This is the first time I have worked with a 'By Hand London' sewing pattern and let me just say how fantastic the fit is. I may not look very model like, but my proportions are very standard when it comes to fitting from the packet. I was a little pesimistic about my current size, so started off making a size 14. Especially as it is described as a close fitting bodice and I've not long had a baby etc..., but a size 12 was plenty big enough. I been a size 12 for the whole of my grown up life, so I don't know why I suddenly thought this had changed, but hey ho!
I want to begin with my second Flora, as it is my favourite. The photos are unflattering as anything though. I don't know why my husband didin't tell me that my posture was so bad and that I was making myself look really fat, but this is what I have ended up with.
It may not look like your standard Flora, because I have drafted on some Kimono sleeves to cover my 'curvacious' upper arms. I have also found the centre front and made a V'neck front zip-up dress. The other style choice I made, which is not suggested on the packet, is to use the straight hem front skirt with the dipped hem back for a new variation. I like the idea of the fishtail back, but am not keen to expose my knees at the front...
The fabric for the top has been in my stash FOREVER! Like 10 years! It is a vintage printed cotton from the 50's/60's and has been waiting for the 'perfect' project. Let me tell you, I didn't waste a single scrap! I literally had enough to cut this bodice and that was it. I'm so glad with how it turned out and feel it's done this precious textile justice. I chose not to line the bodice and bound the neck edge with white cotton bias tape all machine stitched.
The zip is re-purposed from an old Navy parka or something. I can't quite remember the coat I unpicked it from, but I'm sure that was what I did. I hate forgetting stuff like that. I must be getting old!
If anyone would like to see a tutorial on how to add kimono sleeves to a bodice like this then leave a comment and I will consider writing one.
The skirt is a cotton Navy twill with stretch and is a nice weight for this dress. I love the fabric combination and even changed the thread colour for the zip top stitching (wish I got that photographed)
Oh my god, my bum looks ENORMOUS.
I had removed some volume from the pleats for this version, as the fabric was not quite wide enough. This was done by simply folding the same amount out from each side of the pleat before pinning it to the fabric.
As far as styling was concerned for these dresses, there wasn't much. I was wearing Navy tights and clogs with my outfit for the day and with both kids asleep and the sun poking out I did not feel I had time to change this. These elements work okayish with the above dress, but look very dodgy with my next offering.
This Flora is a very lovely wearable muslin really. I did not want to waste fabric in toiling this dress, as I didn't feel much could go wrong, so dove straight in with this onto some 'real' fabric. You cannot see the detail at all in this sunlight, but it is actually a pale blue and white spotted grosgrain type fabric on the top with a plain cream grosgrain for the bottom. Both are fairly dressy fabrics, but I was not concerned about ruining them as one was very cheap and the other was almost unusable sized scraps.
I bought the spot fabric from Misan about 10 years ago when a friend worked for the company. She let me into their stock room and I picked out a few pieces of fabric, which I got at a major discount. For some reason I only picked up half a metre of this and have since cut it up to make a cushion, which remained unmade. Luckily the scraps were big enough to squeeze the bodice out. The quality of this fabric is incredible and I only wish I had more to play with.
The cream on the other hand was bought from a local market for £1. It was such a bargain that I didn't feel scared to use it.
I opted for the straight/low hem as per the above version as I think this is quite pretty and tried out the tank top. I really like the fit, but think I need a little jacket or cardi to cover my arms.
There is an invisible zip right there!
Close up of the fabric
This muslin was going so well that I underlined the bodice pieces with a white cotton lawn and even made a charmeuse silk lining. I just need a wedding to go to now!
Note: I made the lining by folding out the pleats on the pattern pieces completely so that it does not have as much volume as the outer skirt, but still retains some fullness and the hem shape.
P.S. - If you want a dress that's quick to make then this is it. Seriously!!!