I am SO LATE to this freaking party – but better late than never, right? :)
Behold – it’s an Emery Dress! Sent to me by the lovely Christine Haynes, I was anxious to try out this pattern for myself (have you seen these popping up all over the internet? Everyone’s versions are AMAZING! Some of my favorites – Miss Crayola Creepy, SewTell, The Nerdy Seamstress, By Gum, By Golly!, ShanniLoves, Sew I Thought… ok, I’ll stop now, but you get the idea!). This little lady regularly gets rave reviews on the fit, construction, and overall look, and I think it’s pretty well-deserved.
So, my experience with Emery didn’t go quite as smoothly as everyone else’s – this was the dress that sucked me down the SIX MUSLIN SPIRAL OF DOOM, but once I got that out of the way, the rest of the construction came together easily. Even matching up the plaid was easy, since there aren’t a lot of pieces to contend with (although I totally done goofed mine up… more on that in a minute).
I’ll start with the muslin experience. Since figuring out that I have big back-gaping issues (and since that’s not really something that can be easily tweaked after the pattern pieces have been cut out of the fabric), I always always make a muslin, at least for just the bodice. My muslin for this dress turned out perfect in the front – darts in the correct place, ending at the correct points, perfectly fitting at all key points, yay! – but the back stuck straight out between my shoulder blades. I tried my usual adjustment, and instead of working – it actually made things worse! Thus, I started the muslin spiral: I played with moving around the slash line, I tried adding different amounts, I tried altering the center back seam and I tried adding fucking gigantic darts at the neckline. Those last two attempts were really really awful, by the way – if you tweak the back neckline too hard, you’ll end up throwing off the balance of the front neckline so it pooches out all weird. NOT a good look!
Of course, by the time I realized I couldn’t crack this pattern, I was also 5 muslins in and feeling stubborn enough to refuse giving up. Not to mention, I was getting super desperate and pissy because everyone else seemed to have NO problems whatsoever with fitting this pattern. Look at everyone’s backs – they fit perfectly. This was starting to make me feel like I had a freak body or some shit.
So how did I fix this mystery back pattern? After combing through my fit books and googling everything I could think of, I ended up landing on the narrow back adjustment (this shows something similar to what I did, although I pulled mine from Fit For Real People so it’s slightly different). That did the trick! No gape! I feel like a fitting PRO, y’all!
I think it’s really important to point out that just because *I* had some fitting issues with the back bodice, that doesn’t mean that you should be scared to try this pattern! Like I said, pretty much every other version I’ve seen praises how well it fits straight out of the envelope. Everyone’s body is shaped differently, and it makes me real cringy when I read that someone recommends against a pattern because they had a bad fit experience (unless it’s just a bad fit across the board – which happens, but it’s rare!). Your (or my!) fit experience =/= everyone else’s fit experience, so just keep that in mind! Ok, soapbox rant over!
Anyway, this dress was super simple to whip up after I figured all the fitting shit out. Cutting was a beast; not only did I choose a large scale, unbalanced plaid as my fabric – I only had about 1 3/4 yards, which meant I had to be VERY careful with my layout. Happily, I was able to match up the side seams on the bodice… but check out that skirt seam. I was concentrating so hard on matching up the plaid lines, that I didn’t think to match up the GIANT BLOCKS OF COLOR. Which means the plaid doesn’t match at all on the skirt. Oops! Learn from my mistakes, people :)
Because I barely had any fabric, I had to cut some corners on other parts of the dress. I originally wanted to make the collar in the same plaid fabric – but I couldn’t get the pieces to mirror each other, and it looked really stupid on my dressform, so I used my lining fabric (originally cut to be the underside of the collar) on top instead. I think it actually really works this way – makes the dress a little less twee. My lining fabric is the same silky delicious purple cotton batiste that I used with my Victoria Blazer, and I used every single last bit of those scraps!
I also used the batiste for the pockets, because, again, fabric restraints :)
I think the biggest/most visible changes I made are the lack of sleeves and the shortened hemline. I cut a good 4″ off this hemline – it really helped with conserving fabric, plus, I just don’t like knee-length hemlines on me! – and then folded up a 2″ hem allowance. I didn’t make any bodice changes to account for the lack of sleeves, I just… didn’t add them! Ha! I waffled with the idea of using plaid bias to close the arm holes, but I ran of of plaid… so the arm holes are just slip-stitched closed. Nothing fancy here!
I’ll admit, when I finally stuck the zipper in this dress and stood in front of the mirror, I thought it looked really unflattering on me! Listen, I am not the type of person to pretend like I think I’m fat (I know I’m not, and I’m not going to fish for compliments either), but something about that gathered skirt + plaid really made me look wider than I am. Even Landon, who never ever sees unflattering things the same way I do, noticed it. I kind of assumed so since I don’t think gathered skirts are very flattering on my shape, but again – everyone else’s Emery’s were soooo cute and flattering! Ugh, Lauren!
I really think adding the belt helps – it separates the bodice from the gathered skirt, which visually makes me look smaller in the waist. Of course, now that I’m looking at these pictures, it looks totally fine! I think it’s one of those things that just looks better in pictures than it does in real life :)
That being said, I totally plan on living in this dress all summer. The plaid cotton is lightweight and comfortable, it’s super cute, and I just really love it! Although I’ll probably keep the belt; mostly because that vertical line isn’t matched perfectly (due to the gathers) and it’s making me feel twitchy ;)
(psst, aren’t my earrings so perfect for this dress? I just got them from ChatterBlossom, gahhh, she always has the best stuff!)
This pattern is labeled as an Intermediate, but know that the instructions are very very thorough and super hand-holdy, so I think a confident beginner could easily tackle this shit. Christine also has an extremely detailed Emery Sewalong on her blog with lots and lots of pictures, in case you get stuck. But seriously – you can do this!
If you’re lovin on Emery but haven’t made the jump to purchase, keep an eye on this space – I have a copy to give away later this week!
Also, check it out:
SPRING IS HAPPENING RIGHT HERE IN MY YARD HOLY SHIT.