Tag Archives: Emery Dress

Designer Inspiration: Orla Kiely

Do you ever look to designers for your sewing/ making inspiration? I do a little bit, mainly through Pinterest, which I love. As any of you that like the 60s, as I do, I’m sure you love Orla Kiely. I like her 60s colour palettes and the shapes on her designs. I feel like some of the stuff was everywhere for a while, but I like her clothing designs, so I thought I’d share some here for your sartorial inspiration.

I love the dresses particularly. This bird fabric is soooo cute and I like the plain white sleeves and yoke. I’ve been really drawn to tops and dresses with contrast sleeves and yoke/ neckline, especially with raglan sleeves. I reckon this would be totally re-creatable. Maybe with Colette’s Moneta pattern, which I just so happen to already have in my stash!

Orla Kiely Bluebird & Blackbird T-Shirt Dress blueI like the simple shape of this one, and the piping/ binding makes it a bit more interesting than it otherwise would be. The print has tiny hearts all over it too, which is sweet.Orla Kiely Busy Bee Print Organza Stripe Dress sky I like plain styles of dress, made with interesting fabric, so I love the below dress (which also comes in blue, but pretty much this whole page would have been blue, so I saved the red version instead!). This is the same hearty fabric as above, but in red (obvs). I reckon Christine Haynes’ Emery Dress could recreate this dress. Orla Kiely Busy Bee Print Side Pleat Dress poppy

This shirt dress style dress is pretty cute too, and the fabric has tiny shoes all over it! I like the collar, and the waist band has gathers on the bodice as well as the skirt, so it would have a cinched in waist even without a belt.

Orla Kiely Resort Collection Ditsy Shoe Pleated Dress slateThis navy dress with the cut-out neckline is really lovely. I like that this one has pockets too!  Orla Kiely Flower Spot Jacquard Heart Cut Out Dress midnightThis blue dress might be my favourite. Plus it comes in yellow! I think the Emery could be a good base for this dress, too. If I sized up, to give it the loose fitting style and didn’t gather/pleat the skirt across the front and added little cuffs to the sleeves, I think I’d have a pretty good version of this.  Orla Kiely Slub Silk Tunic skyThis skirt is the same hearty fabric as in the dresses above, and is it me, or does this look a lot like Tilly’s new pattern, The Arielle Skirt? Orla Kiely Busy Bee Print Skirt sky

This is a pretty basic pencil skirt, and there must be a million pencil skirt patterns, but I really like the fabric. I’m planning a pink pencil skirt myself, though not in this baby pink kind of shade, more of a brighter, obnoxious pink! Orla Kiely Flower Spot Jacquard Skirt coral

This t shirt is right up my alley – contrast sleeves and neck binding. I’m not totally sold on the fabric, but it’s quite sweet. Orla Kiely Daisy Gingham Top pebble

I like this little jumper too, the collar is sweet and it’s pretty much smack in the middle of the colours I wear all the time! I’m never totally sold on short-sleeved jumpers, though. Does anyone else ever think if it’s warm enough to have bare arms, then you’re going to get hot in a jumper? Anyone?Orla Kiely Flower Jacquard Top navy How amazing is this sweatshirt? I don’t think it’s one I would copy as I wouldn’t do it this well, but I like the idea of a kind of plain top with some amazing decoration on. Maybe I’ll have a go at some applique on my clothes. Orla Kiely Resort Collection Sixties Lady Intarsia Sweater grey and navyI’m also a sucker for a good mug. I would have loads of them if I had the space……wait, I do have loads. I would have even more! Also, I’m getting to the age where I want nice kitchen wear and not just the stuff I can afford. Maybe I’ll save up for some Orla Kiely crockery?Orla Kiely Henny Hen mug mustardOrla Kiely 60s Stem Mug blueOrla Kiely Acorn Cup yellowWould you ever copy a designer/ ready to wear garment? I always think I will, but I haven’t yet. Maybe one day, when I’ve sewn ALL the things on my list!

All pictures are from the Orla Kiely website.

Emery Dress 2

After deciding I was, after all, in love with my first Emery Dress, I decided to make another one! I made it with some of the fabric I was given for Christmas – and promptly fell in love with!


