Sunday, January 27, 2013

They used to call me The Chameleon. Because of my slender frame and my big, wet eyes.

Hello all! The snow has gone, and it's a positively balmy 9 degrees celsius. This feels almost luxuriously... well, not warm, but not cold. I don't think I had realised just how much the cold weather was getting to me - being able to walk around my flat without a million layers on feels like such a treat. It's definitely not warm enough yet to start wearing those lovely strappy dresses I've beens sewing, but they certainly seem less ridiculous now that the snow has all melted away.

I have been busy sewing again this past week, this time with an all-new pattern. Eliza of Eliza M Vintage Patterns  contacted me over the Christmas holidays to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of her patterns. This was exciting because, after seeing Handmade Jane's lovely Ruby dress in December, I had been eyeing these patterns up. I chose the Eliza dress:

I'm sure it's pretty obvious why I chose this one...

Eliza M patterns are single-sized and, based on my bust measurement, I went for the 12. Eliza tells me that she's working on getting the patterns graded so that she can sell multi-sized patterns, which is good for those people who are between sizes. But lazy old me, I like the fact that this is single sized. There was less cutting to do! The pattern itself comes in an A4 cardboard envelope and the pattern pieces are in a cellophane bag - a bit like the bags that comics come in - which is nice because it's easy to keep everything all together. It also reminded me that I bought a box of those comic envelopes for just that reason last year, so I should get on with sorting through my patterns.

On Thursday evening, I got my fabric and pattern out when I got home from work and got down to it. I had a really pretty hot pink polka dot cotton that had been a gift from my dear friends Lauren and Rick on my last birthday. I had ear-marked it for a strapless party dress from Gertie's book, but I decided it would be put to better use on this dress, which is more wearable.

The pattern itself is very simple - the bodice has two darts with all-in-one armhole facings and the skirt is a full circle skirt. In the interests of a proper review,  I really should have followed the pattern exactly but I decided not to. Both the bodice and the skirt have centre back seams but the pattern calls for a side-seam invisible zip. I don't like side-seam zips unless they're there so the print on the back isn't broken by seam-lines, but this isn't an issue here. And I just don't especially like invisible zips. So I decided to move the zip to the centre back and just use an ordinary old zip. To my mind, this is more 'vintage' as well as being easier, but I suppose that's a judgement call.

UPDATE: It turns out I'm a bit of a dick and I misread the pattern. It's a centre back zip. I was obviously having an attack of the derps when I read the instructions. SIGH. Anyway, centre back zip FTW, but I'd still rather a lapped zipper to an invisible one.

Eliza M's website says that this pattern would be suitable for beginners. While I can't disagree that the construction itself is pretty simple, I think the instructions could do with being a lot more detailed. The instructions for attaching the facing really confused me - even though I had used this method before! (it's the same method for attaching the facing inside the Colette Rooibos dress) Part of this is definitely down to the fact that I was tired and a bit cranky on Thursday night, but I definitely had to unpick and re-do more than I usually would. The pattern itself is lovely but for £12.50, a pattern by Sewaholic or Colette have much more comprehensive instructions.

Anyway - the dress itself is just lovely! Once I stepped back a bit and remembered what the eff I was doing with the facings, the construction was very smooth, and I love the finished dress:

Sunday 27th January 2013 
The Eliza dress

As you can see, I decided not to gather the neckline to create a sweetheart shape. This is at least partly because I was a bit baffled by the instructions on how to do it - but it's mainly because I like the shape of the neckline as it is. I don't like anything that is too low-cut and fear that pulling this down slightly would result in more cleavage on show than I am comfortable with. The only other change I made was to put two small darts in the back neckline to try to reduce the slight gape there. I think when I sew this pattern again I'll need to take a bit of width out of the top of the back. I'll spare you the back view, though. 

Eliza dress bodice detail 
Bodice view - we took the photos in the Arboretum where it was nice and warm!

Despite my slight fitting issue with the bodice back, I'm really happy with how the front of the bodice fits and I like the straps, they're a nice width and in a comfortable place. I really love the length of the skirt as well - with a narrow hem the length is just over 26in so perfect for wearing over a fluffy petticoat! Although now I will have to buy an extra fluffy black one to wear underneath this frock. 

Cat-eye sunglasses
It also looks good with cat-eye sunglasses and JJ Abrams style lens flare

I'm really happy overall with this dress. I know I'm basically sewing to a theme, here - I love dresses with a fitted bodice and a full skirt, but this is what I wear! I'll definitely be making more Eliza dresses - this is what counts as cake in my wardrobe. Despite my reservations about the pattern, I would recommend this pattern to confident seamstresses. None of the techniques are difficult, but you need to be confident enough to work your way through the instructions. I would buy another Eliza M pattern, as well. Right now I fancy the Betty dress pattern.

JJ Abrams Lens Flare! 
You all bored of retro-style dresses yet? OH WELL.

And speaking of sewing and polka dots - want to know who won the green polka dot mystery fabric? Eh? I don't have one of those whizzy pictures of the randomiser, because I couldn't figure out how to get it to work. So I counted up all the entrants and got Nic to choose a number at random. And the winner is CARLY. Carly, email me with your address and I'll get the fabric out to you as soon as I can, with a few little surprises in there, too!

Next up is some unselfish sewing in the shape of a dress for my fabulous friend Lucy, using Butterick B5748 and Michael Miller Olive Atomic fabric. I'm hoping to make that this week as sewing in the evenings after work makes a crappy work-day feel much less depressing! 

I'll be back later in the week to tell you all about the knicker-making workshop I taught this weekend, and to share some belated snow pictures. Until then, my dears!