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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Old throw, new skirt

wool check skirtThe sun came out today. And the sky was blue. But it turned out to be a big trick and it was still bloomin’ freezing! But hey! Still managed to make good use of that light . . . in our ‘local’!

The ladies at the Thatched House were very accommodating and made us some lovely coffee. It was a genius plan.

wearing check skirt drinking coffee

The skirt is indeed made from an old throw that I got from and Oxfam shop a couple of months ago. I wasn’t sure if it would translate into a skirt because of its ‘blankety’ nature. But it turns out that it was completely the right move and I now have the warmest legs in town!

wool check skirt standing

I think originally it might have come from one of those touristy shops in Regent Street. It’s 100% wool for sure.

wool labelAnd even better still, there is just enough left to make a little vintage jacket (when I get a mo). Not bad for about £4!

check skirt sitting down

The pattern for the skirt is self-drafted and constructed pretty much the same as the black pencil skirt I made here, but I added a little to the length and hand picked the zipper. Although it was cut from the same pattern, it is noticeably larger and I think that is due to the nature of the fabric. It has a lot of give which was great for matching the checks but not so good at being the right size. Could easily have lost an inch from round the waist. Hey ho… lesson learned!

check wool skirt by the fireplace

What I did do, this time round was to document how I lined the vent. Now bear with! This might not be the clearest tute but I’m hoping it will give half a clue at least!

Prepare the back section of the skirt:
Sew the darts, iron fusible interfacing to the vent. Sew the back seam from the end point of the zipper opening to the top of the vent, pivoting at the corner and finishing about a cm before the edge (as shown). Clip into the corner. Insert the zipper by hand or machine.

back of skirt unlinedCut your lining the same as your back skirt pieces but add a bit of extra ease at the side seams. On one of the pieces, invert the vent shape by folding over the extended part along the centre back seam and then cut round it but give yourself about a centimetre extra at the top of the vent. So, for example the extended vent piece on the left will be a cm taller than the removed piece on the right. Sorry, I knew I was going to be bad at this!

lining piecesLay your pieces on top of the wrong side of your skirt as below. Hopefully it will make more sense. You might want to give them a bit of a press too! :-/

lining pieces laid out

Now take the right hand lining piece and flip it over onto the left side and pin down the centre seam. (See image below.)

lining pinned

Next, you need to sew from the bottom of the zipper opening, down to the red point as marked above.

Now, flip it back over so that the wrong sides of the lining are facing the wrong sides of your main fabric. You will begin to see how the vent lining fits now.

lining face downThe next part doesn’t translate visually well. So I will try to explain. You need to flip the lining back over again and pin the extended vent section of the lining to the corresponding piece of the main fabric, right sides together. Don’t pin through both vent sections. Just the top one.

pin vent lining to ventSew the topmost vent to the lining from the point where the vent seam ends at the top, straight down to the bottom.

sew ventWhen you flip the lining back over you will see it begin to take shape.

left vent sewn

Now, I’m not sure the following image is very useful, but basically what you need to do is attach the lining to the remaining vent piece. Again, right sides together, pin down the edges.

pin remaining vent edgeNow sew straight down from the white chalk dot as shown above. And clip all corners of lining as you will need to manipulate them to sit flat.

clip all corners of liningTwist the top part of the vent lining to sit flat and in line with the top of the vent. Make sure the matching piece on the other side is lined up too. Now pinch all layers together and pin securely:

pin top of ventStitch from the endpoints of your seams, through all layers of the vent section. When you turn it back over and give it a good old press, you should have something like this:

completed vent liningYou can see that mine is far from perfect. It really is a bit fiddly but it will undoubtedly improve with practice and patience.

So there you have it. Sorry that the photos are so confusing. It doesn’t help that the fabric is mostly black! I do hope it helps a little to demystify the process though.

Mr Ooobop is doing a fine job of schmoozing with the brides- and grooms-to-be  at Bluewater Wedding Fair this evening, to promote his band, The Redfords. I am immensely proud of him and so grateful for all the lovely photos he takes for me. It really is about time I made something else for him. It will come as no surprise to him that I am going to try a waistcoat. I say that because he has been giving me puppy dog eyes for soooo long and I can’t bear it any more!

I’ll leave you with a couple more shots from today. Night all x

check skirt standing

check wool skirt

ooobop thatched house