Summer Shift Dress

It's always a sad moment when you realise you will soon need to say goodbye to a well loved and well worn dress. About eight years ago I bought a couple of summer dresses for the office from Oasis. I still have them but only one has been consistently pulled off the rack, week after week throughout the seasons. I love this dress because of the way it makes me feel when wearing it, it's happy bright flowers backed up by a lovely shade of purple and its fit - which is pretty good for ready to wear.

Shift dress copied from ready to wear clothes.jpg

Recently I have been trying to find a replacement for it and have been trying on various takes on the shift dress. I couldn't find any that worked as well. I came to the conclusion that this is because most of the styles don't have much shape at the front. My dress has long French darts on the front with a bust dart. The back also features long French darts but with a small additional diagonal ones which point towards the centre back seam. The closest sewing pattern I have found to this is Tilly's Francoise but it isn't quite right for what I wanted. 

In the end, I traced off the dress and made it from the delightful Boca Raton in purple from Alexander Henry's Rio collection. You can read the further details including the changes I would make to the second version over on the Fabric Fox blog

Completed: Sew Dolly Clackett Emery

Tell me - do you have a favourite blog or one that you always look forward to the next post? I do, several in fact, and one of them is Dolly Clackett by Roisin. I cannot wait to see what fabric she has used to make a dress. That girl can see potential in fabric that I can't. So when Sew Dolly Clackett was announced (a chance to pay tribute to Roisin's style, wish her and Nic a wonderful wedding and try playing with novelty fabrics), I knew I had to join in.

Christine Haynes Dolly Clackett Emery Dress 3.jpg

Choosing fabric and which pattern was tough. For the pattern I narrowed it down to the Anna or Emery but I decided to get the fabric and then match the pattern to it. Three weeks later I came home from shopping in Birmingham with two meters of the Viva Frida fabric by Alexander Henry - I couldn't turn down the teal. 

Those of you familiar with patterns will notice that the Emery won. I was thrilled to finally get my hands on this pattern. I had heard so many good things about it and seen so many beautiful versions I desperately wanted in on the action. One of the best features of this pattern is the fact that it seems to fit most reasonably well straight out of the packet. Mainly because I was too lazy to do an FBA, I cut a larger size and lengthen the bodice by an inch. It fits very well around my waist although I need to remove some excess from the neckline (both front and back) to make it fit really work. I skipped the pockets - not because of my dislike of pockets in dresses, but because I didn't have enough fabric to make the skirt properly. 

Christine Haynes Dolly Clackett Emery Dress 2.jpg

The skirt is the width of the fabric, just 112cm wide. You see, I don't normally wear novelty prints and I didn't want to splash out on three meters of fabric when I might not wear the dress. While I like the more fitted look, I have to admit that I wish I had bought three meters! A slip must creep to the top of my sewing list as this dress becomes a wiggle dress when wearing it with tights and I just don't have the patience for slow dainty steps! 

Christine Haynes Dolly Clackett Emery Dress 4.JPG

I lined the bodice with some navy fabric I picked up at the Fancy Silk Store. I'm not sure what the fibre content is, probably a poly, but it feels lovely against the skin. It has been a while since I lined anything and I'm pretty happy with the result but I need to work on my under stitching which would have probably got a stern look if being judged on the Sewing Bee. I don't have much to say about the construction, it has been covered well by others, but I will say it is simple and quick to make. I can completely understand why the Emery has become a favourite for many. I have the perfect fabric in my stash for a second. 

In addition to creating wonderful dresses, there are two other things you should know about Roisin that are relevant to this sewalong. First, she has the most amazing shoe collection I have seen (and I have friends who have pretty great collections). I turned to my trusty red Backlash shoes by Poetic Licence. Second, most of her photos are taken outside her front door. Sadly I don't have an attractive front door but I could replicate this photo outside the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford.

Christine Haynes Dolly Clackett Emery Dress.jpg

I was amazed that I didn't feel too self conscious when posing for the photos, not because people stare at you while posing for shot after shot but because I was wearing something so out of my comfort zone. Or so I thought. Turns out bright colours and interesting prints are great fun to wear. I might just be buying more of them...