I’m so sad that I can’t compete in this week’s challenge, but I decided to participate anyway because I’ve had this idea for a while. I shall try to rectify this for next year and actually participate in a few Monthly Stitch challenges. I do plan on participating in the spots and stripes challenge next month. Anyone else?
This is a hacked version of the Elizalex bodice paired with the Flora skirt, both patterns from By Hand London. I wanted to recreate this gorgeous red dress I found on Pinterest. It’s being marketed as a bridesmaids dress, but it’s of course a lovely cocktail dress as well. Originally, I was going to use the Kim dress bodice with the sweetheart neckline, but I noticed that the bodice on this dress looks more like the Elizalex bodice and I decided to challenge myself to recreate the neckline.
How I did it:
I’d never made the Elizalex dress before, so I just traced out the size I’d used for the Kim dress and made a toile. It fit very tightly across the bust, so I did a 1cm FBA. I toiled it again and it seemed to fit much better.
To alter the neckline, I put on a bra that looked like it had the same curvature as the neckline in the picture. I put on the toile, stood in front of the mirror and traced a line that was about 1 cm away from the top of my bra line on one side of the bodice. Then I took off the bodice, folded it in half along the center and redrew the line so it went down to the center line and 1.5cm (5/8″) from the edge of the front bodice near the shoulder. I cut it out and tried it on again and was pleased with how it looked. I took the piece I’d cut away and laid it on the center front pattern piece and traced it onto the pattern. I then marked the seam allowance and cut out the modified pattern.
When I cut out the center front pattern piece, I made sure to mark the seam line on the wrong side with some tracing paper because sometimes it’s tricky to know when to pivot on a sweetheart neckline.
I cut out the Flora skirt in the same size as the bodice. I also cut out two pairs of Chardon skirt pockets, because, well, dresses are just 100% better when they have pockets.
I followed the instructions on how to attach the bodice pieces together. I only had a quick glance at the instructions, to be honest, because the technique is almost exactly the same for the Kim dress, of which I’d made two versions and two toiles. I did clip the curve of the bust and basted the bodice front pieces together because when you do a FBA, the seam becomes curvier, and I didn’t want to have to unpick it on account of puckering (which I ended up doing on one side anyway, so I’m kind of wondering if I should’ve added another millimetre to the side front bodice length).
Next, I attached the pockets to the skirt using the method in the Chardon skirt pattern, with the exception that I sewed them to the skirt at 4/8″ instead of 5/8″, which hides the pockets a little bit better, in my opinion. Then I sewed the skirt side seams.
For the pleats, I wanted them to match up with the bodice seams, so I measured each side of the princess seam, front and back, and transferred the measurements to the skirt, because the pleats marked on the pattern weren’t quite right. One measurement going from the side seam and the other from the center front/back. I then brought those ticks together and basted a vertical line about 2cm down, pressed them all into box pleats, and basted along the top to keep them in place. I prefer this method to the method used in the Flora instructions, which doesn’t have you do a vertical basting stitch. I then attached the skirt to the bodice.
Why I love it
I feel like a bombshell when I put on this dress. The plunging neckline, the red colour. Paired with black heels, lipstick and mascara and I seriously feel unstoppable. I don’t care what anyone else thinks! To be honest, I like my version even better than the RTW one. That’s the great thing about sewing your own clothes; you can make your own modifications to fit your body and style. I like that the skirt is longer and the V is a bit more subtle (though no less plunging) than the original. I also love that it has pockets and that I can wear a regular bra with this dress. The fact that it’s lined with black fabric means that when I wear a black bra and the bodice shifts a little bit, it’s more difficult to distinguish what’s bra and what’s lining.
Fabric: 100% cotton, bodice lined with black broadcloth
Notions: matching thread, zip, self-made bias binding
Pattern alterations: Modified neckline, front knife pleats became box pleats