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:


I had my birthday recently (yep kept that one quiet didn’t I?) and my darling husband was clever enough to recognise my subtle hinting and bought me the Flora pattern. OK I admit that I might have emailed the link to him so he didn’t forget!

I have muslined the wrap version of this pattern and am pretty happy with how that has gone, but instead of logically carrying on an making the wearable version I somehow got distracted and made the tank version.

I was very on the fence about this fabric, it is a bit pajama-like, so initially my thought was that I would use the fabric for muslins. However on finishing the bodice I decided I liked it so decided to use the rest to finish the dress.


The skirt?? The Flora astute of you will realise this is not the skirt of the pattern, I didn’t have enough fabric for the full skirt of the pattern so chose to use the Elisalex skirt, because what could be better than a By Hand London mashup, huh Roisin???


I am frankly really surprised with this pattern.  I really thought with the high neck that it would look atrociously unflattering on a larger bust…but I think it looks alright.

The skirt is a little shorter than I would normally wear. A direct result of me deciding it was too long and enthusiastically taking to it with scissors without really thinking/measuring/pinning or any other sensible approach. Again, not bothered by this, but have to bear it in mind when getting things from the bottom shelf at the supermarket – flasher alert!!


Now I’ll be the first to admit the bodice is not perfect, but it is too good to waste by throwing it away. I will totally wear this! I have added a dart to where I have the gaping and rotated it out to the bust dart for my next version.


Pretty sure you won’t be seeing the wrap version for a while, the fabric is a voile. The temperature here dropped considerably at the beginning of May and now tights are being worn almost daily. I have packed the dress away in a ziplock bag to be looked at again when the weather warms up…October?? Right now all I can think about is having my arms and legs covered!

I’m working on a few new things at the moment and working on filling up the gaps in my autumn/winter wardrobe. I’m also following along with Me Made May ’14, I didn’t make an official pledge, but I am wearing Me Made items everyday and posting my pics to Instagram, you can follow along here. So far this month I haven’t worn an outfit twice, so I guess I can’t have too many gaps to fill. Are you doing MMM either officially or unofficially?

Pattern – Flora & Elisalex from By Hand London
Fabric – 2.5m of cotton from stash
Notions – thread & zipper from stash

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

Top 5 Hits of 2013

Now onto the fun stuff – my favourite makes for the year! I pretty much love everything that I blogged about this year, apart from the fails of course, and they all get worn regularly especially as my wardrobe is predominantly me-mades now.  Of course, some are worn more than others and become staple items or “go to” patterns. It was hard to narrow it down to five makes as this varies from season to season, being summer here it is easier to remember these makes over my winter ones.

Darling Ranges Dress

#5 The Darling Ranges Dress

This light voile dress is lovely and cool to wear and really comfortable, it is a good lounging dress and great for sitting cross legged on the couch. It was also a fairly easy make with nice design features such as bias trim instead of facings. This was a perfect fabric/pattern combination and I will definitely be making it again soon.

McCalls 6611

#4 McCalls 6611

This jacket gets lots of wear, especially when travelling. I feel the cold very easily, especially on the plane or at the movies and always wear jeans to either of these.  This little jacket is great to carry for those types of places where the airconditioning is a little enthusiastic.  I love this shade of pink and this soft colour palette – something I need to explore more in the New Year. I have another of these jackets in black that I haven’t blogged about. I would also like to try it in a ponte.

Scout Tee

#3 Scout Tee

I know this is not a pretty dress or a showstopper, but this little tee has become a good wardrobe basic for me. I have four so far, but this floral one is my absolute favourite and is in danger of being worn to death (in fact I am wearing it now). Luckily I have some more fabric to make up a spare.


#2 Elisalex Dress

Ha, now you all thought this was going to be number one didn’t you? Well I admit it was close, I do love this pattern and I have made it five times already.  Five?? But I only count four in the picture??  That’s because I still have one more to share with you that I finished for Christmas Day. Then I got preoccupied with eating and drinking and clean forgot to photograph it.  Oops.  Anyway gorgeous dress, always fits well, in fact this has almost become like a bodice block for me lately.  I would almost have to question “do I need more patterns in my life?”.

 #1 Belladone Dress

In answer to the above question, yes I need this pattern in my life.  I love this dress so much.  Everytime I wear it, I get loads of compliments. I have made another in black (yep unblogged still, sorry) and have another one planned.


Honorable mention

Goes to the Coppelia Cardigan – I have made this three times (only one made it to the blog though) and wear it loads in winter and when I travel to super cold countries. It is a great layering piece and works well with the Hollyburn skirt as above in the photo with the lovely (and tall) Rachel of House of Pinheiro.


I wonder what exciting new patterns await for us all this year…

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!!