Well, I finished my Elisalex dress. I really like it.  Other than the trauma of trying to take some ...

The Elisalex Dress

3:05:00 p.m. Sew Hopeful 15 Comments

Well, I finished my Elisalex dress. I really like it.  Other than the trauma of trying to take some photos for this post (I was all set for a photoshoot outside when my brother-in-law turned up.  There was no way I was going to do the "take 50 photo's of myself in an apparent narcissistic frenzy" in full view of him so I locked myself in the bedroom and hoped for the best.  So sorry about the underwhelming photos but better than mirror selfies I guess).

For a really good rundown of the pattern itself and some other bits of info that I am in full agreement with, have a look at Gabrielle's post of her lovely version here.

One thing I will note is that I would recommend eyeballing the skirt length before cutting it as it is LONG so you don't waste fabric.  I just folded my hem over to take off the length (I don't remember how much but it was several inches) which resulted in a skirt not so pegged at the bottom. 

The fabric was a total bargain - $4/m reduced from $30/m upholstery cotton/linen from Spotlight.  It sewed up beautifully and worked very well with this pattern.  Its not a colour I would normally wear - I think I may look a little washed out in it, but I do love it.  At $8 for the fabric I couldn't go past it.  I underlined the skirt with vintage silk organza from my stash that I purchased as part of a fabric bulk buy off ebay from a lady from Mudgee.  It has found a new home and was basically free.  The bodice is lined in a simple white cotton voile, also from stash.  The priciest part of the dress was the pattern ($20 from sewsquirrel) and the zip - I managed to break two in a row (!!!) before I finally managed to get the third one in trouble free.  I used an invisible zip.

My adjustments

I did make a few adjustments but did not make a muslin as I knew all my adjustments would be to reduce rather than let out.  Here is what I did and I hope this post will be useful to any others making this dress that had trouble with back folds/excess around the shoulder area.

I started with a straight size 6 and basted the bodice pieces together, but not the sleeves.  When I tried it on (tip: I pin a normal zip into the side seam making sure I get the seam allowances right.  It makes it really easy to check the fit on the bodice without having to sew in the back zipper) I saw I had excess fabric around my shoulders giving me wrinkles/folds of fabric front and back and gaping at the armsyce in the front.  The shoulders looked very wide and were drooping off the shoulders.

The fix:

Shaved an extra 1/4 inch off the front princess seam starting just past the notch and back to the armhole.

Took out the shoulder seam basting and repinned so no more excess fabric. The fix essentially doubled my seam allowance up there and also tapered it down and forward slightly (sloping shoulder adjustment of 1/8" and forward shoulder adjustment of 1/2" plus 5/8" extra seam allowance to get rid of gaping/folds/excess fabric.

This meant that my armholes felt too high (note: taking up all that extra fabric at the shoulders did not move the position of the bodice at all from the collar bone down, the adjustment was all in the shoulders) so I lined the orginal bodice pieces up, pinned together and just redrew the armsyce curve, essentially this meant that I lowered it 5/8" - the same amount that I took up in the shoulders.

I am an A-cup but in a padded bra probably measure as a B cup and the bodice size 6 fit my 34" front curves perfectly, other than the small tweak at the armsyce princess seams.  Anyone larger than a B cup will definitely need to do the FBA which By Hand London provide a detailed tutorial for here.

The back was also a bit loose and once the sleeves were in the shoulder still felt a bit "slippy offy" which I fixed as follows:

Stay stitched the back neckline.  Eased the staystitching in a bit, probably an inch all up and then steamed it and pressed it really well with my iron so it did not look gathered and the fabric sat flat again.  The linen-ish fabric behaved really well and did what I wanted.  When I put in the zipper, I increased the top 3 inches of the back seam allowance so it went from 5/8"  at the waist seam and increased another 1/4" at the top.  It kinda made the back seam a slight curve (accounting for my actual shape of a slight curved spine) not a straight line from waist seam up.  This got a really great fit in the back and stopped the sleeves and shoulder from slipping off my tiny narrow forward sloping shoulders.

I also did my usual adjustment to the sleeve head to get rid of excess folds of fabric at the back arm - I flatten out the back curve:

Showing my back arm sleeve adjustment.
Back sleeve adjustment to remove excess fabric
I also adjusted a smidge off the front curve of the sleevehead as well.

