Posted in My Makes

The Lady in Red

I have been a little bit in love with Christine Haynes’ Emery dress for a while now.

Christine Haynes Emery

It’s not difficult to see why. That flattering neckline. Those cute little short sleeves. That fitted bodice. That gathered skirt. This style of dress suits me well, I think. But, alas and alack, the dress pattern costs $18, plus whatever postage to the UK would be. Even the PDF is $14. Plans to buy the PDF remained in the pipeline, but never quite came round to fruition.

And then, by chance, I happened upon this little pattern New Look 6262 on the Simplicity website. Flattering neckline, cute little short sleeves, fitted bodice, gathered skirt…sound familiar? And it was then that I realised the pattern was on sale and only cost £2.98, plus about 80p postage and packaging. I took it as a sign from above. It was clearly Meant To Be.

So I bought it, obviously.

And I bought some gorgeous red floral cotton from Sew Over It to go with it:

This was actually the first dress that I haven’t attempted to make in a day. It’s the hardest garment I’ve sewn to date (even though it’s not actually that hard) and the fit was trickier, so I wanted to take my time. I also made a toile for the first time, since I didn’t want to take any chances with the fit. But I didn’t get any photos of that!

Once I’d adjusted the bust and waist darts, and drafted new bodice pattern pieces out of grease-proof paper (I don’t have any pattern paper), I was ready to cut into my lovely fabric.

Pattern pieces feat. grease-proof paper

And here they all are, darts marked and interfacing ironed on:

The next day I sewed up the front and back darts, and then sewed the front and back bodice pieces together:

A cute little crop top, no?

At this point I got a little sloppy with my pictures, mainly because the sewing got a bit stressful. But anyway. I sewed the skirt pieces together, gathered the skirt at the waist and stitched the gathered edge to the bodice. Then I tried the dress on, and discovered that the waist of the dress was sitting a good few centimetres off my natural waist. I toyed with the idea of leaving it as is, and using a belt to raise the waist a little, just because I’m lazy and I couldn’t be bothered to alter it after already having stitched the seam once. But then I had a little talk with myself, and decided that it would always bother me if I didn’t do anything about it. So I pinched about 3cm out of the waist seam and stitched the new waist onto the skirt. Then I unpicked the original waist seam, and trimmed off the excess fabric before finishing the raw edges. It took some time but I’m very glad I bothered, as when I tried on the dress again the bodice fit much better and sat on my natural waist. Patience: one. Laziness: nil.

I always get excited at the point when it first starts to look like a dress!

Then it was zip time (oo err). The instructions called for an invisible zip, but seeing as they scare me, and I don’t have an invisible zip foot, I decided just to insert an ordinary dress zip. I figured the fabric was busy enough that the stitch lines wouldn’t be too obvious. After some faffing and tutting and mopping of brows, the zip was in!

Now I can actually try on the dress with no pins plunging themselves into my flesh

Facing time! This was a bit fiddly as the front neckline on my bodice had stretched out of shape a little – pretty annoying as I’d stay-stitched the whole of the neckline edge! But I managed to stitch it down, once I’d attached the facing pieces to each other and finished the raw edge:

Once the facing was on I moved onto the sleeves. They were only my second ever pair of set-in sleeves but I’m pretty proud of them – no puckers or gathers along the seam line! Yay!

Pinning the hem feat. indecent knee exposure

The last thing to do was the bottom hem. The skirt was just below knee length, even after I’d raised the waist by several centimetres, so I lopped off 6cm from the bottom, making the skirt just above the knees. Then I pressed under the hem allowance and whizzed my machine round the hem.

Then all that was left to do was a few hand stitches to secure the edges of the facing against the zip, and to catch-stitch the facing to the shoulder seam allowances. Et voila!

We did it, guys. Only took about four days

I’m really pleased with this dress. It’s the most complicated garment I’ve attempted so far and I don’t think I did too bad a job with the fit. It has a bit of ease so I can actually move/sit down/wave my arms around without the fear of a seam ripping at any moment, but it’s fitted enough to give me a nice waist, avoiding the oh-so-flattering bin-bag look. Plus the fabric is so beautiful and cheerful, I love it! The only small thing that bugs me is that the zip gapes a little at the back of the neck, but I’ve made a note of this, so hopefully I can adjust that for the next time I make this dress.

And I’m sure I will be making more New Look 6262s over time. It’s a lovely little pattern, and not a bad match for the Emery dress at all! Plus there are variations for capped sleeves, or no sleeves, and an option for a V-neck, so hopefully I can make myself several different versions over time.

So if you don’t live in America, or if the Emery dress is a bit too expensive for you, or if you don’t fancy piecing together 50-odd pages of the PDF, New Look 6262 is the way forward!





Hello! I'm Hannah and I'm a Classics undergrad at Cambridge. I spend most of the time which I should be spending on my degree crocheting and sewing instead.

7 thoughts on “The Lady in Red

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