I’m a sucker for knit clothing. I don’t like clothing that constrains me, so any garment made of knit fabrics makes my day. I love how with knit fabrics I can create clothing that feels comfortable while looking put together—even fancy!
This is the story with the Emma Dress by Designer Stitch. Just by looking at it I knew it would be a winner. This is the kind of pattern that you use to create an everyday dress but also a stunning evening garment, and all the while you know that both versions will be super comfortable. Who does not want to look amazing while wearing the equivalent of comfy pajamas?
But the best thing I can say about the Emma is that it is a goth pattern—even though it might not know it. I thought I was going to have to make some changes to bring the goth quotient up, but all I had to do was sew it in black knit! I love when this happens 🖤
The Emma by Designer Stitch is a fit-and-flare knit dress with an empire waist, ruching on the bodice that emphasizes the bust, and a contrasting band between the bodice and the skirt. The skirt is made of four panels for a nice, flared effect. The pattern has three sleeve options: sleeveless, bishop ¾ finished with a cuff, or bishop full length, also finished with a cuff. I selected the 3/4 version and the full-length skirt.
Sizes go from 2 to 26 with cup size options from A to DD. The overall size is determined by the upper bust measurement. Then, you will choose the bodice option based on your cup size. This is a great way to avoid shoulder and neck gaping without the need for an FBA. I wish that more pattern designers would follow this format.
I selected a size 6 based on my upper bust size and a D bodice based on the difference between my bust and my upper bust.
This version was meant to be a muslin. I used a rayon jersey that I purchase so often from Joann that now I get it by the bolt. It is kinda finicky and wrinkles LIKE crazy—and if you iron it, you take the risk of ending up with shiny marks. It is cheap and looks good enough when sewn into a dress, so I keep on buying.
The Emma Dress is a very straightforward make. The instructions are A-mazing, and the fact that the bodice comes in various cup sizes makes this pattern a great option for beginner sewists who want to level up their skills.
If you’ve ever had to add a neckband to a V-neck, you might remember that this is not the most joyous sewing experience. I was so pleased to learn that for this dress the neck bind is sewn before the neckline is complete. You join the back bodice to each front bodice half at the shoulder, sew the neck bind, and only then close the bodice by sewing the two front halves at the center seam. So much easier!
The neckline is finished with a neck bind. This is the first time I used this method, and I don’t think I like it. It looks nice on the outside, but on the inside, it looks kinda messy. The directions say to clip the excess fabric, so I did. I used a small pair of scissors to avoid clipping into the bodice, but that left a jagged line. NO ONE will see this, but oh, how it bothers me!
I sewed this pattern without any changes. Since this was supposed to be a wearable muslin, I wanted to check the fit right out of the envelope. I was quite surprised and pleased as punch to find out that I don’t need any fit modifications. All the changes I plan to make for my next Emma are design ones—I don’t love the bishop sleeves; the skirt is too long; the empire waist detail disappeared since I did not choose a contrasting fabric.
Make it Goth
I had lots of plans to make this dress more goth. It turns out that all I had to do was use black fabric. The ruching on the bodice, the puffy sleeve caps, the cuffs, and the length are perfect for a romantic goth look.
The easiest way to make this a bit more Morticia-goth is to simply leave the cuffs out. Without them, you will have sleeves that open wide at the wrist. You can exaggerate this look by adding more volume to the bottom of the sleeve for a Catherine-Zeta Jones Morticia look.
The Emma Dress
This pattern is more definitely a win. It is easy enough for a confident beginner to sew, and it will be a staple for the sewist with a goth disposition—imagine a black or red velvet version! With all of its versions, there is an Emma dress for every season and every occasion.