Hi, friends! Ready to see another finished garment? This is one of my favorites so far. The fit is great and I am proud of my construction techniques. I am also entering it in the PatternReview New To Me Pattern Company contest and the Sew Dolly Clackett contest.
First let’s talk about the pattern — Elisalex dress from By Hand London. This is my first time using a pattern from this company and I was pleased with the experience. I recently got over my worry that the Elisalex dress would make my hips look even more gigantuan. There are a ton of great versions and hacks of this dress around the internet. Dolly Clackett has made 15 versions as of this writing (as best I can tell)! Seeing the dress on women with shapes similar to mine made me feel better about trying the pattern.
When I got the urge to make a dress a few weeks ago, I started browsing patterns and fabric. I selected a few potential patterns then found the fabric, and knew it would be a perfect match for the Elisalex dress. The fabric is a Thakoon silk/poly blend brocade with a crisp drape. I purchased it as a roll end from EmmaOneSock, which I think has to be my favorite fabric store of all because of the unique and high quality selection she offers as well as her wonderful customer service. The black background is scattered with what appears to be roses on first glance. However, upon closer inspection, you will notice that all the roses have female legs!
For the lining, I chose a hot pink silk charmeuse from my stash. I used a walking foot for the lining construction and this was a lifesaver!
I had right at 1.375 yards of this 55″ wide fabric and was temporarily disheartened when I saw the Elisalex called for 2.5 yards for the sleeveless version of the dress. After reading lots of reviews and blog posts about the dress, though, I decided I could probably squeeze this dress out with some modifications.
My major modifications were to shorten the skirt by 10″ and to take in the hip seams by 2 sizes, tapering back to my size at the waist. As a result, I was able to get my dress cut out of my length of fabric. Yay!
Alright, so for all the alterations I made to get this great fit:
1. There is a helpful sew along for this dress on the By Hand London website. They recommend choosing your size based on your waist measurement then adjusting the bust to fit, if needed. I made a 3/4″ full bust adjustment to the US10. In the final version, I had to let out the side seams 1/4″ each and add 1/2″ to the front bodice length, so I think next time I will make a 1″ FBA and then compare the length to my current pattern. I will also lower the bust point a little next time.
2. I moved the shoulder seams forward by 1/2″ at the armscye and 1/4″ at the neckline.
3. I took a 1/2″ wedge out of the back neckline to prevent gaping. This seems to be a common alteration for most people who make the dress.
Now let’s talk about construction modifications:
1. I drafted a neckline facing because I like the way it looks and it prevents lining from peeking out at the neckline. I finished the edge of the facing with my serger (and hot pink thread), then I edgestitched it on top of my bodice lining pieces and then treated them as one for the rest of construction. Next time I will make an all-in-one facing to include the armholes and I may consider finishing the edge of the facing with bias binding.
2. I made a full lining instead of only lining the bodice. I cut the lining skirt a little shorter than the shell skirt and cut it a little more slender at the hips as well. After attaching the bodice lining to the bodice shell, I attached the lining skirt to the bodice lining.
3. I used a tutorial in the recent Threads magazine (#171) to install the zipper — a lapped zipper completely done by machine in a dress with a full lining! This is an awesome technique and I am so glad I found it. I strayed from the directions only in that I hand picked the overlap because I like to give my fancier garments a small element of handwork. And handpicking always works better for me since I can really get the waist seam lined up straight.
4. I hand stitched a nice blind hem on the shell fabric. If you are making this pattern, add a small allowance at the side seams for the hem. On such a tapered skirt, the turned up portion of fabric is smaller than what you are stitching to so adding a little ease in the hem at the side seams fixes this and prevents puckering.
So those are the gory details about my latest project. It was definitely a satisfying make and one I think I will cherish for quite a while.
Like I mentioned before, I have entered this dress into two different contests. If you are a Pattern Review member and would like to vote in that contest, your chance starts on 3/18 and ends on 3/24. As for the Dolly Clackett contest, I think my dress suits Roisin because it is one of her favorite patterns and the fabric is very quirky, like one she would choose. I also paired the dress with some fun shoes — hot pink heels — another trademark of the aforementioned lady.
And just a note on the scenes in my dress photos. All these were taken by my sweet husband at our local bay front park. This is one of my favorite times of year because everything is starting to bloom and the azaleas are coming out. Thanks for reading!