I enter the wonderful world of Emery

I'm sure, like me, many of you will have been ogling the gorgeous Emerys being made out there by blogging seamstresses. And everyone has sung the praises of the pattern. I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and make myself a wardrobe full of beautiful Emery dresses. So I promptly ordered the pattern and got immediately excited. Here is my finished dress!

Flowers for Jane dress (Christine Hayne's Emery pattern) worn with Topshop shoes and excitable grin

I actually intended this to be a wearable muslin, but it turned out so well that I'm going to stop calling it a wearable muslin and just start calling it a dress ('cause I'm going to wear it lots, believe me!). In fact, I am so pleased with the result I've decided to enter it into the Sew Dolly Clackett competition! It wasn't my original intention, but since it fits the brief, and turned out so well, I thought, why not! You can see all the entries so far in the Sew Dolly Clackett flickr group.

This fabric, in fact, used to be a duvet cover. I bought it from TK Maxx four years ago to make my Rome dress (inventive name. I was going to Rome and wanted a new dress to wear around the Piazzas) and I have had the rest of the duvet cover sitting it a cupboard since then. Since it's not a precious fabric to me but is very pretty, I decided to make my "practice" Emery out of the rest of the duvet. There is still some left for a skirt or a blouse. Woohoo!

I chose a size based on the finished waist measurement on the pattern envelope and my high bust to the finished bust. Then I did an FBA (full bust adjustment) using this excellent tutorial on Christine Haynes' blog. Then after fitting I had to take even more out of the darts.

I had to take a little fabric out of the armhole, then adjusted the sleeve piece to fit. Next time I will take even more out of the armhole to give me a bit more room to manoeuvre. 

I used the skirt pattern pieces but pleated rather than gathered, using some lovely flattering box pleats. There were a few head scratching "oh no I have to do maths" moments when working out pleat placement, but my maths must've been OK because I managed to line up all my seams and darts. 

Now on to the back bodice. The front was now fitting just fine, but the back was way WAY too small. Didn't even meet at the back (despite my very careful measuring and choosing the size based on finished garment measurements). More head scratching. It was late by this point and I was getting frustrated, so I did the right thing and put it away for a day.

The bodice back then became a puzzle. I ruminated on it on the train to and from work. I drew little sketches of possible solutions while out and about. I geeked out reading every bodice fitting article I could find. 

There were a few solutions I was toying with:
- adding a triangle onto the pattern piece to close the gap at the bottom of centre back
- adding to the side seams (which would mean roomier arm holes, which would be good, would just need to alter sleeve piece again)
- move zip to side seam and make bodice back in one piece 

I was toying with these solutions, when on the train home I saw that Lauren of Lladybird fame had just posted this post about her Emery fit journey. It really gave me a kick up the bum to persevere and get the fit right. Lauren did and her dress looks awesome. 

It also gave me my Eureka moment: the simplest solution is always the best. 

I got in at 11pm and by 12 I had a perfectly fitting bodice. I realised I needed a triangular shape of extra fabric, and was stupidly going to add to the pattern piece when I've got two flipping darts taking out the exact amount I need to put back in! I mean, duh! I laid the back bodice pattern piece on my dress form without the waist dart sewn up. It fit perfectly. I mean absolutely perfectly.  I unpicked the darts from my wearable muslin and tried it on..... Victory! 

I do have a broad back, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that it doesn't need nipping in from waist to shoulder blade. I'm so glad I puzzled this one out, it was really starting to make me grumpy! 

I lined the bodice in a buttery soft white cotton batiste. Seriously, it's so soft I actually just want to curl up in it and make myself a cottony cocoon. I won't though, don't worry.

For my next version I think I will move my side seams back a little, as they're pointing forwards in this one. Also there is a tiny bit of fullness just under the bust, between waist dart and bust dart. Not quite sure how to fix that yet so any wisdom is most definitely welcome. 

Obligatory pocket shot. Sorry 'bout all the shadows!
So, after all that... The verdict? I love it. I can see why everyone is raving about it! And, oh, the possibilities. Square neck, V-neck, sleeveless, tulip sleeved, with the collar, with the bow, paired with different skirt patterns... Prepare to see many incarnations coming up. 

I'm absolutely a fan of using a pattern you love many, many times. It's so much more cost effective and time effective. All that altering time on a new pattern could be spent sewing up a new version of an already-tried-and-tested pattern.

I adore the pockets, most of the fact that they are sewn into the waist seam so they stay put. Genius.

I really think I need a purple Emery at some point. I'm feeling thirsty for purple! 

I'll leave you with another picture of my new favourite dress! She had a jaunt to the park yesterday in the glorious sunshine. I managed to eat an ice cream and not spill any on the dress (award please?).

I'm off to sew up another Sew Dolly Clackett entry. Yes I did get carried away. There's one more after that too....

Over and out!


  1. This is gorgeous! Well done on solving the back fitting, that would have done my head in; and we can share the pain of working out pleats! Re the extra fabric under the bust, I've had that problem too, and have solved it by adding the extra fabric into the top of the dart. There's a great tutorial on this on Gertie's blog - here's the link.


  2. Thank you! Just had a look at Gertie's tutorial - I will definitely definitely be having a play with this as it seems to address all my dart-related questions! Big thanks for sending me the link!

  3. Love this dress, even more so that it is made from a duvet cover!, quite brilliant!

    I have this pattern. It looks amazing, but I am a bit worried as I am an apple shape with a broad back- I won't do those darts and I think I need a more slimming skirt, perhaps a quarter circle?

  4. Thank you! It was a particularly pretty duvet cover.

    I'm an apple shape too, and don't really wear full skirts usually so I was skeptical as to whether it would suit me. Funnily enough a version with a quarter circle skirt is on my list too! Will have to try it. That said, I was pleasantly surprised with how the full skirt looked, I think because I spent time getting the bodice to fit nicely. Good luck with your version!