Sewing Bee Sew Your Own Wardrobe – full skirted dress

I have had this beautiful fabric in my stash for about nine months, awaiting a special occasion to sew it up.

 Now I have one, a friends special birthday celebration in London.  I had thought about buying this pattern from http://byhandlondon.com/products/elisalex-dress  but, I would never make the tulip skirt.

I got the latest Sewing Bee book “Sew your own wardrobe” for my birthday.  It included a  princess seamed bodice, which I liked  especially when it said the waist seam in the dress lies above the natural waist because that is the more forgiving to most of our figures, and is definitely more flattering for me.  I think you need to be a reasonable seamstress/sewer/sewist to use this book. It’s things like – on the pattern layout, the back bodice and front side bodice are labelled the wrong way round.  On the actual pattern, it doesn’t tell you that you need to cut the front bodice on the fold. The biggest mistake, is that the notches are in the wrong place for matching up the princess seams. In the picture below there is no way the two notches can match up!  I matched the second notch with the point marked waist seam on the pattern.  I would still recommend basting the princess seams before you sew them for real. I ended up unpicking little tucks on both sets of basting – a princess seam requires some careful stretching!

Anyway,  I made two muslins of the bodice, involving adding two inches to the length and moving the back dart down by two inches and increasing the armscythe. I like princess seams because I find it easier to allow for your own figure. For example I need to do a shallow chest adjustment , because I always seem to have a bit of extra fabric on my upper chest. With the Princess seam, I just needed to pinch out a small darts worth out of the top of each seam, and nothing else.

I am making the sleeveless version, the book uses facings. I have self lined instead  so used the Elisalex sew along instructions here which are fantastic! I  made the full skirted version of the dress.  I have stabilised the neckline and waistline and lined the skirt , and am  really pleased with the final result, especially considering this is the first time I have used a pattern out of a book and the problems with it. One little niggle, I ended up with a lump of fabric above the waistline on both side seams, which required unpicking and jiggery pokery. I think it is due to how the skirt waist is cut, I will have to compare it to other circular skirt patterns.  I still don’t feel I have a dress pattern which is perfect for me, which I can keep repeating yet. I guess I just need to keep trying!

I handpicked the zip according to Sewaholics instructions here, and also followed her instructions for attaching a waist stay.  The zip was one I bought at a vintage fair. Here is the inserted zip, both inside and out. I am really pleased with the way it looks.

  I also lined the skirt part, and trimmed the underskirt with lace I bought from another vintage fair – so hooray I am using things that I bought just because I liked them, but I am managing to find a purpose for them.

 Here is the dress hanging up.

And here is the dress on me at the party!


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