My Christmas Party By Hand London Flora Dress

I’ve kept my love of By Hand London’s patterns no secret. I’ve made a couple of Elisalex dresses, a few Flora skirts and I have the Sabrina dress pattern cut and ready to go. I also have my eye on the Holly and the Victoria. But even though I’ve had this pattern for about 6 months now this is the first time that I’ve made the Flora dress, I can’t believe that I left it so long! To be honest I was put off by the thought of having to fit the bodice – I made a fair few adjustments to the Elisalex bodice and wasn’t really too enthusiastic about going through that process again but hey, sewing the same bodice over and over again would get a bit boring if I never fitted another design so I went head first into making it and had another great reason to get started – the work Christmas party!

The bodice was super quick and easy to put together and thankfully I didn’t need to make many adjustments. I shorted the bodice by half an inch took in the side seams by a quarter inch and the centre back seam by a quarter inch. I shortened the skirt pieces previously when I made my navy flora skirt and I can’t remember how much I took off but it was a fair bit as I’m not that tall and like an above the knee skirt. I’ve become a fan of a side zip instead of at centre back but as I was making the bodice for the first time I wanted to follow the instructions to the T so I went with the intended centre back zip. Although it’s possible, I find it hard to zip the dress all the way up plus I’ve added a hook an eye to the top so I think I’ll need hubby around to get me in and out of it!

Onto the fabrics, this dress was certainly a stash buster as I didn’t have to buy a thing. I had about a metre of this gold fabric which I bought ages and ages ago but didn’t really have a plan for (see, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with impulse buying fabric!). I think it’s some kind of poly. The skirt fabric is a black cotton sateen that I bought in the summer. I fell in love with it because it’s just so soft and was the perfect weight and drape for a swishy skirt like this one. The lining is a mix of fabric scraps, red polycotton for the front bodice lining and some polka dot cotton for the back. One of the things I like about By Hand London is that they include a label in with each pattern – I’ve always forgotten to sew it in to my other BHL makes but this time I remembered and I think it makes my dress extra special …

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The Christmas party isn’t for another week yet so sadly for me there’s no pics of me having a twirl, or playing about outside with hubby as the photographer which happens to be my favourite part of putting together a blog post! Despite this I hope you like the finished article (which includes my new party necklace)…

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Flora skirt no.4 and a night out for my kidneys…

I love this pattern. Big time. And given that I’ve made this pattern three times before I feel quite confident with it. It’s a quick make usually but this time around I wanted to really take my time to try and get a perfect, neat finish. This was my first successful attempt at adding a lining to a skirt (my last flora was underlined but this one has a loose hanging lining) and also my first attempt at attaching a lining to an invisible zip by machine. I so glad that my buddy Louise educated me about how awesome Craftsy is because I learned how to attach the lining to the zip by enrolling on their class ‘Mastering Zipper Techniques’ which is not only really informative but it’s free! I’m just about to get started with an embroidery class that I purchased about a week ago but I’m just waiting for some materials that I need for the class to be delivered. I’ve already started getting some ideas together, thank you Pinterest! I particularly like this one and probably need to take note of this advice!

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But back to Flora no.4… This time I went for the straight hem variation as I wanted a skirt that I can wear to work/everyday. Although the dipped hem variation is my favourite of the two options I think it would be really quite dressy in this type of fabric – cotton sateen.

The construction was straight-forward mostly. I cut the back piece on the fold (after cutting off the seam allowance from the pattern) and added a left side zip instead of one at the centre back. I French seamed the right seams on the lining and shell fabric and added a waistband as per the BHL online instructions. As adding a lining and attaching it to the zip were new to me these were the bits that I found most challenging. I really took my time over this but when it came to hemming the lining I realised that I had sewed the lining in the wrong way around so it’s a bit weird, but luckily all hidden on the inside of the skirt. Next time I’ll attach the lining to the skirt with wrong sides together and turn the hem up to the wrong side of the lining. I’ve still not yet mastered the art of attaching an invisible zip but i’m getting there.

All in all I am happy with my new skirt although it’s not the 100% perfect garment that I had planned. It’s been a learning experience though and I’m glad that I learned about adding a lining, attaching it to the zip and also had another go at adding an invisible zip.

In the spirit of taking my time over this skirt I bound the inside of the waistband to hide the rough edges – I had some matching navy binding but that was a bit boring so I went for this contrasting red instead, I think this is one of my favourite bits 😃

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Although intended as a work or casual skirt I wore this out to a charity event on Saturday night. ‘An Evening with CKD‘ is a great charity that has been set up to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease in the afro-Caribbean community. Not only was the event really entertaining with the live singers and comedians, it was also really informative about CKD. I learned a lot, in particular that the prevalence of CKD in people from black and minority ethnic communities is much higher than in the white population. It’s not clear why that is but the main take home message was to get your kidneys checked! – which can be done by having a simple blood test and keeping an eye on your blood pressure (high BP can be an indicator of poor kidney status). I’m going to see my GP anyway this week so I’m definitely going to ask about getting the test done. Congratulations to Amma Rose on producing such a brilliant event!!!

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And here I am in the finished article…

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And just because here’s one of me and my hubby ❤️

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And here she goes again, Flora no.2!

And here she goes again, Flora no.2!

Making the flora skirt second time around was really quick. I was done and dusted in 2 hours! (with the exception of hand-sewing on the hook and bar to the waistband which was done the next day because midnight was … Continue reading

Flora goes to the wedding!

I really do enjoy a good wedding (dont we all!) and i’ve been looking forward to this wedding reception since the invite dropped through the letter box. My old friend Nicky is marrying his lovely fiancee Sonya and i’m so happy for them ♥ And of course so happy that I get to make something special for the occasion! I ordered the BHL Flora dress pattern as a present to myself for my birthday and was quite looking forward to getting started on this lur-vely pattern.

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Unfortunately I failed before even getting the pattern out of the beautiful envelope! For this pattern you need 60″ wide fabric and mine was a mere 44″. Sad times. However, that meant I had to go on an essential shopping trip to ‘the man outside Sainsbury’s’ who NEVER fails to please. I came away with some lovely green, duchess-satin-like-with-a-little-bit-of-stretch-to-it fabric at a bargain £3 per metre. Yes please, i’ll have 3 metres thank you very much!

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I really ummed-and-arred for a while over this outfit because I had a specific idea in mind for the dress which never worked out. The plan was to make the flora dress with a navy bodice and African wax print skirt but since that didnt work out I was a bit ‘whatever’ about making something else. I finally decided on making the Flora skirt (pattern hack on the BHL website) and I was so pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. As soon as those pleats were assembled I know I had done the right thing. The fabric really is lovely and the silkyness of it just feels so nice, it’s perfect for a wedding, and I think it’s much better than my original idea. And of course with it being a circle skirt its fab to twirl in!image

I really wanted to create a neat finish on the inside of the garmant because (a) a little bit of the inside is visible due to the dipped hem and (b) it’s just nicer when a garment looks all lovely and neat on the inside.

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For that reason I french seamed the side seams and turned under the back seams where the zip was inserted. This was my first time using an invisible zip and after having to unpick it twice I finally got it in and looking neat. I can’t believe that I’ve waited so long to work with an invisible zip, i’m officially converted now, they’re so easy to insert!

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Luckily I didn’t have to work too hard to find a top to match. I met up with a few sewing gals for a fabric shopping trip to Berwick Street and Liberty on Saturday and found this gem in a vintage shop on Berwick street. I love it. The best thing is that it looks lovely worn the right way round as well as back to front. Thanks to Lyndsey for the advice!

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So here’s the finished article and a few pics of me having a twirl…

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