The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

WIP: The Neverending Elisalex Dress

Oh, I had such high hopes for this dress.  And I haven't given up but boy, have I lost steam.

Here's where I am with my By Hand London pattern:

Rather pathetic, I know.  Not hardly much to show after starting this dress, oh, sometime back in June.

I decided to use this as my pattern for Susan Khalje's Couture Dress class on Craftsy.  I wanted to get some practice with couture techniques before starting on the wedding dress (more on that later).  Some of the problems have come from my choice of fabric, a stretch cotton sateen that I fell in love with from Fabrics and Trimmings (Etsy shop).  And then there's also my lack of experience with these techniques - yes, that.  Here's what I've done so far:
  • Made a muslin of the bodice.
  • Made alterations (little bit here, little bit there, nothing big).
  • Cut and marked (with waxed tracing paper, no less) the underlining.  I'm using a cotton batiste for the skirt, bias cut organza for the bodice (I managed to squeeze this question in when Claire Schaeffer had a lunchtime discussion on the Threads fb page).
  • Cut fashion fabric.
  • Hand basted underlining to fashion fabric.
  • Hand basted pieces of bodice and skirt together.
  • Tried on bodice with help from friend Nancy.
  • Realized that my underlining was causing some bubbles.  Unpicked and hand basted underlining again.
  • Made piping.
  • Tried on bodice and skirt together (but not attached). 
  • Wondered what the hell that barrel was doing around my legs.
  • Realized I really should have done a muslin of the skirt, too.
  • Put dress away for a while to gather more courage.
  • Fitted skirt with help from Rhonda, then took a total of something like 12 inches off in various places from the skirt (width) and another 4 inches in length (I already chopped 4 before I cut the pattern).
  • Machine stitched skirt pieces together. 
  • Stay stitched waist in skirt.
  • Finished seams allowances in skirt with lavender Snug Hug.
  • Felt happy again.  Doesn't a nice seam finish make you happy, too?
  • Basted piping to waist seam on skirt.
  • Machine stitched bodice together. 
  • Catch stitched seam allowances in bodice to underlining.
  • Went to put bodice and skirt together and the pleats in no way matched the seams in the bodice.
  • Removed piping from skirt, unpicked staystitching, and took apart pleats.
  • Unpicked shoulder seams in bodice and center back seam in skirt so that I could lay them out flat.
  • Reconfigured pleats so that they matched the seams in the bodice.
  • Decided I wanted thinner piping (not 3/16" but 1/8").  .
  • Decided that I might want piping at neckline as well as waist.
  • Ordered more 1/8" cord.

And that's where I'm at, waiting for the cord to arrive so that I can make more piping.  I'd like to have the option of wearing this dress to a wedding on September 28, so I'm going to try to blast through on the next couple weekends (providing that cord arrives).  What do you think?  Was I right to want the piping at the neckline as well as the waist?

I have had more success in my other ongoing WIP, my sewing room.  I bought a cone thread rack with some of the money from Camp Runway, and someone (the sewing fairy??) kept whispering in my ear that it would look much better if I painted it, so I did.

And then she told me that since I had ROYGBIVed the cone thread, I really should do the same with the regular thread:

But when she started whispering about the bobbins, I told her she really needed to start concentrating on that Elisalex . . .

10 comments on "WIP: The Neverending Elisalex Dress"
  1. This dress will be a stunner when it's finished, and just think of how you are fine-tuning your skills along the way. A challenging project, for sure, but sometimes I need to walk away from it for a bit and then when I come back, it is with fresh eyes and new enthusiasm. And I LOVE the piping!

    1. Yes, grumbles aside, I have learned a lot from this make. Just writing about it has motivated me - why go through all that and then not finish it??!

  2. This dress is awesome. I LOVE the fabric and want something in it soooo bad. Love that stretchy cottony stuff! You have a great voice. I love to read your stuff.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! And BTW, I have a sewing proposal for you for later this fall/winter. And stretchy cottony stuff could come into it . . .

  3. Oh boy - you're scaring me about this pattern! Hard to tell what it looks like since it's spread out, but I love your fabric and piping. I like the idea of the piping at the neckline too. Maybe even at the armholes?

    And I love that you turned ROYGBIV into a verb!

    1. Yes, this dress will have sleeves (one of the next steps, I think) and I wondered if the piping should go there, too. I'll certainly have enough of the 1/8 cord once my package arrives! And I think you are going to have an easier time with this dress, and I think it will suit your body shape to a T. Can't wait to see what you do!

  4. Oh wow, that's a lot of work on one dress. And I think your rainbow'ed thread looks fabulous ;)

  5. Thanks, Liza Jane! I do hope I like the dress enough when it's done to make all the work worth it!

  6. That's quite a talkative fairy you have ;)
    On the cording, remember, things look better in 3s(neckline wasitline and sleeves), so you might want to think about the sleeves as well. You'll be able to make the decision once you have a little more piping to play with.

  7. Wow, you are so patient and have done so much work! Your dress is going to look great.