Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Realising Another Vision: Elisalex in Botanical-Print Ikea Furnishing Fabric

Hello everyone!

I'm feeling quite smug at the moment as I've managed to get through a couple of my planned fabric and pattern combinations, which is a) relieving me of 'buyer's remorse' where treasured fabric bought with good intentions just takes up space in my sewing chest and b) making me feel good about the design choice I made so long ago!

This particular combination is one of my earlier planned dressmaking projects – way back in 2014 after I'd caught the dressmaking bug and got everyone to buy me By Hand London patterns for the preceding Christmas (I still have a couple of Anna dress plans!). I saw Anneke's dress made in the same fabric and made sure to prioritise an Ikea trip that I'd previously I'd been putting off. I'd always planned to make an Elisalex with it, after my lovely sleeveless one I made in the pharmaceutical print fabric that's a similar weight (never properly blogged, but appears here).   

Two years later, I've finally made it happen! And just in time too, as this furnishing fabric is more Autumn/Winter weight. Having said that, you're always safe having something a little heavier in your wardrobe throughout the year in England, as the nip in the air is never far away.  

I made some fitting adjustments as my last Elisalex does strain a tiny bit in the chest and the sleeves tend to fall off my shoulders. I decided to use up the remaining scraps of both the pharmaceutical Elisalex and my daffodil Charlotte (I had plenty leftover as I used to buy way too much fabric when I started out in case I messed something up and had to recut a vital piece) to toile up a couple more sleeved bodices before cutting into the Ikea fabric I'd hoarded for so long. On another note, I really must make another Charlotte skirt to replace that one, especially after watching Touch of Evil recently. 

As this fabric is a bit more forgiving than my first sleeved version, the toiled bodice fit fine in the bust, but I decided to take off some excess in the shoulder, lower the armscye and add some more ease to the sleeve head. The first tweaks didn't work so well, so I mocked up another bodice, with a couple of slivers taken off the overbust and underbust for a closer fit, and subbed in sleeves from a similar style bodice that I knew fit well – my much maligned Sweetheart Dress. I feel a bit bad that I was so down on this pattern when I first made it up, as I didn't have a clue about fitting then and had been spoilt by all the By Hand London sewalongs. Even though I didn't get it right first time I do still wear it a lot and the sleeves are probably the most flattering I've sewn (although on rereading that post, they were my first ever go at set-in!) so there must be some decent drafting in there. Luckily for me these went in pretty well to my adjusted armscye, so it was a pretty easy win! 

I have to confess I've been stealing inspiration off yet another blogger for one aspect of my dress. I was admiring Katie's Moneta with turned-up sleeves and decided that, as my fabric had a solid white side and I wasn't sure whether I wanted half-sleeves or short sleeves I could cheat and have both! These are just finished with an overlocked edge and rolled up to however I feel like wearing them.

The only other adjustments I made were to shorten the skirt to the same length as the magenta sleeved version (which I may yet do to my first dress as it really is difficult to walk in at full skirt length and frankly impossible to get out of a 6-seater taxi in, which I discovered to my near-injury). I also added in-seam pockets. I lined the bodice with a scrap of lining fabric picked up in the bargain bin at Simply Fabrics. As the lining is a synthetic fabric with a tighter weave I decided to sew with 1/2” seam allowances to allow a bit of breathing room.

 You may notice a bit of duplication in the print of this fabric. I didn't pattern match, but instead did my best with centring designs I liked, and trying to avoid putting any of the circular motifs or grubs in suggestive/ unflattering places. I mainly got away with it, but I'm annoyed at how the central flower in the bodice has the same motif just off-centre beneath it. In my haste not to look ridiculous I just didn't notice! 

I used a few additional techniques to try for the best possible finish – making sure to stay stitch the bodice neckline, and using Tilly's advice from the Lilou dress to baste-stitch vertically down pleats so they don't shift when putting through the machine. The neckline doesn't hug quite as closely as it could – perhaps next time I'll try stay tape for a closer fit. When I appealed for help with my latest Megan dress adjustments Lynne of Ozzy Blackbeard gave me a great tip about sewing with 3/8” seam allowances on princess seams for greater control and to avoid any puckering. Sadly I'd already made up my Elisalex bodice by then, but definitely a tip for the future!

Anyway I'm just about to ruin my streak of being good and 'shopping the stash' by heading to Goldhawk Road for a fabric fix!

How have your sewing plans been going this year? Made any dents in your stash?

NorseOtter xxx


  1. I love this style of dress, and the fabric! Blue and graphic suits me just fine. Wish I'd seen it, too! Looks great on you. Jen

    1. Thanks Jennifer! I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it.