Ponte dresses are the perfect work uniform for me – comfortable, smart and versatile. I’ve had my eye on the Emma dress by Sew Over It for a long time and I was particularly drawn to the pleats and princess seams. The pattern was previously only available as part of the ‘introduction to knits’ class, but Sew Over It released it as a PDF pattern in October and I bought it within seconds!
I used a beautiful mustard yellow ponte from Sew Me Sunshine for my project, which was kindly gifted to me by Harriet in exhange for a blog post, which you can read at https://sewmesunshine.co.uk/. The fabric is really excellent quality and has both worn and washed very well so far, with absolutely no bobbling.
Sew Over It instructions are not my favourite, in all honesty, but I was pleased to see that rather than photos of each step, this pattern actually had small diagrams to illustrate each stage. I find these much easier to understand and visualise and for me, they make instructions easier to follow. Although this is a very straightforward dress to make, I would describe the instructions as ‘minimal’ and sewists who have not made a garment like this before or maybe haven’t worked with knits a huge amount may not find them overly helpful, hence my 4 star rating.
I’d never inserted a zip into ponte before and that was probably the most fiddly stage of construction. I struggled with the thickness of the neck facing and waist seams under the concealed zip foot and wasn’t happy with the fact these didn’t perfectly match when the zip was pulled up. Imagine my delight when I realised I was able to take the dress on and off without undoing it! Out came the zip (which didn’t quite match the colour of the fabric anyway) and I overlocked the centre back seam instead – much better!
I made the dress in the size 8. Based on Sew Over It patterns I have previously made, I know that as long as the garment isn’t fitted around my hips this size will suit me best. However, I think if I made it again, I would make a couple of adjustments. Firstly I would cut the back bodice, back neckline facing and back skirt pieces on the fold (after removing the seam allowances) to eliminate the need for a centre back seam. I would also make the cuffs wider as they are seriously tight – the rest of the sleeve fits fine, but I have to keep checking the blood supply to my hands! I would also slightly change the way I sewed the pleats, as I found that by matching the notches as explained/illustrated in the pattern, the folds of fabric only met at the very top of the skirt piece, meaning that once you’ve sewn with a 5/8” seam allowance there is a gap in the middle of the pleat where it meets the bodice. Perhaps this is my error, as the pleats all seem to match up on the samples I have seen, but it’s something to think about and improve next time.
I’m really pleased with my dress and I have had lots of fun styling it with different belts, scarves, earrings and coloured tights to get loads of new outfit ideas. The colour really is stunning and it adds some much needed sunshine to these dreary winter days. I definitely want to make another Emma dress and will be on the look out for some patterned fabric for my next version!