Cat Lady Challenge Dress


Yep – I made a dress for this challenge. I know I could have made a pair of PJs or a tote bag or something more subtle, but heck, everyone who knows me knows I am a cat lady. On a side note, not as crazy as my mum, I only have one cat, she has three!

The dress is the Elisalex bodice mashed with the skirt of McCalls 6503, my current favourite skirt. Just the right amount of fullness, nice little pleats and no danger of the wind catching it and flashing my undies to the world.

Cat Lady Challenge Dress

The construction of the dress was the same as my previous Elisalexes/Elisalexi?? So not much to tell you that I haven’t before except that this time I ran into a small snag. We shall call this snag “winter padding” or “proof I love food”.  The damn dress is too tight!  I can do it up but breathing becomes optional, as does sitting!  It fits first thing in the morning but there is no way I am wearing this to go anywhere until I have lost a couple of centimetres.  *sigh* I hate watching what I am eating.

Cat Lady

Anyway, the zip is beautifully inserted with excellent pattern matching however as you can see, pulls way too tight and the concealed zip is there for all to see.

Cat Lady Challenge Dress

Unfortunately a few kitties did have to be sacrificed in the making of this dress and I couldn’t make the bodice without splicing a few.  I looked at a couple of other bodice patterns but this one was the most kitty friendly.  To paraphrase the ever stylish Jen, cat bewbs and pussies on my ‘ahem’ were inevitable!!

BTW – how utterly adorable is this fabric? I picked it up in Amsterdam earlier this year and absolutely love it! Amy said it reminded her of Doleres Umbridge’s plate collection

Another closeup of the kitty awesomeness:
Cat Lady Challenge Dress

PS – if there ever was a time for my kitty to feature on the blog, now is the time:

Flora Hack aka Another Dolly Clackett Dress

It’s time for a new dress! Summer is well and truly on the way. Already every day this week has been over 30°C/86°F and we still have over a month until it is officially summer – eek. This heat has made me re-think my whole wardrobe – does anyone else do this everytime there is a season change, or is it just me??

Flora M6503 Hack

I have had this Japanese Tana Lawn in my stash since last year waiting to make a sundress. The bodice is the BHL Flora and the skirt is McCalls 6503.

Flora M6503 Hack

My previous Flora had some gaping issues at the bust so this time I rotated out the excess to the waist dart and am so much happier with the fit this time around. I also lowered

Flora M6503 Hack

I am still not 100% sure this is the most flattering look for me as I probably suit a lower neckline. But, do you know what? I like the dress and if my lady cargo has attention drawn to it, well what’s new?!

I know there is a little wrinkling under the bust, but I do like a little space in case I have a food baby. I could also take a touch off the bodice length, however it is not wrinkly all the time so perhaps I am just slouching! Whatevs, that is just being super (and probably un-necessarily) critical.

Flora M6503 Hack

For the skirt, I didn’t have enough fabric to even consider using Flora skirt, but I also didn’t want a super full skirt either. I chose M6503 as I like the double pleats and the gentle fullness of the A-line shape, it was nice to not have to be fearful of the wind when taking these pictures (don’t want to give the pelicans a show now do I?!).

Flora M6503 Hack

I feel I am definitely channeling some Dolly Clackett styling – not only is it a Flora hack and it has little Eiffel Towers on it!

Have you just experienced a big season change that has influenced all your sewing plans? I am all over the place with plans and ideas at the moment and overflowing with inspiration. Next on the sewing agenda, a dress for Brisbane Frocktails!

The “I was wrong” Anna Dress

So I am pretty sure I am the last person in the world to make the ubiquitous By Hand London Anna dress. Ever since it came out I was quite convinced that it would look hideous on me. The neck is too high to be flattering, the shoulders are wide and would make me look boxy and the darts were bound to really enhance my “lady lumps”*.

So all that aside, the pattern still played on my mind and I kept seeing them over and over and over again in the blogosphere. I finally relented and borrowed the pattern. After all no need to buy a pattern that was clearly going to look awful, I just need to get it out of my system.

