Sunday, 18 May 2014

Another Floral Flora Dress

I'm a little late to enter into the competition the girls at By Hand London are running but I made another Flora Dress! I absolutely love my first version of this pattern. When I first received it I was dead set on making the 1950's tank style bodice but after seeing many many more versions of this dress popping up (in particular Winnie from Scruffy Badger's gorgeous version in a bold floral print) I knew I had to try out the faux wrap version too. I also decided to use the other skirt variation which has a level hem rather than a dip at the back. I'm pleased to report I love this version almost as much! The fit isn't quite as fantastic as with the tank bodice but I like the style just as much. 

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice


The fabric is quite unusual and a new type of fabric for me to work with. It was gifted to me for Christmas 2012 by the lovely Evie from Pendle Stitches as part of Vicki Kate's Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap. Sorry it's taken me so long to find the perfect make to use it for Evie! I'm usually slightly wary of such large prints but you've done me a big favour in making me try as I really like how this has turned out. I think the wrap detail of the bodice works great with this style of print as it breaks up the bold motifs slightly, as do the folds and pleats of the voluminous skirt. As you can see I made absolutely no effort with the pattern matching as I felt the print was random enough, it almost appears to continue across that centre back seam though!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice

The fabric itself is cupro and a fantastic discovery if you haven't heard of it before. I've only seen it for sale once or twice since and then in plain colours so this was a real find Evie! According to a quick bit of research it's a cellulose fibre, similar to rayon and so another good and easy to wash substitute for silk. It also has the magical property of being breathable like a cotton as it's actually made from the leftovers on the cotton plant. This particularly fabric has a nice drape but still some weight to it which makes it beautiful to sew with. It's not inclined to wrinkle and has a lovely soft texture, a little like a moleskin. As it's white is still quite sheer in direct sunlight so I chose to fully line my dress rather than just the bodice as instructed. I lined the bodice in the main fabric (purely due to fabric quantities) and the skirt in some plain white floaty poly I had in my stash. I had bought this to make a summer top with but I'm glad I relegated it to lining as it wasn't the nicest fabric to work with and pulled and puckered like nobodies' business if you weren't careful.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice

I had 3m of the cupro and still have just under a metre left, I had about 1.5m of the poly lining and those skirt pieces ate up every last inch of it! With only four pattern pieces this felt like an absolute breeze to cut out though after the 17 pattern pieces which I cut from main fabric and underlining for my silk Robson coat!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice

Construction wise the whole process is pretty straightforward and beautifully explained in the instructions. There's also the posts from the recent sew-along if you want some extra details and photographs of the steps. I used a tip from the sew-along to help stabilise the edges of the wrap front. It's important to do this as these edges are cut on the bias and so are very prone to stretching. I attached some narrow twill tape to the seam allowances along this edge to combat the stretch and it also helps prevent any gaping (although I did pop a little stitch in as a safety measure!) In the sew-along the girls suggest adding the tape immediately after you have cut your pattern pieces, like you might do with stay stitching. I actually attached mine after sewing up the seam so the twill tape was sewn to the seam allowance of both the lining and the main fabric. This meant I was able to get up nice and close to the line of stitching with the twill tape.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice

The only aspect I did get a little confused over was the lining, purely because I was taking the extra step of lining the skirt. As the front bodice overlaps on this variation it is not possible to finish the lining in the same way as with the tank bodice, which sees you attach the skirt to just the main bodice fabric at the waist and then hand stitch the lining to the waistband. For the wrap bodice you attach the skirt to both lining and main fabric at the same time. I was able to conceal the raw edge here by sandwiching the bodice between the skirt and skirt lining but I still overlocked this seam to keep things nice and tidy. Then, as the lining and bodice are now joined to one another at the waist you insert the zip into both the main fabric and lining fabric as if they are one piece. This means your seam allowance either side of the zip will be exposed so make sure you finish them nicely! I don't mind this finish at all, although I do prefer being able to conceal all the raw edges behind the lining. This all came together smoothly (including another successful zip thanks to interfaced seam allowances!) but then I got a little stuck with the hem. I wanted my lining to hang free from the skirt but at the centre back seam, beneath the zip, the lining and main fabric were joined. Rather than hem them as one (so treating the lining more like an underlining) I made a little snip in the lining at the hem either side of the centre back seam just to free it enough to turn it up separately.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice

