Sunday, 14 July 2013

Secret Garden Elisalotte


I've noticed recently how much more confident I am in my sewing skills nowadays. Just little things like not needing to refer to the instructions so much and feeling like I can play around and try out some new techniques and fabrics. So I've been getting a little bit creative around here and mixing up some patterns!

I made this dress up as part of the Minerva Crafts Blogger Challenge; basically each month the lovely people at Minerva Crafts choose an item/items from their stock and ask sewing bloggers to email them with ideas of how they would like to use that item. They then pick a few of those ideas they'd like to see come to life and send those bloggers everything they need to make up their vision. This month there was a choice between three different prints on stretch cotton canvas. I chose this beautiful dappled print as it's exactly the kind of thing I gravitate to, my kind of colours a random and slightly unusual print. (Do check out Minerva Crafts if you haven't heard of them before, they have a huge selection of both fabrics and notions including some really unusual and harder to find bits and pieces. I've just come across this other polycotton canvas on their site... loving it!)


I basically jumped at the chance to write in with an idea for a make, as soon as I saw this fabrics' properties I knew what I wanted to use it for. After making up a couple of versions of  both the Charlotte Skirt and Elisalex Dress from By Hand London and loving them I knew at some point I wanted to try and mix the two together, using the princess seamed bodice from the Elisalex with the fitted skirt of the Charlotte to create an Elisalotte wiggle dress (much like Rachel and Lizzy). Both of these patterns suggest a heavyweight fabric, even upholstery weight, with a bit of stretch so I had been keeping an eye out for a while for something along those lines which would give it some structure but flexibility for comfort. Then Minerva popped up with 'stretch cotton canvas' described as 'comfortable to wear and forgiving'...perfect!


I really enjoyed making this up, both patterns are challenging without being too complicated. The two patterns fit together surprisingly well, the waist size was an exact match in fact! As you can see from this picture even the skirt darts and bodice princess seams almost line up, I'm very happy with how they sit between the two darts on the skirt. I didn't focus too much on pattern placement when cutting as it is quite random but I'm pleased with how it accidentally turned out as I really like the smattering of white around the waist.

I probably didn't pick the best backdrop to photograph this print against...but good camouflage hey?!

The only changes I made to the patterns was firstly to alter the sleeves to my preferred length, the same as I did with my Circle-Skirted Elisalex. I actually had planned to do the full lengths sleeves this time and did make them up and set them in but in this print it just seemed a little bit too much. I was unsure about what length I wanted instead so cut a bit off at a time, trying out three quarter length, mid bicep, almost deciding to rip them out an go with no sleeves before finally settling on the cap shape I feel comfortable with.


I also didn't include a back vent or kick pleat in the skirt as the stretch of the fabric makes it comfortable to walk in without. I also didn't make it quite as close fitting as my first two versions, choosing not to take it in around the hips down the side seams. The body of the fabric keeps a nice shape in this area and it's still super duper comfy for a wiggle dress this way.



Inside I followed By Hand's instructions for lining the bodice and for this I used a lighter weight plain black stretch cotton for the bodice lining left over from my Lace Scout Tee, total proof that keeping your scraps is a good idea!


I finished the seam allowances beneath the lining by simply pinking them which actually worked well on both fabrics. However for the exposed seam allowances I knew I wanted to make a bit of a feature of them with a Hong Kong bound finish. The generous people at Minerva also sent me two lots of bias binding to choose from and I decided to give this new to me lycra binding a go. It's a great product and I think it would be even better used in sports or maybe even swimwear when that elasticity is really needed. Personally I'm not sure I will use it again in everyday clothing as I'm not loving the shine of the lycra; I tend to work with quite matt fabrics.


I'm so pleased with how neat it looks inside! Looking at these pictures really makes me want to make a little black Elisalotte, think that could be a wardrobe staple!


I'm really loving this dress, the combination of this skirt and bodice with this fabric has just worked out so well. Smart, flattering and comfortable...win!


47 comments:

  1. It's beautiful!! I love the fabric it's so unique and pretty!!

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    1. Thank you! The fabric is a real find isn't it? So great to find such a lovely print in a weight and type of fabric which it's quite often difficult to find prints in

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  2. I absolutely love this! The fabric is gorgeous and perfect for the pattern, and it totally looks like you planned the pattern placement. I loved your Elisalex's but this version is definitely my favourite.

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    1. Thank you! I think it might be my favourite too, the shape is really surprisingly wearable, can't wait to make more!

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  3. I love it! It looks amazing on you.

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  4. How awesome! Love the print and the combo of the Charlotte and Elisalex - it is super flattering on you and the inside finish looks impeccable! Amazing job :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm absolutely loving the Charlotte and Elisalex combo! It's really comfortable too

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  5. Woah!!! Fantastic mash-up, the dress looks fantastic! And, so neat outside AND inside. I love this fabric so much, think I may have to get me some. And, elisalex is definitely the next pattern on my list, to order. So many great dresses have been sewn from it. You look great in this one, for sure!!

