Hamilton Frocktails in my new DIBY Emmeline Gathered Dress

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet a wonderful group of local sewists at the first ever Hamilton Frocktails! The concept is simple, but the outcome was fabulous. I bought my ticket to attend this local meet up knowing no one at all, but faith in the fact that all the sewists and fabric addicts I’ve met online have been so wonderful. I met a few great women and had an awesome time meeting local sewing enthusiasts. But the coolest part? We were all there wearing garments we had made. It was a room full of Closet Case, Wiksten, Vogue, True Bias, Helen’s Closet and so many more wonderful designers. The event was hosted by the owners of a local sewing store called Needlework at a boutique bar in downtown Hamilton, Ontario. I proudly showed off my new DIBY Emmeline dress.

It’s been a difficult few weeks at home. What you may (or may not) notice in these pictures is just how tired I am right now. I’m on some fertility medications that literally knock the wind out my sails, I feel like that permanently exhausted pigeon I hear about.  The hormone medications also make me feel super bloated and puffy, like my fingers feel tight like sausages when I close my fist level of puffy. So when the opportunity to test a new pattern that looked perfect for my body type came up, I was happy to join in for the plus size testers because I needed a pick me up.

One of the very first things I sewed for myself was the Colette Moneta. It was before I had a serger, my first time working with knit fabrics, and I knew nothing about grading. It fit, but I made it way too big. To make it wearable, I had to add a drawstring to the waist, and put elastic on the arm hems for a more blouson look. And the neckline was really, like I mean REALLY high on me – and I hate high necklines, I feel like I’m choking. But I was proud of it and still wore it. It’s very comfy, but because I was so far outside the size range and didn’t know how to grade out a pattern, it ended up quite large and doesn’t look much like the original pattern design I think.

What intrigued me about the DIBY Emmeline was that it was similar in design to Moneta, but with a few key changes that make for a much better fit.

The Pattern: Emmeline Gathered Dress
Designer: DIBY (Do it Better Yourself Club)
Size Range: 00 -20 Misses, 14-36 Plus (both included)
Difficulty: 2/5
What I Made: 24 bust graded to 28 hips
Alterations: Full bicep adjustment

The Emmeline has a gathered skirt which is very forgiving for fluctuating waist and hip sizes. It includes a scoop and v-neckline option, three lengths, and the option for multiple sleeve lengths including sleeveless with binding. What sets the bodice apart is the shaping dart. A lot of knit dresses with fitted bodices rely solely on negative ease for shaping. The addition of a dart that goes from bust to waist line brings in the shape nicely without feeling overly tight. This is a feature the Colette Moneta does not have. DIBY has a great tutorial on sewing darts that is linked right from the pattern instructions if this is not something you’ve sewn before. In a patterned fabric like the one I’ve sewn here, they all but disappear.

The pattern is drafted for a bit taller than I am, however I didn’t make height adjustments to the skirt or bodice. The main reason I chose to not alter that length is that my husband and I are trying to grow our family, and I learned in my last pregnancy that my bust got a LOT bigger, and most of my dresses with an empire waist did not fit comfortably over the bust. So, while the waist looks a bit long in the front on me now, I know that if we are able to get pregnant soon, I will be glad for that extra length. I also didn’t shorten the skirt because I actually like a knee length to hit just past the knees.

This gorgeous fabric is from Mimi Fabrics in Ottawa, Ontario. She carries the biggest selection of Rebecca Reck Art Fabrics in Canada, including exclusives like this one called ‘Tropical Heat’. Can you believe this is cotton jersey? It has the softest hand, nice drape without being clingy, and lightweight enough for summer heat.

Good to Know…

  • There is some great instructions about gathering with basting stitches included in the tutorial if this is not a technique you’ve used before. It does give you the option to gather more or less in areas if you prefer
  • I prefer to gather with elastic just because it’s easier and faster for me. I just use braided cotton elastic to gather and that seems to work well.
  • When I did my full bicep adjustment, I should have actually traced to old sleeve cap and lower the bodice armscye. The under arm is a bit high because my upper arm is quite large. I will use this tutorial from Helen’s Closet next time to make this adjustment. It’s not uncomfortable or very noticeable in this highly patterned fabric though, so I won’t adjust this one.
  • Pockets are included! I was just in a rush and didn’t sew them in.

Future Versions…

  • I will absolutely be making a sleeveless maxi length with binding, I’ve already got the fabric on the cutting table
  • I might make a long sleeve maxi for the fall as well. Some of the other testers made beautiful long sleeve versions. Make sure to see the tester gallery for more views.
  • I think it would be ok to do a woven fabric for the skirt if I use elastic to gather, so I might mix and match fabrics. I’ll make sure to share here on my blog if I do.
  • I need to perfect my v-neck. This was my first one actually, and it’s not very pointed. Oh well, practice – practice – practice!
  • I’d like to do another knee length with a lace or chiffon overlay for the skirt. I might tackle this for an August wedding I have coming up.

You can get the pattern HERE – Emmeline Gathered Dress from DIBY. This is an affiliate link.
The pattern is on sale for 40% off until June 4, 2019.

During this photoshoot we were trying to avoid the spent dandelions everywhere, so we had some great fun playing with the geometric lines of this local park. These steps lead up to a look out and set of benches, but it was of course windier the higher we got. Behind me is a splash pad with the planets marked out on the ground in contrasting stone with their relative distance from the sun – kinda neat. The wind however was billowing out the skirt making capturing still photos increasingly difficult.

Me and my lovely photographer husband, Dave.

Do you meet with other local sewists? Or is  your sewing community mostly online? I’m really looking forward to continuing to connect with local people, makes the hobby that much more enjoyable and a great way to make new friends. I find it harder, the older I get, to get out and meet new people and make new friends, so I think this is a great opportunity to make new connections at this stage of my life.

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