Starry Sky Emery

This one has been on my list for a looooooong time. I got the fabric in Tokyo Fabric town on our honeymoon in Japan (in April, ahem). It’s a lovely deep blue with white spots that remind me of stars, and this beautiful broderie pattern all along one edge.


The pattern meanwhile, Ms Christine Haynes’ Emery Dress, is one that I have lurked admired all over blogtown. There are so many beautiful versions of this dress out there. Personal favourites include Anna (Paunnet)’s beautiful Christmas plaid version, and pretty much any of the hundred million Roisin (Dolly Clackett) has made (seriously she is the Emery queen).

Emery-Cover_grandeMy mum recently treated me to a big wad of muslin, and so I dutifully sewed up not one, but two toiles in the right stuff. I know for lots of people the Emery is a perfect fit right out of the envelope. This wasn’t quite the case for me, but that’s ok, bodies are different after all. I googled around for some online reassurance and was relived to read that Lladybird, a personal blogging hero, descended down a “six muslin spiral of doom” with the same dress, so I persevered.

I’m starting to recognize some of the fit issues I have, and when I know how to fix them it feels like a huge accomplishment! For example, I made a hollow-chest adjustment using a slash and pivot method, the same as I did on my Anna peplum hack. I first saw this demonstrated on Ginger Makes, so in my head it’s the “Ginger method” 🙂

from Ginger Makes

from Ginger Makes

Fitting the back was much more of a challenge. I started with serious neckline gapage so widened the darts. This gave me comical back humps like I was about to sprout wings. At this point I realised that in fact there was excess to be pinched out all the way down, so returned to the original darts and just took the extra out along the zip.

For the skirt, in order to keep the trim along the bottom edge in tact, I cut a single straight piece, rather than the gently curved/flared skirt of the pattern. It being autumn/winter I also opted to line the skirt with the same white cupro I used for the bodice lining, for warmth and to stop the dress sticking to wooly tights.


What else? I made the collar in a contrasting white broderie, which with the interfacing, became quite chunky, with a tendency to roll out along the neckline. Two lines of understitching and an aggressive press with the iron seem to have corrected this though. Oh and my invisible zip is pretty visible. I was confused as to how this had happened before realising that I just sewed it on with a regular zipper foot – doh!! Since it’s neatly inserted and a matching colour I decided to live with it rather than unpick it.   IMAG0057

Overall, I am pretty in love with this dress. I wasn’t sure about the collar but I’m so glad I went with it. I think it gives the dress this retro, slightly Wes Anderson feel. Always a good thing amiright??

 Siobhan xx

Tokugawa Anna

Today marks my first project completed with fabric from our Japan trip. Ladies and gents I give you the Tokugawa Anna.


The fabric is a navy and cream wave pattern, used by the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868). We first saw the pattern as wallpaper in a preserved former government building in Takayama. I loved the simple clean lines and the nod to sea waves, and so was pretty excited to find it in fabric form the next afternoon.

takayama-japan-holiday-7983387-o   IMG_4250-2

The blogland concensus is that By Hand London’s Anna Dress pattern is a dream to sew, and I can only agree. It comes together really easily. The issues I had were all of my own making… Firstly, I decided not to do a FBA as my measurements were pretty close to the pattern and this is a less formfitting shape than, say, the princess seams of the Elisalex. However, when I held the bodice pattern pieces up against myself, I felt they were probably going to be too short (I am that attractive shape that is long of body, short of leg) so I added a hefty 6cm, following the instructions on the Anna sewalong. As I wasn’t making a muslin (I know, scandale) I tacked the bodice together first so I could check the fit. It was mostly great but I did need to lower the tip of the bust gathers by about 1cm. So now I am now curious as to whether, had I done a proper FBA, this fiddling (longer bodice, lower gathers) would have been necessary? I am almost tempted to retrace the bodice and see… almost.

When it came to the skirt, I had originally wanted to do a full-length number and bought 3.5m of the fabric with this in mind. However, what I had not considered is that to fit the skirt pieces on the fabric, you have to tessellate them top-to-tail, a no-go if you have a directional print (as I did). Upon realising this, I changed tack and folded the pattern pieces up to knee-length. Now, I don’t know what went wrong here, I thought I had carefully measured, but when I came to sew them all together the hem looked like this, at pretty much every seam:


W.T.F?? Note to self: Next time check the pattern for how/where to shorten the skirt, do not just assume you can measure and all will be fine. In the end it was ok, the hem  just took a lot measuring/checking than it should have done.

The last change I made was to put an exposed metal zip in the back, instead of an invisible one, following Keightly’s excellent instructions. My reasons for this were threefold: Firstly to disguise the fact that the pattern doesn’t reeeeally match across the back (oops), secondly because I love an exposed metal zip on a girly dress and thirdly because I am still waiting for my invisible zip foot to arrive and I was just toooooo impatient to finish this lovely dress.

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Siobhan xx