Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Practice Polkadot Elisalex


It has taken me a LONG time to get around to posting around this dress, it was fully completed before I made my Circle-Skirted version and since that I've completed three other projects! I think that shows you just how disenchanted I was with this make, which has nothing to do with the pattern itself as it is GORGEOUS as proved by versions as lovely as Marie's.


My lack of love for this dress is mainly to do with my fabric choice. I bought it for a bargain £2.50 a metre from A1 fabrics on Goldhawk Road. I'm not sure what it is, some sort of synthetic imitation brocade and not particularly pleasant to the touch, but I'd been hunting for quite some time for an upholstery weight fabric to hold the tulip of the skirt with a pattern that wasn't too curtain like so I went with it. I actually bought it with the intention of using it to make my final version of Elisalex for the wedding but I didn't get on to making it right away and when I picked it up again a couple of weeks later I couldn't shake the feeling it wasn't quite right. I knew I wanted to make a muslin of the dress as I wanted to get the fit right and to try out the unusual shape of the skirt so decided to make it a wearable one and make use of the fabric that way.


I'm so pleased I didn't attempt to use this fabric for my final dress. It was a nightmare to sew with despite being nice and firm and non slippy, frayed all over the place and as you can probably see from the pictures didn't want to be pressed AT ALL. A cool iron did absolutely nothing except produce an unpleasant shine, a warmer iron melted the fabric (yes. melted. so synthetic it's basically plastic). I know this because I managed to melt a big old patch in one of the rear skirt pieces, right in the middle of the bum. Luckily I'd bought three metres and this dress needs nowhere near that so I recut that piece, although I nearly didn't and almost made it up hole and all I was that frustrated with the fabric and certain I'd never wear it.


Despite all that I'm in love with this bodice, I will be making it again and again with all different styles of skirts. The neckline is GORGEOUS, the princess seams are super flattering and easy to adjust and I love the instructions from the By Hand London girls on how to line it. I used a dusky pink silk habotai from my local market for this, it needed less than half a metre as you are only cutting the front and back bodice pieces. The princess seams were a little trickier in this delicate silk but it was so worth the hassle as it feels so nice to wear! It was my first time lining any part of a garment and it was so easy I've already done it twice more.

I am however, not so keen on the skirt. I loved the idea of it, in fact the flattering combination of the fitted bodice and voluminous skirt was what first made me go wow looking at this pattern. The designs from By Hand London were the first patterns that I absolutely had to buy the second that I saw them, contemporary, feminine, stylish and super flattering, things that you are never too sure you are getting when buying from the big four (or at least I, being easily led by cover and marketing images, am never sure) Every version I have seen of the Elisalex made up with the skirt as is has made me go 'wow that looks so amazing', but I personally just don't feel comfortable in it. Maybe in a just slightly lighter natural fibre I'd like it more. I quite like it at the front but am very aware of all the added volume in all directions at the rear - I think it's too much time wearing skinny jeans!

Exterior and Interior of the Armholes

Despite that and all the fabric issues I don't hate this version, I'm just not sure where I'd wear it. I think I'm going to slim down the sleeves, possibly even cut them shorter into almost cap sleeves as nearly every dress I own has this style of sleeve. I'm not a long sleeve person, whenever I do wear them they end up pushed up as far as they will go. Looking at the lovely version by Threaded and what she did to the skirt I could try slimming it down by taking it in down the side seams, reducing the scale and hopefully making it feel a little more 'me'. Plus even if I don't wear it I'm still pleased with all the practise of different sewing techniques I got making it!

Hand Stitched Hem
An Actually Invisible Zip!
So the main lesson learned from making this is...don't use fabrics which you don't love JUST because you like the print, they're cheap or they match the requirements of the pattern. After using the beautiful sateen from Mood for my Circle-Skirted Elisalex and experiencing what it's like to sew with a better quality and more expensive fabric my tastes have definitely got a lot more picky. There are some great quality bargains to be found in places like Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow Market, but I've definitely worked out how to, by touch, filter the good from the bad.


UPDATE! I'd written this post before I got the chance to take the pictures and actually now I've seen the pictures I'm feeling a helluva lot better about it than seeing it in my head/in the mirror... maybe a bit of time to forget about the nightmares with the fabric has helped too! I think I'm going to give this skirt another shot...


17 comments:

  1. Fab dress! I think the Elisalex is my absolute favourite pattern at the moment. In the photos your fabric looks great and I love how it holds the tulip shape.

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    1. Thank you Charlotte! The pictures are definitely changing my mind a little about this version, looking forward to trying it in a better quality fabric now!

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  2. I can't see any of the things that you're talking about! It looks absolutely lovely on you! Hang onto it-- I bet you'll pull it out of your closet one day and fall in love!

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely growing on me! I think it is just a case of bad memories from wrestling with that fabric!

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  3. This dress is just beautiful and flatering and you look gorgeous in it. You should definitely give it another go!

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    1. Thank you so much Sabine! Lovely comments like yours are definitely helping the chances of me wearing it!

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  4. The skirt is really flattering on you too.

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  5. I just love the skirt on you! I fall more in love with the skirt design every time I see a new Elisalex!

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    1. Thank you Jen, I love them on everyone else and it's definitely growing on me!

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  6. What a shame about the fabric, because it looks fab in the photos. I'm glad you came to like the shape of the skirt, because I think it looks lovely on you.

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    1. Thank you Lynne! I'm hoping that in a different fabric I'll fall completely in love with it!

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  7. I agree with all those above - this dress looks great on you! The fabric looks well-behaved in the photos so sorry to hear it gave you so much grief. In any case,your finishing looks amazing (my Elizalex isn't nearly so neat and tidy on the inside, though am aiming for another attempt). Well done, and hope the dress grows on you as it looks lovely and deserves an outing :)

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    1. Thank you Lucy, I've been trying really hard to make things neat and tidy on the inside so they last!

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  8. I am so glad that seeing the pics has made you warm to this dress because it looks so gorgeous on you! I know how you feel about fabric tho- so frustrating when you find you are working with something the iron makes shiny or melts! I avoid anything synthetic too- not worth the stress!
    The sleeves and skirt shape look lovely to me! :)

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    1. Thank you so much Ami!
      I'm not sure I'm ever going to be able to wear it without thinking aargh this fabric! I think I might give it a try in a lovely thick cotton sateen that will feel nice every time I put it on!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!