Ah, Indie Pattern Month! That time of year when I spend several weeks frantically creating garments for myself before neglecting my sewing for another 11 months!
In all honesty I wasn’t sure I’d contribute to any of the challenges this year with life being busy, sewing time limited and two small children underfoot, but when the first challenge was announced as Dresses I was sold. I live in dresses and had been saying to myself for weeks that I was going to get around to making another one soon, so this challenge encouraged me to finally get the wheels in motion.
With the cooler weather settling in I’ve been leaning towards thicker fabrics, so I chose a soft quilting cotton from my stash and paired it with the By Hand London Flora dress. I’ve had the Flora pattern in my collection for some time but haven’t gotten around to making it up until now. Most of the dresses I’m wearing a lot at the moment have round necklines, fitted bodices and full skirts (either gathered or circle), so while the Flora has certain elements in common the square neckline and pleated skirt make for a nice change.
A muslin of the bodice told me I wasn’t happy with the fit, so I went down a size and attempted a FBA, but somehow that was even worse! I went back to square one and decided to go with the original size and alter the darts, which was more successful. I had my fabric washed and ready to go when I came across a note on the pattern sleeve: ‘The width of the circle skirt on the Flora Dress means that only a wider 60” or 150cm width fabric is suitable.’ Of course being quilting cotton, my fabric wasn’t wide enough.
So that left me with a bit of a dilemma; my front skirt wouldn’t fit on the fabric on the fold. The back pieces were fine, I could just cut them individually and be careful with the pattern placement. I thought about adding a centre front seam and doing the same with the front pieces, but then realised I didn’t have enough length for that. I thought about abandoning the project altogether or choosing another fabric or pattern, but I’d already emotionally invested in the dress so I didn’t want to do that. I mulled it over for a few days and even looked into getting more of the fabric, but as I had bought it from a clearance basket for $5 a metre several months ago of course it was sold out.
In the end, after much deliberation and a shout out to the lovely ladies on The Monthly Stitch Facebook group, I decided to go with cutting the front piece on the fold and pattern matching the missing corners, which worked out pretty well, I think. It’s such a busy print you’d have to be looking pretty closely to see those seams!
I lined the bodice with a grey poplin that came out of the remnant basket at Spotlight, and understitched to keep the lining from rolling out. I decided on a centred zip instead of an invisible one, put in with my favourite method – stitching the seam closed then sewing the zipper in, finally ripping open the seam over the zip. I hand stitched the lining in place for a neat finish inside.
For the skirt I decided on a ‘mid-way’ option between the level hem and the high-low hem, so I cut the front skirt on the high line and the back skirt on the level line, resulting in a more subtle high-low hem. I was going to finish the hem with bias tape (I had bought two shades of grey bias tape at Spotlight as they only had one of each) but after sewing the dark grey bias tape to the hem I quite liked how it looked on the outside. So I attached the lighter grey bias tape to the dark grey bias tape at the fold, then stitched in the ‘ditch’, catching the light grey tape on the inside. My ditch stitching isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty close and you’d have to look carefully to see it!
I also French seamed the skirt seams and finished the centre back seam with bias tape.
I’m pretty happy with the fit of this dress and how it turned out. It’s probably the best fitting job I’ve done on a bodice so far and even though the photos show some wrinkling it’s the closest I’ve come to getting a smooth back. I managed this by leaving the zip insertion until the very end and getting my husband to pin me into the dress as firmly as I wanted it to fit, then used the pins as markers for the centre back seam line. It’s not perfect but it’s close enough for me!
I can see myself making this pattern again – it was a pretty straightforward sew and a good pattern to show off a statement fabric. I’m picturing it in a breezy cotton for summer, perhaps with tie straps?
I won’t bore you with any more of my ramblings – some details and then more photos!
Pattern: Flora Dress Variation 2 Tank Bodice, By Hand London
Fabric: Quilting Cotton (Timeless Treasures Fabrics, according to the selvedge), Poplin for lining
Notions: Thread, zipper, bias tape, ribbon to stabilise waistline
Alterations: Mixed the two hemline variations together. Altered bust dart curve. Finished hem with double bias tape ‘sandwich’. Took approx. 1 inch out of centre back seam.
Would I recommend this pattern: Yes
Will I make this pattern again? Yes