Eloisa Dungaree Dress

Today I got another sewing project to show you. This project needs a bit of a back story though: About a year ago I made a dress, in this really cool flower print corduroy fabric. I had a vision of a shift dress that just oozed 1960’s coolness. Well, I made it, but for some reason wasn’t really jazzed about it when I finished it. I don’t even know why as it was everything I pictured it would be -and more, because it had a sweet Henley placket to boot! Around the same period of time I started to lose weight, meaning that when I tried the dress on a few months later to see if I had changed my mind about it, it was actually worse! It had basically become a potato sack on me. Not a good look, and certainly not what I had envisioned it to be. Because I really loved the fabric I shoved the dress in my bag of scrap fabric with half a mind to re-use the fabric one day and try to get something like a skirt out of it one day.

One week, at the beginning of spring, I decided I wanted to do something with this fabric IMMEDIATELY. Before I knew it, I was unpicking the seams; not the fastest or most fun of jobs, but a necessity if you want to try to cut new pieces from an existing dress. While I was unpicking the dress, I thought how cool this fabric would be in a pinafore/dungaree style. I got out my pattern pieces for the Cleo I made previously to see whether it would be possible. It was… but only barely. While the dress takes up very little fabric, most of it is in one piece and that piece was hard to place on the re-purposed fabric. Then I remembered the Eloisa dungaree dress, and wondered whether I would be able to eke it out of the fabric (as it uses more fabric, but it has more, smaller separate pattern pieces). When I put the pattern pieces on the only half unpicked dress, the A-line option was quickly ruled out. While it used less fabric, it uses bigger pieces than the panelled version, so out that went. The second option, with it’s panelled skirt, fitted nice and easy though, with a (tiny) bit of fabric to spare.

The Eloisa pattern is a fairly simple pattern for a dungaree dress, but with some neat details that set it apart from some of the other such dress patterns I have seen. It comes with two skirt options, one is an a-line skirt with nice big patch pockets, whereas option two is a wider panelled skirt without pockets. There are two length options; a midi and a mini length. There is an optional welt pocket at the bib, which you could easily replace with a patch pocket if you want a pocket there but don’t feel up for doing a welt pocket. Parts of the dress are lined, but not the skirt, though you might want to do that if your fabric is clingy. All these details give the dress a wonderfully vintage flair.

The pattern instructions are minimal and at times the wording can be somewhat confusing, especially compared to many others in the indie sewing world. You can definitely still follow the pattern and end up with a dress that you are happy with, I just wanted to give you a heads up about this. I think part of the cause of this is the English version being a translation from Italian. It’s also a fairly cheap pattern, and I believe this was the first pattern for this pattern company so maybe they were still testing the waters a bit with this pattern. Perhaps there is also a cultural difference here, but I definitely don’t have the expertise to say anything about that for sure.

There is no seam allowance in the pattern, so you have to add that yourself after tracing. Having to add seam allowances is always a drag and a tedious extra step, but I find it even more annoying with .pdf patterns, when you already have to do the extra step of taping the sheets together. These days I’m always a bit baffled when I find indie pattern companies that don’t simply add a seam allowance, but again this might be a cultural thing and more common in Italian patterns?

The most tricky parts of sewing the dress are the welt pocket at the bib and inserting the invisible zipper in the side seam. Inserting the invisible zipper is fairly straightforward, especially if you’ve done it before. After reading through the instructions I decided to do a different construction for the welt pockets, because I’m used to it and prefer the construction that way. In case you’re curious this is the way I usually construct welt pockets.

The only downside to the panelled version is that there are no side pockets. Whenever I sew something myself I almost always just stick in some pockets somewhere if I can get away with it. In this case in-seam pockets at the side seam were not possible because of the zipper placing. For a moment I debated whether I could do some cool panel or patch pockets -because pockets are always a high priority in the Tree House-, but I ruled that out when I realised that I’d have to throw the whole dress away if I messed that up, since I had no back-up fabric.

I’m really pleased with the end result. I think the colour and fabric print look pretty neat in a dungaree style. This is also a colour that I wear quite regularly and fits well into my wardrobe. I really like this vintage-ish style of dungarees, and I think my wardrobe has space for another version (especially now I’ve already traced the pattern with seam allowance anyway!). Perhaps I’ll make the midi length instead of the mini. I don’t wear mini length skirts that often any more, but I think it does suit this style and it doesn’t make me uncomfortable when I do wear it these days.

I thought that dungaree styles might have had their best time in the fashion spotlight for now, because – sadly- fast fashion is often exactly that (mind, I wouldn’t let that bother me personally). But this week’s new pattern collections of the ‘bigger’ indie houses have proven me wrong – so many beautiful new dungaree patterns! I also think I’ve got a taste for re-purposing now, so I’m going to see if I can do this more often. Maybe I could start thrifting things specifically for this purpose… We will see, I don’t want to end up with just a pile of stuff that won’t get used, as that would pretty much defeat the purpose. So, better take it slow and see project by project. This first attempt though, is satisfactory all the way. 

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