The dress that nearly wasn’t

. . . but I’m so glad it is!

Spotty rose dress

Following on from the vintage rose print dress, I fully intended to make the next one from some gorgeous red rose cotton. But I knew I should improve on the fit of the bodice beforehand. I’ve turned once again to my trusty Elisalex bodice pattern. Why fix it if it’s not broke, I say!

I’ve taken the advice from the By Hand London site to perform a full bust adjustment. Something I never thought I would ever need to do for me. But on closer examination of my last version, and the one before, the upper bust was defo a tad too big whilst the fabric was more than snug over ‘the girls’. I’ve always gone by bust size and increased the waist, but never thought to go down a size and increase bust and waist. More than anything I plainly couldn’t be arsed! I must also learn to take bust measurements with whatever bra I mostly intend to wear!

Well. Big fat lesson learned. I now have a properly fitting bodice pattern that fits under arms, across chest, over bust and waist. Not bad for 2 years of (not) trying!

properly fitting bodiceAnyhows. This is not the reason that this particular dress didn’t happen. This spotty rose fabric has been sitting in the bottom of stash mountain for eons. I bought it from a charity shop and quickly decided it would only ever be suitable for a toile after doing a burn test.

Let’s just say I nearly burned down the kitchen in the process. Once the flames died down and the stinky fumes dispersed, my science test revealed that this fabric was totally synthetic and was never going to be acceptable in sweaty weather.

So I used it, with my dramatically altered bodice pattern to make a toile. Really not bothered if at first I didn’t succeed. I really didn’t want to cut into the lovely red fabric without knowing the alterations worked. But they did. Clearly. And all of a sudden I can forgive the fabric for being so unnatural! It’s amazing how blurred one’s vision gets when one is blinded by a darned good fit! I really must learn to be so snobby about fibre content!

front view of spotty rose dress

That said. I am still holding out for some 100% cotton gingham. How hard can it be? A sleeveless number in poly is fine but I can’t imagine having a sleeve, however short, in such close contact with my pits, in summer!

I wore it out to the park today in a sticky 26 degrees. Extreme test for a plastic dress. But because the skirt is so full and the fabric is so thin, it was remarkably cool.

Wearing the dress in Ravenscourt Park Gardens

Smelling the roses

I am still going to do the red rose version but I’m so pleased with this Brucey bonus one that I landed up with in the process! It has a 1950s vibe to it and of course is the perfect base dress to accessorise with a pair of crazy heels.

spotty rose dress

These heels being of the pink, furry leopard-print kind, of course!

sitting pretty on the doorstep

spotty rose dress

And I think you’ll agree that Mr Ooobop worked his magic as usual!

77 Replies to “The dress that nearly wasn’t”

  1. Oh Janene I love it and I agree, the fit is spot on and ridiculously flattering. I’m tempted to buy the Elisalex pattern purely for the bodice based on this! As for the fabric, it made my tongue hang out as soon as I saw the first picture, 100% synthetic or not! I also think you’re one of those rare creatures who look fabulous in black. Gorgeous, gorgeous dress. x

    1. Yes, synthetic or not the print is beautiful and I agree with Jane that the colour really suits you! I love this – I must make another full-skirted Elisalex one of these days. Jane – go and buy this pattern immediately!

      1. Thank you Dolly! So funny as I have recently commented on Kazz’s blog such that we always used to wear black and nothing else but since sewing we have all the colours of the rainbow in our wardrobe! Twould make for very boring posts if every one was an LBD! x

    2. Thank you so much lovely jane. I can’t big up the Elisalex more. Check out all of Roisin’s gorgeous creations if you haven’t already! But you will defo need an FBA. Well worth the effort though xxx

  2. You always take the best photos! And, that dress! The fit! Marvelous! I’m glad you made the effort to get it just so. It looks perfect!

  3. I had to stop and stare at the shoes for a really long time. I drooled- I admit it. Over the dress AND the shoes. I have a few poly fabrics like that sitting because I worry about how it will “feel”… BUT this was well worth it. Love the placement. 🙂 ~Laurie

    1. Thank you. The placement was kind of flooky in as much as the front piece sat on the fold and the vertical design fit perfectly. The rest just sat in place. I cut the skirt on the cross just because it felt unnatural with the design in vertical stripes. But I’m so glad you noticed 🙂

  4. Oh this it’s AMAZING!
    I’m also terrified of plastic fabrics but in the right style they can work.
    This fabric is stunning and I love how you have run it down the bodice. Perfection!!!

  5. Wow, that is amazing. Yes, an FBA – once you conquer the fear, it makes the world of difference. Though, I agree, it’s always a mental drag to make yourself do one.

