Can you believe that we are now into December and this is my final make for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network this year!
I have been saving the best 'til last I think - I am absolutely in love with this By Hand London Elisalex dress.
The Elisalex dress has a fitted, princess seamed bodice and a box pleated tulip skirt. There are three sleeve variations to choose from, and the bodice is designed with very little ease to hug the figure and enhance a cinched waist. It is the dress of my dreams - I am all over the tulip silhouette!
The pattern calls for medium-heavy weight wovens such as upholstery cottons, shantung silk, brocade, jacquard, tweed and wool. I was immediately drawn towards this stunning Brocade Fabric and the bottle green shade felt very appropriate for the Christmas party dress that I was trying to create. It is an incredible £3.99 per metre - and it is very very wide ( a whopping 112") - a fact that I didn't notice when ordering so I actually over ordered on the quantity of this dress and on fabric this wide you would actually need much less than I chose!
The fabric has a subtle self coloured matte and shine design and I was careful to cut out the pattern pieces so that the main design ran down the centre front and back of the bodices and skirts. 
The bodice has flattering princess seams rather than darts, and I was delighted that they matched up so well with the box pleats of the skirt. The side seams of the bodice and skirts also behaved themselves and lined up perfectly too.
As you might expect, the dress is fitted with an invisible zip which runs down the centre back of the dress.
When researching other reviews of this dress (as I always do before I make a new garment), I noticed that on the By Hand London website they had a sewalong on this pattern, so I used a mixture of this and the regular instructions that came with the pattern to make this dress. The attention to detail on this pattern is superb. An example of this is that the short sleeves have a facing to finish them which I'm hoping you can see in the picture below (before the sleeve was inserted). A really luxurious finish don't you think?
Talking of luxurious finishes, I really need to mention what is happening on the inside of this dress. The bodice is lined and instead of choosing a plain cotton or lining fabric, I chose a bottle green floral Cotton Fabric to give it a pop of colour (not that anybody sees this apart from me (and now you reading this)! but I thought this would be such fun, and I think it has worked really well. There was a little piece of cotton left and I had enough to cut pocket linings using it. The pattern does not have pockets, but I rarely make a dress without them, so I simply used my favourite pocket template to cut the pockets  and worked out how far down the skirt that I wanted to place them and simply sewed them in (they are in-seam pockets). By the way this picture shows me pulling the pocket out of the dress so that you can see it.
There was no stopping me now, inspired by how pretty the bodice lining and the pockets were, I decided to use what little was left of the floral cotton to make some bias tape and finish my seams and hem using a Hong Kong finish. I will always use my pretty fabric scraps to make bias tape, and you would be surprised at just how much you can get out of what seems like a little piece of fabric. I'll give you a little peek at how the dress looks when it is inside out:
By spending a little extra time and effort on some special finishing touches, I feel I have made something that feels really special. I look forward to wearing this out this Christmas, and I would love to make another less formal version. As the fabric for this dress calls for it to be quite stiff and medium-heavy weight, I think for a more everyday version it could look quite cute using denim or corduroy.
Finally I would like to send a huge thank you to everybody at Minerva Crafts who support me and trust me with their beautiful supplies. I have had a great year working with you and look forward to a creative year next year too. Wishing a peaceful festive season to you all and I look forward to seeing you again in January.
Kathy x