Completed: The Emery Dress

10 Mar

I am SO LATE to this freaking party – but better late than never, right? πŸ™‚

Emery dress

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.

Emery dress

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).

Emery dress

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.

Emery dress

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!

Emery dress

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!

Emery dress

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 πŸ™‚

Emery dress

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!

Emery dress

I also used the batiste for the pockets, because, again, fabric restraints πŸ™‚

Emery dress

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!

Emery dress

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 πŸ™‚

Emery dress

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 πŸ˜‰

Emery dress

Emery dress

(psst, aren’t my earrings so perfect for this dress? I just got them from ChatterBlossom, gahhh, she always has the best stuff!)

Emery dress

Emery dress

Emery dress

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!

Emery dress

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:

Yay spring!



66 Responses to “Completed: The Emery Dress”

  1. Laura March 10, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    I could’ve written the same thing about the muslin spiral of doom! Got the fit down eventually but it took SEVEN MUSLINS to get there. It was totally because I was overthinking everything and went around the fitting houses before simply adding to the side seams ARGH! Your version is gorgeous, fits perfectly and I love the colours in that plaid. It’s a great pattern, the way the lining is sewn all neat around the zip? LOVE!

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

      haha don’t you hate that?! Spending forever on crazy adjustments and then realizing that the simplest solution was also the best one. Oh well – the end result is usually worth it πŸ™‚

  2. ekabby111 March 10, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    I dig the collar. It brings me back to my Catholic school days.

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      That better be a good thing! πŸ™‚

  3. Elle March 10, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    I also dislike knee-length skirts; tartz 4 lyfe. I’ve been trying to make myself like longer hemlines lately because Adult and Job and Responsible but I think I might just stick to team miniskirt from here on out. Also this dress is adorable. God you sew SO FAST! Even with six muslins you pumped this baby out quick. Great job!

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      Well, once the muslin shit was out of the way, the rest of the dress is very quick to make! I likey πŸ˜€

  4. Kelly March 10, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    It looks great with the belt, but it also looks good alone! I have to try really hard not to judge a gathered skirt before the garment is complete, including shoes and styling. Little adjustments make big differences when it comes to gathers!

  5. Laura March 10, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    This is a perfect summer dress. It’s funny how putting an accessory with something can completely change your mindset about it, isn’t it?

  6. Lady Stitcher March 10, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    Gorgeous summer dress ahoy! I think that collar looks perfect against the plaid, too πŸ™‚

  7. mancunianvintage March 10, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Booo for the muslin doom but yay for getting it finished – and what a pretty dress you’ve finally got!

  8. charityshopchic March 10, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I hear you – it bugs me when people moan about patterns giving them bad fit saying/implying it’s ‘badly drafted’, whatever that means. Not every pattern fits every person, how can it?!!

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

      I don’t know, but it drives me craaaaazy when I see those bad reviews! It’s like, come on now. Nothing is going to fit 100% for every body shape out of the envelope – that’s fucking impossible!

  9. sallie March 10, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    DAFFODILS!!! Sorry, that last picture totally got me sidetracked – I LOVE daffodils, they’re like the heralders of spring! Aaaanyway… Love your emery! That purple plaid is truly gorgeous, such a lovely color palette. And I love the solid purple collar. I’m sorry you had so many fitting issues with this dress – that’s just the worst! Especially when it is a pattern that seems to fit everyone else so well. You can’t help but feel like “what’s wrong with meeeeeeee???” But of course, nothing’s wrong with you. And your prize for sticking with it is the DRESS THAT SUMMER PICNIC’S DREAM OF! Seriously.. please have a picnic in this dress for me.

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      I will! But I’d rather YOU come here and we can have a picnic together! Pleeaseeee… I can show you our giant reproduction Parthenon, ha!:)

  10. Theresa March 10, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Really summery!! I love the lining, it looks so rich!!

  11. Rox Guillemette March 10, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    This dress makes me want to go out and frolic in a sun drenched meadow! Love the choice of fabric.

    Ooh, and 6 muslins? I am speechless.

  12. KaoruMarie March 10, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    I had a bit of gaping along the neckline too. Glad to know it wasn’t just me! I went through several muslins and had a much easier time fitting it when I moved the zipper to the side (I also raised the back neckline a bit and took in the shoulder seams by an inch and half on both the front and back pieces). Your dress looks like it fits like a glove and now you have a great fitting bodice block just waiting to get hacked into a ton of variations.

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Good point! That block is going to be put to some serious use haha!

  13. gingermakes March 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    There’s literally nothing I would go through six muslins for, so good on ya for sticking it out! This looks really cute! I don’t like to wear gathered skirts because I feel like they make me look thick through the middle, but I’m not getting that look from you at all- you look super cute!

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      I feel like I look thick in the middle with gathered skirts, but I really don’t see it in the pictures – so maybe it’s just one of those things that we *feel* but isn’t really there? Maybe?