I just love the tiny flowers with mustard yellow buds and blue is my all-time favourite colour. It’s been there through my brief dalliances with mustard yellow and pink, like a true friend. The shade of blue I lean to has changed over the years – it used to be an insipid pastel blue, but now I’m into more bold colours, so this is perfect!

I made a couple more changes to the pattern than I did in the first one. The biggest change (probably) was to shave 7cm off each skirt pattern piece, taking off 14cm from each of the front and back skirts. I did this mainly because I didn’t have enough fabric, but I actually like the slightly slimmed down version.


I also placed the front bodice pattern piece 0.5cm from the fold of my fabric, to add in a little extra room – which I added by adjusting the seam allowances on the first one. I think this worked okay as a lazy fix, but I didn’t really twig that it would lengthen the neckline at the front – a little more than I maybe would have liked. So if I make this again, I’ll re-muslin it to get a proper fit again with some extra ease built in.

Because I initially added the collar to the first version, I didn’t mess with the back neckline as then the collar wouldn’t have fitted, but without that as an issue, I took 1.5cm extra out of each back neck dart – I left them the same length, finishing as the original point. I’m actually really pleased with how the dress fits me across the back – as I’ve mentioned before, I have a narrow back and normally things gape or if they’re looser fitted, they look a bit too loose across the back (and I’m often too lazy to fix the issue). But apart from the darts, I didn’t change anything on the back!


I used a zip from my stash, which matches the mushroom-y sort of color on the flowers quite well. I didn’t intend the zip to be so visible, but since you can see it, it’s now a design feature!

P1020499-PS-mediumThe only other major change I made was to not add a lining. I didn’t really have anything suitable and as the fabric is quite thin, I thought it would be a nicer Summer dress without the extra layer of fabric. For the necklines, I drafted facings by tracing the bodice pieces and drawing a matching curve to the curve of the neck about 7cm away, to give me enough depth for a seam allowance and to make sure the facing wasn’t so small it wouldn’t lay flat. If you’re going to do the same, remember to fold the back neck dart closed before you trace the back bodice facing, otherwise you’ll have to sew the darts in the facing as well as the bodice piece. I used iron-on interfacing to stiffen the facings and sewed a fancy overlocking-type stitch around the bottom edge to neaten it.


Did I mention that I love this dress, by the way? And, rather lamely, part of the reason I love it is because I took so much care to make the inside look as nice as the outside. I French seamed every single seam, including the side seams with the in-seam pockets. I’d previously conquered most french seams, including on sleeves using Grainline’s tutorial, but had to google whether it was possible to do it with in-seam pockets as it was hurting my brain trying to think through how it would work. And luckily Deborah Moebes, from Whipstitch (who designed the Travel Matching Game I made) wrote this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew. So now the insides look like this:


I also sewed the hem by hand, using a catch stitch, which took a little while, but it’s worth the effort – I might be a convert away from machine stitching hems!


And to finish it off, I sewed in one of my labels which I also got for Christmas.


This seriously might be one of my favourite things I’ve made so far!


My First Emery Dress (Finally)

I’m a little ashamed that I’ve only just gotten around to sharing my first Emery Dress! I was meant to have it done before Christmas for the sewalong, and I actually finished it in March. But I do have a kind of excuse for waiting so long! Although I did wear the dress, to the Knitting and Stitching Show to be precise, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would when I began making it. My sister said at the time that she thought it would look better without the collar, and as much as I love a collar, she was right!

This is what it looked like in its original incarnation (by the way, sorry for the consistently blurry photos – they always look clear on the camera and I take loads to make sure some are good- and then they all look terrible when they’re on my computer – very annoying!):


It’s made from a table cloth I picked up at one of my local charity shops. There was just enough fabric to make the dress. I decided to make the stripes go one way on the bodice and the other on the skirt partly so I didn’t have to worry about stripe -matching on the skirt, but also out of necessity because of how little fabric there was.

I did a 1.3cm small bust adjustment and I moved the bust darts up by 2cm. I also added 1cm to the length of the bodice, otherwise it would have been almost empire line! I also sewed a 7cm hem as the length was a little frumpy on me (I’m 5’2″).

