Emery Dress Sew-Along: Fabric & Notions


Welcome to part two of the Emery Dress Sew-Along! I've heard from some of you that you already have your fabrics, so the planning and shopping phase might be old news to many of you, but for those of you that are still planning and undecided, let's talk about fabrics today.

First, let's have a brief conversation about prints. What I recommend all my customers do is hold up the fabric they are considering from their shoulders to their knees and see how they feel about it. I suppose this is true of solids too, but I feel like with prints you really need to see how it feels to wear the design on your entire body. It is sometimes surprising how it can change from just looking at the bolt versus unrolling it out and putting it on your whole body. 

I wrote a list of "lightweight woven fabrics" on the back of the Emery Dress pattern instruction booklet, and broke those down into an ideal list, so let's visit each of those in order from the list and discuss the pros and cons of each type. Each swatch is linked to the original source, so click on any image to see about buying it up for yourself!





Cotton shirting is precisely like it sounds; fabric made from cotton that is ideal for making shirts. Most often shirting fabrics are 100% cotton, but it is important to check as some brands might slip in some polyester in there so if that matters to you, be sure to check. Usually shirting is lighter in weight than quilting weight, but heavier than a lawn. To me, it is the ideal sweet spot: heavy enough to be easy to work with, but light enough to flow and drape nicely. 





Most of you are very familiar with quilt weight cottons, as many of the fun prints that are out there by some of our favorite designers are found in quilt weight. There is a lot of controversy about using quilt weight cottons for dress making, but personally I have no issues with it. This dress will take to quilt weight just fine, as long as it's not too stiff so the gathers around the waist don't poof in an unflattering way. 





Probably my favorite fabric to work with is lawn. It is silky and flows nicely around the body, but is far easier to work with than silk and washes and wears well. My all-time favorite fabric is Liberty Lawn, and this would be an amazing choice for a very special dress. UPDATE: please note that the navy blue floral on the top left is actually Liberty quilt weight, not lawn. Sorry for any confusion! 





I find that voile can really vary from brand to brand, and it often comes in blends with silk and polyester, so be very careful what you buy if voile is your choice. Using voile will be a much sheerer choice, so you will need to be thoughtful about lining and probably want to plan to wear the dress with a slip under the skirt. 





Swiss dot has a special girly-vintage vibe to it that it's impossible not to love it. A whole dress from swiss dot would be special and really feminine. Much like voile, you will want to consider your lining and sheer factor carefully, since usually it is rather thin. If you saw Adey's gorgeous version, hers was made from a lovely swiss dot.





Double gauze is precisely how it sounds: it is two layers of thin gauze, held together by little loops of thread every quarter inch or so. It is rather fluffy and has a very loose weave so it can be tricky to work with. The skirt of the Emery Dress will be quite poofy at the waist because of the fluff factor, but it is plenty lightweight to handle the gathering if you're into the poof. 





Linen is always a classic choice, but know that there are many types of linen. I would suggest a lightweight linen or linen blend with a drape to it. Some linens can be very crisp and would make for stiff gathers around the waist. If you are considering doing your dress with a pleated skirt, linen would be an excellent choice as it holds a press very well. 





Chambray too can come in a range of weights, and the most ideal would be something no heavier than a quilt weight and no lighter than a voile. Chambray is making quite a comeback right now and this dress in a classic chambray navy would be a timeless choice. 





Seersucker is one of my all-time favorite fabrics to wear and work with because it feels vintage and never goes out of style. Note that many seersuckers are blends and all can stretch a bit due to the way it is woven. It can be slightly harder to work with because of this, but usually it will take to wearing and ironing well. 


The only required notions are a zipper and interfacing, but you could get fancy and add buttons to the front neckline if you like, but that's up to you! For zippers, the pattern is written for an invisible zipper, so any 22" invisible zipper of your choice would be great. If you'd like to use a regular zipper and do a lapped zipper, centered zipper, or hand pick your zipper, that's all fine too! It's such a personal choice and as long as you stick to the instructions otherwise, you'll be good to go.

For interfacing, I like the lightweight woven fusible Bosal interfacing best. This is only required for the collar and bow, so if you're skipping those elements, you can skip the interfacing too! Although, I also interface the area where the zipper goes in, so if you want to do this too, pick up an 1/8 yard of interfacing that is at least 22" wide to accommodate the length of the zipper. If it's not 22" wide, you'll need to get 22" in length, which is 5/8 yard. 

Good luck choosing your fabrics and we'll meet back here on Monday to talk about preparing your fabric and interfacing! Happy weekend everyone!

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