The last time I worked with the Emma Dress by Sew Over It, was my first ever knit sewing project. I did plenty of research on fabrics and followed the advice to start with a nice stable Ponte Roma. I loved the dress when I made it – it fitted in with my existing wardrobe, it was warm, comfy and didn’t need ironing – so many wins! I ended up not wearing it much though, as it didn’t fit well at the waist and the length was a bit inbetweeny on me. The more I sew for myself, the more fussy discerning I’ve become about fit.
Since that first attempt, I’ve gained some experience in sewing with knits and fitting princess seams, so it felt like a good time to revisit this lovely dress pattern.
Happily, this is a very simple project when it comes to notions. The pattern includes an invisible zip on the centre back seam but, as it says on the Sew Over It website and countless pattern reviews, if you’re happy to pull the dress on over your head, you really don’t need a zip.
Never one to get too hung up on matching my thread too closely, I used black thread for construction and seam overlocking. I really dislike top stitching neckline facings so I took a different approach and knew that none of my stitching would be very visible.
I made quite a few adjustments, as I would really like this to be come my go-to pattern for a cosy dress:
- I went down one size from 14 to 12 to achieve a better fit at the shoulders and high bust – thank you Sew Over It for always nesting your sizes!
- I applied a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) of 2” total, i.e. 1” on each side. I went for this increase because I was happy with the fit across the bust on the size 14 dress, and this adjustment achieved the same bust size. NB - I am a big fan of the By Hand London Bodice Fitting Companion eBook.
- For my toile (made of leftover Ponte scraps) I performed the final step of the FBA, which is to remove the extra 1” that has been added at the waist from the side seam. I chose not to do this for my final dress as the waist was too tight and the bodice side seams were being pulled forward. I could blame lockdown weight gain for this, but too be honest I have always had a bit of a tum! I kept the original bodice side seam and added 1” of width to the front skirt piece, between the pleat and the side seam.
- A lot of pattern reviews I read included lengthening the bodice so that it reached the reviewer’s natural waist. I didn’t need to do this, because the FBA involved lengthening both bodice pieces and I was happy with where the waist landed after this.
- I increased the skirt length, using a RTW dress I like as a guide – finished length of 60cm I think (I am 5’8” and it lands above the knee).
- I lengthened the sleeve to full length and increased the width from mid bicep down as I found the original sleeve a bit tight.
- I replaced the cuff with a simply double-turned hem.
- I really wanted in-seam pockets but I was worried that the weight of a phone would drag the pocket down and ruin the line of my skirt. Instead, I added an inseam pocket into the waistline – time will tell if this was a good idea or not but so far I like it!
Construction was a fairly straight forward affair until it came to the facing. I really don’t like top stitching neckline facings and wanted to avoid this. I just didn’t think it would look right on this fabric.
First, I tried understitching the facing to the seam allowances, using the same lightning stitch that I had used for all the seams. This made the neckline very bulky and stiff, so out came the seam ripper. I hand-sewed a pick stitch for the understitching instead, and it’s a much nicer finish.
I also stitched in the ditch to secure the facing at the shoulder seams and the centre back seam. I’m still not entirely happy with the facing so I think the next iteration of this dress will include a bias bound neckline instead.
All in all, I really like this dress. Super comfy, lovely and warm – exactly what I was hoping for. And as my three year old photographer was keen to confirm, you can dance in it!