mid-year progress report: the hits

The idea for this week’s posts only came to me recently. I never gave much thought to doing any type of review–or recap, even–but I’m glad I did it. It’s fun to look back and not only round up all the things you’ve sewn, but really analyze what you’ve poured so much of your time and energy into. I always want to be able to look back and assess my projects fairly, because not everything will be a winner. But as long as the successful projects outnumber the duds, we’re doing something right.

And a lot has gone right so far this year, and I’m truly thrilled with the garments I added to my closet. I’ve made a lot of things that either worked well on their own or were a great addition to the things I already had, which is a step in the right direction towards a thoughtful, curated wardrobe. So, with that, let’s talk about the hits of the first half of the year.

Hit #1: the cocktail dress. This project was a success from top to bottom. From fabric choice to finishes, it’s a superstar. I needed this dress for a cocktail party Ty and I attended in Florida back in March, and I had a heck of a time deciding on the design. In the end, I went with a bodice I designed using my own slopers and a skirt from a Butterick pattern. I made a muslin to perfect the fit, and the bodice has built in structure with an interfaced underlining. The skirt is equally supported, and there is 6″ horsehair braid hand sewn into the hem band, which I cut to showcase the wrong side of the fabric. There are side seam pockets, a back invisible zipper, and the dress is fully lined. And don’t get me started on that fabric. It’s from Promenade Fabrics in New Orleans, and it’s some of the most exquisite (and expensive) I’ve purchased in a long time. Worth it.

Hit #2: the sequin skirt. This is a version of a skirt I designed when I was in business, and it felt good to revisit it and make it for myself. I used a sequin mesh and treated it like a woven, putting it on top of a heavy twill to support the weight of the sequin fabric and build volume into the skirt. The hem facing is sewn completely by hand, and there’s an exposed zipper in the back. Fully lined. I adore this skirt, and every time I look at it I’m glad I made it midi length. Eventually, I’ll make a floor length version (because they really are so stunning), but this was a project that will serve me well for a long time. And you’ll never miss me at a party. I’m basically the disco ball.

Hit #3: the green gingham dress. I had to include this dress in the hits because I think it so perfectly represents me as a person and a seamstress. I love classic silhouettes and design, but I also like using unexpected fabrics and cheerful prints. This green gingham was the first gingham I’d bought in a long, long time and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s linen (one of my top two favorite fabrics ever). I made a muslin for the bodice to perfect the fit, and I went the extra mile to fully line the dress. The inside of that dress is so neat and pretty I smile every time I see it. I added fullness to the skirt, and I really think the bigger skirt adds some pizzazz to the overall design. I’d like to make this dress again sometime in a solid color, but this little green number is so good it might also have to stand alone.

Hit #4: the striped skirt. This is another design of mine from back when I had my business, and it’s a winner to me for a lot of reasons: the proportions are correct, the stripes are a great width, every seam matches, and–perhaps most importantly–it looks like me. What’s the point of sewing our own clothes if we don’t sew our personalities into them? Love this.

Hit #5: the lemon dress. I waited for a long time for the right lemon print fabric to come along, and I’m over the moon for this fabric and dress. I again took a commercial pattern and elevated it a little, fully lining it, moving the zipper, and perfecting the fit of the bodice. All of those things are time consuming, but the result is a dress that fits me like a glove, and I’m really comfortable in it. This is one of those patterns I will absolutely make again, in at least two more colors. Couldn’t be happier with how well this turned out.

Hit #6: the polka dot dress. This little number makes it onto the hits list for three reasons: the pattern adjustments I had to make to correct the fit, the construction, and the overall aesthetic. I had a feeling before I started making this dress that it would become a favorite, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m probably happiest with the fit, which also means I’m happy wearing it. This dress checks all the boxes for me style-wise because it covers what I want covered, the fit is flattering, and the skirt is nice and big but not too enormous for my everyday lifestyle. It’s also incredibly easy to sew, and I predict a few more will be made over the coming months.

I’ve always thought I had a preference for separates, but this list tells me that while that may be true, the dresses I’ve made have been some of my best work. (So maybe I’ll be stepping up my separates game this summer?) This list also tells me something very, very important: hard work pays off. The projects on this list were some of the most time consuming and tedious things I’ve ever made, but I saw them through with great success.

