Elisalex Take 2: Chambray Dress With Gathered Skirt

I think I may have made myself the perfect spring dress! This chambray dress is so versatile and so easy to wear. I have used the Elisalex dress pattern from By Hand London for the second time (see the first one here) but this time added a gathered skirt. The original pattern has a beautifully flattering tulip skirt but I wanted to make a more casual and easy to wear dress. I think the gathered skirt was the perfect option don't you?

I chose the chambray fabric because it's so versatile, soft and easy to work with and light enough for a spring dress. For those of you who don't know, chambray is a little bit like a light denim. It is made of cotton and has dark blue threads running in one direction and white threads running in the other, just like denim, but is much softer and thinner than denim. Think denim shirt (chambray) vs denim jacket (denim). It works so well for the dress because I can literally wear anything with it, spring florals, autumnal scarf, wintery knit and tights or just some sandals for summer. Winner.

You can easily add a gathered skirt to any bodice pattern so I will show you how. Make your bodice first and check it fits. Then you can make the skirt. First of all you need to cut 3 rectangles of fabric. The first needs to be the length that you want your finished skirt to be (plus seam allowance) long and your hip measurement wide. The other two need to be the same length (skirt length plus seam allowance) and half your hip measurement wide. You don't need to be too precise, you can always hem it more once you have finished. If you want a fuller skirt just make them all wider.

Once you have cut these pieces out of your fabric, sew the side seams together and press open. Leave the back seam unstitched, you will sew this up when you finish your skirt with the zip (or buttons).

Then you need to turn the tension of your sewing machine down as low as you can and increase the stitch length to the longest setting. You are going to sew three lines of 'tacking' stitch across the top of each section of the skirt:

It's a good idea to sew these in sections, when you gather your skirt together (the next step) if the lines of tacking stitch are too long they are more likely to break. I would start and finish right next to the seams. Then on one section you need to hold onto the thread on one end and gently push the fabric closer together to form gathers. Try to spread them out evenly along the section. Hold it up to the section of your bodice that you will attach it to to check if you have gathered it enough, the back gathered section should fit into the back bodice section like this:

Once you are happy with the gathers on once section more on to the next. Check that you have gathered the right amount for each part of the skirt to fit with the bodice. When it is all gathered to the right size and as evenly as possible, turn your skirt pieces so the the wrong side (with the open seams) is facing down. Place your bodice on top with the wrong side (the inside) facing up along the gathered edge of the skirt, line up the seams and pin your skirt to your bodice. If your bodice has a lining like mine then only pin the skirt to the outside and not to the lining.

Stitch the skirt in place (make sure you reset your tension and stitch length), you might want to do two lines of stitching for extra strength as the bodice is holding together a lot of fabric. Then press the seam towards the bodice. Finish off your dress according to the pattern instructions.

I added an invisible zip instead of the long exposed zip. I also added some top-stitching around the bodice in a brown thread as I felt this finished the garment nicely like a denim or chambray dress you might buy.

Is your wardrobe set for spring yet? Well if you don't own a chambray dress yet you should DEFINITELY make one! I have worn this one so much already I can't tell you how much I love it. Have fun making and wearing your own. Zoe xx


  1. This is amazing! I really want to make one! Jenna x

    1. Jenna you absolutely should, I wore it again over the weekend and I am still in love. x

  2. Hi from a By Hand London fan!! This dress is just adorable!
    Ooh - is this the chambray from Offset Warehouse? http://www.offsetwarehouse.com/blue-hand-woven-chambray-2294.html I've been eyeing it up for MONTHS!

    1. No I bought mine on eBay but the one you've linker to looks GORGEOUS. I'm tempted to buy some myself. Good value too. Zoe


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