By Hand London Make – The Feel Good Flora Dress

Hi Everyone, I’m really excited with what I have to show you this week! I haven’t sewn anything for myself for awhile, and it’s well overdue I readdress that balance! We can’t have my son out dressing his mother each day of the week can we? That just wouldn’t do.

It’s been a pretty hard week or so for me, and one of those times when you just feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. I’m not usually a down beat person, so i’ve done my best to keep smiling. Two saving graces have been that the sun has been out and i’ve got to spend lots of time taking walks with Evan and pottering about in my garden. Here is a little teacup garden I made which makes me happy each time I look at it:
2014-05-15 16.53.05

On our sunny walks we have been to lots of parks and I’ve realised that one is never to old to play on children’s play equipment, zip wires being a personal favourite, followed by a good climbing frame. This comes with the exception of any roundabout or ride that spins round in circles, that’s a surefire way of reminding yourself that actually you’re not as young as you feel, and are going to end up in a crumpled heap covered in vomit if you’re not careful. At what age and why do we lose our ability to spin round and round in circles and not feel sick?

The second saving grace is that I’ve had my Flora dress to concentrate on. The fabric I chose is so happy, summery and perfect, it’s really lifted my spirits to work with it. Having something to do in the evenings and take your mind off troubles really helps when you’re down. Sewing is a great way of clearing the mind, and when making something you are going to wear you can even try to visualise yourself in it, feeling good, feeling happy, your future self in a better place. I’ve been trying to manifest all of this positivity in to each stitch, and perhaps for this reason it came together almost effortlessly. Very therapeutic indeed!

I followed the By Hand London sewalong. Unfortunately I didn’t get the dress finished in time to enter it in to the competition, but I did manage to vote on the other entrants. My personal fave was by Lou Weez,  whose simple red polka version I thought was gorgeous, and looked great on her. The prize however went to Shauna, with an equally stunning dress, so well done Shauna !!!

The Flora Dress pattern comes with various options, a faux wrap sleeveless bodice, or a fitted tank bodice. I decided the faux wrap would suit my fuller bust. There was also an option to dip the hem, and why wouldn’t you? I think it’s a lovely feature of the pattern, and is one of the things I like most about Flora.

The sewalong instructions were brilliant, and really easy to follow. I did find working out what size I needed to cut a bit troublesome though. It seems like my body shape is a bit all over the place, measuring a 16 at the waist, a 14 at the bust and a 12 at the hips! Usually on the high-street I fit in to a UK12, so it came as a bit of shock to find out my real sizing! I decided to cut a size 16, and adjust if I needed to.

I made a muslin first which came out huge, and I found it difficult to gauge if I needed to sew up a different size, or make any adjustments. I decided it was best to stick with the size 16 and I could make smaller if needed. I did decide to make a gapey back fix though, removing 3cm from each side of the back bodice, as the muslin version of the bodice was really baggy on me there. I could have smuggled a few kittens in all that extra fabric. It was the right choice, and I’m fairly happy with the final fit. I do think perhaps I could have got away with a size 14. It feels a little roomy and I think is even more noticeable when I study the photos. I can see the fit on the bodice is not totally spot on. Still, it’s comfortable, and I have a dress that fits, so all is not lost. I still need practice in achieving the perfect fit, and to learn more about my body shape and gain confidence in switching sizes at the bust/waist and hips. It’ all changed so much since having Evan!

Look, it's like a tent under here!

Look, it’s like a tent under here!

The Flora dress pattern asks for 60″ wide fabric, of which the full width is used to create a fantastically full and flowing skirt. The fabric I ordered was advertised as 60″, but it actually still wasn’t wide enough, so when I cut out the skirt pieces I had to sew on an extra little patch at the corners to get the full width. I made sure I pattern matched, so it’s hardly noticeable, especially given the skirts fullness when on, but it is worth noting that you find the right width of fabric if you don’t want to run into similar problems. There is an option to cut the skirt using 45″ wide material, but because of the directional print on my fabric this wouldn’t have worked.

Looking pretty happy here, the feel good vibes are working!

Looking pretty happy here, the feel good vibes are working!

My fabric choice was inspired by Heather B’s Painterly Poppy Dress, which I drooled over when she blogged about it back in April. I really liked the print and this one reminded me of it, with all it’s floral stripiness. What do you think Heather? It’s not quite on a par with the poppy fabric, but it makes for a great Flora Dress!!

Having a twirl, not easy as my high heels were sinking in to the wet grass

Having a twirl, not easy as my high heels were sinking in to the wet grass

With my skirt material quite pattern heavy, I decided I wanted to save it for the skirt only, opting for a plain green polycotton for the bodice. I found almost an exact match at B&M Fabrics in Leeds Market, so big up yourselves B&M for having such a great selection of colours. The girl who served me was lovely too, and reminded me that I wouldn’t need to wash it if I didn’t want to, because of the polyester content it doesn’t shrink.  Leeds market shopping trips are the best. I chose green by the way because it matches my eyes, and I think it’s my favourite colour, plus there is a massive green gap in the dress section of my wardrobe.

I lined the dress with a medium weight plain white cotton. It worked well, especially in the bodice, but I think it makes the skirt a little heavy, giving the dress a formal, dressy feel. I do have plans to wear this dress to a wedding though, so it’s all good. I’ll just have to make another Flora version to dress down! I’d like a light, floaty version to mooch about in on hot days. If I do this I probably won’t line the skirt. I do regret using white for the lining colour though. It shows at the neckline on the bodice, which stupidly bothers me, and in retrospect would have been better in a matching colour. I don’t mind it so much on the skirt though.

Here is a shot from the back, showing off my first invisible zip insertion. Not bad eh?? If I do say so myself. It’s a shame I didn’t get the waistline to match up perfectly, but I was happy enough to not unpick it and put it in again.

I’m not sure how flattering the box pleats are on the back of the skirt. I’ve not got a huge derrière, but with the bulk of the lining in the mix I feel a bit like one of those dolls you place on top of toilet rolls in the bathroom.
loocover Does anyone have one of these or even know what I’m talking about?? Why would you want a creepy looking doll watching whilst you do your business? it’s just plain pointless, ‘oh no, my toilet roll is dusty!!!’ I suppose the last thing a lady wants is a dusty arse. Anyways… I’ve not actually worn it out yet, so I’ve no idea if this will put me off wearing it or not?

I’ve not taken many photos of myself for this blog yet, so have no idea of poses that work or a signature style. I might just stick a flower in my mouth and hope for the best. Who’d have thought it, it worked, it worked! It actually looks kinda cute ;)

As always attentive readers, I would love to hear what you think, especially advice on the fit and how I could improve it. Love to you all xxx

7 thoughts on “By Hand London Make – The Feel Good Flora Dress

  1. Amy

    Duuude is this your garden!? Anyway swit swoo on the dress. Love the colour block effect. One thing that helps me with invisible zips is sewing one side, zip it up, make a little chalk mark on the unsewn side of the zip where the waist seam needs to be then pin or baste it in place ☺

    1. admin Post author

      Thanks Amy! yup that’s my garden, it looks great at the moment, so wild and lush. Great to relax in it after work. I did do that with the zipper, but obviously not well enough! It seemed to stretch out as I sewed along…

  2. Pingback: Everyone Deserves Pretty Knickers Week and a birthday present for Nana | Barmy Beetroot

  3. Briony

    I love that skirt fabric so much! Normally I just lurk on sewing blogs, but I need to know where you got it from?! Your dress is great, perfect for a wedding.


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