Happy new year! I hope you had a great new year’s eve and that you are as enthusiastic about 2016 as I am! As usual, I have several dozens of resolutions for the new year. One that involves this blog is that I’d like to get better at posting about my finished projects. Right now, I have a handful of dresses in my sewing room closet that are still waiting to be photographed, some I made over a year ago! The one I’m sharing today was finished last April.
With this huge tulip skirt, there’s no mistake, it’s the Elisalex dress pattern from By Hand London. What drew me to this pattern at first was not actually the skirt but everything else: princess seams, a wide neckline, a low V in the back and elbow-length sleeves, that’s everything I like.
I had some doubts on the wearability of the exaggerated skirt in my day-to-day life, so I waited until I had a special occasion to sew it. Last year I had to attend a few weddings (more like a LOT) and I wanted to dress-up a bit, so I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to make Elisalex.
I used some fabric that I found over at Ragtime Fabrics when I was visiting Virginia a couple years ago, a slightly shiny black and grey print, with a fiber content unknown to me. This fabric holds its shape well without being too stiff, so it’s great for the tulip skirt, plus it has a bit of stretch which is a nice touch for the bodice.
There are a number of things I like about this dress. I find the princess seams very flattering. I like the shape of the neckline, not quite a U shape but not quite a boat-neck either, it’s a nice change. I also really like the shape of the back, it stops just at the right height.
However there were other things I was less happy about with this pattern, even borderline angry…
The main issue, which is pretty well known on the sewing blogosphere, is the length of the skirt. The pattern pieces are just huge. So, yes, the pattern says to hem it at the desired length, but in order for it to stop a my knees I had to remove over 30 cm and then make a very large hem. Not only it’s a huge waste of fabric, but it changes the shape of the skirt. And when you look at the pictures and drawings on the online shop next to pictures of the actual result (take this one for instance), there is a big disconnect. It’s one thing to have to chop off length at the hem, but it’s something else to have presentation pictures that do not reflect the finished product.
Same thing for the sleeves: on the technical drawings, there are either long sleeves for version 1, or short sleeves for version 2, but on the actual pattern pieces the short sleeves are elbow length! That’s not too bad for me, as I like this length better, but once again the product pictures are not pictures of the actual pattern! What’s more upsetting, though, is that they are also pretty wide, they looked more like t-shirt sleeves, and I had to take in a lot at the seam so that they would look somehow flattering, and now I have a lot of folds at the upper arm.
I also had to take in over an inch on each side of the upper back, because it was gaping a lot. That’s an adustment I have to make from time to time on certain patterns because I have a relatively small back, but never to this extend, so I’m wondering if this too has something to do with the pattern.
One last thing that bothers me, but this one is my fault, is that the bodice is very short and I should have lengthened it. I have a long bust so I do this systematically for some brands (for instance, I always add 2cm on Deer&Doe bodices above the waist), and the Elisalex bodice is particularly short, but back then it slipped my mind. I think it makes the dress a bit unbalanced, but in practice it’s not too bad because that resulted in some wearing ease at the waist, which, in association with the large pleats of the skirt, makes it the ideal dress for eating a huge meal incognito. I wore it at Thanksgiving and it was perfect!
In the end, I have a dress that I like a lot, even though the short bodice and the over-the-top shape of the skirt put it off of my top ten. I love how it looks on the pictures, too! But even eight months later I am still annoyed when I look at these presentation pictures that differ from the final pattern…
Have you made Elisalex too? How much have you taken off from the skirt?