We meet again Liz Dress.
It’s easy to fall in love with a dress, get overly excited and then completely mess it up. This happened two years ago as I decided to sew the Liz Dress from Charm Patterns by Gertie as my Easter dress for the year. This was a pattern I wanted to sew 100 times over and I thought Easter would be the perfect time to try this pattern, it has a shelf bust, a full skirt and I had some super cute pansy fabric; what could go wrong. Well, I could totally miscalculate the pattern size to my current body size and sew a dress too small. Two years ago I had lost a lot of weight due to stress so it did fit me (just, very very snug) but now there’s no chance and this very pretty dress just hangs sadly in my wardrobe. I feel bad for wasting pretty fabric (which I can’t remember where I got it from so can’t hunt it down to repurchase) and it generally makes me sad to look at. However, this year, THIS YEAR, I am ready to try again because I want to nail this pattern. Gather your courage and pretty fabric, it is time.
The Liz Dress, inspired by none other than Elizabeth Taylor, is an absolutely stunning and feminine dress pattern that features a shelf bust with a pleated bra insert, a lovely underbust band that becomes a flattering shoulder strap, a pretty V-neck back and a full and fabulous gathered skirt. The pattern comes from Gertie’s (we’ve reviewed her patterns a few times here, here and here) own pattern company, Charm Patterns and all her patterns are very size inclusive. The Liz dress comes in sizes 2 to 20 and cup sizes A to H. When you shop with Charm Patterns, you have the option of receiving a physical copy of the pattern in the mail, or you can download a PDF pattern to print at home. I always go for the physical copy of a pattern as I like having an envelope with everything I need (plus the artwork is so lovely on these patterns) and my home printer is always drunk and prints sideways and sometimes just prints stripes for no reason.
As mentioned above, I’ve tried this pattern before and the dress is now way too small for me as I’ve put on a little more weight. In saying this, the original version I made of this dress still cut into the top of my boob and hurt to wear for a long time so yeah, we’re going to try again. I originally sewed the size 4 but this year, we will sew up the size six as it caters for a 28.5-inch waist (mine is 28 inches) and a bust of 36.5 inches (mine is 36 inches) so we should be a lot more comfortable. This pattern also allows you to change your cup size for a better fit and I’ll be opting for the B/C cup as I’m normally a C.
When it came to deciding on my fabric, I knew I wanted something bold and floral. Easter is such a great time to wear florals so I started to shop my stash. In my last fabric purchase, I grab a couple meters of Gertie’s floral border print from Spotlight and I had both the blue and the green. The fabric is a large, bold gingham with scattered flowers and large red/pink roses along the edge creating a border print. I reached for my favourite colour which was the blue and I started cutting out the pattern pieces I needed. I’m a bit of a procrastinator sometimes and whilst browsing Instagram, I came across @dressedapp who I have followed for ages and low and behold, she’s making a Liz dress, out of the same fabric! I got super excited as someone else had also seen this pattern and fabric and knew they belonged and I was excited my dress would have a twin. However, I started to feel a bit weird about creating the exact same dress as she was so at the last minute, I opted for the green version and I’m still super happy.
The structure and design of this dress really gives you the option to add some interesting style elements such as contrasting fabrics. I’ve been wanting to try this a little more as I’ve really only done it once so this dress would be a chance to give it another go. The most obvious place to add some contrasting fabric was the bust of the dress; I originally had some blue fabric for the bust but as I changed to the green I had to find some plain green fabric. As I’m not supposed to buy any more fabric I was a little worried I wouldn’t have any but wouldn’t you know it, I found some that I don’t even remember why or when I got it but it will do for now. So my plan for this dress is to use the border print of the gingham rose fabric along the skirt line, the bodice to have the scattered roses part of the fabric and the bust to be solid green to contrast.
Sew, let’s get started. The first thing I constructed was the lower bodice section which meant sewing the front piece to the sides and then adding on the back panel. The same was done to the lining pieces. Easy. And then it started to get complicated. The Liz dress has an underbust strap that turns into the shoulder straps and finishes in a V-point at the back of the dress. It’s pretty straightforward to sew but it is a little fiddly to construct. As I only had three meters of my green gingham fabric, I wanted to use as little as possible for the bust pieces so I would have a full skirt. I also had to keep in mind what the pattern was doing in each of the pieces and there are a lot of pieces in just the bodice alone, more than 10! With the gingham having an obvious pattern to it, I wasn’t sure how it would work when curved into the underbust strap. These pieces were also oddly shaped and took up a lot of fabric, eating into my precious skirt length. I then got the idea to use some scrap fabric from a previous project. Last month I made a Simplicity dress using Gerties fabric from the same range as the gingham fabric I am currently using but it’s the plain green colour with a denser scattering of roses and a few little white polka dots here and there. I haven’t posted the dress I made from that fabric yet (I’ll link it here once I do), but looking at my scraps, I had just on half a meter left which was perfect.
