Say hello to my new favorite dress and my first sewing blog post. This is my hacked version of the Alix Dress from By Hand London. I am apparently incapable of sewing something without making design changes to the pattern or hacking it as it is commonly called in the sewing world. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I am usually pleased with the end result. After all, customization is part of the beauty of sewing your own wardrobe. Here are a couple of quick notes about my sewing posts:
- Pattern links are non-affiliate links which means that I am not compensated in any way if you click the link or purchase the pattern. Any affiliate links to sewing notions will be identified as such.
- I am not a pattern tester, and I have purchased these patterns on my own.
- As previously mentioned, I am a chronic pattern-hacker. My version may vary from the pattern. A lot.
- I also make several fitting adjustments for my non-industry-standard body. Every body is unique regardless of size, and sewing allows a wonderful opportunity to tailor clothing from the beginning stages of construction.
- The photos on my blog are mostly taken by me. I am far from a professional photographer, and I am only willing to devote so much of my time taking photos for the blog. I’d rather be sewing! (Note the askew necklace in the main photo. Oops.)
- I will often share measurements or sizing. Gasp! Actually, I am not embarrassed by my body size/shape and refuse to buy into the idea that only certain sizes/shapes are valuable. In fact, I may devote a whole post to my musings on this topic.
Back to my Alix Dress:
This pattern includes top, short dress, and maxi lengths. I have been longing for an easy-to-wear maxi dress for a while; so of course, I had to go long. The fabric is an abstract rayon challis from JoAnn Fabrics that I picked up on a recent shopping trip with my lovely mother-in-law. It is a cool and easy care fabric perfect for the Florida summer. Scroll to the end if you are just here for the photos. The “best” ones are all the way down.
A couple of my measurements are actually outside By Hand London’s size range; however, this pattern does have a fair amount of ease (extra room for movement or design). It is important to note that most of the ease is in the back. If the marjoity of your waist measurement is in the front like mine, you will want to add some ease to the front. The pattern provides finished garment measurements to help you deterimine if you need to make alterations. I made a few targeted adjustments rather than grade up the entire pattern since the shoulders and hip were fairly spot on in the UK 20/US 16. Side note: if you are unfamiliar with sewing sizes vs RTW (ready-to-wear), there is often quite a bit of difference. I almost always do an FBA (full bust allowance) on most things that I make and this pattern is no different. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about doing an FBA on this type of bodice, but I bravely forged ahead anyway. This is what I did:
First, I added length to the yoke after comparing the original pattern with my own measurements. I did add about an inch too much, but it’s generally better to have too much fabric than not enough! I’ll take out that extra inch across the whole bodice next time. The picture above and on the left shows the original and altered yoke pattern. Next up with the cup pieces, I got a little creative. I took the front pattern piece from my Springfield top that I had previously fitted and traced it onto some scrap paper. I only needed the top portion of the pattern since the Alix dress has an empire waist. I traced out the front yoke over the center front and then rotated the side dart to the center and bottom. See the photo on the above on the right. (This is an excellent tutorial on dart rotation if you are curious about the technique.)
I laid the original cup piece over the altered bodice (above, left) to give me a guide when re-drafting that pattern piece. The image on the right shows the difference between the original and altered pattern. I outlined the edges in red so you could see the finished result more clearly.
Somehow, I neglected to take a photo, but I also did a full bicep adjustment which is standard for me. I changed the sleeve pleats to gathers since it gave my shoulders more definition, and I shortened the sleeves. Because Florida.
Moving to the skirt, I added two inches, one inch on either side of the pleats, to the front skirt and the waistband to accommodate my actual waist measurement. You can see the red outlines (above on the left) on the front skirt piece. The skirt had plenty of width at the bottom for walking, so I just used a slash-and-spread method to add the extra width to the top. This piece is cut on the fold, so I only needed to add width on the side of the pattern. The photo on the right (above) shows my lazy method for removing the back center pleat by folding it out. I still had too much fabric there and had to do a pleat. Oh well, sometimes shortcuts don’t work out. Additionally, I decided to try my hand a shirring instead of making the ties. I like a new challenge, and I dislike anything bulky tied behind my back.
If you are not a sewist or are new to sewing this probably sounds like a LOT of changes. Maybe it is. However, I have the exact dress that I wanted, or near enough. It fits me better than RTW clothing, and it is amazingly comfortable. I call that a win. Just for fun, here are a couple of blooper shots and adorable selfies with my babies.
In case you are wondering, I am making faces at my baby boy.
Aren’t they precious!?!