Monday, 24 November 2014

Pattern Testing: The Kim Dress from By Hand London

My mission this Autumn/Winter is to make more practical, everyday garments...but it's totally ok for me to veer off that mission entirely when it involves a beautiful dress right?! When the ladies at By Hand London asked me to test their latest release I couldn't resist, especially with the Christmas party season just around the corner. I wasn't particularly excited by the gathered skirt variation as it's not a style I tend to wear but the wrap style skirt with curved 'petal' style overlap on the other hand, I couldn't wait to try out! I chose to pair it with the view B bodice with the sweetheart neckline.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

I cut the size US6/UK10 as I usually do with BHL patterns and the fit turned out exactly as it usually does with their patterns. It's pretty much spot on; all I needed to do was shorten the straps and take out 1/2" on the double at the top of each side seam, grading out to nothing at the waist. The straps I shortened by an inch but they could probably do with another inch taking out as they have a tendency to slide about. I'd recommend a quick muslin to work this out because the way the bodice is finished means you can't do this afterwards without some serious unpicking and it's important to get the height of that neckline right. I usually find the skirt length too long for my short little legs but I quite liked the extra length in this particular design so I sewed it up as is!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

The fabric was ever so kindly provided for me by Josie from Fabric Godmother. I had such fun browsing her site and almost veered towards using a bright print but at the last minute my plan to make more wearable garments kicked back in and I settled on this plain Prestige crepe to make myself a little black dress. It's 150cm wide and I used 1.5m including cutting twice the amount of each bodice piece so I could self line it. Because of the length of the pattern pieces you would still need 1.5m of your main fabric even if you were using a separate lining.

To be totally honest I didn't have the best time working with this fabric because of the poly content. I should have thought it through before ordering but it played up in the usual way polyester fabrics do, not responding particularly well to the iron but melting away or turning shiny if you cranked up the heat. This made trying to get those beautiful princess seam lines of the bodice to lay flat rather tricky. However, it does have the perfect amount of body and weight for this style of dress though and I love how that front overlap with the little pleats drapes. 

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

If you're thinking about making this or another dress in a similar style I think it could work in a wide variety of fabrics but different weights and drapes will produce an entirely different effect. I'd like to experiment with making this skirt up in something with a crisper hand to exaggerate the skirt shape. One thing I would recommend is not using anything too bulky for the bodice as the clean lined finish is achieved by turning it out to the right side through the straps and I found it a fairly tight squeeze just in this mid-weight crepe. I heavily graded down the seam allowances to help reduce the bulk and I think choosing a super lightweight lining like a silk habotai would balance out the use of a thicker main fabric.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

Construction wise it's pretty much a breeze to sew up and following the instructions directly gives you a nice professional finish as they include lots of little details and reminders such as when to stay-stitch or under stitch and to finish the back seam before inserting the zip. The bodice is lined with a fairly minimal amount of hand stitching. The only thing I did differently was to stitch my lining along the invisible zip using my regular zip foot (which is a trick I first discovered when sewing up Sewaholic's Cambie Dress) rather than slip stitching by hand from the right side.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

Next time I make this bodice I'd like to try adding stay/twill tape to the seam allowances of the neckline, cutting the tape slightly shorter and easing it in. This is a tip I picked up from Lladybird's version of the Georgia Dress and it helps keep that top edge sitting flat against the body. As it is this version's neckline is gaping just a little, despite the stay stitching to prevent it stretching out. This would probably be slightly less of an issue with the straight view A neckline.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress
Understitched Neckline

I used the recommended 1/2" turn twice for the hem but found that to be a little wide to achieve a nice flat finish on such a steep curve. It worked out ok with a heavy press but next time I'd be tempted to trim down the length a little and do a rolled hem or a narrower turn depending on what fabric I was using. You use the stay stitching of those curved front edges as a guide for turning up your hem, which is great as the stitching line helps to ease that slightly longer raw edge in.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Black Crepe By Hand London Kim Dress

For me this is another absolute gem of a dress pattern and another one which I can see working to mix and match with elements of their other designs to create some amazing outfits! The Kim Dress is set for release by the end of this month so there isn't long to wait if you've got your eye on sewing it up for Christmas. O yes...and expect some more completely unpractical, frivolous sewing in the near future as I bought wine red velvet and sequins at the Goldhawk Road meet up at the weekend which is destined to become another Kim! Having never tackled either of these fabrics before I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking but I still can't wait to make it. I'm blaming the excitement of meeting Lauren and the persuasive tactics of Sally!

