Brown Brocade Elisalex

About a week ago a shared with you my aversion to muslins and my psychic abilities that informed me, with no real explanation, that I would need to make a muslin when first tackling the lovely Elisalex Dress from By Hand London.

Now just to clarify, I do not really believe that I am psychic – but in this instance I was really pleased that I put the time into creating a wearable muslin before using up what little I had of the fancy fabric I planned to use for this dress. This is a big deal for someone as impatient as me :D

  brown brocade elisalex by made with hugs and kisses

I used my muslin to identify the changes I needed to make and transferred these straight onto the paper pattern. These included:

making some small changes to the waist and under bust fitting (the creases you can see there now are due to how I am standing),

Lowering the under arm a little

Changing the neckline and straps just slightly

Reducing just a tiny bit of the roundness of the skirt (although I might add this back on again next time)

  re-positioning my box pleats so they lined up with my princess seams perfectly.

brown brocade elisalex by made with hugs and kisses

I have noticed just two small tweaks that need changing before my third variation (which I am already planning in my head!)

Firstly, there is a little pucker at the top of my princess seams. I think this is something to do with my lining though. I will have to pay more attention next time to see if I can eliminate this. There was no way I was unpicking all the stitching this time though!

Secondly, the under arms are still a little tight.

Now I need some advice with this.

I am having this problem with almost every pattern I am making lately. They dig in and rub and it can be rather uncomfortable. I have put on quite a bit of weight – do we think this could be causing the problem?

I am often worried about enlarging the armholes and whether this will have a negative impact on the fit of the overall bodice.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! 

 brown brocade elisalex by made with hugs and kisses

They key thing I learnt from my second attempt at this pattern is that the fabric choice is vitally important, especially when it comes to the skirt. The fabric of my wearable muslin was far to thin and light. It didn’t hold the box pleats very well and the rounded shape of the side seams was completely lost.

This brown brocade fabric is quite a bit thicker and heavier and holds its shape more effectively. Not forgetting to mention how pretty it is of course. It did take me about 20 minutes to decide which way around it should go though as both the back and front seemed usable.

Anyway, the box pleats are crisp and clear – even after scrunching it up in a ball, and the roundness of the skirt is emphasised a lot more but in a way that looks more natural and purposeful. I will certainly be using medium weight fabrics when making this again.

I lined the bodice with a thin and lightweight viscose that is very soft and doesn’t add any bulk. this is brown to match.

brown brocade elisalex by made with hugs and kisses

Here is a quick picture of the back -I often forget to do ‘back shots’ but I am quite pleased with how everything has lined up and I have continued to practice my zip insertions. Still need to get that invisible zip footer though.

I went for a small hook and eye at the top of the zip, which does the job. I might use a button next time though.

Another thing I am very proud of is my invisible hem – although I forgot to take a photograph of this. It really is invisible though!!!

   brown brocade elisalex by made with hugs and kisses

And my last picture of the day is of the adorable broach that I think goes perfectly with the pattern of the fabric. I picked this up ages ago at a vintage fair in Liverpool. It isn’t real – just costume jewelery, but it caught my eye straight away and I had to have it. The only issue with it being so big and detailed is that it doesn’t go with an awful lot of outfits – but in this instance it matches wonderfully!

brown brocade elisalex by made with hugs and kisses

So there you have it, I am thrilled with my Elisalex dress now, and made up that I was able to make a handful of small changes to ensure this pattern works perfectly for me. This is clearly going to be a recurring staple to my wardrobe and I am eager to see how it looks with sleeves – I have a beautiful crushed velvet that will work great in my Autumn/ Winter wardrobe.

Is anyone else beginning to sew up more ‘bad weather friendly’ outfits? 


  1. IngeMaakt says:

    What a lovely dress! Pretty colour and great fit! Regarding the armholes: I sometimes have issues with the back armhole, apparently my arms are placed more to the back than the armhole. I just scoop it out a bit more when this happens. You can probably feel where it is too tight, just take out a little bit there, a few millimeters can make a world of differenct!

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