    Has the pattern pyramid arrived to you, at all? It is coming upon the time where it should definitely be there, so am getting a bit anxious. (trust post-people much? Lol)

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    1. Thank you! The fabric really is great, lovely to work with too.
      No sign of the pattern pyramid yet I'm afraid... I will be sure to keep you updated. Sometimes international mail can take a stupidly long time for no reason! I worry every time I post something!

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  6. wow..fantastic dress, the print works so well with your complexion etc. hope you enjoy wearing it!

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    1. Thank you so much! It's been a little warm here for it so far but I'm sure the warmth won't last that long! I'm loving the print because I think it could work well with black tights in winter too

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  7. Gorgeous, and the pattern placement is just perfect!

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    1. Thank you! It was such a fluke!

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  8. i totally loved both Lizzy and Rachel's version of this dress so it's so good to see it again. I love the sleeves and the accidental smattering of white at the waistline is the best part I reckon.

    I'm planning to make my first Charlotte in a gorgeous matte metallic stretch. It's good to hear that you didn't need to put in a kick pleat with this fabric. Do you think it could go longer and still avoid it? I'm thinking just past the knees.

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    1. Thanks Amy, I don't think I would every have thought about making sure the white was at the waistline but I'm so pleased it ended up that way!
      Your Charlotte sounds incredible, can't wait to see that! I think it depends on how stretchy your fabric is and also how fitted you want it. When I made the Charlotte on it's own I made it a much slimmer fit so couldn't have got away with it. I think going past the knees you probably will need a vent to be comfortable, mainly to be able to sit actually!

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  9. Wow, Fiona that's stunning. You look gorgeous in this dress! Really love the mash-up and the fabric. Looks like a perfect fit as well. Great job!

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    1. Thanks so much Clare! Both these patterns are so easy to get the fit right on it's great! Just a little adjusting of princess seams and side seams and you're done!

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  10. Very pretty dress - love the print and the colors

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    1. Thank you Jenny! They're just my kind of colours so I couldn't resist!

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  11. This is a really nice shape on you! What a great competition- I am totally investigating it...
    And loving your shoes... :)

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    1. Thank you! It's a great idea isn't it?! The shoes are Nine West from a few years ago, a friend actually bought them for me, how amazing is she?!

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  12. This dress is sooooooo beautiful. As is your garden. You look gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you Evie, I'm pretty proud of this one! I can't take credit for the garden though, it's nearly all my fella's work!

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  13. This is so perfect! It fits you so well! Lovely job!

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    1. Thanks Sonja! I have a feeling part of the fit is due to how forgiving this fabric is but I'm still really pleased!

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  14. Wow!! What a gorgeous dress. I love the fabric and the patterm mash. I can definately see this as a black dress, it would look greT.

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    1. Thank you Lynne, I definitely think a little black version of this has been added to my sewing list. It would be a classic don't you think?

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  15. I love it!! And the fit is perfect. Good work :))

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  16. What a gorgeous pairing! i also love the colours in the fabric you chose, beautiful!

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    1. Thanks so much Jen! I find myself drawn to these colours quite a lot and the print is so 'me' too!

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  17. This dress is just the PERFECT shape and colour on you! So gorgeous!:)

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    1. Thanks Ami! I'm really pleased with the fit and shape, think I might have found my new favourite style!

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  18. I absolutely love this dress! Youce chosen a really great style for the fabric. It suits you perfectly, so happy you liek it :)

    Vicki (from Minerva)

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    1. O Thank You Vicki! I'm so pleased you like it! The fabric was a real treat to work with, it has a kind of structure which I've never used before which is just perfect for this form fitting style. Thank you so much for the opportunity, I've got a little Minerva Shopping list planned for pay day!

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    1. Thanks! It's so comfortable in this fabric with a little stretch too

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  20. What a beautiful dress! Please could you tell me how much material it took to make? Thank you so much :-)

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    1. Thank you Louise! It depends on what size you are making and how wide your fabric is. I managed to get away with just under two metres as I shortened the skirt and could fit both the front and back skirt pieces side by side across the width of my fabric. If your fabric is too narrow to do this you will need the however long your skirt pieces are extra in fabric so you can lay your pattern pieces one above the other. I hope that makes sense - if you need any more info let me know and I'll send an email!

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    2. O and I used about half a metre lining as the sleeves and skirt are unlined!

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  21. A win for sure. The dress is gorgeous, a perfect fit, well made and you look stunning in it with a smile to match. good work.

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    1. Thank you! The stretch in the fabric really helped with the fit on this one and makes it super comfy

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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!