Sunday, 16 February 2014

Finished Project & Pattern Review: By Hand London 'Georgia', Valentines Day Sewalong.

I participated in my first ever sewalong, YAY! 

The Georgia sewalong couldn't have come at a better time. I was planning on making a Georgia for my friend's wedding.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up when BHL announced that the dress would be finished in time for Valentines Day. 
I didn't think I could get the fitting on a dress like Georgia right and have the dress finished in 18 days, no way!! But yesssss way I did. 

Surprisingly the only adjustments I needed to make was a sway back adjustment and small bust adjustment (SBA) because the difference between my 'high bust' and 'full bust' was "up to 1 inch smaller" - read this tutorial from BHL to work out if you need a SBA or FBA or no BA! 

Turns out I'm an A-cup in the pattern world. 

The muslin only took two x's two hours sessions to put together. A SBA was done on the pattern, and sway back adjustment done after I tried on the muslin. 

The dress took about five x's 2-3 hours sessions. I broke it down to:
  • cutting out fabric and interfacing
  • putting together bodice, putting together skirt, straps
  • joining bodice and skirt (I then had about 3 days break to figure out how to join the skirt and bodice at the centre back where that "Y" looking seam was)
  • invisible zipper and hem
  • finishing touches - the bust padding (last minute decision) and handsewing the lining

It's amazing how much sewing I can get done when I plan my week and block out days for sewing rather than just sewing "when I have time".

The pattern is rated "intermediate".
The difficulties I faced with this pattern was definitely with joining the curved seams. It reminded me of when I first started sewing and I had to join capped sleeves to the V8469 dress and it took me 6 hours. 

My muslin was a shocker! The front of the skirt was puckers galore. I found that snipping into the SA on the less curvy skirt piece (no more than 10mm/1cm) helped spread the fabric out or something. It worked a treat and when I unpicked and restitched my muslin, there was no puckering.

Experienced sewers wouldn't need to do this.
I haven't in the past, but this time around I struggled with the curved seams!
LEFT SEAM: clipped into the SA
RIGHT SEAM: puckering when I stitched without clipping into the SA
 My other struggle was joining the centre back bodice with the centre back skirt. I could not for the life of me figure it out. I was so frustrated, thoughts of screaming and tearing up my Georgia went through my mind. I decided to put the dress down, take the measuring tape off from around my neck and sleep on it for the weekend.

What the hellllllll!! Why can't I figure it out?!?!
On Monday night, refreshed from a weekend of birthday feasting and gallivanting around at St Kilda Festival covered in SPF50, I sat down with Georgia, calmly drew the seam lines on both the bodice and the skirt and somehow I managed to join the two together. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough. Sewalong #7 was posted on BHL blog after I finished the dress, I'll definitely refer to it next time I make Georgia.

I then put in my invisible zipper and hemmed the skirt. The hem is very skinny - just overlocked and turned it up once and stitched, the skirt was already the perfect length for me.

The invisible zipper on Georgia is the best I've ever inserted! It went in the first time with no issues. Guess what, the needle position on the sewing machine can move, who would have thought! Discovered this when I was reading the manual for my new computerised Janome (didn't know how to change the stitch length, lol, such a newb!)

I finished my Georgia three days before Valentines Day, but I wasn't happy with how the bodice sat against my chest, it was kind of warped and gapey - either I had stretched it out while trying to join the skirt and bodice, or the interfacing worked against me and stiffened the fabric too much, or I needed a chest adjustment of some sort.

Take a dart out next time?

It was time for a quick fix since I was not prepared to do any more unpicking. 

I cut out the front bodice pieces in cotton batting (no SA) joined them using butted seams and made padding for the bust. I made bust padding for my strapless maxi dress last year, post here with links to tutorials. This time I made two layers of padding for extra shaping :)

After the bust padding was stitched on to the lining by hand, I overlocked the raw edge of the lining and blind stitched it down. 

Pattern reviewBy Hand London, Georgia

Size: 2/6 bust, 6/10 waist, 2/6 hips

Fabric: 2m printed cotton from my stash, probably not the best choice as there was no stretch and it's quite soft. But I love the cherry print! 

Notions: Gutermann thread (000), 16" invisible zipper, 0.5m cotton batting, 0.5m whisperweft interfacing for the bodice pieces - I knew that I would be playing around with the bust pieces a lot and didn't want any stretching to happen.

Pattern Modification/Adjustments: small bust adjustment, sway back adjustment, padded out the bust.

I have to investigate why there was a weird gape/stretch on the bodice, the centre didn't sit against my chest. Not sure if I need to adjust the bust (hollow chest adjustment perhaps) to get rid of the gape at the neckline? I'd rather not have to pad the bust out again.

There is some excess fabric at the centre back which poofs out. I don't know if it's because the cotton I used has no weight to sit against my body, or if the sway back adjustment inadvertently added more fabric to the area? The muslin fit perfect over my centre back, hips and but, so I might eliminate the sway back adjustment from the next Georgia and see how that goes.

