What tipped the whole thing over the edge was an email from Vicki Kate alerting me to a mega Michael Miller sale at Fabric.com. She knew I wanted some more Michael Miller Ahoy Matey fabric, and while I was there and the shipping was cheap, some Wing Song fabric made its way into my order too. And so my Elisalex plan was born!
I sewed this up on Monday, having made a toile of the bodice on Saturday morning. I was a bit cheaty and instead of doing a full on proper toile, used my lining fabric. The pattern envelope of the Elisalex dress says there's not a lot of ease in the bodice. I cut a 12 and decreased the seam allowances all very slightly to 4/8 rather than 5/8 and got the fit I was after. I sewed the main body of the dress on my day off on Monday. DAMN IT WAS COLD. Nic was teaching, so I had a full day to sew, but the flat was utterly freezing. I could see my breath in the air in front of me. So my hands were a bit numb. That said, the dress came together like a charm. It's rated intermediate and I think that's fair given the fact that it has sleeves, but the instructions are clear and I had no bother at all. I don't think I've ever sewed princess seams before, but they were fine, and the sleeves were honestly a delight to insert. I wasn't initially sure if I wanted sleeves, but when it came to cutting out the fabric it was so cold that I thought it'd be a good idea.
Enough gabbing though, you want to see the dress, right?
The Feckin Birds Elisalex dress and Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon shoes
I am so gutted it's such a dreary day - I really wanted some sunshine to show this off properly. Because, and I'm being serious now, this is genuinely my favourite dress I have ever sewed. I love all of my handmade clothes (to varying degrees but still) but there's something so special about this dress. It's the best dress I have made so far in my sewing career. I can't even put my finger on exactly what it is, but holy shit, you guys. THIS IS LOVE.
For one thing, I feel like an honest-to-god bombshell in it. The tulip skirt is a really exaggerated shape - enough room with those pleats to accommodate a burrito baby (gonna be one of those later) but with the most feminine hourglass shape. I guess this has everything I like in a dress in that it has a fitted bodice and a full skirt. Check out my walkaway as well. Hot damn:
(Baby Got) Back view
So naturally enough I am already mentally planning out another frajillion of these - like, there really needs to be a polka dot one (and I don't own anything that is royal blue polka dots) I think also the pattern would make a cracking wiggle dress with some slight adjustment to the skirt pieces - but that will take some thought, I guess. No hurry. But I know what I'm going to be doing with the lobster fabric that I was given at the Birmingham meet-up. Yes.
Bodice view - that wrinkle is only because I am leaning forward...
The bodice is especially lovely and I can see it being a good base for working with lots of different kinds of skirts. That said, I am so enamoured of the box pleats on this skirt that I'd really have to convince myself to move away from them. I think my favourite thing about the bodice though is the neckline scoop at the front and at the back. I don't like low-cut dresses especially, and this just shows enough skin to be alluring without me having to worry about my unruly bosoms getting in the way.
The bodice is lined, although the sleeves are not. I liked the method for finishing the bodice lining by catchstitching it down at the sleeves and the waistband. So here's a little glimpse of the innards:
Insides - I may sew quickly but I love finishing everything neatly inside all the same.
Sleeve hem catch-stitching
How fucking adorable is the label that comes with the pattern?! It has convinced me it's time to spring for some Handmade by Dolly Clackett labels at some point soon.
If you've maybe been on the fence about the dress, or you're thinking about it, BUY IT. The By Hand London girls are holding a Sewalong. You could even go for a Reversalex - a reversible one of these! Honestly, this pattern is solid gold. I really love it. The Elisalex dress and me are going to run away to Gretna Green and get married. You're all invited.
I HEART BY HAND LONDON
Oh, and the name of the dress? Well, I have a lot of dresses with birds on by this point. It just made me think of this:
Try Hanratty's Ear Clamps. Fully crow-resistant.