The Elisalex Dress by BHL #greatbigpatternswap

Welcome back! Today I am going to tell you about my make for the #greatbigpatternswap organized by the lovely and @thezipperfoot over the last month.
First of all, it was a brilliant idea to organize a worldwide patternswap. I sent patterns out to Malta, the UK, the US, Denmark and even to Australia. Even though it would have been easier to just throw the patterns out or give them to charity I liked the idea of possessions of mine travelling around the world to a new home. I love the fact that so many people participated in this swap.
I was lucky enough to score the By Hand London Elisalex dress from Ros from @sewingsongboots and the pattern arrived within a few days from the UK.
The Elisalex dress has a princess seam bodice with a tulip skirt and optional sleeves in various lengths. The dress opens with an invisible zipper at the back. As all By Hand London patterns, this was drafted for a B cup and I am a D. So I consulted the fantastic tutorial by Elisalex on the BHL website to make a FBA on princess seams. It worked considerably well and I had all the pattern pieces ready in an hour.

During the adjustment process

My fabric is from a small shop in Viareggio, Tuscany (Italy) and I bought it last summer on holiday. The seller told me it was a designer (I think he said Dolce and Gabbana) leftover. Whether this is true or not (you know I love Italy, my partner is Italian, but there are some super shady characters down there 😉  ) does not matter because I liked it for the print and not for its origin. It has quite a weight to it and it’s stretchy. Considering what I know about fabrics I’d say it’s a stretch gabardine.
I only saved one picture of this gorgeous fabric and it was on instagram…

Speaking of the fabric, when I bought it, it was the end of the bolt which meant I had to take what was left and be happy with it. The pattern requires you to have 2.6 m and I only had 2.2m at hand and a fabric with a veeeery obvious pattern. Trying to pattern match everything whilst cutting was an utter nightmare. And even though I did my best I was not able to do the pattern fully justice as you will see in just a bit.
I started by sewing together the bodice front pieces, the back pieces and joined them at the shoulders. Same goes for the lining. You go on to join the lining to the main fabric and understitch the neckline.
I am calling it ‘the one with the lopsided boob…

Joining the lining with the bodice

I made the long-sleeved version and inserted them as per the instructions. But I noticed that the bodice has the same bodice pieces whether you are making the sleeved or the nonsleeved version. Usually you would have different pattern pieces since the armscye is different when attaching sleeves. In the end I had to slim down the sleeves quite a bit. I took out about 8cm at the lower edge and tapered up just 5cm below the armscye.

Then it was time to sew the skirt which was very basic. After I attached the skirt piece to the bodice I figured out that I really really needed to shorten the hem (by about half a meter, or at least, that’s what it felt like). In the end, I think I took of 30cm which for me is a lot. I know I am not the tallest person around – but please…
It’s almost floor length, haha

Anyway on the zipper-insertion I went and with my trusted invisible zipper foot this was no problem at all. I notched the zipper band where the skirt began to match it up evenly.
All that was left to do now, was finishing the skirt seam and hem the whole dress.
Ah, and before I forget of course you have to hand sew the lining to the main fabric at the armholes and the waist which did not bother me as much as it used to. But even with watching Netflix on the side it felt like it took me ages.
As for the fit I am quite pleased although I have to say it was muuuuuuch better before the sleeves were set in. I think the armscye placement is not ideal. It feels like the dress is being pulled down by my arms… weird.
Back view… I like that low back neckline…

But the tulip shape I kind of like, still a little unsure about it. But I’ll take this baby for a test drive first. I could say the slightly diagonal print placement was a concious decision… but all of you know now… It was not… I am not sure if I will make this dress again TBH because the sleeves really bother me.
Happy Sewing!

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meet the author

Hi! My name is Nadine and I’ve been sewing my own clothes since 2017. I love making underwear – especially bras. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, cooking and reading!

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