Monday, January 11, 2016

Party Dress: Update #2

I've still got the party dress bug!

So far, I've taken a few cracks at the Elisalex bodice and have just begun my third iteration -- yeah, y'all! This instant gratification sewist just made three muslins for a dress she's not even confident she'll have an occasion to wear anytime soon. Crazy? No! I'm patting myself on the back right now for being patient and thorough.

long sleeve / short sleeve

I'll talk more about my muslin adventures in a moment, but first wanted to share a couple of notes about the pattern from my process so far. If I'm somehow not the very last sewist on the internet to try this pattern, and you're thinking of stitching it up for the first time, you'll want to take note:
  • Sleeves! One thing I noticed right away, and then again while looking at inspiration and reviews on other blogs, is that the actual sleeve options provided within the pattern do not completely match what's shown in the pattern illustrations, or the sewn examples on the page where you purchase the pattern.

    What's actually included is the long sleeve pattern piece, with a line to shorten it to the "short sleeve" length for Variation #2. Following that line, though, results in a sleeve that hits at the elbow. What's depicted in the illustration clearly shows a short little sleeve that ends at the upper bicep. Big difference, and a very different look, overall.

  • Skirt! Similar to the sleeves, there is a discrepancy between the length of the skirt as advertised at first glance, and what the pattern pieces actually produce. These skirt pieces are huge, and result in a skirt that hits well below the knees by several inches. Meanwhile, the official pattern imagery shows a skirt ending magically at, and sometimes above, the knees.

    Is this drafted for women approaching 7' tall? Is the real Elisalex (pattern's namesake and model) a giant? This throws off fabric requirements (don't need as much, unless you want a midi skirt) and also means you'll be shortening the skirt, hopefully in a way that prevents re-tapering/adjusting the lower few inches to retain the pegged look towards the bottom, but keeps the fun tulip pouf at the hips. The 30"+ skirt length is listed in the finished garment measurements, but I wonder why it's not depicted accurately in the illustrations and sewn samples.
Update: As soon as I published this, I noticed BHL is finally addressing these issues! See their update here. (Thanks, ladies!)

These gripes aside, I still love the look of the pattern. I dove into bodice making, hoping to end up with a wearable muslin. I'll be the first to say that when it comes to fitting adjustments and altering patterns, I'm not very experienced. I've only ever done one FBA on a darted bodice, and otherwise tend to just take seams in "here and there," by pinching out areas on the sewn garment, once I try it on. I want to be proud of this dress, so I'm putting forth more effort this time!
  1. First muslin: I bought a pretty, floral home dec. sateen by Joel Dewberry. I wanted something a little bit stiffer and heavier than muslin, to be more like my intended fashion fabric. I had grand pans to make an adorable, wearable muslin that I could perfect the fit on and then gleefully reproduce in my expensive shimmery fabric. The bust ended up a tad tight (shocker! the finished measurements list the size I cut at 1/2" smaller than my most recent bust measurement. duh), while the princess seams curving up to the armscye were bunching and too big above the bust. The waist also seemed a tad loose. Rather than add the sleeves on to see if it looked better, I tossed it aside and moved on.
  2. Second muslin: I used some blah home dec. fabric I'd had leftover from a tiny catbox curtain project years ago. You know, because cats need privacy, too. I did something a little weird for this muslin: I trimmed my pattern pieces for the bodice front sections, so that the side seam, along with ~2" above and ~2" below the bust were one size smaller, leaving the apex of the bust alone.
    Then, I cut one size smaller for the front of the sleeve head, tapering to nothing at the center/top, but left the back at the original, larger size (since I wasn't making any adjustments to the bodice back).
    WTF? you're thinking. Yeah, it didn't really work out. The bust ended up too tight, still (duh, see measurement note in First Muslin), though the upper bust and shoulders, and also the waist, looked somewhat better. Sewing the sleeves on rather than omitting them may have also helped this time, but I still wasn't pleased overall. On to the next!
  3. Third muslin: I unpicked my first muslin and re-cut the parts I could re-use, going down a size, so that the entire bodice is the smaller size (rather than just parts of the sleeve and front pieces being smaller). Then I closed my eyes, held my nose, and did my first  FBA on princess seams. Surprise: it was fine!
  4. Fourth muslin:  Luckily, I bought a shit-ton of the home dec Joel Dewberry fabric from Grey's on sale, so this fourth version may well end up the wearable muslin of my dreams. We'll see!
Hopefully, I'll have some wearable muslin action-shots to share soon! I've got some tips I've picked up during this process to share, too, so I'll be posting those shortly. Now I just need to decide on the final fabric!


  1. Don't worry - I took about 7 inches off my skirt (I made it as a skirt only) without losing the pouffe effect, but yeah you have to choose your finished length and draft a properly shaped hem allowance before you cut out or draft a hem facing as its so pegged.

    1. Thanks for the tip -- wow: 7 inches?!? Crazy.

  2. I love this dress but it sounds such a lot of work. 4 Muslins! Now they are making the changes I might have a go, it doesn't seem right though to produce a pattern which doesn't match the illustrations. (Elisalex is tall though).


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