The Garden Party Dress

Love this dress!


This is my first incarnation of the Emery dress from Christine Haynes.  It’s a gorgeous pattern – completely my style, so really, it was kind of a given I’d love this.


I sewed up the size 14, sans muslin.  I’m not sure if there’s a lot of ease, or if I’m just really bad with the tape measure, but this came out way too big.

Now, when I was a newbie I had a minor epiphany – just because a pattern is lined, doesn’t mean you have to line it!  This is only the second dress since then where I’ve actually followed the instructions and lined a bodice.  I wanted it to be really pretty!

Anyway, then I realised it was way too big for me.  I did some hugely slapdash alterations – I just basted the side seams further and further in until I was happy with the shape, then sewed it and serged off the excess.  Needless to say, my beautiful neat insides got ugly very fast.  But heck, there was no way I was undoing an entire dress, including lining, just to size down.  There are serious type hobby sewists, who focus on fit and doing things properly, and then there are people like me, who avoid the boring bits like the plague.  Unpicking an entire dress = big time boring.  This is meant to be fun!


Ugh.  It turned out fine, anyway.  It’s definitely wearable, but not exactly the best fit in the world.


Back to the pattern!

I really liked the technique for lining the bodice without having to hand stitch everything down.  I’m a terrible catch-stitcher.  I’ve only worn my Penguin Dress a few times, but already the bodice is half falling out, where the hand stitching has broken.

I also wasn’t in the mood for handstitching  the bottom of my bodice lining down, so I machined it instead.  I like this way of doing it, even though my execution left a little to be desired.  I stitched-in-the-ditch from the outside of the dress, so it wouldn’t show.  But then I missed a few bits on the inside and had to go back for them.

I think next time I’ll stitch from the inside, so I catch the whole lining.  In a coordinating thread, the stitching is almost invisible.  Unless of course, you stick your face right up near my belly.  But that would be weird.  And I prefer wearing my dresses with a belt, anyway.


The fabric is a quilting cotton my mum gave me for Christmas.  It was a really excellent gift – I still have one more 2m length of fabric left that I can’t wait to use.  I wasn’t sure on the colour when I first saw it.  I liked it, but didn’t think it would suit me.

To counter-act it, I made the collar in contrast pink, which I thought would look better near my face.  But after I’d sewn the dress shell and could hold it against myself in front of the mirror, I decided to go without.

And you know, the colour actually looks pretty good on.

Mother knows best.  🙂

And now I have this song in my head.  Gah.

I love that movie.

I digress.

I put in the pockets as drafted.  When I first started sewing, I was really curious about this mysterious Liberty fabric everyone kept talking about, so I bought a fat quarter off Ebay.  It was one of those things that were a peculiar combination of this fabric is too precious to use/I have no use for a piece of fabric this small.



So pockets they became.  To be honest, I won’t put them in next time I make this pattern – or any other pattern, really.  I just don’t use pockets in dresses.  I’ve worn this dress a whole bunch since finishing it and never use them.  Mostly I forget they’re there.  So not really worth the effort of adding them in.

Despite my sizing dramas, this actually turned out great!  It was tense there for a while.  🙂

I’ll definitely be making this again – I have a few fabrics that would be great!  Fortunately Missy, my cat, is guarding the fabric until I need it.