Nautical Birthday Emery Dress

It’s become a tradition for me to make myself a dress to wear at my annual chicken bingo birthday party and despite how busy I have been this year, I decided I couldn’t break tradition and should sew a dress about a week before the party (this should sound familiar to a lot of you). Thanks to ye old stash, I already had some summery nautical Michal Miller border print fabric in my stash that I had purchased specifically to make a Christine Haynes Emery dress.


  • Cut a size 8 at the shoulders and graded to a 12 at the waist.
  • Took shoulders in 1″
  • Brought up armscye 1/2″
  • Lengthened bodice 1/2″

Fabric Used:

This dress may look familiar to you, because Roisin Muldoon of the blog Dolly Clacket made one out of the same fabric. It just goes to show that this fabric was made for an Emery dress and if Roisin and I ever meet we can twin out together. It also meant that I got to see how great it would look sewn up and read about how she made hers before I made mine, which is always a bonus.

This pattern is designed to have sleeves, so I had to figure out how to make it sleeveless. At the time I sewed this, Christine Haynes had some information on her website about how to make the Emery dress sleeveless, but she seems to be revamping her blog, so it looks like it is gone now. I remember reading that if you were going to make it sleeveless, you should taking some width out of the chest, shoulders and armscye to account for the ease that is in there to accommodate movement of arms in sleeves. That said, I seemed to have ignored the part about taking some width out of the chest. After a day of wear, this dress had totally rubbed red marks above my armpits, so that explains the suggestion. That’s an easy one to fix on my next version though, of which there will probably be plenty.

Back to making it sleeveless, my other challenge was that I didn’t want to just finish the armholes by binding them, which I think was the way Christine Haynes recommended finishing it. I did find some other useful construction tips here, but in a proud moment decided to trust my own knowledge of sewing construction at this point and use the instructions of a similar dress pattern that I had already sewn, the Truffle dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook.

Both patterns are sleeveless and have lined bodices, so I figured it should work! The construction of the Truffle dress seems sort of unique in that it has you sew the front bodice to the front skirt and the back bodice pieces to the back skirt pieces, instead of fully assembling the bodice and fully assembling the skirt and then joining the bodice to the skirt. You then sew the lining to the shell at the neckline and armholes and pull it all through one the shoulders to fully enclose the neckline and armholes without binding or facings. It sounds a little confusing,  but it totally worked!

I also deviated from both patterns by fully lining the dress. The lining fabric was just a basic white cotton that was in my stash and was a bit stiff and muslin like, but I like that it gives a nice structure to the dress and some additional volume to the skirt.

Birthday action shot at horseshoe pits!

I have to say, this dress was kind of a milestone for me. I am usually such a rule follower and follow instructions to the letter. I mean, I did still use directions, but not the pattern’s directions, so it felt like going rogue to me. I guess it just made me feel like I have actually gained some good skills in the past 6 years that I have been sewing clothes. I’m also just super happy with the way this dress turned and how it fits and everything. I successfully wore it to my birthday party and got to show it off in at the live me-made fashion  show at Camp Workroom Social this year, where I did a special spin at the end of the runway for Christine Haynes herself!

I feel like I am the last person on the internet to sew the Emery Dress and I can see why it is so popular now. I do still love a good fit and flare dress, so this silhouette is right up my alley and best of all… it has pockets!

3 thoughts on “Nautical Birthday Emery Dress

  1. Thanks for sharing your Emery story. I’m feeling inspired to stretch my own skills to make something for myself after reading this.

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