Good morning, lovely ones! Today's project is a bit of mixed bag, I have to be honest. While it's a perfectly nice dress, the final product is a lesson in almosts. It's almost exactly what I wanted. It almost fits correctly. It's almost the perfect spring dress.
Let's start with the good first, though, shall we? For my Mood project this month, there was a challenge to meet. We were asked to pick a designer collection from the Spring/Summer 2014 runways shows, then sew a piece that could fit into the collection we fancied most. There were quite a few gorgeous collections this season, but I ended up choosing one of my stand-by inspirations: Orla Kiely.
Kiely's collection is utterly delightful, filled with gorgeous linens, whimsical animal prints, and early 60's silhouettes. It's very Wes Anderson meets The African Queen. The S/S 14 Kiely girl is a twee, binocular-toting naturalist on her first safari after grad school.
In order to properly channel this aesthetic, I ordered two lengths of linen in my favorite of Kiely's color pairings: navy and coral. Mood has an absolutely gorgeous selection of linens and these two are no exceptions. The navy is actually a Ralph Lauren fabric, lightweight and with gorgeous body, while the coral is a midweight linen-cotton blend with a sturdy hand. They are a really lovely pair.
Initially, I had planned to turn these fabrics into a Hawthorn from Colette Patterns—a simple navy shirtdress, with coordinating coral buttons and collar. It would have been gorgeous, but a shipping mix-up meant I didn't actually get these fabrics until last weekend, so the time just wasn't there. Instead, I reached for the Emery Dress from Christine Haynes, determined to finally make a proper version. The collar variation was perfect for my Kiely-esque vision and the skirt was wide enough to take advantage of the flowy navy linen. Even better, I'd already fit the Emery bodice to perfection! What could go wrong?
Well—contain your shock, kittens—it turns out that linen and faille don't drape in the same manner. They are, in fact, polar opposites. Where faille holds any structure you can imagine, linen is much more loosey-goosey. It wants to float and blouse. That's why we love it, after all. It's the ideal summer fabric! Unfortunately, that meant that my perfectly fitted Emery bodice wasn't perfect at all. The armscyes gaped, while the underbust poofed.
I took it in where I could, but the dress is still just a bit big those in areas. Not enough to bother me when wearing it, but enough that I still notice in these pictures. You can also totally see where my seatbelt crossed my chest in the car before taking these. Oh, linen. Won't you hide any sins?
Let's circle back to the bright side, though! This fabric is lush, y'all. I've written three different analogies, trying to capture what it feels like, and one of them involved angel butts. The navy is slightly slubby in texture, as a good linen should be, and so breathable. When Texas summer hits, I'm going to wear the hell out of this dress. Usually, I give up on pretty clothes sometime in mid-August, instead wearing thin shapeless knit pieces and murmuring, "Whhhhyyyyy?" This year, I will have linen to cool my heat-stricken fashion senses. Joy!
Now, onto construction details! The Emery was mostly fun to sew up. It's a very simple pattern, which makes it ideal for beginners, but could be embellished a hundred fabulous ways. There are eight darts, gathering of the skirt waistband, installation of the bodice lining, and an invisible zipper. From start to finish, this dress took me about six hours to sew, because I chose to sew the lining in completely by hand.
There were a few things that gave me issues, but they were a cutting mishap and a thing I shouldn't have tried anyhow. First off, one of my back bodice pieces was just a touch wider than the other, which made installing the collar on that side an adventure. The other was the Fucking Invisible Zipper of Doom.
Holy banana slugs! Invisible zippers are worse than mayonnaise. No matter how precisely I measure or what tricks I use, my waist seams never line up properly. This one, I installed three separate times to no avail. Despite both back pieces being identical in length, the zipper decided the seams should be separated forever. Ugh. They're still like a centimeter off, but I don't even care. I am done letting that zipper toy with my emotions! My gut said to sub it out for a hand-picked zipper, as is my wont, but I wanted to stick to the pattern instruction for an honest Emery experience.
So, that was a mistake. My next Emery—because, I will conquer this pattern's fit—will have a traditional zip.
Overall, my review for the Emery herself is two thumbs up. All of these issues with this dress were user error. I think that, in the wake of some good news this week, the universe wanted to reinforce that I'm not Coco Chanel yet: "You can successfully sew with silk and sign on for A Cool Secret Thing, but I still have your number, Mary. Here, have a box full of invisible zippers for your trouble."
Things I Loved:
- The collar! Such a sweet touch.
- The fabric! Mood rocks, as ever. I want to only wear linen and silk faille, because they've spoiled me so.
- The skirt! Swishy full delight.
- The skirt length! I didn't have to lengthen, in order to get the perfect hem length. Wonder! Awe!
- 2.5 inch FBA
- Sub out for a traditional zipper, so that I don't turn into a fire-breathing sewing monster.
- Revisit that FBA on a size smaller, so that I can address the fit issues in drapier fabrics.
Tips & Tricks:
- If you hate invisible zippers, don't sew them.
Notions & Fabric:
- Emery Dress - Christine Haynes Patterns - $18 - Goes up to a 45" bust
- Ralph Lauren Navy Linen - Courtesy of Mood Fabrics
- Coral Linen-Cotton Blend - Courtesy of Mood Fabrics
- 22" Invisible Zipper of Doom
- Interfacing for collar