I got a bit worried as to how this fabric would work with the gingham but knowing it’s the same family of fabric, the style, colours and tones would all match so I’m hoping it would be fine. Looking back now, I think the gingham would have been fine but I’m still happy with the outcome. Attaching the underbust strap took some time but with clipped curves and lots of pins, I got it on and it looked just fine. Next came the most challenging part; the assembly of the bra. I should note here that all the bodice pieces asked for underlining fabric which can be just simple interfacing. I only had the smallest amount left and it was just enough for the bra so that’s what I prioritised it for. To make the bra really contrasting, I used a plain green fabric that I found in my stash. I think it was from a St Patrick’s day project from last year I ran out of time to do but it was all I had. I would have prefered a softer shade but we have to keep going. The bra construction is very fiddly and this is where my problems started. The green cotton was very thick, stiff and scratchy but with the interfacing added to it, it was even worse! It was like trying to fold the cardboard into origami, it was just awful to work with. It took me absolutely ages to create the bra as I had to unpick sections and sewing the edges into curves with notches matching was very difficult.
So there I was, two bra pieces completed after several hours (it honestly took me way too long to do this little bit) and as I was looking at them I realised just how contrasting the green was to the main fabric. I didn’t like it. I put the bodice on my dress form and added the bra to see what it looked like all together. Awful. I absolutely hated it. I was a bit bummed because the blue fabric I originally had in mind for the blue gingham version was the perfect shade of soft blue but switching to green, I just didn’t have anything close to what I wanted. What now? I asked a friend what they thought of the green bra and they also said it wasn’t the right shade. Ok, so I just carry on with the bright green? Do I change it to the gingham? Do I change it to white perhaps? After a quick dinner break, I decided to make the bra out of the plain green Gertie fabric with roses on it that I used for the underbust strap so I quickly cut out all the pieces I needed and their lining. Here comes another problem, I had no more interfacing. None. Looks like I’ll just have to go without, unfortunately. It was just too late.
Redoing the bra without the interfacing was a lot quicker the second time and I was able to have something that looked decent in no time. When I attached my two bra halves together I noticed the folds didn’t line up properly and even though I tried to re-sew the seam three times, It just wasn’t getting any better so I left it as is. The folds are uneven but I couldn’t waste any more time on the bra. It was time for lining. The lining was also a little bit fiddly and it involved some very slow sewing, keeping straps out of the way and lots and lots of pins. I attached the lining in sections so I could keep a hold of the straps as I moved onto other sections and it wasn’t as much of a challenge as the bra was, to be honest. I followed the pattern instructions to create a lapped zipper but, to be honest, I bumbled it as well so don’t be too shocked when there’s no lapped zipper. Are we done with this bodice? I know I sure am so let’s move on to the skirt.
I laid my skirt fabric out on the floor and measured it, I had just over 2 meters. It wasn’t enough. I quickly looked up my local Spotlight online and found that they still had the green gingham fabric available so I raced over and bought another two meters. Side by side, there were a lot of differences between the two pieces especially in the width of the plain green part under the rose border print as it was thicker by about 2 inches on the first piece I owned so no idea what changed there. I normally go 28 inches of skirt length for a normal project but seeing that this border print was so stunning, I went for 31 inches as this gave me seam allowance of the top of the skirt for good gathers and a bit of a seam allowance on the bottom once I hem it. I sized down my two pieces and sewed them together before I started the gathering process.
I used the dental floss method of gathering my skirt and I think I had just over 4 and a half meters which is a lot of skirt to gather. I also ran out of dental floss so I carefully held onto the end as I sewed so I wouldn’t lose it into my zig-zag stitch. I of course let go and lost it so I spent a while slowly pushing it back through using some tweezers. I really am running out of a lot of supplies on this project and should pick up some things from Spotlight soon. Once gathered it was time to pin the skirt to my bodice and let me tell you, attaching 4 and a half meters of cotton sateen skirt to a bodice is no easy task. At first, I thought it would be too thick and not even fit but I figured I’d start attaching the skirt to the bodice on one side and very slowly make my way across, turns out, it is just absolutely perfect. As my two skirt pieces were different lengths, I knew I’d end up with a weird seam somewhere but honestly, the skirt would be so full that it might be well hidden. It’s time to sew this baby togther.