Of course you wouldn't encounter any problems with this if you didn't line the skirt and I see no need to if your fabric is nice and opaque. The good news about this method is that there's basically no hand stitching involved, apart from attaching the hook and eye at the top of the zip! I also eliminated the hours of hand stitching the hem this time, declaring it a dress for casual summer wear so fine to be hemmed by machine!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice

I (and my boyfriend who has declared this one a miss in his book) think I would like this little number better if there was a bit less fabric across the front of the bodice. I didn't help myself with the fabric choice or the decision to self-line it here as the cupro has quite a bit of body too it but I feel like there's too much room in the dress under the bust, although the waist fits nicely. I'm thinking that perhaps with this style I should have gone for a small size above the waist and done an FBA. I've also noticed on a couple of patterns recently that they seem rather long on me above the bust, I want to lift my shoulders a little to get this one to sit just perfectly. Perhaps taking some of the length out of the area between shoulder and bust should be a standard alteration for me. What are your thoughts?

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Cupro Floral By Hand London Flora Dress with faux wrap bodice

18 comments:

  1. Oh my word! I can't tell you how lovely this looks on you. I'm so pleased you like it.
    You're not alone with the fit on this bodice...only this evening I've been reading a review on Michelle, la belle, who has also encountered problems.
    That said, the fabric hides a multitude of sins, (not that it really needs to) and I suspect if you lift the front a little at the shoulder you could also lift out any kinks.
    Regardless this is a fabulous dress and well worth the wait.

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    1. Thank you so much for choosing me such a beautiful fabric Evie, it's just perfect for this kind of summer dress!
      Yes I think the style of the bodcie makes it a challenge to fit as it needs to sit just right. I have an inkling that you are right and taking some fabric out at the shoulder may solve all my issues, I'm going to give that a try!

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  2. This dress turned out great and looks gorgeous on you! I love the fabric!

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    1. Thank you! The fabric was all Evie's excellent choice!

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  3. I have made 4 by hand London patterns and all of them are about 2" too but between my bust/shoulders. Now that I've learned this I know it's just the pattern drafting and not me. Using other indie patterns this hasn't happened, but each by hand London pattern are all like this. I now immediately remove that extra length through the chest. but your dress looks beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Chrystal, that is really useful to know! I had to take some width out of the Anna neckline but now I've seen everyone's responses to this fit dilemma I think maybe it may have been a length issue too. Lucky it's easy to rectify hey?!

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  4. I muslined this recently and made a 1cm horizontal pleat above the bust to take out the excess fabric both front and back. I normally have to take up a 1cm at the shoulders or above the bust, but this is more than my normal adjustment. (I am 5'2")
    I also had excess fabric under the bust, but increased my dart size at the bottom and made it more of a curved dart to come in closer under the bust.
    In saying that, your dress looks lovely and would look fabulous with bright yellow or pink accessories :)

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    1. Excellent tips, thanks so much Lizzie. I think I might just try taking this one up at the shoulders but making some alterations to the paper pattern in future. I've never tried a curved dart, sounds interesting. Also great idea with the colourful accessories, I'm off to too through my cupboard now!

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  5. What is your other half talking about? A miss? Never. It's really pretty on you and the colour of the print is really flattering. It makes you look tanned and lovely as if u're on holiday and about to step out for cocktails. Lovely

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    1. Well I don't think that a dress that makes me look like that can possibly have anything wrong with it! I'll be wearing it with much more confidence now. Thank you!

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  6. As you know I'm tall and I don't need to over ye darts down as much on Bhl patterns. So they must be drafted quite long in that area! Could you take out at the shoulders without too much unpicking?

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    1. Good to know Jo! Definitely think the length in that area may be my issue. The instructions have you finish everything so beautifully that it's pretty difficult to unpick and alter. Might have to do a bit of a bodge job and deal with it!

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  7. What a lovely Flora variation! I've made the tank bodice and after your detailed post I think I'm ready to try the wrap one too :). Wish me luck!!

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    1. O Jenny I think the wrap bodice would look just gorgeous on you! I'm still planning on making a cambia bodice with Charlotte skirt after seeing your gorgeous Dolly Clackett makes!

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  8. This looks lovely Fiona, although I see what you mean about the excess fabric. I've had the same issue recently with too much length between shoulders and bust - both on patterns and a couple of RTW dresses, so it's not just you. Regardless though, it's still a lovely dress :)

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    1. It's something I've never really thought about before, I must be getting better at fitting now and noticing what the issue is. I need to get on and unpick the shoulders of this one!

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  9. This dress is lovely and looks fabulous on you. nicely done.

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!