The Spelen Dress - A luxurious take on this new pattern with silk and lace

by - 17:59

As I was laying in bed one morning, scrolling through Instagram instead of getting up and on with the day, as you do, my daughter saw a picture of a black and white spotty dress in the feed. She was snuggled in next to me, so I stopped to show her the dress a bit better and for us to read the text. She told me she really liked the dress, but could she have it 'not in black and white, I don't like that.' 'Let me guess Layla, you'd like it in...' 'PINK' she shouted next to me!

I explained to her that it was just a picture at the moment, and that a testing call would go up soon, and that if I applied I might not get accepted and for her not to be upset. So a few weeks later she kind of shrugged her shoulders and said 'yeah, OK, whatever, I might wear it' when I told her I'd been accepted onto the pattern test for the Spelen Dress. You'd think she was a teenager the way she talks sometimes, not a sweet little 5 year old!

I had been hoarding some super special fabric for about a year, and I dug it out to show Layla. Some bright, bright pink dupioni silk paired with blue and silver lace. Both were bought as off-cuts from a bridal wear designer who had closed up shop. The lace was only a small piece, with a tiny amount of the scalloped edge left attached. She loved it the instant she saw it, and actually hugged the fabric! This had to be a good sign.

Testing of the new Spelen Dress by The Eli Monster began. So I duly made up a couple of muslin bodices to test the pattern out for size, and make any adjustments necessary before cutting into the silk. Just like in the Latona dress test, I had to take in the waist and also make a round shoulder adjustment for her. This dress isn't as fitted as the Latona dress, so I didn't take it in anywhere near as much. From the straight age 5, I reduced the top centre front by 1cm, and from the back bodice pieces at the waist, I also took 1cm from each side. I didn't alter the length (although this may be a bit longer than the final pattern release). The round shoulder adjustment took out 1/4" from each back shoulder, and added a small amount to the top centre back seam to make this straight again.

When it came to cutting into the lace and silk, I took my time to make sure I had enough of each to make the dress work. I had to fiddle about a bit with the lace as it came up about 3" short for the centre front panel. This was OK though as the hem on the dress was supposed to be 2.5" so the short lace length didn't matter so much. I made sure that I lined up the small section of scalloped edge with the correct seam height. I would have loved to get the scalloped edge exactly symmetrical, but the piece I had was literally 0.5cm too narrow and was all I had to play with.

Once I'd cut the centre panel out of lace and silk, I then went on to cut the remaining pieces of the dress out. When I laid them out flat to see what they'd look like, I felt the back was a bit too plain, and after seeking advice from my Mum (got to love my Mum and her advice, after all, I learnt to sew by watching her, and she has a far more creative mind than me!), I chose to overlay the lace on the back bodice pieces too.

When it came to sewing the pieces together, I chose to overlock the lace pieces around the edges to the main silk pieces. I didn't want the lace shifting as I tried to sew the seams together. This gave me just one piece to sew instead of two. At this point, I also overlocked around the skirt pieces too, to get all the overlocking out of the way at the start.

Sewing the dress together was simple and relatively easy. The only difficult bit was turning the back bodice pieces out through the shoulders. The pattern has a very narrow shoulder piece and this leads to difficulty with the volume of fabric being turned out. I managed it through sheer force, but in the process I did pop some of the stitches connecting the shoulders to the front square seam. I went back and re-did these to strengthen the seams. I suspect that having two layers of fabric on the back bodices didn't help the turning efforts. I wonder whether I had such problems because I did have two layers of fabric? I have been researching the 'burrito' method as a slight alternative.

One last tweak to the pattern that didn't show up until I'd cut and made my dress was to the centre panel length. My skirt and centre panel pieces didn't quite meet up, the centre panel was longer. So my finished hem allowance was very small, nowhere near the 2.5" that the pattern suggested. This isn't so much of a problem, it's just a slightly longer skirt than it should be. It'll be useful for growing room!

I used the same buttons that I put on the Latona dress as they seemed like a perfect match! I only realised though, putting in the buttonholes that I had managed to sew the bodice pieces with the button and buttonhole sides swapped. This has left me with an overlap of the skirt piece and the bodice folding to the wrong side. Thankfully, the fullness of the skirt has hidden the flap in the back skirt piece, and no-one I've spoken to has realised that the buttons are on the wrong side, phew!!

The finished dress is a bit of an eye-catcher. I love the long centre panel covered in lace, but it could work equally well in two different but coordinating cotton prints. I'm rather taken with the Sea Holly collection by Micheal Miller Fabrics. I can see the dress being made with one of the pretty florals for the main part, and one of the more solid colour prints for the centre panel. Or maybe that should be the other way round? The possibilities for this dress are endless with all the fabric collections out there!

When we went out for our photoshoot, a lot of people were staring. Layla got a bit self-conscious for the first time ever. The pink dress did stand out like a sore thumb amongst all the greenery. It would be amazing as a bridesmaid dress in this silk and lace combo. Or just for a posh party amongst friends. I used strips of silk to make the bows on the side front of the dress. But ribbon can easily be substituted.

The pattern comes with an option to add a zip instead of doing a button back. I think if I make this again in a cotton fabric, I'll add an invisible zip to the back. This will mean that Layla could get herself dressed without needing help with buttons. It would be perfect for pattern matching the back bodice pieces too if your fabric had a big enough print.

You see the birds in the last picture? They're called Raul Raul Partridges. They're a pretty, colourful, ground dwelling bird with a very sweet quiet peeping call. They suddenly came running out of the undergrowth when they spotted this fallen cocoa seed (I think that's what it is) and gave us all an up close personal visit!

I am very tempted to splash out and buy some of this Nani Iro double gauze for the main dress, and match it to this for a light and breezy summer version. This of course assumes that we'll get weather warm enough in the next 6 months or so to wear a light breezy dress!

Do you like this fabric combination or would you choose something different? You can buy the pattern here or how about you let me do the hard work and I make the dress up for you! Let me know in the comments below.

*Disclaimer: Some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission (the price stays the same for you) which will help me in the future to buy more patterns to share them with you!*

You May Also Like


  1. A wonderful combination stunning colour.

    1. It's very vibrant in real life, a lovely pink colour for a pink loving girl!

  2. This is beautiful! I love this take and the added lace, plus those bows at the waist are really cute. Gorgeous piece!