Friday, 5 December 2014

The Elisalex Dress Journey & Unintentional Copycat

Making this Elisalex Dress was quite the journey. I bought the pattern from indie stitches in April. Perhaps it wouldn't be such a frustration if I was sewing it up now, instead of earlier in the year when my sewing skills were still fairly wobbly. But I doubt it.  Here's a photo of the final product before I get on with the gory details.

According to my measurements I cut a size 12 grading to a 14 waist and hips. I cut the skirt length the smallest size as I knew it would be longer than my preference. I used the same thick poly fabric as my A-line Libby skirt and some floral cotton I picked up at an op shop for the lining. This dress is an unintential copycat of Busy Lizzy from Brizzy's third elisalex. It was meant to be a wearable muslin that I planned to wear out to a friends birthday dinner in May this year. That didn't happen.  

Sewing up the dress wasn't too much hassle. The instructions were fine, I followed them closely, and everything came together easily. When I tried on pre-zipper insertion I noticed a few problem areas. the waist seam was too low, the straps were too long, the bodice too tight at the sides and there was massive gapeing on both the back and front neckline. I made the following adjustments: 
  1. Took the waist seam up by 1/2".
  2. Took the straps in by 1/4"
  3. Took out the bodice side seams 1/4"
  4. Inserted the zipper with a larger seam allowance at the top of the CB grading down to normal S/A by the waist to remove some back gape
  5. Shortened skirt so that you could see my ankles...also my knees (took 9" off!).

These kind of adjustment aren't totally crazy, and I expected to have to make a few changes so I wasn't too bothered. I finished the dress and tried it on. It fit (just) and I was trying to convince my self it looked OK. I went to show Tim and it was clear that this dress was still all wrong on me. Alas, I wore a different outfit that night and Elisalex sat under my sewing table for months. 

Before Frocktails (September) I had the sudden inspiration to fix this dress so that it could be a back up option if I didn't get around to making my Elisalex Emery Hybrid (so glad I did though!). I tried it on, pinned some problem areas and took a few shots. In the photos you can see that there is still about an inch of excess fabric in the shoulders; the waist is still too long (about 3/8"); there is a lot of excess fabric at the back waist, and; it's just too tight! I didn't take a side on shot (sorry!), but when looking side one you could also see that the back waist dropped down at the CB (about 3/4" lower than the front and sides) which made the skirt lopsided and also my chest was squished flat by the too tight upper bodice. 

More changes followed:

  1. Took in the shoulder seams by 1/2"
  2. Took out the front princess seams, in particular around the bust region and less so at the waist.
  3. Unpicked the skirt from the bodice, trimmed down the bodice waist by 1/4"at the front and sides grading up to a 3/4"at the centre back. This helped with the skirt dropping at the centre back and the excess fabric at the back. 
So how does it look now? Still no where near perfect. It fits much better than it did and is definitely wearable. However there is still gape-age at the back neckline, the front bodice still gives the effect of flattening out my front, and there is still some excess fabric in the back bodice. But, its wearable...

Will I wear it? Well I finished this dress in September and I haven't worn it yet except to get blog photos. It's not flattering, and more than that, when I look at it on all I see are the problems I had with fitting this pattern. The fabric isn't helping. I think it looks really effective  but it doesn't feel great to wear and it puckered along the seams and hem.

Will I sew another Elisalex Dress? Nope, I'll definitely use the (shortened) skirt pattern to hack other dresses and also to make skirts, but that bodice doesn't remotely fit my body. The bodice pattern doesn't flatter my shape, its roomy where it shouldn't be and tight and flattening where I need the room. Obviously my body isn't the BHL type. I know it would be possible to alter the bodice pattern but I just don't think it's worth it. I have other princess seamed dresses/ bodice patterns that fit me much better. I've read a mixed reception about the Elisalex pattern. For so many its their go-to party dress pattern that works everytime. For others, like me, the fitting and muslin's required to make it work are just too much. 

Am I happy I finally finished the dress? Yes! I don't know if I'll where this dress, but I'm so glad I finished it and it no longer haunts me from the corner of my sewing room.

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