The skirt I adjusted as follows:

Once the skirt was attached to the bodice and I tried it on my husband announced that I looked like an Oompa Loompa.  Ha ha.  (think 1971 version) I actually really value his honest feedback and it did look a bit much for my frame so I shaved off an inch each seam tapering back to nothing top and bottom. I didn't want take off too much as I love the skirt shape and its exaggerated curve. 

My pinned skirt side seam adjustment

What I loved about this pattern

Other  than my normal big mess around with the shoulder area, the bodice fitted me really well.  I love the neckline front and back.

The box pleats and shape of the skirt is gorgeous.  The silk organza underlining really added something special, not only to ensuring the skirt shape and pleats sit perfectly but also it dramatically reduces the crease/crush factor of the linen to almost nothing and feels LUSH to wear. 

The pattern is extremely well drafted and came together really well.  Even my adjustments felt easy and trouble-free to do.

As a pear shape I wasn't sure how the skirt would look but I love it.  It actually hides lumps and bumps and skims beautifully over the tummy area.  I wore it for a whole day to a special occasion on Saturday and it was extremely comfortable all day.

The bodice pattern will be used again.  I'm eager to try it with a ponte knit with a half circle skirt and also in a wool crepe with a pencil skirt for a wiggle dress look.

The guts of the dress.  The underlined skirt feels so nice to wear.
Sleeve seam binding
I needed to open up the side seams to hem due to tulip shape.  I did a very hurried catch stitch the night before I wanted to wear it.



  1. Oh, thanks for the mention!

    You've achieved such a great fit with this dress - I don't think you need a muslin if you're going to take this much care with your fashion (or upholstery, as the case may be!) fabric! Love the way your patterns match up too - what a lovely dress on you!

  2. This fabric is gorgeous! I loved By Hand's Charlotte skirt, but I've been holding off on buying Elisalex since I thought the tulip shape might accentuate exactly where I carry most of my weight. That certainly isn't true on the fit you've achieved! I always appreciate how detailed you are in your posts and will definitely refer to this post if I do decide to get the pattern. What a lovely dress!

  3. This is such a beautiful dress! I'm very impressed with your patience in all that fitting too!

  4. hehe - you do the 50 million photo thing too? Nice to know it's not just me! But seriously, this looks lovely on you :) Great print on that fabric, and it clearly has the body to carry off the look/silhouette. Love it!

  5. Lovely dress - I quite like the more relaxed tulip skirt feel. I found yhou via Gabrielle's site, so I have seen her beautiful dress, and I think the band looks graet, but I think you more relaxed version sans band works well in the cotton fabric. Love the finished result, the seam biniding, the underlining etc.

  6. Lovely dress, I recognized the fabric straight away (I spend far too much time in Spotlight!) - I was hoping to get this print in the purple/grey colour way for a dress too. You're right about the tulip shape being flattering for us pear shapes - it emphasizes the waist nicely while gracefully covering the wider bits below

  7. I really love the fabric of your dress, our local fabric shop is no where near as good as everyone else's!

  8. Gorgeous fabric and the colour really suits you too.

  9. Amazing dress, your attention to detail has really paid of, looks divine.

  10. Hi! Shar, who has commented below, has recommended your blog, so I'm new here!
    You have perfectly described the issues I've had with my Elisalex bodice. I've never had these issues before, but then again, have never made a fitted, princess seamed bodice before either! I'm not sure I really understand everything you've said (I'm really a visual person and can struggle with written instructions) but I will definitely be bookmarking this post for my next version! Thank you!

    And your dress is lovely! I love the print and the fit does look perfect!

    PS. if you want to see mine, which I made with the Charlotte/wiggle skirt variation, have a look here:http://www.grosgraingreen.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/joan-dress-aka-mad-men-challenge-aka.html

  11. Fantastic Elisalex! Thank you for your detailed post, it's wonderful to see & read how you troubleshot the pattern.

    I used the exact same fabric for a 60's shift dress that has since been hacked into a top & skirt - I wish I'd stumbled onto your blog earlier, the tulip would have been much more flattering ;)

    I'm enjoying your posts and will now wait impatiently until you try the thurlows as I know I will gain much knowledge from your success ;)

  12. I love your dress ! The fit is perfect and the fabric is just divine :))

  13. Thank you very much. Sorry I took so long to reply. Do you have a blog, I'd love to see your outfit using the same fabric.

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