I may as well get it out of the way up front and tell you that I kind of hate this dress.
I made it to wear to a good friend’s wedding a couple of weeks ago – By Hand London Flora is practically made for wearing to weddings after all – and I enjoyed wearing it, the skirt has a lovely swish to it and the fabric is cool and soft but when I look at these pictures of me I cringe. The fit is just so so bad.
I sort of made a half arsed notquiteatoile but it clearly didn’t really help.
My measurements fall exactly half way between the (UK) 14 and 16 so I decided that I would start with the 14 first and just sew the side seams with a smaller seam allowance (10mm / 3/8″) which would have given me roughly an extra inch, which I thought would be plenty.
I was trying out using lightweight sew-in interfacing as Swedish tracing paper, so I traced the 14 on to that, sewed it all together and tried it on. It looked way off fitting. The centre back and front didn’t both want to be at my centre back and front at anywhere near the same time.
So I traced the 16 onto normal tracing paper and used it to cut out my lining. I then used the lining as sort of a working toile/muslin. It was too big. Quite a bit too big but I soldiered on with that size and just made some adjustments, which I suspect was my dress ruining mistake and I should have gone back to the 14.
I took the side seams in by 5mm at the top, grading out to nothing at the waist and I curved the waist darts to take in some of the excess fabric under my bust. I also shortened the straps slightly, roughly a cm I think. The lining then looked like quite a good fit so I adjusted my paper pattern and cut out my main fabric and went ahead with the dress. It was only when I put the zip in that I saw how badly it actually fit. So I unpicked it and sewed it again with a much bigger seam allowance.
But as you can see there are still fit issues. The bodice is too long, there are saggy lumps of fabric at my bust and the front of the armscye could possibly do with tightening up.
I don’t seem to have much luck with By Hand London patterns and the fit process is such a pain that it puts me off buying any more of their patterns, despite how pretty I find them. That’s not to say I won’t make another Flora as I probably will, I just need to put some work into the fit first.
I did my first ever bias bound hem, which I love. It gives the skirt a lovely flute and a bit of weight. Of course that didn’t stop it flying up at the teensiest bit of wind. The fabric I used was a Javanaise Viscose from Abakhan and it’s ever so lovely. I’m tempted to buy some of all the Javanaise Viscose they have. Soft and silky and just gorgeous. I was lucky enough to get the bride’s second dance at the wedding because it was I’ve had the Time of my Life from Dirty Dancing and that’s Our Song. (Well we generally prefer the Dirty Dancing megamix but we’ll take the big number.) During our dance she twirled me around and my skirt flew right up so I flashed my (fortunately pretty) knickers at everyone who was watching.
I tried really hard to pattern match across the back and I did an okay job but that got messed up when I had to move the zip. One flower still sort of matches though so that’s good.
I did think about remaking the bodice for this as I love the skirt part and I have enough fabric but basically I just can’t be arsed. I guess I’ll just have to chalk this one up as a fail and allow more time for proper toiles in future. Especially for By Hand London dresses.