I have a very special dress to share tonight. It’s an Emery dress made out of the bridesmaid dresses from our wedding!
When we were planning our wedding, we chose a candy pastel colour palette and I spent quite some time searching for ideas for the perfect bridesmaid dresses. Then one day as I was shopping in Oasis and I spotted the perfect dress – a cute prom style in the perfect shade of candy pastel pink, with a gorgeous floral print and hints of other pastel shades. The only problem being that the wedding was still a year away. Three of my gorgeous bridesmaids were growing teenagers, but the off the rack dresses would only be around for this season. So rather than passing up on the perfect dresses we decided to buy some extra in a range of sizes to make sure there would be something to fit everyone, with the added bonus that I had two dresses left over to keep after the big day.
[Wedding pictures by Shell de Mar]
I was going through all of my wedding keepsakes recently and found the spare bridesmaid dresses. They were both too small to fit me so have never been worn, and it seemed a shame to keep them hidden away in a box. I decided to try and use the material to make a new dress I could wear.
I unpicked the skirt from each dress, and fortunately the original dresses had very full skirts and so I had lots of material to work with. I was able to cut out the bodice, sleeves and bow using the material from one of the skirts, and use the second skirt pretty much as it is but gathered instead of pleated as in the original dress. I used a candy pink lining and a pink exposed lace zip to finish it, because you can never have too much pink right??
Outfit details: “Bridesmaid remix” dress – made by me with material from my bridesmaid dresses using the Christine Haynes Emery dress pattern / Earrings – Lorelai Lorelai / Orla Kiely Angelina Shoes – Clarks (now sold out) / Tights – eBay
I am delighted with how it turned out. The fabric is just dreamy and I was always a little regretful that I didn’t buy one of the dresses for myself, so it means I now get to wear one of my special memories from the best day of my life.
This is my fourth version of the Emery dress and it is easily my favourite of all the patterns I have made. I first saw the Emery dress pattern on Sarah’s blog A Million Dresses (for anyone who hasn’t already read Sarah’s gorgeous blog, she has a whole wardrobe full of the most beautiful handmade Emerys) and I was smitten with the style, but didn’t imagine it was something I could ever achieve. The idea of setting sleeves terrified me! But, when I decided to give dressmaking another shot, I couldn’t resist buying the pattern and giving it a try and I’m so pleased I did. It’s the sort of dress you just feel special in, and the four I have made are easily my most worn handmade items so far. The fit of the pattern was perfect straight out of the packet in my standard size so I didn’t have to make any adjustments, and it’s the ideal balance of being nicely tailored and well fitting but also really comfortable to wear. I also learned a lot from making this dress – Christine Haynes has a brilliant sew along on her blog with lots of clever tips and tricks, and I picked up lots of “proper” dressmaking techniques.
And the sleeves? Not so scary after all – I think the idea of easing the fabric to try and attach a sleeve that is larger than the hole it’s going into without any gathering made no sense to me until I actually tried it. So far I’ve only made the short sleeved version but this is mostly just because of the time of year – I’m imagining lots of gorgeous woodland prints and jewel coloured patterns in three quarter sleeve versions for Autumn. I also love the versatility of being able to add a collar and/or a bow – the recipe for perfectly cutesy vintage style dresses, which is exactly my vibe.
The fabrics I have used for my Emerys so far (from left to right) are:
- Cotton & Steel Fernbrook Mint from M is for Make
- Cotton & Steel Picnic Basket from Fabric.com
- Cotton & Steel Zephyr Citron Breeze (Metallic) from Miss Matatabi
- From my bridesmaid dresses
In addition to my four dress, I have also made two Emerys for my Mum – one in a fun cloud print and the other in a turquoise floral double gauze with a contrasting stripe around the hem. For her birthday this year, I bought Mum three lengths of fabric with a promise to make them into whichever style dresses she wanted. After reviewing my handmade wardrobe so far, we settled on the Emery for her first two, and she loves the shape as much as I do. She says it feels like a proper “Sunday best” dress, and I completely agree. And can we just take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous Cotton & Steel cloud print? I am beyond excited to see all of the new Cotton & Steel designs launching this week at the quilt market. I’m definitely becoming a fabric geek, if there is such a thing!
I’m now finding it hard to resist only ever making Emerys, and I think it will always be my pattern of choice for my absolute favourite fabrics.