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The Gin Festival Dress

November 17, 2015

I have quite a stack of sewing patterns which I haven’t gotten around to using yet, and as I was looking through them I came across the Eliza dress pattern from Eliza M Vintage.  Claire, the lady behind Eliza M and Simple Sew patterns, gave me this pattern a few years ago now, along with the Audrey pattern for reviewing purposes (reviewed here) and the Betty pattern, which I haven’t yet made.  However, although I started with the Eliza dress pattern, I’m not calling this an Eliza dress, as it ended up nothing like the original design!

The Gin Festival dress - so called because the first time I wore it was to a Gin Festival.

The Gin Festival dress – so called because the first time I wore it was to a Gin Festival.

From previous experience of using Simple Sew patterns and Eliza M Vintage patterns, I knew the fit wasn’t going to be quite right for me without any alteration, so I used up some African wax print cotton (leftover from my Belladone dress) to make a toile.  I basted together the bodice (minus facings) and basted in a zip to find that the waistline was nowhere near my waist, so I drafted quite a deep waistband to lengthen the bodice so that when I attached the skirt it would be starting at my natural waist, which is where it should be according to the design on the pattern envelope, I think.

wpid-photogrid_1447162666268.jpg

I had enough fabric to cut a circle skirt, but I wanted to see what the dress would look like with a gathered skirt as I have something specific in mind for the final dress (which I haven’t made yet).  I cut the pieces for a gathered skirt using the whole width of the fabric and a length of 24″.

Future Patrick Grant inspecting my sewing...

Future Patrick Grant inspecting my sewing…

I’m sorry to say that the instructions for the construction of this dress are pretty terrible.  The pictures don’t always match the design of the dress – for instance a round-neck dress is sometimes shown when this has a square neckline.  Side darts are included in the instructions and the diagrams but there are no side darts drafted in the pattern (or indicated in the line drawing).  And, most crucially, there are no instructions whatsoever on how to create the sweetheart neckline (even on the other side of the paper pictured below).  It seems a bit shoddy to me: I’m certainly glad I didn’t actually pay for the pattern.  I did also mention in my review of the Audrey dress that the pattern envelopes are sealed with sticky, gummy glue that sticks to everything once opened – not a good feature – and the pattern tissue is all in one mega-gigantic piece which makes it extremely tricky to handle.

Pattern instructions which tell you to sew non-existent bust darts, and which show a different style of dress in some of the diagrams. Poor.

Pattern instructions which tell you to sew non-existent side darts, and which show a different style of dress in some of the diagrams. Poor.

I’m happy enough with the outcome: it’s a pretty dress… but it isn’t exactly how I’d like it to be, so for my next version I’ve still got a few small changes to make in addition to the added waistband and the gathered skirt.  I’m quite pleased with my lapped zip in this dress, although at the top the left side is a scant 1/8″ higher than the right – arrgh!  I’ve already bought a concealed zip for the next version.

Lapped zip

Lapped zip

I wore the dress to a Gin Festival with my good friend and co-blogger Aileen (she hasn’t blogged on here in a few years now, but maybe she will come back if we ask nicely!).  She was also wearing a handmade dress – a By Hand London Anna dress with a gathered skirt that she made last year sometime I think.  Isn’t it gorgeous?!  I love the print!

By Hand London Anna dress in bookshelf print fabric

By Hand London Anna dress in bookshelf print fabric

I like that photo a lot, but I’m going to leave you with a sillier version:

Gin. Dresses. Books. Friends.

Gin. Dresses. Books. Friends.

 

 

 

10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2015 3:20 pm

    Oh dear. At least you are experienced enough to work through this, can you imagine how frustrated a new sewist would be?

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      November 17, 2015 3:27 pm

      Yes, it would be pretty confusing! It doesn’t really reflect very well on the company.

  2. November 17, 2015 3:38 pm

    Great post, like reading about the making up as much as looking at the lovely after pics. I tend to have to lengthen bodices and I’m not even tall, 5ft4″. I think my waist it low thought and I’ve got a long rib cage. Sounds terrible when written down! Thanks for the heads up on the instructions, I’ve got that pattern in my to do pile 😀

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      November 17, 2015 4:26 pm

      Eliza M patterns are particularly short in the body on me! Good luck with making it.

  3. November 18, 2015 2:49 pm

    I love the fabric!!!!!
    Good call adding the waistband!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      November 19, 2015 7:14 am

      The fabric was from Goldhawk Road and was a total bargain, like most wax prints! The waistband was necessary: it was either that or lengthen the bodice pattern and make another toile, but I think it looks ‘right’ with a waistband so I’m happy with it ☺

      • November 19, 2015 8:07 am

        Great Call! Here in Rome is not so Easy to find Wax Prints! I need too Keep looking for them!

  4. November 18, 2015 6:14 pm

    Ohh, lovely fabric. The finished dress looks just perfect for drinking gin in, shame about the instructions.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      November 19, 2015 7:17 am

      It is a shame. I think it’s unprofessional. Fortunately I still ended up with a nice dress thanks to a lot of sewing experience!

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