Hello everyone! I’m keeping up my run of weekly blog posts and it feels so good! Today I’m sharing a dress that I cooked up by mashing a few things together. It’s the perfect 50s style swishy midi dress that makes me feel like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. I could easily swish around on a Greek island too if needed. Anyone offering a mini break?
So are you curious about my superhack? I started with the Elisalex dress bodice which I’ve made twice before but skipped the sleeves this time. I’m wearing the size 10 with a little bit of excess taken out of the shoulders. Then used Vogue 9000 which I’ve made here, and merged the skirt panels into a front and back rather than seven piece skirt. I’m wearing the size 14 waist and hip. I then adjusted the side seams and centre back edges slightly to make sure they’d match up and chopped an inch off the length.
I’m so happy with the result as it’s modest with the neckline and length, but a little cheeky with the dipped back, AND the skirt has fantastic swish! Seriously good swish. Which is mostly down to the fabric I chose but important to say that being flared rather than circle, there’s limited chance of the skirt blowing up and flashing everyone on a windy day. Result! My invisible zipper went in like a dream (I love my invisible zipper foot to death – if you don’t have one, go get one) and the waist matches nicely! I handsewed the lining to the inside for a change as I normally stitch in the ditch but had some telly to watch while I did it.
I really like wearing dark colours in hot weather as I am always cold and this is a guaranteed way to warm up, but also I think black looks great with a tan. This is of course one of Lisa Comfort’s gorgeous fabric prints. I was very tempted by the first collection which features pastel colours and soft florals. I love Elderflower and the pink colourway would have been perfect for me but I resisted as I hate hate hate ironing and need to limit the amount of cotton dresses I make before I go insane over the wrinkles.
When the crepe collection was released I snapped up the Wild Flower print in black. At 150cm-wide it’s perfectly designed to fit a flared skirt like this without needing to cut on the cross grain but at midi length the pieces are fabric hungry. However the princess seam bodice of the Elisalex dress is a great space saver on a fabric layout. I lined the bodice in black habotai to help as well. In the end I got this dress out of just 1.5m of fabric! SO EFFICIENT!
The poly crepe barely wrinkles, floats like a dream and is totally opaque. Big points for my lifestyle! I’m only slightly bummed that there is a permanent crease in the centre front of the skirt from where the fabric was folded in half before being put on the bolt. I don’t know if this is just my piece, or just the bolt. It could be how the fabric was pressed during transit after printing. I don’t know… but every time I look down I try not to look at the crease line. BUT to end on a more positive note, I can totally recommend the fabric quality, the Elisalex pattern for how well drafted it is and Vogue 9000 as the perfect half shirtdress (eyes peeled for my newest version of this dress in one of the prettiest viscose prints I’ve ever found).
*Just to let you know this post contains affiliate links but products I link are from trusted sellers like The McCall Pattern Co selling through Amazon or Minerva Crafts. There’s no obligation to buy through the link of course. I don’t advertise on my blog so this is a little way to fund the running of the site!
Have you ever owned a fabric you’ve been too terrified to cut into? I think a lot of us have been there. It can be because it’s so beautiful or so rare or it cost you so much or it represents something much bigger about your sewing status.
I put fabrics up on a pedestal all the time, it can be a £40 silk or a £2 polyester. Its a real problem!
For me this Liberty print ticked so many of those fear boxes; it’s rare because I’ve never found Liberty chambray anywhere other than one Japanese etsy seller. It cost me a bit to buy it and ship it over as you might imagine. And it’s utterly beautiful so I wanted it in my Carline dress family.
I decided a safe bet would be to sew a pattern I’d made before but with a few tweaks. I’d loved making the Elisalex because of the great fitting princess seams and wanted to try adding sleeves to make the dress more versatile. I skipped the instructions for the sleeve insertion and used the clean insertion method which I’ve used a few times – video close up here. I really should post my own version of this tutorial as I think the original post photos are a little hard to see.
With this technique the sleeve is fully enclosed in the bodice lining for a very professional finish. The draft of the sleeves is excellent by the way!
I also swapped out the skirt pleats for gathers as I think the pleats fell a little funny on my lower half.
Seeing photos of the back still makes me smile with it’s gorgeous swooped neckline… makes me sad I can’t see my back when I wear it! Thought I’d need some kind of flamingo or giraffe neck for that to be possible. For the zipper I’m not over the moon with my invisible zipper. Even after installing what feels like a thousand, there are just some that don’t want to stay hidden at the intersections of the seams, even when everything has been graded and stitched properly. This is why my heart belongs to lapped zippers. I might unpick and redo.
As you saw at the start I thought I’d copy Gertie and make a sailor inspired number but changed my mind as I lay the binding on. Maybe it’s plain but I love it. And if down the line I want to fancy it up I can hand-stitch trim on top!
What do think? Add some trim or leave it plain?
Hi everyone! Fingers crossed you’ve had a chilled week with a good splash of sewing time. After the horrific incident in town on Monday night our office was quite a heavy place Tuesday. Thankfully no one I work with was personally affected but it’s hit us all hard. To lift my spirits I made a dress, ordered some new fabric and a horse shape handbag plus I watched A LOT of Parks and Recreation. It was a fabulous dose of medicine. I also found out I won a prize in the Dress Like Your Grandma challenge – I’m totally amazed and grateful so I’ll share more on that soon.
I wanted to talk about finally joining the Elisalex dress bandwagon. When Elisalex the real life lady sent me the updated pattern files for the By Hand London dress I was intrigued. I even tried the new 44″ printer at work to test the copy shop version.
The dress did not disappoint. The bodice is really nicely drafted with the proportions and seam placement bang on and everything goes together perfectly… as you would expect from a By Hand London pattern!
I used a cotton poplin from John Lewis that was picked up on a trip to Birmingham with Roisin, Marie, Kat, Sabs and Helen. Chewie was a big fan as you can see. I had to wrestle it from under her butt several times. I used navy lining, yellow bias tape at the hem and did some ropey invisible zipper sewing if I say so myself. I’m going to have another pass to try and get closer to the teeth. My invisible zipper foot failed me somehow. I pressed the teeth open, moved my needle closer, everything like normal! Hmmmm.
To reduce the bell shape of the skirt I graded out to an A-line below the hip. I like the curve at the waist and the shape the pleats make. The bodice princess seams fit me nicely and only required minimal tweaking from the size 10 toile.
Notice these pics are PP? “Pre-Perm” heehee. I love pairing the dress with these navy wedges and a mustard cardigan. The print reminds me of the Finnish design house Marimekko, which makes me super happy. And I got to wear it when Elisalex visited the studio a couple of weeks ago. She came to review the culottes you get with issue 40 and have a giggle with us. How freaking gorgeous does she look here??
My plans to conquer more princess seam dresses are off to a flying start! Stay tuned for my gown from The Dressmaker’s Ball very soon…