Elisalex the first: Hot Air Balloons

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I had planned to make an Elisalex dress using the turquoise spotty fabric I got for my birthday. However it is such a fun colour that no zips can match it ūüė¶ But fortunately I got some super fun fabric at Goldhawk Road (that Rachel from MyMessings also got) covered in colourful hot air balloons!

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I was super organised that day as I purchased the zippers I needed to match the fabric there and then, so could sew it up in a day (it should have taken longer with proper breaks, but shhh, don’t tell!)

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I did a FBA (full bust adjustment) and made a muslin/toile of the bodice, and it all went smoothly. There is still a bit of tweaking needed on the back, possibly a sway back adjustment, despite a bit of adjusting as I went along.

elisalex 187Can you see the invisible zip? I hope not as I tried SO hard with my pattern matching. Luckily I had lots of extra fabric, as this was not an economical way to cut the pieces due to the complex pattern repeat; you think the pattern has repeated when there are one or two balloons in a line that are different! It’s not perfect but I’m pleased with it for a first attempt.

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As you can see I made the whole pattern, including tulip skirt. I wasn’t planning to, but I was so impressed with the pattern drafting on the bodice and the Victoria Blazer, that I decided to trust the By Hand girls would have designed a flattering skirt. I like the skirt more than I had anticipated – it certainly isn’t as ginormous as I thought it would be around my shapely thighs – however I’m not sure it would be my top choice for everyday wear; I wore it to an open-air theatre show that involved sitting on the floor and it did not work for sitting cross-legged!elisalex 129

Wearing in real-life also told me that the armholes were a little tight, so I will lower them at the front slightly in the next version. Yup, there will be another Elisalex in my wardrobe (though with a gathered or half-circle skirt) as the bodice is such a nice fit and versatile fit.

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And yes, I did add pockets, of course. I was wearing my floral Cambie at a wedding this weekend and people were shocked/amazed that I had pockets for my phone while on the dance-floor ūüôā

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It looks good dressed up with heels (seriously, these shoes mostly get worn in the hallway for blog-posing) and also works a bit more casual. And by coincidence I have cardigans that match the colours of the balloons.
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I prefer the look of this dress with cardigans as I think the overall colour of the fabric is too pale for me; the balloons are all me-colours (pink, purple, red and aqua/green) but the base of the fabric is cream. Despite the bright colours, the cream is still there and I’m not sure it is right for me near my face (I had the same feeling when wearing my Self-Portrait Blouse).elisalex 146


I just have one more week left until I go back to school, so I am going to work on fitting some other patterns in the hope that term-time sewing will be nice and easy…


Autumn Sewing Plans

sewing plans

I have a couple of finished garments to show you, but before I show you all my sewing I though I should share my plans for autumn back-to-school sewing. At the beginning of the summer, while bored from my break from sewing (saw the physio this week and the rest has helped) I decided to draw all the things I was planning to make. Last year I made a personalised croquis* using the instructions in the Colette Sewing Handbook¬†and I printed some out to doodle my wardrobe plans. I’m not normally one for planning my sewing, as you’ve probably worked out by now, but I was preparing for a blogging meet-up shopping-trip and had time on my hands.


  • A By Hand London Victoria Blazer. I have already shown you the blazer I made, which turned out pretty similar to the original idea; plain dark jacket with contrast (spotty) lapels.
  • A dark grey or black Hummingbird skirt. Last autumn/winter I lived in my black cord skirt, so another plain dark skirt is a basic wardrobe necessity.
  • A “plain” t-shirt to go with my patterned skirts. This was the plainest jersey I could buy; I am attracted to fun prints in fabric shops, but there is a space in my me-made wardrobe for plainer tops to wear with the snazzy prints! I’ll use my jersey t-shirt block for this, with self drafted cap-sleeves.

aubergine skirt

  • Last year I bought LOTS of aubergine-coloured corduroy and I haven’t made any clothes with it yet! I love cord skirts in winter, so am going to use it to make a Hummingbird skirt.
  • My wardrobe needs a plain navy top or t-shirt to match with my navy skirts. Still haven’t bought fabric for it yet.


  • I love the new Colette Patterns Hawthorn shirt dress; it is cute without being too vintage or girly looking. In my head I imagined a dark purple fabric with a subtle print, with a plain collar and cuffs. Whether this fabric exists in real life is still under investigation…


  • I’m pretty sure there will have to be a few adjustments made, plus my first time making sleeve plackets, so I thought I should plan to make a wearable muslin of the Hawthorn blouse; If it is in a busy print it should disguise any mistakes I make.


  • I got this turquoise dotty fabric from Paris as a birthday present, and thought it could be a great first go at an Elisalex dress bodice, with a Cambie-style gathered skirt. I have seen so many lovely Elisalexes and variations, that I had to give in and get the pattern too.


  • I love my Tiramisu dresses and really want a long-sleeved cosy one for the winter, in a heavy pont√© jersey. Not black, so maybe dark purple/plum or maybe a deep red or pink…


  • When fabric shopping with Jo from SewLittleTime I bought some pink polka-dot jersey that we thought would be great for a Hummingbird peplum top. I didn’t even own the pattern, but Jo had the measurements written down so I bought some fabric in the hope of owning the pattern.
  • My second self-drafted pair of jeans were a much better fit, but the knees are already starting to fade from so much wear. Time for a new pair of jeans, in a dark almost-black colour.

So those were my plans at the beginning of the summer – stay tuned to see which plans stayed the same and which ones changed! Is anybody else getting excited about autumn sewing (despite it still being summer!)? What are you planning to sew?


*The croquis was made by taking an accurate (and unflattering) photo of myself in underwear and then tracing over it, to get an accurate outline of my body. I used an edge-detector tool on the computer to generate my outline and printed it in pale grey. The final image shows what I actually look like, and not what I think I look like, so my sketches of my designs look more realistic.