  14. LinB March 10, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Such a beautiful fabric begs to be the exception to rules! Who cares if the plaid is too big in proportion to your tiny little body? When it is 900 degrees Fahrenheit this summer you won’t care if the dress makes you look as big as the Goodyear blimp, you’ll be so cool and breezy as you wear it. Who cares if you did not match the plaid on the side seams — it is straight where it needs to be, so that it doesn’t look as if the plaid is sliding off the dress. Designers in the 90s and 00s deliberately mismatched plaids … pretend you are a designer from 1990. That’s nearly long enough ago to be “vintage” anyway.

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm #


  15. oonaballoona March 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    your hair continues to be the perfect accessory. eh, colorblocks, that dress is adorable.

    we have to measure our backs NEXT WEEK IN PERSON HOLY SHIT cause i think we got the same issue. bring that yard spring with you!

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      WAIT TILL YOU SEE THE BLUE IN PERSON. It’s magical, dude. Magical!

  16. ShanniLoves March 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    A sleeveless version is next on my list! I absolutely love everything you make in plaid. You could make and wear a plaid potato sack and I’d think I needed it asap!

  17. Victoria March 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Yay Lauren! You ARE a fitting pro! As always, you rocked this dress and your sewing skills are kick ass. Inspirational as always. And yes, I’m the crazy one emailing you about back bodice angst. I’m not as cool as you and I DID give up. At least for now. Seriously amazing dress. πŸ™‚

  18. Chris @ makeandwear March 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    It turned out beautifully. I always feel like gathered skirts make me seem wider too, but in photos it doesn’t seem that way either! I am wondering if it would have been a little less work if you compared your sigma dress bodice with the pattern pieces before starting a muslin ? ( maybe you did ) as they look like almost the same darted front bodices?

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      They are similar, but the neckline is different (this one is more of a wide boat neck). I dunno, I guess I just like to reinvent the wheel every time I sew a pattern, ha!

  19. onedabbles March 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Thanks for the warts-and-all posts. Not that I wish the muslin spiral of doom on you, but it’s encouraging for a beginner to see the work and ups and downs and sheer, glorious persistence of a really good sewist. The finished dress is very cute too!

    • LLADYBIRD March 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      I totally understand. I don’t want anyone to have issues in their sewing time, but it’s reassuring to know that everyone makes dumb mistakes and has days when they can’t get something to work for them πŸ™‚

  20. sewcialwarrior March 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    I adore that plaid. Such a pretty colour scheme. I think the dress looks good on you.

  21. misscrayolacreepy March 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Your hard work totally paid off, the dress is so adorable! The colors are going to be so fun with your new hair too! Thanks for the shout out!!! xoxo

  22. Rachel March 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    That plaid is super cute and perfect for that dress!

  23. Ree March 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Perfect timing. I am currently in the middle of my own Emery back bodice fitting battle, getting so frustrated and grumpy. Then grumpy with myself for being grumpy. After reading this I’m thinking I can bloody well win the battle. Your dress looks awesome! And big thanks for the kick up the backside to persevere!

    • LLADYBIRD March 12, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      Damn straight you can do it! Go forth and CONQUER THAT BACK BODICE!!

  24. lisa g March 10, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    yikes, six muslins?! worth it though, since this fits you so perfectly! these days, i’m done with trying new basic bodices–i’ll just stick to the one well-fitting bodice i have already altered to death, and just add or subtract details. anyways, i love the plaid fabric you used!

  25. Neeno - Sew Me Love March 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    I must have been under a rock! First time I’ve seen this pattern!! Looks great πŸ™‚

  26. Dreaming of Avonlea March 11, 2014 at 2:28 am #

    This is so cute, I love it, and I definitely like it with the contrasting collar x

  27. bimbleandpimble March 11, 2014 at 4:58 am #

    Dude- this is totes cute with the belt as a fab accessory. I am a huge fan of belts when things don’t seem quite right. They cure all fashion ills!

  28. Ines March 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    the Emery looks awesome, so sorry all the hard work although it seems worth it. I am so glad you described your tribulations, I sometimes think I’m the only one that has fitting issues. It really helps me when someone describes the actual issues they had and what they did to fix them.

  29. Kelly March 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    I’m glad you stuck with it, the end result looks great! I LOVE the colours of that plaid. And I love Fit for Real People, great book!

  30. Caroline Joynson March 11, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    A mega cute dress Lauren!
    I totally agree with both you and your BF that your dress is awesome.
    I was thinking about the comments you made about looking wider than you are – I think it could be down to the colours in the plaid fabric and the way the lightest colour (which in colour theory terms advances and reflects light) sits just at / around your waist line thus creating the optical illusion of being bigger. When clearly in real life you have a mini waist!
    If you’d have had more fabric you could have placed the darker colours at your waistline to create the illusion of an even mini-er waist ; ) …. does that make sense??