Anna Dress
Well, colour me surprised with a big red crayon! I actually really like it and think it is quite flattering. Ok, I do look well endowed, but in the words of the lovely (and honest) Reana Louise “I hate to break it to you Liz, you do have big b00bs*”

Anna Dress

I cut the size 14 in the front, graduating to a 12 in the shoulders (cheats FBA), and 12 for the back, only shortening the bodice. Of course you will have notice the skirt is altered from the pattern. It is a dirndl, but gathered only at the sides, I saw this style on a vintage pattern recently and thought I would try it for something different. It feels a little like those really cool wide dresses from the 1700s! (oh how I would love an excuse to make one of these!)

pannier dress Source

I have very little to say about the construction of this dress except to say it went together extremely quickly and easily. This is a fast, satisfying make and a good wardrobe addition. As demonstrated by Roisin, this pattern works well with a plethora of different skirts.


Anna Dress

I made this up in a Repro Depot cotton from the local Spotlight store. This fabric range has cute patterns that supposedly are vintage reproductions. I just liked the cute flowers and with the red and yellow accents and thought the print would work well for winter & summer, plus it was on sale at 40% off so who would pass that up?!

For next time (and I know there will be a next time) I’ll decrease the width of the neckline as it is a bit of a bra strap flasher, and I will decrease the width of the shoulders.  I’d also love to try it with a different skirt, perhaps a circle, half circle or even my beloved Belladone skirt.

Anna Dress

So there you go, I was wrong, chalk that one up hubby dearest, doesn’t happen often 😉

Do you ever step out of your box and try a new pattern that all logic tells you won’t work? Or do you stick with TNTs?

* for fear of coming up on weird internet searches

If I didn’t have you Life would be blue, I’d be Dr. Who without the Tardis…

I made another Dolly Clackett dress! Actually its primary purpose was to wear to my Brother-in-Law’s wedding, but why not include it as another virtual bridesmaids dress for the Sew Dolly Clackett Challenge? The style and fabric are perfectly suited!  BTW have you seen all the gorgeous dresses in the Flickr poolElisalex
The pattern of course is the ubiquitous Elisalex and the fabric is a wonderful silk twill from The Fabric Store, bought on a trip there with Lizzy during the weekend of the inaugural Brisbane Sewists Meetup. The shoes are from the fabulous shoe shop across the road – what a successful day out!

As I am sure you know I have made this dress A LOT (I think this is my sixth), so it was fast to make up, no muslin required, just cut and sew up 🙂  This time I left the tulip skirt shape as per the original pattern except for the 10″ I have to remove for my short legs!


I added pockets too ‘cos all dresses should have pockets right?? I used an invisible zipper (that didn’t break) and lined the bodice with a cotton voile.  Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric to match everywhere (this fabric was expensive), the print is super large and the repeat was really far apart, so I only matched at the front where I could see it.


No pattern matching here – not enough fabric – but I can’t see it so I don’t care!!

The wedding went well, the weather was lovely, the food was awesome and so a good day was had by all. Of course the most important thing was that I looked and felt fabulous 🙂 (was it not my day???)


Keeping it short and sweet this time – I’m off to enjoy the rest of our long weekend.  Unfortunately no sewing on the agenda, my Mum is staying with me and it seems a little anti social to hide away in my sewing room. But I have been doing LOADS of planning in my head!

Pattern – Elisalex – By Hand London
Fabric – 2m silk twill from The Fabric Store
Notions – thread & 22″ zip from my stash

PS – my blog title is my Dolly Clackett wedding/couple themed quote 🙂

Dirndl Elisalex

I am totally not sorry if you are bored with my current Elisalex obsession 🙂 What can I say? This bodice is great – it has a lovely fit and I find it flattering and comfortable.

Dirndl Elisalex

This time I switched it up a little by adding a dirndl skirt instead of the tulip the pattern comes with. For those not familiar with a dirndl, basically it is a fancy word for two rectangles cut and gathered into a skirt. It couldn’t be easier.

The only thing I think can be tricky with a dirndl is getting the gathers just right, Cut rectangles too wide and the skirt can stick out funny around the waist (depending on fabric choice), too small and there aren’t enough gathers for it to look intentional. It is sometimes a tricky balance to have the appropriate gathers match the fabric. My fabric is a very light cotton (although not light enough to be a lawn or voile) and I generally find the lighter the fabric the more gathers it can tolerate. For this skirt I used the full width of the fabric (115cm) for front and back, resulting in a very full swooshy skirt.

