A post by Elisalex
The pattern: Eloise – By Hand London
I am many things in this life, but a less-is-more kinda gal I am not. I also wouldn’t consider myself an overtly outrageous person either, but a happily generous dose of colour, texture, sparkle and beauty is definitely what I’m after. Especially when it comes to celebrations. With my birthday fast approaching, Josie’s email back in September proved to be both perfectly timed and insightfully intuitive as she mentioned that she had some incredible net fabric that just might have my name all over it. You know me too well, Josie!
The navy Pegasus net and glitter fabric did indeed have me practically frothing at the mouth. The romantic, mystical glitter print, inspired by Pegasus – the winged horse of Greek mythology – seemed like the perfect choice for an Autumnal October birthday dress…
I knew what I wanted to make almost straight away, but as time passed and I questioned myself (as I always do before committing, especially when dealing with such a special fabric) and put two design options to an Instagram vote! Option 1 was what I was originally leaning toward, a long sleeved Eloise dress cut high on the waist with a long gathered skirt attached at almost empire line. Option 2 was definitely the sexier choice, and probably better suited to a balmy summer wedding; a floor length slip dress with spaghetti straps and a gathered frill tier at the hem. The public voted and my initial instinct was validated – option 1 it was!
Construction-wise, I used our By Hand London Eloise dress pattern, which I cut high on the waist, about 3-4” below the bust dart. I didn’t do anything to cinch the waist in as I wanted a loose fitting dress that would subtly show off my silhouette through the sheer net. To the waistline I added a midi length gathered skirt, and I made a Sadie slip dress by Tessuti in Josie’s navy cupro to wear underneath.
Working with net. Not gonna lie – if you’re in a rush or short on patience, it’s not going to work out well! Like all delicate fabrics, sewing net requires a calm and measured approach. The second you start feeling frustrated, walk away and have a cup of tea! It is however, extremely satisfying to slow things down, really take your time and feel your skills levelling up as you become more adept at handling tricksy fabrics. My top tips for sewing with net?
- Paper! Given the fact that net is made up of what is essentially a honeycomb of individual fibres, most machines will struggle to sew a good seam without some puckering and/or tension issues. To make life easier, I slip a strip of magazine paper underneath the seam as I’m sewing. This prevents the net getting churned up into the machine and results in perfect tension. Just carefully tear the paper away once the seam is sewn. (see video below)
- French seams! With sheer fabrics like net, the guts of your garment will be just as much on show as the outside, so they need to be beautiful. French seams ensure that no raw edges are visible, they are neat and narrow, and super strong and durable. The only seams I didn’t French were the waistline – which I sewed as normal and then overlocked the raw edge before edgestitching it down to the bodice, the neckline – which I simply turned in once and stitched down as neatly as I could, and the centre back, which has the keyhole opening through which to get your head through. That one I sewed as normal with right sides together, pressed open, and topstitched around the opening to keep the raw edges flat. If I had had more time at that point I would have turned the raw seam allowances in again and hand stitched them in place.
- Use a pressing cloth! The nylon net will melt under the heat of an iron, so in order to get clean, flat seams, a pressing cloth is essential. Just make sure you experiment on a scrap with how much heat your fabric can take through a pressing cloth before pressing the real thing.
For the slip, I had originally planned to use the Ogden cami pattern by True Bias, but instead opted for the Sadie slip by Tessuti, as it is cut on the bias and already comes as a long slip length (unlike the Ogden which is a top that I would have had to lengthen). The bias cut of the Sadie fits and skims the body beautifully, and is the perfect pattern if you wanted to recreate the shiny slips of the 90s made so famous by Kate Moss.
The dress turned out even dreamier than I had hoped! I felt like a divine Greek goddess of the night wearing it on my birthday, made even more magical by the trail of glitter I left in my wake…!