Royal Flora

I’m not sure this sewing thing is helping my dress obsession in any way. Now instead of drooling over shop windows I see a pattern and immediately think of five ways it could add to my wardrobe!

Ok, yes, I need to get a better mirror. Or a tripod and remote for my real camera.

My love affair with By Hand London continues with their newest pattern, the Flora dress. I’m a big fan of wrap-style dresses (and v-necks in general) and was keen to give it a try. Another of the French fabrics I bought jumped out of the cupboard and insisted I use it, even though it was a wool jersey (zher-zhey, the Paris shopkeeper said when I asked what the material was called in French) and thus definitely not the woven fabric the pattern suggested.

Fortunately the BHL girls had suggested in their first sewalong post that it was okay to use stretch fabrics although one may need to stabilise the neck seam. A bit of googling “twill tape” later and I thought I was sorted.

This time I actually made a toile. Well, of the bodice only. In calico that definitely didn’t stretch. But, baby steps. It was good, because everything I’d read talked about how va-va-voom the neckline on the faux-wrap bodice is (and it certainly is on the model in the photo on the pattern page). But on me – not so much. Even after I folded the seam allowance under to account for the fact I didn’t have a lining attached it was an awkward, very modest kind of v-neck. I lowered it by about 5cm, made another toile and decided all was good to go.


I’d planned to line it with some black jersey I knew was hanging round but when I pulled it out of the cupboard it turned out I’d used so much for the underskirt of my tutu there was not enough left. Plan B was the Tencel jersey I’ve used to make a maxi dress and a t-shirt and still seem to have miles of. It was perhaps not quite a stable as needed to match the wool outer but it is lovely and soft against the skin.

The pattern was a cinch to sew up and I got it done in a couple of hours. And I got to use my birthday overlocker! Much excitement! The only stupid thing I did was to machine baste the outer bodice and the lining  together at the front, so that when I came to attach the skirt I either ad to unpick it all or make the seam visible. Lazy sewer that I am, I chose the latter. That also means the zipper insertion isn’t as neat as normal because it had to go on the outside of both layers too, instead of sandwiched in between. Never mind – the guts are much neater than most of my garments (thanks overlocker overlord) and no one will see it but for me. And on the plus side, for possibly the first time ever the skirt and bodice matched up perfectly first time – even all the pleats, darts and side seams.

By the time I got to sewing it all together I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops to buy some twill tape so I used a stiff, 2cm wide satin ribbon I had hanging round instead in the neckline and armholes. I have no idea if I did the stabilising right – I sewed it into the seam allowance on the lining side – but it seems to have worked okay (I’m waiting for that blog post to come up in the sewalong so I can find out how it’s supposed to be done for next time).

Look at that overlocking!

I wore the royal blue Flora to work yesterday with much success – first time I’ve really felt a dress I’ve made is “professional” enough for that.

Now I really should stick to that list of projects I wrote myself instead of leaping on every new pattern than comes along… My only excuse here is I was hoping the Flora bodice would be right for the sparkly ball gown in my dreams. I think it will work, although I may adjust it again to up the va-va-voom even more (come on – it’s a ball gown!).


3 thoughts on “Royal Flora

  1. Penny Dresses & Me April 10, 2014 / 5:31 pm

    Gosh you’re adventurous making this out a a knit fabric! I love how it’s turned out – the drape looks lovely in the skirt and you look lovely 🙂

    • tinawheeze April 10, 2014 / 5:36 pm

      Thanks Penny! I am really pleased with how the skirt sits in this fabric.

  2. whisperinggums April 11, 2014 / 7:32 am

    Clever girl … it’s gorgeous. Soon you’ll be hiring yourself out as a dress-maker. You know who your first customer will be! Tencel lining. Yay!

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