The back fitted fairly well – maybe a little gapey, but not the worst thing I’ve ever made!


The lining and pockets are made of some plain navy polycotton I had in my stash:


Can I just say that I love that this dress has pockets! I think I might add pockets into everything I make from now on, if they’re not already included!

Now, I thought that I did a good job on the bust adjustment, but the dress ended up being a little tight in general and made my already small boobs appear basically non-existent!


This coupled with my falling out of love with the collar meant that I finally decided to alter the dress. I don’t really like altering things once I’ve made them (which is weird because I’ve enjoyed the refashions that I’ve done) – maybe it’s putting in all the work to get it finished and then having to undo and redo a certain amount of that work, just seems like a waste of time – time that I could be using to make something shiny and new! But I’m soooo glad I did change it because I love it again!

First of all, I took off the collar, which involved unpicking the lining as well from the neckline.


I also let out the side seams (on the lining as well as the main fabric) by 0.5cm on each side, as the dress was just slightly uncomfortably tight. I’ve realised I like a bit of ease in my woven garments!

This had the bonus of not squashing my boobs quite so much! It’s weird, they didn’t feel squashed, but apparently they were judging by the photos!


I also took up the hem by another 3cm, as I still felt a little frumpy. So that’s a 10cm hem altogether, compared to the original length of the pattern.

Here’s the lovely inside, with the lining re-handsewn in place after all my fiddling!


Complete with one of my labels, gifted to me for Christmas!


I’m really pleased with this new finished dress. I’ve already worn it for Me Made May (first week round up to follow tomorrow), to a birthday party and I got quite a few compliments on it, which is always nice! I really like the pattern and it was really easy to put together and Christine Haynes has written very clear instructions and all the sewalong posts are on her blog if you need more photos/ help on any particular step. I’ve already made a second version (which I’ve also already worn for Me Made May and will follow soon on the blog) and it might become my go-to dress pattern!


Sewalong Fail!

Unfortunately I have failed to finish my Emery Dress is time for the end of the sew-along. 😦 Despite having a couple of months and an entire week off work in that time, I only got around to cutting out the dress this evening and have sewed quite a bit of it, but I’m travelling to my parents’ tomorrow and am not home until Monday 30th (I think it’s the 30th), so I won’t get it done. The Boyfriend’s mum has a sewing machine which she has kindly said I can use while I’m at their house, which is for 6 days and I might still do this if I can carry all my sewing stuff as well as all my presents and clothes for more than a week. I’m also hoping to take my camera and laptop, so you never know…..

I won’t be updating again before Christmas, so I hope you all have a lovely restful time!

Book Christmas Tree

Another Great British Sewing Bee Apron

So it was my sister’s birthday at the beginning of this week (and mine, we’re twins!) and after seeing the apron I made for my friend, she requested one of her own. She said she likes rainbow colours so I drew a few versions I could made from things already in my stash and decided a full-on rainbow might be a bit too much (though in retrospect I slightly wish I’d done it), so I just went for the warm end of the colours as they are the ones she likes and wears most.

There isn’t much to say about the construction -it’s super simple, and I’d already made it. The only thing I will say is don’t melt the fabric of the lining as you give it a final iron before slip stitching the lining to the ‘skirt’ part. D’oh!


I had my iron on the cotton setting and didn’t even think of checking it. It turns out this orange polycotton must be a lot more poly than it is cotton! It was super annoying to make such a stupid mistake, but it was easily fixed with a new lining piece.


And here’s the whole thing in all its glory:


Sorry if this isn’t that interesting, since I’ve already made it and its only an apron, but there will me lots more sewing posts coming as I’ve just had a week off work and although I didn’t get as much sewing as I hoped, I have many plans. I’ve bought 3 new patterns – Christine Haynes’s Emery Dress (for the sewalong), Megan Nielsen’s Banksia Top (of which I’ve already made one and am about to cut out 2 more!) and By Hand London’s Victoria Blazer, which I’ve been umming and ahing about for ages, then I saw the coat version Victoria posted on their blog the other day and decided to spend my birthday money on it. I have most of my stash allocated to a pattern, so hopefully there will be many things sewn in the coming weeks. Then I need to move onto bottoms I think….