Dirndl Elisalex

The bodice is constructed as per the pattern instructions and with the same alterations as my previous versions.

Recently I had a request  for pics of the inside (which normally I forget to photograph), but to indulge:

Check out my use of stash fabrics for lining! Oh yeah, pockets!

Fairly straightforward, no fancy seams or tailoring, all seams are finished on the overlocker, the bodice is hand blind-stitched down.  I trim all my armhole seams and neck edges with pinking shears as in my opinion this makes the finished edge smoother and it is easier than clipping the curves.

Dirndl Elisalex

The fabric was a recent find, it was one of those fabrics that I walked by initially but then saw it from across the store and it grabbed me! It’s funny how some fabrics look better from further away than close up.

Dirndl Elisalex

I really like this skirt option, it makes the pattern a little more everyday casual and it is certainly fun to wear. I will definitely be making more of these!

Pattern – Elisalex by ByHandLondon
Fabric – 2.5m of cotton from The Fabric Shop
Notions – Zipper & thread from my stash

Elisalex v4 – Floral

It’s no secret I really like this pattern and now that I have made all the necessary fit adjustments to the pattern it makes a super quick project.


This time I used a gorgeous floral border print from the Alannah Hill clearance store in Melbourne. The fabric is some kind of dress weight fabric, I suspect polyester as it has no stretch at all and doesn’t crease. Great for sitting for prolonged times!  I lined it in a cotton voile for added comfort.

Not much to say about the construction as I covered my adjustments in my previous Elisalex posts 1, 2 & 3.  This time with the skirt, instead of the pegged in version of the pattern, I instead continued the line from the hip to the hemline to give more of a bell shape. I wanted to do this to highlight the border print.


No gaping at the back this time and I didn’t change anything. Again I kept with the invisible zip in the back.


These photos were taken on the way out to a work function, it’s a great little afternoon party/bbq dress.

With four versions already, I feel like I am starting to mimic Roisin, have you seen all her amazing versions??? Still when you get onto a winner of a pattern, why mess with a good thing?!

Elisalex v3

What can I say, I love this pattern! Universally flattering, easy to fit and a classic versatile design. Of course I refer to Elisalex by indie pattern makers By Hand London.

By Hand London Elisalex

This is my third version of this dress (previous versions here and here), but my first sleeveless version.

I had a party to go to this weekend and the theme was ‘Black and White Cocktail’. What perfect excuse to roll out this favourite pattern again?

Construction wise I don’t have much to say as it went together just like my previous versions. Although, for some reason I had a small issue with the back gaping a little, nothing major, but enough to bother me. I didn’t really want to take any fabric out so I resolved this by running a little elastic along the edge to gently pull it in.  You can see in the photo below that there some small gathers, but when I am standing and moving this flattens out. I suspect some more stay stitching along this edge might prevent this in future.

By Hand London Elisalex

The fabric is a delightful black heavy polyester blend from my favourite treasure house of gorgeous fabrics, Alannah Hill, and bought during the recent shopping expedition as part of Frocktails in Melbourne. It is a stunning fabric, but not without its woes. It was a pain to work with, frayed a lot and has absolutely no “give” at all. This has resulted in a slightly more fitted dress than my previous versions, but I don’t mind this so much. Being a cocktail dress I didn’t expect to be slouching around and so pretty much zero ease is ok.


The fabric is much stiffer than my that used in my previous versions and initially I found the skirt to stick out too much. After a call for help on twitter, and taking some  advice from my fellow sewists, I took the seams in another 1″ on each side, resulting in the skirt being less voluminous!

By Hand London Elisalex

I must warn you now – I have made a fourth Elisalex, which I will share with you soon 🙂  What can I say? I really love this pattern!

Frocktails and a new Elisalex

Recently the Aussie blogosphere has been all atwitter with excitement at the idea of Frocktails.  The basic premise – make a dress, wear it and turn up for a night of dinner and cocktails – brilliant!  The lovely Kat of All the Whimsical Things tirelessly organised the event to be held at a local Melbourne restaurant and 28 sewists turned out in self-made dresses and it was fabulous!!

with Amanda of Bimble & Pimble

I didn’t take nearly as many pictures as intended, I guess I was talking too much – so jump across to Mel’s blog for more pics and to see everyone’s wonderful dresses.


