Gathering Threads

Eloise Complete

Posted by on Sep 21 2010, in Pattern review, Smocking

I’m so proud of this dress.

Really. I love just about everything about it. The fabric. The lace. The silk ribbon. The smocking plate. For once the vision in my head and the final product actually coincide. Miracle that.

The lace collar came out beautifully and was surprisingly easy to do. A bit fiddly but I kept expecting *insurmountable problems* and none developed. I’d even made sure I bought enough organza and had sufficient lace to do it all again in case the first version was unsalvageable. Maybe that’s why – if I’d only bought just enough, I would have had problems galore!

As I mentioned in while I’ve been tracking the development of this dress in (this post and this one), I did make a few ‘invisible’ changes to this dress, starting with the pattern. Eloise starts at a size 4 and goes up to an 8. I wanted to make a toddler size, so I leafed through my back issues to find a suitable replacement. I thought I’d found it with “Precious Coral” from AS&E #44. Nice, partial yoke dress, long puffed sleeves. Designed for a heavier weight fabric so the pleating ratios would be correct.

One slight problem. Or rather, one *enormous* problem. I know AS&E sizes run big. They just do and I compensate for that. But when I chose to make a size 2, I had no idea how large. Stanley, my mannequin, is a size 4. This dress fits with ease and I traced a size 2!!! I thought, as I cut out the skirt pieces, “Boy, this seems big,” but I double and triple checked and yup, those were the dimensions for a size 2. And before I traced off the bodice, I double and triple checked. Size 2. So scissors away. And any self-respecting 2 year old would swim in it. It’s huge. Not just ‘they’ll grow into big’ but ‘hang on ’em, can’t wear it for at least a couple of years’ big. Whoever drafted this pattern must have been designing for giants or something because frankly, it bears no resemblance to the dress’ actual purported size.

It’s not the end of the world – I had promised friends of mine who have a three year old a winter dress and this will certainly serve but wholly guacamole! I’m flexible but if I had been designing this for a specific event I would be very disappointed that all of my hard work wouldn’t fit.

I do love the buttons though, just like the ones Gail used on her dress. And I’m doubly glad I went with the big full bow instead of the piped back-buttoning belt. Although my pictures are a bit cock-eyed, the wool has enough body to really ‘bow’ well.

Otherwise, the construction was very straight forward and once the smocking and collar were done, I whipped through it. I piped the bodice and used my usual trick of back smocking the holding row to ensure my pleats stayed perfectly square during the sewing process. Such an easy time saver! Love it.  Look at those nice, straight, pleats – and even better, the piping went in straight and even THE FIRST TIME thanks to the backsmocking guide!

The plate also really has a ‘lacey’ feel to it, which is funny because the original plate has four or five colours in it. But the silk ribbon and the open airiness of the design just pops against the grey wool, doncha think?

The last change I made was to echo the lace in the collar with a narrow lace cuff. I didn’t do a full band of lace but I think it adds a nice balance to the dress and sort of ties in the show-stopping collar with the rest of the dress.

My friend has promised me pictures of the dress when it is modelled – maybe I can wheedle her into letting me post some here on my blog!


  • This is one of my very favorite dresses ever! I will be keeping it in my idea folder. I love the changes you made to the dress. You’re right – that would have been very disappointing if you had been making this for a special event and it had been that off in sizing. Excellent work on this! You should send Gail a picture!

  • This is exquisite and one of the prettiest smocked dresses I have seen in quite some time. Your friend is very luck.

    I also have made a few AS&E garments that are two years too big, so frustrating.

  • Jan

    Lovely version of Eloise! I especially adore your addition of the lace cuff.

  • KathyD

    Just beautiful! You’ve created a masterpiece in this dress. I love the lace sleeve cuffs as well – what a perfect way to balance the dress/collar. 🙂