I would normally sew my skirt to my bodice using my normal stitch length but the fabric was so thick under the sewing foot that when I put the foot down, it barely moved. I put my stitch length on the largest my machine does, which is length 4, and very very slowly, I began to sew. I went so slow that it was driving me mad but I didn’t want to stress out my machine or hit a pin. Do you think it was a success? Of course not, I hit a pin. The skirt is so densely gathered together that I didn’t even see the pin I hit amongst the folds but by golly did I hit that pin. My sewing needle broke and the snapped off tip vanished. The pin that I hit wasn’t bent just a little bit, oh no, it bent down into my machine, did a u-turn and bent itself back up so I could perfectly see it going into my machine and the tip sticking back out. I cut my fabric out of the way and all attached threads and then pondered how great of an error I had made. I knew I had to cut my pin out as there was no way I could bend it out or even pull it due to the shape. I couldn’t get wire cutters, clippers or pliers into the small space so I grabbed the old kitchen scissors and slowly started to cut into a section to create a weak spot. It eventually snapped and I could pull the whole thing out and marvel at the distorted shape.
I replaced my sewing machine needle and very slowly, put my fabric back under the foot and continued sewing. Once the skirt was attached, I checked to make sure everything was smooth and of course the bit right at the front had awkwardly folded over on the bodice so I unpicked the section and re-did it but, she was almost done. After all this, sewing in the zipper was pretty uneventful and although I couldn’t quite get the lapped zipper to work (I think by this stage I was overtired and didn’t care anymore) the zip I did install went smoothly. The last thing I did was hem the skirt, put the dress back on my dress form and I left her for an hour as I had some tea to just calm down after the stressful project she was. That’s when I realised, oh yeah! The lining isn’t attached to the skirt, bugger.
I didn’t want to risk sewing over the skirt again with my machine so even though it takes a while, I hand sewed the lining over the skirt and bodice attachment seam which only took about an episode or two of the K-drama I was watching during all this sewing and finally, 100 % she was done and so was I.
Despite the issues that came up during this project, I absolutely love the final result. Sure it’s not exactly what I envisioned but it’s still pretty. I love the fabric; florals and gingham are two of my favourite prints so to have them together on one dress are very exciting. I was also super happy to use up some scrap material which is also a bit of a challenge as I don’t know what to do with it all. I was worried I wouldn’t have enough but I was able to use the pieces I needed to create a pretty shelf bust albeit not a very straight one. Although the skirt could have been a tad shorter, I think with a thick petticoat, the pattern on the skirt will really pop and be bold. For Easter, I love wearing pastels and florals so this dress is on the right path to becoming my perfect Easter dress.
Fit: compared to the size 4 I made two Easter ago, the size 6 fit me a lot better. She was snug and tight in all the right places and I was so happy to be able to wear her comfortably. The shelf bust on my first attempt cut into the top of my bosoms which was quite painful but with the larger sizing, I was so much more comfortable. My bosoms weren’t cut into and despite having no interfacing for support in the bra, I felt supported. The size 6 was much much more my size and I’m glad I could size up.
There are a few things that I would change if I could do this project again. I would make the underbust/ shoulder strap out of the gingham fabric and the bra itself would be made out of a plain green to match the colours in the green gingham. I would add softer interfacing to the bodice pieces to give more support, or at least make sure I have enough before starting a project like this. I would perhaps reduce the amount of fabric I put in the skirt, yeah I know, I’m shocked to be saying that too. I love a full skirt, the fuller the better, but I just don’t think I did it well enough here so perhaps 3 meters would have been enough. The last thing I would change is that I would put pockets into the skirt. I actually had pockets cut out and ready but the skirt was just so full, I was worried it wouldn’t work so I skipped putting them in.
I’m surprised by how much of a challenge this pattern was but I’m certain to give it another go. I want to do a proper contrasting shelf bust as it just didn’t quite work out for me this time but overall, it’s still a very pretty dress. When I first finished it, I was happier it was over and it wasn’t until I saw the dress on and fully styled that I really appreciated the whole look. Many people look to Easter as a time to wear cute pastels and embrace the cuteness of bunnies and ducklings. I think I definitely got the pastel part right but as the weather cools, a dress like this can easily have a cardigan added with a cute bunny brooch so I think that’s how I will wear it come Easter weekend. I’m so glad to have had a chance to tackle a pattern I found a challenge two years ago. Although it was still a challenge, with a lot less pressure and a few tweaks, oh and proper interfacing, I think the third time will be a charm.
Sewing projects can take on a life of their own and they don’t always turn out how we want them to. In my head, this dress was completely different and in reality, I got a result I had never planned on. I really want to love this pattern but it’s certainly not one for beginners. Two years ago when I first tried this dress, I remember really struggling with the underbust/ shoulder strap but everything else went smooth yet this time, it was the bra that threw me off. I’m not giving up on this pattern and I will be giving her another go as I know what I need to change to make it better but for now, it’s a pretty great Easter dress.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.