Emery Dress Sew-Along: Sewing The Bodice and Lining


Welcome to the part 9 of the Emery Dress Sew-Along where we get busy on our "real" fabric! Before you go cutting anything, please be sure to feel 100% confident about your Emery Dress pattern adjustments and muslin fitting, otherwise it can be tragic to ruin perfectly wonderful fabric as you forge ahead without doing your homework!

Once you are all ready to go, we can get to work on the finished dress, which is the fun part! Okay, here we go!

Before we do any sewing, let's make sure we have all our prep in order. Here are some handy reminders of those little things that we need to do first:

  • Press your fabric - be sure to only iron with the grain of the fabric and not with the bias. You don't want to stretch and warp the threads of the fabric, so simply work back and forth with the length of grain, which is the most stable part of the fabric.
  • Get a new machine needle - choose a nice brand new needle for the fabric type and weight you are going to sew with. I am using a Schmetz Microtex 80/12. 
  • Load your bobbin and thread your machine - I'm working with Mettler 100% cotton thread and my trusty Bernina 930.
  • Round up your tools - for these steps you will want your pins and pin cushion, scissors, pattern, chalk for marking darts, and a clear ruler. I only use water-soluble chalk pencils or pens for my dart markings so I know for sure they will be washed away. I'm using Clover water soluble chalk pencils. In addition, you will need your iron, ironing board, and a pressing ham.

Now that we have all we need, let's get to it!


Using your pattern pieces and following the layout in the instructions, pin and cut out your bodice front and bodice back, as well as your lining front and lining back. 

Before unpinning your pieces, use the tips of your scissors to mark all the notches on the bodice and lining front and back pieces. 

Unpin the area around the legs of one dart and mark the fabric near the cut edge.

Insert a pin into the apex of the same dart from the previous step, through the pattern and the fabric. 

Peel the pattern paper back and mark the fabric where the pin intersects. 

Using a ruler, draw a line from the apex of the dart to the end of the dart legs, as marked earlier. Repeat all these marking steps on all 16 darts on the bodice and lining. As you have not yet done your staystitching, be careful of how you handle the pieces as to avoid stretching out the neckline fibers.


Staystitching is an important step and not one to skip, though it is tempting. The stitches you sew in this step hold the threads of the neckline in place, keeping them from stretching and warping while you handle the dress during sewing. It is still a good idea not to be too rough with the garment and limit the amount of times you try it on during the sewing process. 

On the back bodice and lining pieces, stitch from the shoulder to the center back, using a regular straight stitch on the 3/8" seam allowance. 

On the bodice and lining front pieces, stitch your staystitching in two steps. First, stitch from the shoulder to the center front and stop. Take the piece out of the machine and flip it. Repeat by stitching from the opposite shoulder to the center front, meeting up with your first line of stitching. This ensures that the neckline curve was sewn in the same direction on each side. 


At the apex of one dart, insert a pin perpendicular to the dart. 

At each dart leg, insert a pin with the points hanging off the edge of the fabric. Make sure they are perfectly in line with the chalk lines.

Fold the fabric at the apex. Remove the pin and reinsert it going through the two layers of the folded fabric. 

Line up the pins at the dart legs, matching up the fabric edges. Remove the backside pin. Take the pin in the front out and reinsert through both layers of the fabric. Make sure the pin is lined up with the top and under layer chalk markings. 

Continue pinning up the dart, placing the pins perfectly in line with both chalk lines on top and underneath. Place the pin heads so they are facing the apex of the dart. You can either sew these one at a time, or do all the pinning at once, then sew them assembly line style. Up to you!


After you get the darts pinned, it's time to sew them up! 

Using a regular stitch length, start by placing your dart into your machine. Line up the needle with the chalk mark and sew a back stitch. Continue sewing along the dart, making sure to stay on your chalk line. Remove your pins as late as you can to keep the layers of the fabric in place. 

Stop sewing when the distance from the foot to the apex is around 3/8" or so. Turn the stitch length down to 1.0. Remove the pin and stitch with this small stitch length for the remainder of the dart as you trail off the fabric. 

Your stitch will look like the above photo, with a regular stitch length all the way, and the remaining 1/2" or so sewn with a short and tight stitch. Do not knot the threads and do not back stitch! Both of these will create a bump at the apex, leaving behind an undesirable point on the dart. Especially unwanted on your bust dart! Trim your thread and trust me when I tell you that it will not come undone.


Once all the darts are marked and sewn, it's time to press them! 

Place your dart on the pressing ham with the apex of the dart at the smallest point of the ham. Glide the fabric along the ham until the curve at the apex is smooth and is laying flat without any puckers or bunching. Press the waist darts on the back bodice toward the side seam. Press the neck darts on the back bodice the same direction.

Repeat all the previous pressing with the matching lining pieces.

Lay the front darts on the ham as you previously did. Press the bust darts down toward the waist. Press the waist seams on the bodice front toward the side seam. I know this is different than most people do, but I prefer the bulk of the dart to be pressed away from the center instead of having it sit on the center front of my body. 

Repeat the bodice front dart pressing on the matching lining piece. All the bodice and lining pieces should now be staystitched and have all their darts marked, sewn, and pressed. 


All that is left to do today is the easy shoulder and side seams! Yay! 

Place the bodice back pieces on the bodice front, right sides together. Match up the shoulder seams and pin in place. 

Sew the shoulder seams with the included 5/8" seam allowance. Use a regular straight stitch and be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the stitch. Repeat these steps with the matching lining pieces.

Pin the bodice back pieces to the bodice front at the side seams, matching the top, bottom, and notch. 

Sew the side seams as you did the shoulder seams, using all the same settings. Make sure to keep the bust dart pressed down as you sew over it. Repeat these steps with the matching lining pieces. 

Press the side seams open on both the bodice and lining. 

Press open the shoulder seams on both the bodice and lining.

On the shoulder and side seams of the lining, grade the seam allowance by trimming it in half. Be careful not to cut anything else! In this photo, the seam allowance above the stitch line is cut in half and the one on the bottom is not. 

Finish the edges of the shoulder seams and side seams on both the bodice and lining. Technically this is optional since it will all be enclosed inside the bodice, but I am the sort to be safe rather than sorry and finish the fabric anyway, so depending on your preference, you can do this or skip this! 

After all the seams are finished, give the seams a final press and pour yourself a celebratory flute of champagne! 

Next up is the collar, so if you're making View A you are off the hook until next week! Otherwise I'll see the rest of you back here on Thursday to attach our collars. Oh, and if you're curious, don't forget on Friday I'll be showing you how to make a very simple change if you'd prefer to have your collar be a rounded Peter Pan style instead of the pointed front. 


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