  6. Just gorgeous! You and Mr Ooobop are so clever and creative. The photos really show us how beautiful this dress is and how amazing you look in it. I too would have been weary of polyester simply because of wear I live but I would been so tempted because of the fabric print. I just love it.

  7. It is gorgey, like your gorgeous self! 🙂 I do smile at your pics – a very famous 60’s photographer was quoted as saying, “It’s not necessary to *** the models but it does help.” And it does! My favourite photos of me ever were taken by a photographer I was ***ing! heehee!

    1. Haha… This made me properly laugh out loud. Brought out the prudey in me and all. “Oooo, Mrs C!” I said in a Hattie Jakes style Carry On voice! x

  8. The fit really is wonderful! Despite the fibre content, you’ve really optimised the combination of print and pattern here – just perfect for you 🙂

  9. Love the dress and the fabric! Living in the Philippines, I hate wearing polyester and never buy it if I can help it. However silk is impossible to find here and even pure cotton can sometimes be a challenge. After following the Susan Khalje couture sewing class on Craftsy and learning about the benefits of underlining even in a hot climate ( garments wrinkle less, less perspiration marks) I now underline nearly all my dresses with a lightweight cotton. As i never wear stockings here, I don’t need to line or underline in a slippery fabric to avoid them sticking. So use whatever thin cotton I can find in a matching color. It recently occurred to me that I cold do the same with polyester fabrics if and when i could not resist the color or print! At least I wouldn’t have “plastic” sticking to my skin!

  10. I really must do the fit properly thing! Your fit is fantastic. Like you I have been exhibiting avoidance behaviour and not doing a proper fit and not doing a toile, well not properly. We are still in winter here in NZ so I have time to get sorted before our hot weather kicks in. Thanks for a lovely inspiring blog !

  11. Ooh my! This is a complete success! the alterations and tweaking you have made are sheer perfection, this definitely needs to be made again! And, I ‘m madly in love with the fabric, the florals are in exactly the right spot and the striped effect on the skirt is very flattering. Of course I’m not wearing or feeling it, but I don’t think polyesters are as evil as people think. Synthetic doesn’t always equal bad.

    1. I knew it was unlikely to be 100% cotton when I bought it but I truly thought more cotton than poly. Sooo totally the opposite, but really it’s not so bad. After all these lovely comments I think I must learn to be more open minded about synthetics 🙂

  12. Just gorgeous! I love it, and the shoes are divine!
    I had a little chuckle at “a sticky 26 degrees”. I would love it if that’s how hot our summers got! We get into the mid 30s with very high humidity and it’s awful!

  13. So lovely, and I love the shoes with it. I know what you mean about man-made fibres, it can be a bit hit and miss as to how they feel when you wear them. But who cares when they look this good!

  14. It looks lovely, poly or not! I plan on making the same adjustments for my next Elisalex, will go down a couple of sizes and then will do an FBA.
    I did have to giggle at your hot 26 degrees, it is winter here and we go 24 today 🙂 in summer we get 40, and super humid so no poly for us unfortunately

    1. Thank you Lizzie. We did have a momentary 31 degrees. Hottest July in 10 years apparently! But mostly we are robbed of a summer as you probably know! Yes, I’m not likely to test this dress out in anything more than 26 I dont think! 🙂

  15. Gorgeous dress! I love your fabric placement, and the photos are beautiful.

    Thanks for the fitting tips – I usually do the simple approach of using the bust size, increasing the waist.. then getting annoyed about looseness in the upper chest area :(. The smaller size with more adjustments approach looks to work brilliantly, I’m going to try this too!

  16. I agree. Who cares what the fabric is when it looks that good? And fantastically well-fitted, too. I’d pass on the shoes for myself but they do look like the sort of thing I might have once wished I could wear. Like Busy Lizzie, I smiled a little at 26 being hot. But, you know, it’s relative. I think anything less than 15 is too cold to venture outdoors!!

    1. Thank you Felicity. We are so deprived of heat so we are making the most of this hottest July on record for 10 years! I have to say I have been in heat heaven but I wouldn’t trust this dress in a hotter climate!

  17. The fit is superb,,, what great pattern placement on a toile!!?? An excellent result! I’ve showed your photo shoots to my DH…they are a high standard to aspire to 🙂

  18. Ooh gorgeous, Janene!!! I keep seeing that Elisalex bodice everywhere… getting tempted! Your fit is PERFECT – and the fabric is stunning!! Can’t say as I blame you for the fabric snobbiness, though – I hate the way synthetics wear, especially in the heat… but I am pretty sure this one can be forgiven 😉

    And dem shooooooes….. 😀

  19. I laughed so hard about your fire test! What?! A fire test! Never thought of that. But your dress turned out lovely and the fit is perfect! And lovely pictures!

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