Thursday, 14 January 2016

UODPH part four: Elisalex

Next up in our Unnecessary October Dress Pattern Haul parade, the Elisalex. Photographed on a marble staircase in Sicily because I suck.

I'll be honest, a chunk of the reason I bought this one is because it was called Elisalex, named after one of its designers who is apparently genuinely named Elisalex. When I first saw the dress on someone's blog I assumed they had created a mash-up pattern but no, that's really her name and now I feel my parents let me down somewhat. That is an AMAZING name. Never let me near a deed poll.

I used a cranberry suiting fabric I've had in my stash for a while. I was intending to make wide-leg trousers out of it until I decided that I wanted properly swishy wide leg trousers for which that fabric would not work. So I decided to make my first attempt at the Elisalex out of it, lining it with the remnants from my Dance Party Hollyburn. Most of the versions of Elisalex I've seen have replaced the tulip skirt with a more standard one, often accompanied by the words "why would anyone ever want to add more inches to their hips?? Eww". And it was that more than anything else that made me determined to make the skirt as designed (except for cutting a bunch of length off because I cannot pull off a mid-calf length tulip skirt, and shoving pockets in it because pockets). I'm going to run into real trouble if I start taking Fear of Hips seriously as a style mantra.

(Incidentally, does anyone know what the rules for "flattering dressing" even are anymore? This skirt is bad because there's extra bulk at your hips, but full circle skirts are good because they disguise your hips, and pencil skirts should only be worn if you're very slim but also only look really good on curvy women. Does literally all of this come from writers on women's magazines scrambling to make a deadline?)

By Hand London don't sell paper patterns anymore, but Sewbox still has a few of them for sale (Sewbox is also completely amazing and if you're in the UK you should get all your indie patterns there) so I got hold of one. I'd decided that since I wouldn't be able to replace it I was going to trace the pattern rather than just cut into it as I normally do, and that since I was doing a bunch of extra work anyway, this pattern would be the guinea pig for my first ever attempt at a full bust adjustment. I used the tutorial on By Hand London's website, and also the tutorial at Curvy Sewing Collective when I started to get a bit freaked out by how much I needed to warp the pattern to fit my FFs. I eventually managed it, and ended up with one almost spherical piece and one that looked like it should extend to my hip.

I sewed my lining up first to check the fit, and had to take the princess seams in by a centimetre or so. Thinking I was being very clever, I then sewed up my main fabric with an extra centimetre in the seam allowance, only to have to unpick it all after I put the sleeves on and found that the main fabric has zero give in it and I couldn't lift my arms. This is what happens when I try being clever.

I was expecting this one to be more complicated than it was, and all the complications I did have came from me doing something silly (using too wide a seam allowance, forgetting to transfer all the markings onto the fabric, sewing the pockets on inside out because I'm smart). The bodice came together easily, the box pleats were easy, the invisible zip was easy. Even the FBA wasn't that hard, and I'm very glad I did it because I think the top would look quite weird otherwise. How often I have fought you, gapey neckline and squished monoboob.

For the pockets I pinched the pattern from Vogue 8998, because that was what happened to be sitting on my ironing board. You aren't going to see a Vogue 8998 here anytime soon, because the pocket piece is piece number 25 and for a dress labelled "Easy Options" I feel that's just straight up mockery. You probably aren't going to see any more pockets using this pattern either, because it's strangely long and thin, meaning that if I sew the pockets in at the place my hands would naturally go, the bottom of the pocket is some way out of reach. I find this really annoying. I mean, it's not awful enough for me to redo it, but it's not my idea of a comfy pocket. Though, admittedly, being able to carry basically an entire handbag's worth of things without a handbag was rather novel,

I am super pleased with this dress. It's the kind of thing I might have to invent occasions to wear, but what kind of hardship is that? I can see why so many people use the bodice of this dress basically as a default. I love the shape and style, I love the box pleats, I love the back neckline, and I think I haven't acquitted myself too badly on the construction either (I'm aware the hem looks weird - this fabric does not iron. Not even a little bit). Obviously I still have a long way to go, but I think the difference in workmanship between this and the things I was making six months ago is notable.

Also I have shiny new silver shoes with navy velvet insets, because I am taking my resolutions very seriously. 

This was my Christmas Day dress, and here is a photo of me and my brother on the day itself:

Tartan pyjama bottoms also courtesy of me and the sewing machine. Tiny sparkly top hat courtesy of my mother's "everyone gets a new silly hat every Christmas" policy. In the first draft of this post written before Christmas I wrote that I had my fingers crossed for a sparkly top hat, so I brought this one on myself, really.

So, big thumbs up indeed for first experience with By Hand London. I'm now looking forward to trying a pair of swishy trousers from their Holly pattern, and am seriously considering getting myself a PDF Anna pattern (I hate PDFs, but I REALLY want that dress). Though if I do that, I will also be tempted to buy myself three and a half metres of Liberty print emerald green silk to make it with, and I do not have £175 with which to buy three and a half metres of Liberty print emerald green silk. Goddammit.

Ta da!

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