I’ve admired the Emma Dress and Alice Top for some time, especially as the top has different bust sizes included. However, I’ve sewn with knits before so wasn’t sure I needed the video course, so held off buying it until there was a discount code during the sale.
First up was the Emma Dress… My fabric, which I bought at the Great British Sewing Bee Live (I can’t remember who the seller was, though, sorry) last year, is a bengaline (at least I think that’s what it is!) and has good length-wise stretch, but none width-wise, so I used it with the grainline going horizontally – thankfully the floral pattern works just as well sideways!
According to the Body Measurements, I needed between a 10 and 12 at the bust, and a 10 at the waist and hips, but the Finished Measurements indicate I’d need between a 12 and 14 at the bust. (I’m 36.5″, 28″, 39″, 28G for info.) I really wasn’t sure what size to make, so I had a look around Instagram and discovered my ‘body double’ in Helen at H’s Handcrafts! She advised me she’d first made a size 10 Emma, which ended up a bit big on her, especially at the waist, so she made her second one an 8 with an FBA.
I decided to risk it and go with an 8 with a 1” FBA (so 2” total extra at the bust), but after measuring the sleeves I made those a size 10 – and the armscyes too – as I’ve often found SOI sleeves to be snug on my arms. This was the first time I’d done an FBA on princess seams, so I followed the instructions for the FBA that were included in the course and although, initially, it seemed quite a fiddle, it turned out perfectly.
I also pattern matched the front bodice, which turned out rather well…
The making of Emma was really straight forward and I did most of it on my overlocker. I used a 1cm seam allowance throughout, just to be sure of it fitting (and to add a smidge to the overall length), but once I got to the zip stage, I pinned it on my mannequin and immediately saw that I needed to take it in all the way down the back, and curve it inwards to fit my sway back, as well as take it in through the CB of the skirt so it didn’t end up too ‘sticky-outy’ over my bottom. So for my own future reference, if my fabric has the same amount of stretch as this one, I’ll likely make the side seams 1.5cm, but leave the rest at 1cm.
I added in-seam pockets, as per the SOI tutorial – you know me and pockets! The neck facing went in nicely and everything lined up properly. I’m not overly keen on the 1cm stitching around the neckline – but had to do that to match the 1cm stitching at the hem, as I didn’t want to take the length of the skirt up and make the dress shorter overall. So, next time, I’ll make the skirt 2-3cm longer, then I can stitch both at 3cm.
So without further delay, here it is finished. You’ll see that I had a happy accident with the way the pattern on the bodice and skirt matched up at the front – total fluke! I love the way it fits over my bust and into my waist, and the I find the style of the dress and tulip skirt really flattering…
So… onwards to the Alice Top.
I’ve made my first Alice as a wearable toile using some fabric I had left over from a maxi skirt last year (it’s ‘Cathedral Windows’ from Fabworks), as again I wasn’t quite sure of the sizing. But Helen had made a size 8 with a D cup, so I did the same, only I used a 1cm seam allowance throughout, just to be on the safe side and, as I did with the Emma Dress, went with a size 10 for the sleeves and armscyes. I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the facings, so I used some left over plain navy jersey for those.
When it came to the construction it was fairly straightforward, but I found an anomaly in the stitching the bust panels – it showed the front bodice being made in lesson 3, then in lesson 4 it showed the C and D cup bodice being made slightly differently, but this hadn’t been mentioned and I’d already sewed my bodice and facing piece by that point – luckily I’d instinctively done it correctly!
I’ve made other items using the rolling method for bodice facings, which I was grateful for, as it was hard to see what was going on. The fabric Lisa was using was light coloured, against a light coloured desk, with bright lighting… so it was sometimes hard to tell which way up she’d got it – especially as most of the shots are done from a distance, rather than close up. I found that a lot of times Lisa would say I’m doing ‘such and such’ ‘here and here’ but we didn’t always get a close- up to see where the ‘here and here’ was.
I’ve seen several photos of this top online and they all seem to be rather low cut at the front, so, wary of that, I made the seam allowances 2cm at the shoulders, just to lift it up a smidge and also made sure I didn’t pull the tab at the front too tight when I attached it at the end of the make. I took a good couple of inches off the bottom hem, as I found it rather long on me – but that’s the beauty of sewing for yourself, isn’t it 🙂
I’m really pleased with how Alice’s turned out and the fit is spot on, so I’m glad I went with the sizes and seam allowances that I did. Like others, I would prefer the V to sit another inch higher for a bit more modesty, as I feel I might be conscious of it and need to fiddle with it during the day. However, I’ve already got some fabric lined up for a second one! I did an oopsie in a fabric shop the other day and bought some gorgeous jersey, so keep an eye on my Instagram feed for when I make Alice No 2!
Here are some photos of No 1:
In summary I LOVE both of these makes and how they fit, and I’m looking forward to making them both again. In the course there were a few tricks and tips for anyone new to sewing with jersey and the additional PDFs available certainly help with fitting guides and other tips, so they’re well worth reading through before you start.
I was quite surprised that Lisa used a straight stitch throughout both makes, with a suggested stitch length of 3, rather than using a zigzag stitch of 1.5mm length / 1mm width, as specified in both of the instruction booklets. Maybe I’ve got it wrong, but I always use a zigzag (lightening) stitch on jerseys so my seams have some stretch and don’t pop. I was surprised there was no mention of using a walking foot for troublesome fabrics.
As with all SOI videos, I wish the main camera angle was set differently and feel it needs to be more overhead rather than directly looking at Lisa – lovely though she is! With the angle that’s used, you can’t see all of the fabric or pattern pieces on the desk, so miss some of what’s being shown.
The other thing that bugs me a bit with SOI online courses is that you only get an instruction booklet with simple, written instructions; there are no photos, which means when I want to make the items again, I’ll have to work through all the videos to refresh my memory and check I’m doing things correctly/in the right order. I’d much prefer to have a proper, fully illustrated booklet, so that you get good close-up images that you can really look at and zoom into to understand the detail. Hopefully, if and when Emma and Alice are released as stand-alone patterns, they’ll then have fully illustrated instructions to go with them.