    • LLADYBIRD March 12, 2014 at 8:18 am #

      Good point! You are totally right – I didn’t even think about the placement of the colors. Something to keep an eye on in the future πŸ™‚

  31. sewlaurasew March 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I got completely distracted by the picture of the daffodil. I can’t believe you have daffodils in your BACKYARD.

    I love the dress – the plaid looks amazing. I’ve just finished an Emery and everytime I wear it I always have the same sort of problem with the gathered skirt, like “When did I get so WIDE?” I definitely think belts help.

    It’s also interesting to see that your sleeveless-ness didn’t throw anything else out of whack. I’ve been thinking I’d like a sleeveless Emery, but wasn’t sure how it would go. I’m not so dedicated as to be willing to make half a dozen muslins.

    • LLADYBIRD March 12, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      Well, the sleevelessness was just a matter of… not sewing on the sleeves. Ha! πŸ™‚ The back bodice fitting was entirely due to body type, none of that was related to the lack of sleeves. Even though it’s drafted to have sleeves, I think it turned out pretty nice without them!

  32. Rachel March 12, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    I love your dress and I LOVE your hair. Did you do your own hair or get it done at a salon? I want mine red so badly, but I can’t seem to get there. Can you give me any suggestions? Thanks.

    • LLADYBIRD March 12, 2014 at 8:23 am #

      I had the lifting done at a salon πŸ™‚ I don’t really recommend going light on your own – salons have access to the good stuff (despite what people tell you, the dye/bleach you get from Sally Beauty is NOT the same quality as, say, Redken) and they know what to do with your hair based on it’s current condition and whether or not it has any dyes already on it. Mine had a couple deposits of box dye (aka, Sally dye), which is why it turned so orangey after the color lift. Be warned that it can take a while and it can get expensive, but it’s worth if it you don’t want to ruin your hair.

      Also be warned that faux red hair is a major upkeep! It’s totally attainable – and it’s totally worth it – but it takes dedication to keep the color looking nice πŸ™‚

  33. Kristin Saunders March 12, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    As a still relative beginner who constantly has fit issues (I cannot figure my body out…some stuff I’ve managed to figure out but other things ALWAYS happen and I have no idea where to begin to fix them) I was relieved to read that experienced sewers also get stuck. I use google, I use other sewing websites, I have books, and I have also gone down the muslin spiral of shame. Which is what is making this a very expensive hobby…..I’m about ready to quit and go back to sewing curtains and pillows. Or just stick with skirts because it is my bust that drives me bonkers.

    Your dress is lovely, and I love the bright springy plaid!

  34. christine March 12, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    girl, clearly you are a rockstar to make this work for you!!! I don’t think you look wide at all, but as you’ve said, it’s all how the person feels in it, so I won’t try to talk you out of that feeling! try slapping a pencil skirt onto that bodice! and thanks for fighting your way through to make it happen!!!! xoxo

  35. kimmie March 12, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    You can absolutely NEVER go wrong with a peter pan color. They make everything look so sweet and pretty…like you could have a dress emblazoned with the word FUCK and you could slap a peter pan color on it and it would look super dainty and adorable.

  36. 1107nikki March 13, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    Yay for spring, but for us, autumn is here… 😦 This dress is so cute. It’s been on my wishlist since it was released. I’m just waiting for the postage to NZ to be a bit cheaper! Your version is really cute and I love the collar!

  37. Kitty Cat Stevens March 13, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    that collar + pattern combo is literally drool inducing! i’m in love with all of this.

  38. Trice March 14, 2014 at 7:14 am #

    Great Emery Lauren.Sorry you had to go through so many muslins to get a great fit. Seriously came out nice.

  39. Roisin Muldoon March 14, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Ah dude, nice one on battling through the muslin spiral of doom. I was really happy that the Emery fit me well out of the packet because I had some many goes at the Peony dress and just could not get that shit to fit, so I’m happy to have a similar shape dress that fits me well!

  40. lifeisjustduckie March 16, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    I love love love this version! I’m such a fan of my shoulders that I would definitely leave the sleeves off as well. And dat plaid! Beautiful! Also the collar is lovely. Six muslins just might have to happen for a dress this cute.

  41. missjoiedevivre April 6, 2014 at 2:04 am #

    Wow, that’s some dedication. But it totally paid off, the dress is beautiful! I love the soft spring colours, not something you see in plaid everyday.

  42. Katie July 20, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    I’m glad I just reread your post on this, I had the exact same fit issue with the emery.
    Fits perfect everywhere but looks like I have a weird back hunch thing, the problem with having a narrow back.
    I’m going to try that adjustment before I cut it out again.

    • LLADYBIRD July 21, 2014 at 6:48 am #

      Ahh, I’m just glad I’m not the only one! I was starting to feel like I had some weird body issue that no one else has πŸ™‚


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