03 Mar 2013 • • by Heather Lou

Back in Business with the Elisalex Dress


This girl. And it was a sweet, tender reunion, especially since I finally got a chance to try my By Hand London hand on the Elisalex dress! My ladies Charlotte & Elisalex released this in the fall and I've been jonesing to have a go at it for a while (nevermind that I missed the Charlotte skirt sewalong due to my move).

To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about this dress. We don't generally seek to make our hips look wider, and during the  construction process I was worried the end result was going to make me look like the Venis of Willendorf. But there is something so playful and even a little surrealistic about this silhouette. The exaggerated curve at the hip makes your waist look teeny tiny and I think the end result is a sweet, vampy, almost cartoonish celebration of a woman's curves.

Now, in order to get the tulip shape it is imperative to use a heavyweight fabric. I had spotted this fabric (forgive the pun) in November and knew immediately it was destined for this pattern, but worried when I started cutting that the medium wight slightly stretchy cotton was not going to have the heft required to maintain the silhouette. No one wants to wear a sad, deflated and dying tulip on their body. I emailed Elisalex with a photo of the fabric and she suggested a fusible interfacing on the skirt to get that stiffness I was after (ONE MORE REASON TO GO INDIE: do you think there is  a chance in hell anyone at the Big 4 would provide such service?!)

A soft interfacing I happened to have in my stash worked perfectly. Now, I was in a bit of a rush with this little number since I only had 2 days to make it before my (epic, loud, landlord called in the middle of night by neighbor) housewarming party. Horror of horrors, I forwent the muslin and hoped and prayed I wasn't going to have fit issues. AND I TOTALLY DIDN'T! I don't know if it's the princess seams or thoughtful drafting but this fit me pretty perfectly right away. I took a half inch off the sides because I think ease is overrated in a party dress and skinnied up the sleeves a bit so they would fit closer to the body. Otherwise, this dress seriously fits beautifully. The bodice may be my go to when I am frankensteining dresses in the future....

Normally I like to cut a deeper opening because my girls like to breathe but I thought for this make I would stick to the design intent of the dress, which is a modest boat neck and beautiful low cut back. I took quite a bit off the length because party time, excellent, and used a gorgeous black and gold metal zipper I recently acquired from a friend's cast off box of sewing gear. The only other mod I made was to not line the sleeves. I simply serged the bodice and lining to the arm scythe. I wore it pretty much how you see above. By the end of the night it looked more like this:


I'm sorry neighbours. It had to be done.

A shot of the insides. Please withhold your judgment about the lack of a lining. I didn't have enough cotton batiste and this interfacing is VERY soft:

This little vintage inspired number was the perfect thing to hostess in - I'm looking forward to making other versions in the future. Thank you By Hand London ladies! It's not too late to join their sewalong for this dress which I believe starts in a week or so.

It goes without saying that I've been sewing up a storm. I'm working on a gorgeous new Victory patterns dress right now, and have a shit tonne of projects I can't wait to tackle (HANDMADE BRAS, YOU WILL BE CRADLING THESE TATAS VERRRY SOON). My new sewing space slash dining room feels so luxurious and spacious right now. I will be sharing some photos once I get my mural up. Details to come! The only thing that is driving me crazy is the cutting table situation. I use my dining table which is only 30" high and my back be aching. Anyone have any creative ideas for a dining table with an adjustable height mechanism? There has gotta be a more elegant solution than propping the table legs on 6" blogs when you're working....

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