Flora – my new bestie!

Flora dress

I can’t tell you how delighted I was to be asked by the By Hand London girls, to pattern-test for them, back in January. All honoured and everything I was!

The package arrived with goodies galore and a link to my fabric of choice from Ray Stitch. How could I resist this gorgeous Liberty Tana Lawn?!
Liberty Tana Lawn

But hang on a minute. The dress in the pictures doesn’t look at all like this fabric!

Well, you see, I kinda messed up a bit. I was clever enough to make a muslin before I cut into this buttery lawn, but I stupidly pre-empted adjustments that so didn’t need to be made. Three more muslins later with differing versions of the same adjustment, I was fast running out of time. What was I thinking? I rushed through the final version before I’d properly corrected MY mistakes. And I emphasise MY mistakes because By Hand London’s Flora pattern is spot on and when I came to make the one you see in the pictures, I made no adjustments whatsoever save a bit of an increase to the waist. Doh! Me and my meddling!!

Thankfully I still have just enough of the lawn to replace the front bodice and I certainly will do that and post it as soon as I can. I just love this dress soooo much!

Flora dress by hand london

So what is this fabric that isn’t Tana Lawn, then? Well my friends, I should have called this dress the Four Quid Flora because that’s exactly what it is! £1.99/m special dress fabric from Dave the Drapers in Shepherds Bush Market! I had a spare zip and some leftover lining so literally this dress cost me just £4. I can’t vouch for any natural threads going on but do you know what? I really don’t care. It has a sheeeeen! So shiny. It shimmers in the sunshine! And it has body. Enough to hold that beautiful structured shape yet just enough drape to create soft pleats and barely any creases.

flora by hand london dress

The dropped hem is clearly the most striking feature about the skirt section. And so I had to take care to finish it all good and proper. It’s not often your insides are on display to the general public! And hey, another Brucey bonus about this fabric is that the polka dots reproduce beautifully in reverse on the wrong side. Or perhaps it was the right side. Who knows? Dave certainly didn’t!

flora dress by hand london

I must just give a quick shout out to Turners flower shop on Hammersmith Broadway, for kindly letting us shoot outside their pretty shop.

And also add that Mr O was risking life and limb to take these photos. I might have been on the pavement but he was practically lying in the middle of the road. Not ordinarily quiet round this neck of the woods! His dedication knows no bounds!

flora dress

I wholly recommend the Flora dress to anyone. Beginner or advanced. Such little input for such incredible output! And so quick to make… so long as you don’t pre-empt unnecessary adjustments like I did! And boy is it flattering. A lovely vintage style neckline and a full structured skirt. Who could ask for anything more? The first place we stopped at, two ladies commented on how they loved my dress. Ego trip or what?!

flora dress on Hammersmith Bridge

It has been such gorgeous weather in old London Town this week. I’m so loving the brighter mornings and I even got to come home from work in daylight this evening. I feel more energised and ever more ready to get on with some more sewing. I feel a few more Floras coming on for sure.

These last couple of pics were taken on Hammersmith Bridge. My favourite bridge of all the bridges in London. And just so perfect to stroll across at sunset.

flora dress on hammersmith Bridge

Now who remembers the Flora ads? I certainly do! Definitely worth a giggle!


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First summer dress of 2013

What a gorgeous day it was in London today. I couldn’t believe that I actually didn’t need a coat for the first time this year. I can even feel a little after-sun tingle on my skin.

And what perfect timing I might add, to showcase my first summer dress of 2013!

simplicity 2442 dress by Hammersmith BridgeMy Mister and I, along with our trusty assistant, LMO, decided to take a walk over Hammersmith Bridge to take the photos. And to stop for some lovely lunch at The Bridge in Barnes. (highly recommended, I might add!)

Hammersmith Bridge is my favourite bridge of all. A Shame we didn’t get any of it in its entirety but if you Google it, there are a gazillion great pictures of it out there.

simplicity_2442 on hammersmith Bridge

What I didn’t know about it was that there are some ‘viewing benches’ on the bridge itself. Scarily placed right up to the roadside but with such a lovely view of the river. And obvs a great place to take a picture!

simplicity 2442 dress on hammersmith bridgeAmazing how much prettier the Thames looks when there’s a bit of sunshine!

simplicity 2442 bodice section

simplicity 2442 on hammersmith bridge

From Hammersmith Bridge Mr Ooobop insisted we take some shots in the Launderette. Not the most glamourous of locations but I’m so happy that it helped to project the vintage feel of the dress.

vintage style summer dress in the launderette

The dress itself is half derived from Simplicity 2442. I used this pattern for the bodice section:

simplicity 2442 patternI was the lucky recipient of this, plus a whole bunch of other goodies from Sew Magazine when I won Star Letter, back in October 2011. You can see the generous prize haul here.

I did have my doubts concerning gaping necklines and dodgy pleat placements but all it took to get over the fear was one toile, which also helped to reassure that it wasn’t going to take too long to whip up either. I can’t say exactly how long it took because I have been sewing in such little bursts over the last few weeks, in between shed loads of work.

I love the crossover straps at the back but I must find me a decent strapless bra. I’ve just tucked in the straps of my regular bra so they don’t show. But there was a going concern that it would end up round my waist at one point!

vintage summer dress front and back

This pic is Mr O’s fave. Personally I think I look a little psychotic!

vintage style floral dress in the launderette

After much deliberation, mostly on Twitter, I decided to add a dirndl skirt to the bodice. I didn’t like how the suggested skirt was neither full nor straight. I felt it wasn’t extreme enough for the fabric I’d chosen or the vintage vibe that I wanted. I considered a circle skirt and nearly went for that, fearing too much bulk around my waist but I needed more than 3m to achieve that.

vintage floral dress in the launderette

A dirndl still gives a great shape. I think you just have to make sure that the bodice is not too long otherwise the fullness sits over the belly and that’s not a good look on anyone!

vintage floral dress with dirndl skirt

ooobop vintage floral summer dress

I lined the whole dress in red. I wasn’t going to line the skirt section at first but I remembered how, as full as skirts are, if they are made of cotton they cling like Billy-o to your tights! I also added a bit of ease in the depth of the midriff lining to prevent the outer fabric of the midriff from puckering.

dress lining

I also took great care in under-stitching the lining on the bodice top edge so it didn’t peek out.

under-stitching

I’m so happy with how this dress turned out. The bodice fits and feels great. Can’t wait to try with a circle skirt and perhaps even a long evening dress in some silk velvet? As if my list isn’t long enough!!

back view of summer dress

I can’t possibly round off this post without a shout out to the amazing Dolly Clacket. She without doubt has been a massive inspiration whilst I’ve been dreaming up this dress. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing her wonderful 50s style tea dresses, hop over and have an oggle. They are gorgeous!