I have big sewing plans for June, like I always do, and I can’t wait to get back to work on this little handmade wardrobe of mine. While I don’t see any more off-the-shoulder tops in my future, I do see a lot of new and exciting things. Thank you all for reading and commenting and following along. Your engagement is a big reason why this whole thing is so fun and rewarding.

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Heather Myers | 3rd Jun 17

    I love your site! And your feminine design choices, explanations, fabrics. I’m sewing a lot more now due to your inspiration- thanks!

    • Emily | 3rd Jun 17

      Heather, that is wonderful! I’m so glad to hear that. Lots of projects coming up this summer. Can’t wait to share them with you! Thank you so much for following along and posting such thoughtful comments. I appreciate it so much!

  2. Catty | 3rd Jun 17

    Your green gingham dress is my favorite and I think it was on your dress form when I discovered you! I’ve got some blue gingham that I plan to use to make a similar dress. I just need to start on a muslin! Thanks for all the inspiration!

    • Emily | 3rd Jun 17

      Hi, Catty! Your comment made my day! Thank you. Get going on that muslin–your dress sounds beautiful! Let me know how it turns out. Have a great weekend!

  3. Diane G | 2nd Jun 17

    What fabulous makes! I’ve enjoyed following the process for them and can’t wait to see your June garments .

    • Emily | 3rd Jun 17

      Thank you, Diane. I’m looking forward to another fun month of new makes. This is my favorite time of year for sewing, so I can’t wait to get started on some new dresses!

  4. Lynda Roth | 2nd Jun 17

    I love all of them. I saw your lemon dress in the Gertie facebook page. i’m making that pattern this summer in that view. I made the v-neck view a couple of years ago and lined it. Also where do you get your gingham. I have been searching for some and have a real hard time finding it. I would love it in linen too

    • Emily | 3rd Jun 17

      Hi Lynda! Thank you for your comment! The Vogue pattern really is outstanding. I get gingham from all over the place, but recently I’ve had lots of luck at fabric.com and fashionfabricsclub.com. Hope that helps, and have a great weekend!

  5. Emily | 2nd Jun 17

    I feel that way about projects, too: the ones I struggle with and work the hardest on are the ones that stand out the most to me. I’m tackling a fully-lined coat this month – it will be a challenge but I’m really excited about it!
    Thanks for sharing – your sewing is very inspirational!

    • Emily | 3rd Jun 17

      Hi Emily! Girl, go for that coat! I’m so happy to hear that! It’s been a couple years since I made a coat, so I think I’ll make one this fall. Let me know how your coat turns out, and have fun making it! 🙂

  6. Vava | 2nd Jun 17

    These pieces are truly fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Emily | 3rd Jun 17

      Thank you, Vava! It was tons of fun making everything. Looking forward to making more new things this summer!

  7. JeTua Amos | 2nd Jun 17

    Love them all

  8. Michelle | 2nd Jun 17

    I want to let you know that you have inspired me and I look to your projects for inspiration. I figure we live far enough apart (I am in Canada, on the east coast) that I can even wear a similar pattern and fabric without anyone ever knowing! Sfter seeing some of your ruffle tops this spring, I did an off the shoulder number, which i wear not off the shoulder (that slipping up onto my shoulders made me crazy so i tightened the elastic a tad and npw wear it on the shoulder) and ? it soooo much better. I know yours was a miss for you but if you think it inspired a fellow sewist who is happy with theirs then it was a hit afterall! I used a different pattern and a lightweight navy fabric for that project. I wear it a lot. Your feminine style really matches my personality, which gives me the courage to sew with my own happy colours and search to find patterns that flatter my build and creative aesthetic. Your attention to finish makes me want to improve in that area as well. Thanks for your blog and for sharing your experience!

    • Emily | 3rd Jun 17

      Hi Michelle! What a lovely comment. Thank so much for writing it! I’m so glad it know about your ruffle top and, yes, it does make it better for me to know that it inspired you. I love that! Keep sewing! I appreciate your taking the time to write this comment. Thanks again so much, and have a wonderful weekend!

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