By Hand London // Hawaiian Flora Dress

In an effort to start making a dent in my blog backlog (which currently stands at 24 unblogged makes!), it’s time for another completed post, this time a By Hand London Flora Dress made with some lovely Hawaiian print cotton I bought during a trip to Hawaii back in November last year. You know, this dress might just be my favourite make so far. It gets worn all the time!

Since the weather hasn’t been playing ball recently, today’s post is accompanied by indoor photos. Don’t let yourself be distracted by my face; I still haven’t quite worked out what to do with it! And hands-on-hips is basically the only pose I know.

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By Hand London — Flora  |  £9.00 PDF Pattern

Fabric

I picked up this gorgeous Hawaiian print fabric from Hawaii Fabric Mart (Honolulu, Hawaii). My first visit to the shop was so overwhelming, I didn’t buy anything but was determined to come away with some fabric so forced myself to go back and I’m so glad I did as I discovered this! I’m not sure I can remember quite how much it was, maybe £3 or £4 per metre. It is very soft, lightweight and has a lovely drape. It also has some texture to it, almost like a herringbone.

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Sizing and cutting

With Flora, you can choose a tank or faux-wrap bodice, and a straight hem or dipped hem circle skirt, both pleated. I opted for the tank bodice (variation 2) and the straight hem skirt (variation 1). Or at least, that’s what I thought I did! When tracing off the pattern, I wasn’t paying enough attention and traced the dipped hem cirlce skirt by mistake. I made a toile of the bodice but not the skirt so didn’t notice this until I’d sewn up the dress in my fashion fabric and tried it on for the first time. Oops! I managed to fix this though without too much stress and transferred this to my traced pattern pieces. This probably isn’t perfect so should just retrace the skirt pieces.

In terms of size, I cut a US 6 / UK 10 and made some adjustments:

  • Narrow back adjustment: the back neckline was gaping so I pinched 3cm out of the back bodice piece so a total of 6cm across my back. BHL have an an excellent tutorial for how to fix a gapey or tight back in the Flora sewalong.
  • Gapey front: following the same process, I pinched 1.8cm out of the front so it sat flat across my neck.
  • Front waistline darts: there was a fair bit of excess fabric around the underbust area so on the bodice front, I moved each of the waistline darts out by 1cm to absorb some of the excess fabric. I’m not sure if this was the correct way to do that but it seemed to work.
  • Front skirt knife pleats: to reflect the change in the front waistline darts, I moved the notches for the knife pleats on the front skirt by the same amount to line up.
Pattern instructions

The pattern instructions were very good, and it’s quite a simple make on the whole. Perhaps the only slight more complicated element might be the straps of the tank bodice and encasing them in the lining but the instructions were good at explaining this.

Fitting and alterations

I made no adjustments to the finished garment; all adjustments (above) were made to the pattern pieces prior to cutting.

Finishing

All seams were overlocked. I lined the bodice with white cotton lawn which is lovely and soft. Once again, I was in a bit of a rush so rather than handstitch the lining, I went for stitching-in-the-ditch and catching the lining.

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You can see where my stitch-in-the-ditch has wandered a little, and I actually managed to catch one of the back box pleats which I only noticed a few times after wearing it. You can’t tell from the outside and unpicking it will likely make the hem uneven in this part of the skirt so I have left it.

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I understitched the lining, as far as I could up to the straps. Despite this, the lining at the back armscye is still poking out so perhaps I need to make an adjustment here but since I can’t see it, it doesn’t really bother me.

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The straps are fairly close to the edge of the bodice but I probably could’ve got them a little closer. But again, it really doesn’t bother me.

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Definitely not the best invisible zipper I’ve ever sewn! This probably would’ve laid better with more precise trimming at the corners. But my hair covers this area so again, not a big deal.

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For the hem, I followed the instructions and chose a top-stitched hem, mainly because of time but also because I think you can get away with a visible stitch on this fabric.

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I have managed to pull the fabric along the seam at the bottom of the zip whilst wearing it. I’m not entirely sure how. Probably adding some interfacing behind this part will strengthen it.

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Verdict

Flora is a beautiful pattern which I thoroughly enjoyed sewing! she might just be my favourite pattern. I was immediately sold by the tank bodice (despite wondering whether it might look a bit like an apron or pinafore, but who doesn’t love a pinafore?!). I’m not usually one for the dipped hem look either, but would definitely consider making that version. I’m a big fan of both circle skirts and box pleats, and the drape of this fabric shows them both off incredibly well. I have since made another Flora, exactly the same, but in a navy suiting with small white polka-dots which will hopefully make an appearance on the blog. Next time, I’d like to add belt loops as I do always wear it with a belt.

Working on…

I’ve had a few different projects planned recently but now that I’ve signed up to The Made Up Initiative, the Simplicity 1696 Amazing Fit Trousers have jumped right to the front of the queue! So far, I’ve cut out the pattern pieces but need to trace them off and make a toile. I also need to choose some fabric; I’m thinking crepe, gaberchino or something similar. Any advice?

Now all that’s left to to finish this post off is to include a twirling photo. Naturally!

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Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I purchased all items mentioned myself. All views expressed are my own.

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8 thoughts on “By Hand London // Hawaiian Flora Dress

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