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Thursday, 26 November 2015

How to make the Eliza M WANDA dress using Liberty fabric

A review of the Eliza M WANDA pattern

I love vintage style patterns, I love researching into how they would have been made and incorporating this into the garment I am making. I have used a few Eliza M patterns and was really looking forward to making this one.
Abakhan Fabrics,  View ABAKHAN web site have a sale of Liberty Fabrics on at the moment, and I was lucky enough to be given a generous length of Liberty Tana Lawn in Glencot  House Grey.Those of you familiar with  Abakhan will know what fantastic fabrics they have a at great prices, so if you are unlucky enough to miss this offer LIBERTY CLEARANCE OFFER then you can be certain you will find a great alternative in store or on their website.



Tana Lawn is perfect for 1950's style tea dresses. The shape of the neck and shoulders adds considerable interest to the dress


Jaycotts.co.uk gave me this Eliza M WANDA pattern, view here,  ELIZA M WANDA pattern at jaycotts and I have been longing to make it up. The liberty fabric is just perfect.


This pattern has all the hallmarks of a typical 1950's vintage pattern, the most obvious one being the flattering  sweetheart neckline.Cotton was very popular to make tea dresses like this one which would normally be paired with matching handbag and shoes.The look was very feminine after the austerity of the war years.
other popular fabric were Acrylic, introduced in 1950, followed by polyester in 1953. These were cheap fabrics which could go into the washing machine and dyed bright colours. This meant that women could now own more than one "good" dress which is all she probably owned during war time. Women were now beginning to have fun with fashion and the fabric prints reflected this with oversized floral and bright geometrics becoming available

For true 1950's style the zip would normally be at the side not at the back as in this pattern, don't forget invisible zips did not exist then.







This pattern is not cheap so do be certain that you cut out the right size by comparing your measurements to those on the pattern, I always add extra to the side seams on every garment I make just in case I want to alter the fit. It is easy to take something in, but hard to make it bigger!
If your pattern has an obvious design like this one has make sure that you position your pattern pieces the right way up. Yes, I do admit to making this mistake.



The pattern is meant for beginers, but to be honest there are some design features which a beginer may not understand so I would say that you do need some knowledge of sewing in order to understand the instructions, particularly in constructing the bodice.


The neckline is constructed with an all in one facing, if you need further instructions then I have a dedicated blog post Here which will show you step by step how to sew a dress with an all in one facing. Once you master the art of constructing one you will find it so useful when making shift dresses and tops.


There is a waistband,  now this is where the pattern became confusing. There is no picture showing the waistband in place iether on the envalope or the instructions. I tried to find more information on line but couldn't, and could not get on the Eliza M web site iether.



Step 10 says how to prepare the waistband, but I did not quite follow what was meant, and later on wondered why it had to be overlocked at this stage when later on in construction the whole waist seam needed overlocking, including this waistband.


Not having a diagram or photograph of the finished garment I took a while to consider what this step meant too, in the end the words "flip up" indicated that the band points upwards when in place, so that's what I did
If I make this again however (and I probably will) I may well have the waistband pointing downwards.
Here is where I must make an addition. After wearing the dress a few times on holiday I realised that I had made a mistake and that the band should flip downwards - so when I got home I altered it and now it faces downwards towards the waist and looks and behaves much better now. This was a learning curve for me, it made me realise just how people can be put off sewing forever when just one little part of the instructions are not clear.



The rest of the construction was straightforward and easy to follow. Once you have joined the skirt panels together and made the bodice, stitch the bodice to the skirt sandwiching the waistband between both. The skirt and the bodice should be positioned right sides together and you need to match the side seams.


Dont forget to keep trying it on during construction. The important stages are before you stitch the bodice side seams and and before attaching the skirt to the bodice.
Try it on again once everything is done apart from the centre back seam and zip.
Once you are happy with the fit sew in the invisible zip,   there are lots of tutorials on this blog showing you how to insert an invisible zip, to find them type Zipper into the search box
They are easy to do. Once you have done one you will not look back I promise.


The armholes are a lovely shape,and are designed so that no glimpse of underwear can be seen as was correct in the 50s! 


All in all I am delighted with the dress. Once I tried it on again I decided to catch the waistband to the dress at the side seams as it kept wanting to fold down, as I said earlier,  I will do this differently next time.



Dont be put off by what I said about this pattern, it is true that a total beginer may struggle with it a little, but you are not on your own, you know that you can contact me for help any time!


The Liberty fabric is just perfect for the dress and for the era as I know you will agree. It makes a perfect summer holiday dress. It is extremely comfortable to wear and will be cool in summer.


Thank you very much Abakhan Fabrics for this fantastic material, it is very much appreciated.
If you have made this dress I would love to see your photographs.
Best wishes

Angela x