When the Vampire met Eloise

I’ve been obsessing over The Vampire’s wife for ages, but particularly over the last week or two. I’ve been busy sketching out some ideas and searching for fabric to recreate something similar for my autumn wardrobe.

Then, just last week I was invited to attend the Yorksinstameet with some friends which seemed like an ideal opportunity to attempt a dress in this style. I realised I had some fabric right here in my stash that would be ideal to create the design that had been forming in my head. So the plan was set.

a lilac cutting mat set on a desk. A fashionary journal lies on top which shows a fashion sketch with notes and a fabric swatch
A sketch of my Eloise dress plans

The fabric I used is a viscose poplin (which is generally smoother than a chalis and I found a little bit less shifty) I had two meters of it and hoped there was enough to adapt a shift dress pattern to create the style I was thinking of.

I recently bought the Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear (amazon affiliate link) and found some instructions to adapt the sleeve head to create a puff at the top, then I remembered seeing a tutorial on the By Hand London website for a very similar sleeve adaptation using the Eloise dress.

Sleeve pattern piece showing the alteration made to the sleeve head
Sleeve pattern piece showing the alteration made to the sleeve head

I already had the Eloise dress pattern cut out in the right size after I pattern tested it last year and thought it was a good pattern to use as a base.

I started by adapting the sleeve head by simply cutting a line straight across from just above the notches. I added in an extra 3cm and smoothed the curves. I made sure to add interfacing to the top 10cm of the sleeve head to help prop it up. This was definitely worth doing.

I cut the bottom of the sleeve at the shorten and lengthen lines. I then drafted a rectangle which was 1.5 times wider than the bottom edge of the sleeve by 16cm tall. This would become the bottom ruffle of my sleeves.

Laura is in the garden similing at the camera. In this image you can see a little closer the sleeve adjustment
A slightly closer look at the sleeve head. The effect is quite subtle

I wanted a slightly gathered waist so cut the bodice pieces to a couple of mm below the side seam notches which is where my natural waist seemed to be plus 1.5cm for a seam allowance

I decided to cut rectangles across the full width along the crosswise grain of the fabric which is different from the original pattern. In the original design the bottom ruffle pattern piece is curved. I knew I wouldn’t have enough time before the event to let the hem drop and level it, plus the curved ruffle on the bottom would distort the stripes and I was very short on fabric to do anything too fancy.

Laura is standing by the lake laughing
The grounds at Newburgh Priory were stunning

I didn’t draft out any additional pattern pieces for the skirt, I decided to just wing it really and cut the rectangles straight from the fabric as it was folded on the table. I roughly measured from my natural waist to my knee for the large skirt piece and divided the remainder of the fabric into two for the bottom skirt piece. Leaving me with three rectangles.

At this point the aim was to have the skirt fall at a midi length, around my mid calf. So I was happy to just go with it.

The construction was very straightforward, my sleeves set in nicely with a subtle puff and the gathered panels for the sleeves and skirt sections didn’t take that long to get right either.

In terms of fitting, there wasn’t a lot to fit. I would benefit from a little more room across the back to allow for ease of movement. This is not something I noticed with my test version as I had made it sleeveless. That is an easy fix and no big issue. I also wish I’d made the puffed sleeve a little bigger, but that is something I can adjust in the the future.

One thing I really like about the pattern is the neck facing, it is quite large and covers the cleavage area. It feels comfortable and I think it helps the lightweight viscose sit nicely across the chest.

I’m very pleased with how the dress has turned out. It is longer than I had intended by a couple of inches, so it falls between my calf and ankle. I can’t complain as I was free styling the skirt section.

Laura is smiling at the camera whilst exiting the walled garden
Come this way…

I think this dress is a great autumn addition to my wardrobe, I can see me wearing it semi casually for the day time and dressing it up for an evening too.

Thanks to Sam and Jen for a lovely day at Newburgh Priory, and to Sam for taking the photos. It was nice to have some encouragement instead of my usual self conscious self in front of my tripod. We should do photoshoots altogether all the time!

Laura, Jen and Sam smiling in the gardens
Sam (@purplesewingcloud) , Jen (@JenLegg44) and Me

I received the Eloise dress pattern from By Hand London for free last year in exchange for testing it. This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon, this means I will earn a small commission on any purchase you make, however the price you pay is the same.

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