Deckchair Elisalex – Stripe matching and an uncharacteristic attack of perfectionism.

I’ve been meaning to write about my third Elisalex, the dress I wore for the London meet up, for ages.  I wasn’t going to make a new dress for the day. I was exhausted, recovering from flu and nursing a very spotty grumpy child through chicken pox. I think I was on autopilot when I took this deckchair striped fabric, originally intended for new kitchen curtains, from my stash and began to cut. A few hours later, sewing in twenty minute bursts while the youngest dozed in front of Dora the Explorer and Doc McStuffins and it was all done bar the hemming and stitching the lining down.  I hung it on my wardrobe door before I went to bed.
Job done.

Only it wasn’t.  I failed to match the darts in the bodice with the pleats in the skirt, but that didn’t bother me too much. Also, as you can see I didn’t quite get the stripes matching on the princess seams. IMG_1386

Of course I didn’t, the stripes are straight and it is a curved seam. But who was going to notice a little thing like that? However lying awake after being woken up several times by the screamy itchy child all I could see was those stripes not matching.  Usually I would ignore it. It was good enough and who was going to be staring that closely anyway? However in my sleep deprived irritable state I just couldn’t let it go. So I hatched a plan.

I decided to recut the side panels from some fabric I had left over. However there was no way I was going to unpick the top stitching, lining and side panels of a virtually finished dress. Now with hindsight I realise that this would have actually been the easier option. Anyway, I got the original photocopied pattern pieces that I used and marked the position where I wanted the stripes to be on to them. Using this as a guide I then cut the front side pieces.

As I had already found out, you can’t get straight stripes to match up on a princess seam. Or if you can then I haven’t figured out how.  However when I held them up to the dress I realised that all I needed to do was make a tiny dart in each one, maybe 3mm, making sure it was at the edge of a stripe so it wouldn’t show as much.
I did this with each piece then attacked them with a steamy iron until they were flat. Held them up against the dress and Huzzaah! Matching stripes!

Now this is the point where I should have just unpicked the lining and the original front side pieces and put in my new pieces. But no, where is the fun in that.  I decided to hand sew my new matching pieces on top.
I have no idea if I have done this properly. I’m ashamed to admit that I wouldn’t know a slip stitch from a whip stitch, but it seemed to go okay and the stitches don’t show. I’m pretty sure I was delusional with tiredness by this point, but the action of stitching the pieces on was kind of hypnotic, and before long I had finished the dress and was able to snatch a couple of hours of much needed sleep.  So here it is – front:

IMG_1506I promise the zip doesn’t look that dodgy in real life, I think it’s my hands on my hips pulling on it.

IMG_1514Checking my shoes. Realising I need to hoover. Or get the husband to do it.

IMG_1520And some leaning. You need leaning in photos for that authentic early 90s Grattan catalogue look.

I don’t know whether it was worth the hassle or not. I’ve received loads of compliments for this dress. Whether I would have if I hadn’t fixed the dodgy stripes – I don’t know?  I do love it though and have worn it several times since London.  It is formal enough for work as long as I wear a jacket or a cardigan, and can also be dressed down for weekends. Now I just need to remember to always hand wash it in cold water. Stupidly I also forgot to pre-wash it and I know that this fabric shrinks loads when machine washed. Duh…

30 thoughts on “Deckchair Elisalex – Stripe matching and an uncharacteristic attack of perfectionism.

  1. Red Point Tailor

    What a great solution! I love the colous of this fabric. Wonderful dress! Congratulations… I hope the summer will come in the end to weat it 🙂 Unless at your place it’s better then in NL 😉

    1. The Amazing Taracat Post author

      Thankyou! We’ve had a couple of sunny days, but I think it is pretty much the same conditions as NL. Maybe I should practise my knitting and make a matching cardigan?

  2. ooobop!

    You know when you’ve come so far that you get sleepless nights over non-matching seams! Good on you Tara. The dress is indeed so fabulous in real life and I for one certainly did not notice any imperfections at all! I love how you rectified the situation. Would never have thought of that myself. Genius!!! x

  3. zora read

    I love this dress, it looks very stylish on you and the colour scheme is very summery I hope we get the weather for you to wear it again. The stripe matching is great, I have had to do a similar thing myself.

    1. The Amazing Taracat Post author

      Thanks! I know, fingers crossed we get some decent weather this year so I can justify making all these dresses. It’s looking good today at the moment, but I’ve probably jinxed it now.

    1. The Amazing Taracat Post author

      Thank you! It was worth all the hassle in the end. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d even care about stripe matching. It just goes to show how much this hobby has turned into an obsession.

      1. gingermakes

        I hear that! I’ve never been a meticulous or determined person, and have always given up immediately when there’s some kind of drama with a project, but I’m so obsessed with sewing that I handle those kinds of problems in a completely different way!

    1. The Amazing Taracat Post author

      I don’t think I would have figured out a fix if I hadn’t had so little sleep, or I would have convinced myself that it didn’t matter. Maybe I should try it more often.

  4. Gjeometry

    Oh, nice stripe fix! I have yet to sew with stripes as I can also get very obsessed with lines off kilter and lack of symmetry. But, yours is looking very balanced and lined up, it looks great!! I like the fabric as well.

  5. Scruffybadger

    Oh yes, I’m super impressed with your stripe matching tenacity!! But, OMG you have inspired me too….I also have some fabric that I * was* going to make a kitchen blind out of, as it’s rainbow stripe and I have a rainbow thing going on in my kitchen. But it’s dressmaking fabric, a canvas. Could it be a rainbow Elisalex?!?!?

  6. elise

    Wow, those matched stripes are a thing of art! Loving the deck chair stripes, and light blue with red always makes my heart race 🙂 Gorgeous.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s