sign in a little shop.


After all the work I put into making my top, I’m taking exception with this quote! Herman Melville obviously didn’t sew.

red white silk top


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51 Responses to Elizabeth McKay Inspired – Vogue 1323

  1. Judi says:

    Yours is even prettier than the Elizabeth McKay top!!!

  2. artattack024 says:

    Love it! Tell Herman to jump off the fiscal cliff…

  3. prttynpnk says:

    Melville only really wrote one book that no one ever finishes- your top is one of many marvelous works of your own. Love it!

  4. Karen says:

    I never much cared for Herman Melville – and now I know why! But I love your blouse and how you look in it!! Can’t quite believe you are without a coat in December – but aren’t you glad you are – otherwise, your beautiful blouse would be under wraps.

  5. Really beautiful and such a good color on you!

  6. Junene says:

    Herman Melville can go suck it. You look fab!

  7. oh2bejoy says:

    I love it! AS usual, you have made a beautiful garment! and prttynpnk, *I* actually read all of Moby Dick (for a class…I was an English major), but it just about killed me….both from the length of that tome and from boredom……hehehe…..

  8. Jacq C says:

    It’s a fabulous blouse, you just need a different quote, how about this one:
    “Imitation, if it is not forgery, is a fine thing. It stems from a generous impulse, and a realistic sense of what can and cannot be done.” – James Fenton :)

  9. sewbusylizzy says:

    Gorgeous blouse! I’m sure even Herman would agree x

  10. velosewer says:

    Your blouse is really pretty and the ruffles are wonderful.
    Herman should have been a sewer to learn more about life…

  11. Oooo…love Elizabeth McKay’s things – and your top is just wonderful! I love the way it turned out! Can’t wait to see the next version of it. Herman has clearly never shelled out those big bucks to buy one of her pieces ;) Plus, yours is an original. Win. Win!

  12. Miriam says:

    Oh I think you did a great job, your top is beautiful!

  13. CherryPix says:

    Herman’s feathers might have been ruffled if he could’ve seen how you’ve so beautifully disproved his theory!

  14. Carola says:

    Fantastic top, Sarah! I love how you are altering patterns, and explaining why you’re doing it. Very inspiring! You’re teaching me to look outside the square! Thank you!

  15. Deborah says:

    Yet again, another wonderful piece in your wardrobe! Happy Holidays!

  16. Mrs. K says:

    So pretty – I love red! Merry Christmas.

  17. Peggy says:

    Wow! This top is beautiful! I looked at the top on the Elizabeth McKay website, and I think yours looks much better, particularly at the neckline where the original had buttons (which I thought looked a little sloppy on the original–yours is clean and crisp!).

  18. Teri says:

    Really cute top. I choose to disregard what Mr. Melville said!

  19. Julie Starr says:

    I’m not yet familiar with Elizabeth McKay but I can’t imagine that her tops are any prettier than this one! Your signature ruffles plus the gorgeous fabric equals another stunner. And how fun to celebrate the holidays in such very different ways on consecutive weekends. Fa la la….

    • Hi Julie – tis the season for sure! Elizabeth McKay is a New England designer ( I think) and her clothes are often sold alongside Lilly Pulitzer clothes. The line usually features beautiful blouses, though her website photos don’t capture the beauty of many items. Many thanks for writing!

  20. Myra says:

    Beautiful festive blouse! Your version is sooooo very much prettier! I think Herman would agree and change his theory, if he were alive today!!

  21. gingermakes says:

    This is really pretty! It’s festive for the holidays but doesn’t scream “Christmas”– perfect! I have to be a contrarian and say that I’m a big Melville fan. :)

    • Thanks, Ginger! I never dreamed the post would generate so many comments about Melville :) Remembering your sweet birthday post – I bet you are a Melville fan!!

      • gingermakes says:

        Haha, I’m a whale lover and an American lit major, so he sits at the intersection of some of my main interests. It’s a great quote, though, and definitely provokes awesome discussion! :)

  22. Gail says:

    I love your interpretation of this blouse.

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