Pauline Alice: the Eliana Dress

aka The Wistful Dress. Life is has been busy and TBH ‘worse than yuck’ I need something/anything to go right… my girls love this dress so I’m taking it as a ‘win’.

This was one of those projects that I wanted to be perfect but just isn’t quite. Nothing major, I’d like the straps to be topstitched (see below), I should have made the elastic slightly tighter and the armholes are a little low.

Nevertheless I’m not lying on the sewing room floor in a state of abject misery… in fact I’m planning on wearing it tomorrow!

Back view. Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

Back view.

This is the Pauline Alice Eliana Dress. I’d never purchased a Pauline Alice printed pattern before and I must say I am impressed! I purchased the Carme blouse PDF ages ago but it hasn’t made its way into ‘The Queue’ for stitching just let.

The packaging is glossy cardboard, the instructions are in a neat little black-and-white A5 booklet (in English, French and Spanish) and the pattern is printed on large sheets of bond paper. The packaging is generously sized and it all goes neatly back together with plenty of room for your traced pattern – if you are the tracing type. The paper patterns are not cheap but the production quality is excellent.

I purchased my pattern from Caitlan of Indie Stitches. Her service and packaging was outstanding, I found via Pauline Alice’s site which lists Indie Stitches as the only Australian distributor of the paper patterns. I don’t mind PDFs but I avoid them if there is no A0 option unless I’m so keen I can’t wait for a paper pattern to be delivered – The Perfect Nose blogged about this today – and I agree with many of her points.

I contacted Caitlan via email as it didn’t appear to be in stock. She replied that it was ‘on it’s way’ and would let me know when it arrived. I was equally delighted by the detail of her business packaging when the pattern arrived (ok, it was ‘patterns’ as I’m besotted with the Pauline Alice Quart Coat & decided to purchase it as well). I do love thoughtful packaging… and the Indie Stitches envelope was stitched shut, the protective packaging sealed with fabric tape and the business card is gorgeous. That sort of thing makes me go ‘squee’ at the mailbox. LOL.

Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

Front view: Pauline Alice Eliana Dress. I have a nice new scar on my leg that I’m hoping will fade. A child’s toy box leapt out and bit me a few weeks ago… or I could have been tired and bumped into it. Whatever… it was ouch and quite a bit of blood!


I added half an inch to the bodice as I am long waisted plus I wanted a ‘blousy’ top.  The length wasn’t an issue for me as it is drafted for a height of 165cm and I’m 164cm tall.

I graded out to 36 at the waist and skirt as I wanted generous gathering & a swinging skirt.

I decided not to put in the pockets as I was concerned they might look obvious with the knit jersey.


As confessed in my Japanese skirts post, I’m not a huge fan of elastic waists but I think I’m coming around… in some cases.

I decided to omit the buttonholes and forgo a waist tie. Sometimes it feels a bit like gym shorts to me. I added a line of stitching in the middle of the elastic casing channel and used two thin strips of elastic instead of one wide one. I just prefer the look of two gathered rows than one thick one.

A very simple way to soften a thick elastic waistband- just sew two channels and use thinner elastic. Eliana Dress by Pauline Alice

A very simple way to soften a thick elastic waistband- just sew two channels and use thinner elastic

I’m going to add some belt carriers at the waistline (I’ve already made them) as I hate how a belt sometimes slides above or below the elastic.

I do like the waistline casing on this pattern. You sew the bodice and skirt together, neaten the edges together and then fold the skirt up towards the bodice, sewing a 3cm seam to create a channel. This makes the waistline hug the dress against your body which I think is a nice finish.


Sewing those jersey strips in jersey was NOT FUN – yes Busy Lizzie warned us about that in her jersey Eliana dress post… but I had my heart set on a khaki jersey Eliana. If you are making this in jersey, I did some googling and you don’t need to cut jersey ‘bias’ strips on the bias. You can cut them on the grain with the greatest amount of stretch – well that’s what I read on this post by Made by Rae. Worked for me!

I machined the strips to the bodice and then turned them over and hand stitched them in place. I also slip stitched the edges of the long back ties and shoulder straps together. Yes. It turned a quick make into a long make, however I found it difficult to get a neat line of top stitching over the strips & gathered jersey. I knew wonky stitching would bug me so I opted to hand sew. I had a hideous week so the downtime taken stitching was much needed & appreciated!

I stitched a ‘boho gold’ chain along the neckline to add some interest. I also like ‘old gold’ tones with khaki. The chain meets with a necklace clasp at the centre back. I chose to wrap the chain around the shoulder straps and leave the tails hanging down my back. I left the jersey ties in tact – in case I decide to remove the chain in the future.

Simple 'boho gold' chain added to the neckline and twisted around the shoulder straps.

Simple ‘boho gold’ chain added to the neckline and twisted around the shoulder straps.


The armholes are low. My wardrobe ‘fix’ was to wear a black bandeau top over my strapless bra (which is ‘nude’ colour – not so attractive as a ‘peekaboo’ option). It cut in slightly as you can see in the pictures – which of course annoys me so I’ll have a think about that…

I don’t think it would matter as much with long sleeves but it’s something you might want to consider with the sleeveless version – plus it’s not bra-friendly.

Pauline Alice Eliana Dress

The underarms are LOW.


I used some Emma Seabrooke Knit stay tape from Stitch 56 (popped up in my facebook feed on night) and a double needle on my Bernina machine. I have no idea why but it had never occurred to me to baste the stay tape the wrong side of the hem and then turn it up and iron in place (recommended on the package). I know – I’m an idiot. So much quicker, easier and neater – this tape is very nice too.


It’s a simple make & easy to wear. Apart from all my hand stitching & attaching the chain, fiddling with pliers etc, this dress came together quickly.

I think it would make a lovely maxi dress in a woven rayon. It would make a gorgeous winter dress with long sleeves, tights & boots.

I’m wearing it tomorrow. Win.


Pattern: Eliana Dress by Pauline Alice, purchased from Indie Stitches– the only place in Australia to buy the Pauline Alice paper patterns.

Fabric: a rayon knit from Spotlight. From my ‘Fabric Library’, purchased for about $15 a metre.

Accessories: Shoes for Manning Valley Shoe Store – ages ago from the ‘bargain table’ for a ridiculously low sum… like $20 | bangle from my workplace shop (it’s a hazard walking in the office)

Also see: Busy Lizzie in Brissie | By Maggot | Top Notch | Couleurs et chiffons

These sunnies on-off pictures amuse me. It's like a tic!

These sunnies on-off pictures amuse me. It’s like a tic!


Note: Caitlan kindly offered me a little discount – however I was purchasing it anyway. I like to spread my self-indulgent expenditure around the sewing business world. A good thing too… I’ve never blogged the size of my pattern stash… it’s considerable!