An Autumnal Emery Dress

Believe it or not, I’ve already made a good start on my Autumn Sewing Plans   . I’ve got several warmer weight pieces of fabric in my stash and the first I decided to use is this gorgeous piece which I picked up in a local charity shop for the bargain price of £6 (I got about 5 metres for that!).   It’s a woven fabric with different colours used for the warp and weft threads- pink and purple, woven in a diamond pattern with four coral coloured stripes woven into the border.   I have no idea what the fabric content is but it feels like natural fibres to me.

I wracked my brain to think how to use the border woven design the best, knowing that I wanted to make a dress with this length.   After a lot of Googling and Pinterest gawking I decided to stick with what I know and make my third version of Christine Haynes Emery Dress, (which is now available in PDF format btw).   I decided to have the stripes placed along the bottom of the skirt and around the bottom of the ¾ length sleeves I’d opted for.   In order to do this I had to cut the pieces on the cross grain and I was a bit concerned about how this would affect the fit.   Thankfully it didn’t seem to make a difference and I actually think the fit is better than my two previous Emery’s.

This fabric frayed like buggery and I was finding bits of pink and purple thread all over my house.   Martin, my kids nanny and Tobi’s best friend, was cursing me when I came home from work one day as it had taken him half an hour to hoover the sitting room carpet because of all the threads that had been walked through from the dining room/my sewing space.   This frayiness (I’ve decided that’s a word and I’m sticking to it) caused a bit of concern when I hand stitched the lining down at the waist line as the graded seams wanted to poke themselves out.   But I think I succeeded.

I got as far as construction of the bodice and attaching the skirt when I realised I had no invisible zips around and, being a few days before pay day, I was going to have to wait to complete the dress.   However, I had a good old rummage in my sewing drawers and came across a pink, scalloped zip with flower cut-outs that I won earlier in the year in a bundle from Sew Magazine.

After a quick bit of advice seeking on Instagram I decided the zip went well with the fabric and started working out how to insert the thing.   Most of the tutorials I found for inserting an exposed zip, including this one from Project Runway, have you stitch the zip on the inside and only have the zip teeth showing.   However the feature of this zip is the zip tape so I had to work out a way to stitch the zip to the outside.   I basically used the same method as Project Runway just stitched on the outside.   To cover the bottom of the zip I just turned it under and stitched it down.   However, this left a scratchy bit on the inside at the bottom of the zip so I cut a small rectangle of the fashion fabric, folded it in half and overlocked the edges then stitched it down on the inside of the dress, covering up the scratchy bottom of the zip and slightly untidy seam.   This worked a treat and, although you can see the stiching on the outside, the pink thread I used blends really well and is barely noticeable.

I was concerned about the sleeves on this dress as I’ve used short sleeves on my two previous Emery’s and these were a little snug.   For safety I stitched the sleeve seam with a 3/8” seam allowance to give me a little extra room.   This was eased into the armscye seam.   These were the best set-in sleeves I’ve ever achieved.   They went in perfectly the first time with no puckers and no unpicking.   I was dead chuffed.   The change I’ve made is not having my gathering stitches on the loosest tension, as most books, tutorials instruct you to.   I find the gathers slips about all over the place and it’s difficult to get even and keep that way.   With the tension set a little higher- say on 2 or 3- the increased tension helps keep those gathers where you intend to.   Also, it turned out I could have stuck to the 5/8” seam allowance as there’s plenty of room in the sleeves.

After recently moaning about an RTW dress I have that has a polyester lining, I stupidly lined the bodice with… you guessed it, polyester lining.   But how could I not team this beautiful royal purple colour with my fashion fabric?

My kids got yogurt on the lining while I was stitching it.

The first day I wore it to work my office was so over hot that I felt as though I’d been wrapped in cling film for the day.   However, I’m sure it’ll be nice and cosy when the temperature really plummets.

I absolutely adore this dress.   It’s really the amazing fabric that sings and, as usual, the Emery dress is perfect.

The fit on the back of this looks a bit rubbish but I swear it’s not like that in real life.   I wore this dress to the Knitting and Stitching show with matching purple tights and purple converse all-stars (Tobi’s wedding shoes, we have the same size feet!) and you certainly stand out in a crowd wearing that much purple!

As I’ve been trying to show you all that it is possible to Sew on a Budget, I thought I’d start showing you the cost of my projects:

Sewing Pattern: Christine Haynes Emery Dress= already in my stash and used twice so perhaps £5

Fabric: Charity shop bargain £6

Zip: Free

Lining: Charity shop bargain bought for me by my mother-in-law so zero cost to me

Total= £11 approximately but this cost will go down if I use the Emery dress more


Giveaway Redraw:

Finally, I haven’t heard from Bunty W, whom I drew last week to win the copy of All the Fun of The Fair, so I have redrewn the names and the winner is…………….          Sammy!   Sammy could you please e-mail me at with your postal address so I can arrange to ghet the book posted out to you.


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