Thursday, 6 February 2014


Pattern: By Hand London Elisalex
Size: UK 12
Alterations: yes
Fabric: black on grey leopard print heavy knit jersey bought on sale here

What I love about this dress

Well just about everything! I love the low cut back, I love the fitted bodice I love the full skirt! It's such a fun and feminine shape and lends itself well to all sorts of variations. The pattern has been around for a while so if you google you will find tons of different versions of the Elisalex dress made up in all sorts of fabrics proving just how versatile this pattern is. There's a sew along on the By Hand London blog which is a great resource.
Most of all I love that I feel pretty wearing my Elisalex :)

What I changed:
  •  I slashed a good 6" off the length of the skirt before I cut out my fabric so it would hit me just below the knee. After trying on the near finished dress I looked like I was drowning in it. What looks good on a taller woman was completely overwhelming on me (I'm 1.64m). So I chopped another 6" or so off the skirt a little too enthusiastically. I hemmed with narrow bias binding which is a really neat finish and saved me from ending up with a scandalously short skirt - result!

  • I didn't line the bodice simply because I had no suitable lining at hand. Instead I finished the neckline and sleeves with the same narrow bias binding I used for the hem. 

  • I added pockets, love me some pockets :)

  • I cut the sleeves at 3/4 length.

  • I straightened the shoulder seam. This has become a standard alteration for me to combat gaping necklines.

  • I took out some excess fabric in the bodice, it's designed to be close fitting so it was important to me to get that right. I had intended to make this dress from a cotton blend that I soon found to be too lightweight to hold the shape of the skirt well. By then I'd already traced all my pattern pieces and was too lazy to do it again. I really should have gone down a size to better account for the stretch in my fabric. Instead I simply pinned away the excess fabric along the princess seams until I was happy with the fit.

  • I struggled with the sleeves.  The sleeve cap sat slightly off the shoulder but  that wasn't the biggest issue the sleeves looked oddly creased and baggy on me. Almost as if I had sewn them in backwards - which I had not I checked ;) I don't feel confident at all making adjustments to sleeves and have always tried to steer clear of it. But  the alternative would have been to go sleeveless in my winter weight dress - it's still far too cold for that! So I gave it my best shot and redrafted the curve of the sleeve, flattening it out a little at the back and shaving off a fair amount at the front creating a deeper curve. I am really not sure if this is the proper way one should go about altering sleeves so if you came here because you have the same fitting issues please be aware that I was winging it! I just know from experience the type of sleeve that fits me best and tried my hardest to redraft the Elisalex sleeve accordingly. It's better now than it was before, not perfect. I still have lots to learn. 

x Leila