Red RTW knockoff (aka Floralex)

inspiration dress

I wanted to recreate this gorgeous red dress I found on Pinterest. It’s being marketed as a bridesmaids dress, but it’s of course a lovely cocktail dress as well. From the way the skirt holds it shape, I think the original dress is made from a scuba-like fabric.

This is a hacked version of the Elisalex bodice paired with the Flora skirt, both patterns from By Hand London.  Originally, I was going to use the Kim dress bodice with the sweetheart neckline, but I noticed that the bodice on this dress looks more like the Elizalex bodice and I decided to challenge myself to recreate the neckline.

For the fabric, I chose a medium-weight solid red cotton. I ordered it online from, so I wan’t entirely sure of what I’d get. It’s a little bit heavier than I thought it would be, but it makes the skirt drape beautifully.  The bodice is lined with black broadcloth.

How I did it:

I’d never made the Elizalex dress before, so I just traced out the size I’d used for the Kim dress and made a toile. It fit very tightly across the bust, so I did a 1cm FBA. I muslined it again and it seemed to fit much better.

To alter the neckline, I put on a bra that looked like it had the same curvature as the neckline in the picture. I put on the toile, stood in front of the mirror and traced a line that was about 1 cm away from the top of my bra line on one side of the bodice. Then I took off the bodice, folded it in half along the center and redrew the line so it went down to the center line and 1.5cm (5/8″) from the edge of the front bodice. I cut it out and tried it on again and was pleased with how it looked. I took the piece I’d cut away and laid it on the center front pattern piece and traced it onto the pattern. I then marked the seam allowance and cut out the modified pattern.

mark the seam

When I cut out the center front lining piece, I made sure to mark the seam line on the wrong side with some tracing paper because sometimes it’s tricky to know when to pivot on a sweetheart neckline.

I cut out the Flora skirt in the same size as the bodice. I also cut out two pairs of Chardon skirt pockets, because, well, dresses are just 100% better when they have pockets.


I followed the instructions on how to attach the bodice pieces together. I only had a quick glance at the instructions, to be honest, because the technique is almost exactly the same for the Kim dress, of which I’d made two versions and two toiles. I did clip the curve of the bust and basted the bodice front pieces together because when you do a FBA, the seam becomes curvier, and I didn’t want to have to unpick it on account of puckering (which I ended up doing on one side anyway, so I’m kind of wondering if I should’ve added another millimetre to the side front bodice length).

Next, I attached the pockets to the skirt using the method in the Chardon skirt pattern, with the exception that I sewed them to the skirt at 4/8″ instead of 5/8″, which hides the pockets a little bit better, in my opinion. Then I sewed the skirt side seams.

For the pleats, I wanted them to match up with the bodice seams, so I measured each side of the princess seam, front and back, and transferred the measurements to the skirt, because the pleats marked on the pattern weren’t quite right. One measurement going from the side seam and the other from the center front/back. I then brought those ticks together and basted a vertical line about 2cm down, pressed them all into box pleats, and basted along the top to keep them in place. I prefer this method to the method used in the Flora instructions, which doesn’t have you do a vertical basting stitch. I then attached the skirt to the bodice.

I followed the rest of the instructions regarding inserting the invisible zip and hand-sewing the lining. The skirt is hemmed with self-made polkadot bias binding.

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Circle skirt app review

Do you like circle skirts? I was kind of indifferent to the idea, but I love love love them now!! When I saw this floral textured fabric at Fabricland, I immediately knew it would become my first circle skirt. I don’t entirely remember what tuned me into them. I think I saw a few dresses on pinterest or in my blogroll where sewists attached a circle skirt to any ol’ bodice. At any rate, I remembered reading about By Hand London’s circle skirt app when it first came out and thought, ‘meh, that’s too much work’.

Screen Shot circle skirt appBut it’s not much work, really. Quite simply, you input your waist measurement, the type of circle skirt you want (1/4, 1/2, full), your desired length (mini, midi, full length) and BOOM, the circle circumference and fabric requirements pop out. What more could you want?!

Well… I have a couple of comments about that, actually.

  1. First, maybe this is my own stupidity, but it would have been nice to have a note saying that you should reduce the waistband size when using knit fabrics. Mind you, the app states it is strictly for woven fabrics, but you can easily adapt it to knit fabrics I think. If you reduce the waistband by (anyone know by how much?) a bit, and stretch as you sew, it would work beautifully.
  2. It says for me that the mini half circle skirt WILL NOT work on 115cm wide fabric. That is not entirely true, at least not for a small to medium size waistline (mine is 72cm). If you fold your fabric on the crossgrain, you can easily get a half circle skirt out of it (or even a full circle skirt if you have double the fabric). I did it for a summer dress. I got it cut out of a scant 2m of 115cm wide fabric.

These are just a couple of things I found out while using the app, and by all means does not mean you shouldn’t use it. Just use your brain and get creative. It’s just a starting point. For example, I’m also going to tweak the half circle skirt to include side-seam pockets.

This one I made is a full circle skirt, ‘mini’ length, with in-seam pockets from Deer & Doe’s Chardon skirt pattern. I made the pattern on a piece of wrapping paper. Using a sturdy piece of wrapping paper/kraft paper is good if you intend to use it many times. The only thing is, it tends to want to roll up… I now have it pinned to my wall and it’s flattened out nicely now.

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