Needless to say, a new dress was required for the occasion. I settled on another version of the Elisalex, I love my previous version but of course I have already worn that – I needed something new!

Frocktail Elisalex

As I had made it before construction wise I didn’t change too much although I did cut a much smaller size in the shoulders, this time was a 6 and grading to a 10 for the rest of the bodice.  I raised the shoulders about 1cm and took a 1″ wedge out of the upper back which resulted in a near perfect fit.

Frocktail Elisalex

But my pièce de résistance is the pockets – not only have I put some in, I had an idea (brilliant if I say so myself) of putting an invisible zipper on one so that I could put my cards & cash in for going out.  No more carrying a handbag or worrying where it is when I have had too many cocktails. Genius I say!!  (yep modest much?)

Frocktail ElisalexFrocktail Elisalex
Can you see the zip?? Me neither!!

Whilst I was in Melbourne I also did rather a lot of fabric shopping so I may have to consider a self-imposed ban whilst I do a bit of catch up! Ok, considered and I don’t want to be rash, what if something else comes along? 😉


Look out for next year’s meetup in Sydney!!

Completed: Elisalex Dress

Today I had a work function to attend, at the races!  When I heard about it my first thought was that of course I would need a new dress.  It is winter here at the moment…OK, not winter by you Northern America or Europe folks standards, but winter nonetheless.  Yep, I know it doesn’t get below 8º Celsius (46ºF) at night and during the day is mostly around 20 degrees (68ºF), but we are conditioned to be soft and this is cold for me!! 

When deciding which dress pattern to make my first thought was the Elisalex by By Hand London as it has a sleeve option – winner!!  I have seen so many lovely options around the blogosphere, have you seen Dolly Clackett’s versions here and here or Ooobop’s version?


This is my first time making this up, although I had made a rough muslin a few weeks ago.  My muslin was quite dodgy obviously as I ended up having to do quite a few alterations to this make.  I cut a size 12 and didn’t do an FBA as I thought with the princess seams I would have plenty of room for adjustment.  This worked a treat, my issues were elsewhere and I will detail those soon.

Excuse the wrinkles, I have worn this all day!

Aside from the alterations that really only come down to my body shape, this pattern comes together easily and beginners should not be afraid to try it as there is plenty of options to alter the fit and princess seams to me are very forgiving for this.

My alterations:
– additional 2″ off the back centre seam (1″ each side?
– narrowing shoulder seam by approx. 1″
– shortening bodice by 1″
– bringing in side seams by .25″
– narrowed sleeves by approx 1″
– shortened the skirt by 8″ – yep 8″, this dress is made for tall people!!
– inserted an invisible zip instead of an exposed one


Due to these changes the sleeves no longer fitted in the armhole, but instead of redrafting the curve I decided to pleat them at the top with a box pleat that you can just see in the pic above.

I also changed the construction method a bit, instead of hand stitching the lining at the sleeves, I caught it in when attaching the sleeves. I realize I never photograph the insides to show you, so here is how I finish my garments.  Most of the time I just overlock my seams, no fancy bound seams for me!


One other addition I made was to add bra strap stays. As the shoulders are quite wide (perhaps more so on me, I have narrow shoulders?) when trying it on my straps kept peeking out – I hate that, so this afterthought, whilst not super attractive is certainly functional.  For future makes (and there will be more) I will do this again, but will catch the strap in when attaching the lining so it is more tidy.


Initially I was not sure how this silhouette would look on me, I thought the tulip skirt might make me look hippy, but now it is finished I love it. I think the contrast of the fitted top and the tulip skirt really makes the waist look smaller.  I got so many compliments today and people were asking where my dress was from. There were 80 people at the function and three people were wearing the same dress so at least I was safe from that happening!

Did you notice I made a matching fascinator?  I was also nominated for one of the best hats of the day!


As for how I went at the races…I didn’t win anything – I am terrible at picking horses.  I am, however, good at the eating and drinking bit and chose to excel in these areas – especially the bubbly!!