32 comments:

  1. It looks fabulous on you & the fit is perfect - you've got Christmas party outfits sorted this year. Lovely to meet you at the weekend. x

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    1. Lovely to meet you too! I've been checking out your blog just this afternoon, love your Moneta! I've actually got another one in the works for Christmas parties...I'll have to find another reason to wear this LBD!

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  2. This is gorgeous Fiona! I can't wait to see your red velvet one!

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    1. Neither can I! Fingers crossed I don't make a complete mess of it!

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  3. It's quite a cute style. You look great in it! I think it could be a wardrobe black dress staple for you :)

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    1. Thanks so much! I think this will be a great one to reach for when I have no idea what to wear to a party!

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  4. This came out beautiful! Looks like a perfect holiday dress!

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    1. Thank you! Fingers crossed I'll have plenty of occasions to wear it...or I might have to make some occasions for myself!

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  5. I was convinced by this pattern when I first saw it previewed but this looks beautiful think I may have to rethink.

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    1. O good! It's so lovely to be able to give a different idea of how a pattern could work for someone else. I often like to see a pattern in a few different fabrics and on a few different people before I'm totally sold on getting it

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  6. Gorgeous! That's a LBD classic right there. I just finished mine too, in a somewhat... crazy print. Will be sharing soon!

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    1. I can't wait to see yours Jenny, I saw your sneak peaks of basting the underlining to it the other day and loved the fabric!

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  7. Stunning! I love the way the neckline mirrors the shape of the skirt. Looks great with your gold heels!

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    1. I do love my gold heels! Any excuse to put them on! I hadn't thought of how the neckline worked with the wrap skirt but you're right it does tie in nicely!

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  8. Oh, this is so gorgeous on you! I really love the silhouette. This pattern may end up being my first BHL purchase...

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    1. Go for it Lindsay! They are great dresses, straightforward to sew up and fit and feel super stylish to wear

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  9. Gorgeous! I love the shape of the skirt. Can't wait to see the velvet version, that sounds so luxe! I wish I had time to make one of these up before christmas party season, but I dont think it would get all the way down to NZ in time...It'll just need to be a summer party dress instead :)

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    1. And it would make a stunning summer party dress! I've got much too long to wait to be able to make one of those though...actually I've just thought of the perfect fabric I have in my stash to make one...some unseasonal sewing may be coming up!

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  10. This pattern really is the perfect party dress. I love your version. Velvet and sequins - can't wait for the next one!

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    1. Me neither! I've done a lot of research but haven't even started cutting yet so wish me luck!

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  11. Looking fab, particularly with the midi length. I really like the little tips that you include in your reviews!

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    1. That is great to know thanks Cat, sometimes I feel as if I may be waffling on to much about tiny little things that no one really wants to read! I'm pleased with the length on this yes..although I umped and ahhed about shortening it slightly like I usually do!

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  12. Wowee, it's the perfect LBD! I can't wait to see your velvet and sequins version! I also can't wait for my pattern to arrive...

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    1. Has it got to you yet?! Looking forward to seeing what you make with yours! I feel like I could sew LBD's all the time and still never have enough!

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  13. Beautiful. I always love everything you make!

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  14. This is so lovely! I never pick up black fabric, but this is so elegant and lovely! It will be nice to have such a pretty LBD in your closet! Wine velvet and sequins sounds amazing, too... really excited to see that!

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Sonja, I used to wear so much black but hardly ever sew anything in it because I never buy it. I've been on a bit of a black fabric spree recently though in the hope that it means I make some things I wear all the time!

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  15. Kim looks lovely on you - the perfect LBD for a cocktail party.

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    1. Thank you! Yes I'm hoping it will become a reliable little party dress!

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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!