What I learnt: 
  • I learnt how to do a small bust adjustment, thank you BHL for the easy to understand tutorial.
  • I learnt that the needle on my machine can move!! Installing the invisible zipper was a dream, went in right the first time. 

What I love about the pattern:
  • This pattern is so darn sexy! For something that has a fitted and sleek silhouette, it's actually simple to put together and easy to get the fit perfect.
  • Love the zipper being on the side, different from all my other dresses.
  • Love the skinny straps - sexy and supportive.

What I didn't love about the pattern: I love everything about this pattern. The first fitted dress that has fit me nicely!

Cost: cotton $15, zipper $5, whisperweft interfacing $5, padding $5

Hours: Lucky I documented my life my Georgia journey on Twitter. Muslin was cut out on 3rd Feb. Dress fabric cut out on 7th Feb. Can't remember the exact hrs, my guess would be about 12 hrs, give or take. 

Completed on: Wednesday 12th February 2014.

What did you girls get up to on VDay? Did you celebrate with your man? Did you get flowers from a secret admirer? But most importantly...

Did you make a Valentines Day dress? :) 


  1. Woohoo! It looks great :D What cute fabric, and I'm jealous of your fit ;)
    Thanks for all your details on it :)
    I don't think you should remove the sway back, as that removed excess length. It looks like this problem is excess WIDTH instead? So perhaps you can just scoop the princess seams in the back inwards a bit more?
    As for the bust, yeah, I have found that sometimes garments gape more than the muslin does. I think it's the extra layers of fabric that make it stand out against the body more. I would just pinch in the bust princess seams a bit at the top, hope that makes sense?
    Your bust padding was a great idea though! :D

    p.s We are Valentines Day food twins, I had soft shell crab too! Deliciousssss haha

    1. I love soft shell crab!! Nom!!!!
      I think I effed up the sway back adjustment, because I looked at the pattern piece today the centre back seam was not straight, so when I cut out the centre back skirt I think I did add some fabric back in when I was trying to straighten up the CB. Even tough the CB was shortened, I added a pool of fabric in :/

    2. I'll send you a pic of my recent princess seam alteration on Twitter. It should keep CB straight :) mine is adding length so just do the reverse.

  2. Oh yeah, and as you know, yes I DID make a V-Day dress and it was a success too... Yessss. Wish it was cherry print though heh!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Jo! I love the cherry print, wish it was cotton sateen rather than cotton, probably would have sat better and less wrinkles :)

  4. So stunning and so very impressed! Great photos. This dress is perfect for you.

    1. Thanks Nissa, I'l let my BF know that his photo skills are good, so he has to take all my blog pics hehe

  5. Woo hoo! I'm still struggling with bodice fit on mine. I think I need to cut another size smaller (already did once!), and do a FBA. The cups fit ok, but there is like 2-3 extra inches in the back. I just worry about getting it back up to my regular sze for the waist and hips....

    1. Just a thought - what would happen if you cut a smaller size at the back... and you regular size at the front..... hrm! Can't wait to see yours!!!

  6. This is so gorgeous! It looks beautiful on you! I'm not into roses or flowers or that sort of thing, but I still like to do something fun on Valentine's Day, so we went to the Museum of Modern Art and had burgers at our favorite hole-in-the-wall. :) I didn't have time to make a special dress, although I wish I had made a sexy Georgia dress!

    1. MOMA!! That's awesome!! Wish we had time to go something fun like that also but we were both stuck at work and Saturday we both had other stuff on. I think I was more excited about Valentines day (more than most people) because I had a dress to wear haha.

  7. Oooh, it is sexy isn"t it? I love the cherry fabric you chose, it makes it so fun! And, I have the same problem with bodice fitting (at least for a fitted/tight bodice) they never fit properly in the chest. I tried to look up the link for the BHL tutorial for the SBA but it did not work, it said no file could be found. Is this the tutorial you used to do the SBA? I'm trying to find a good one that I can use for a variety of bodices.

    1. Hrm that's so strange!! The BHL website also looks different!! I found the SBA tutorial, try this URL :

      I'll update the link on my blog post too, thanks for letting me know hun!!

      I'm working on my second Georgia now, skirt is done, going to work on the bodice tonight, I'll see if the fabric I'm using for the second one will make a different to the fit.... luckily I have extra fabric should I need to recut the bodice out :)

  8. Hi! What a beautiful dress! You are doing a really terrific job! What I noticed from the photos is that your right shoulder is lower than your left. This may be causing you to have some gaping in other places on the dress. Maybe you should try a smaller bust size? Also, maybe not in this dress, but in an earlier dress you made, your waist seam is still riding up in the front. Perhaps if you tried making the front of your bodice a bit longer than the back of the bodice? Your posts are helping me a lot. Do keep up the good work! You are doing a wonderful job!

    1. Hi Kathie!! Yes lately I've noticed in photos that one shoulder is lower than the other, looks awful!!! I'm guessing its from years of carrying my hand bag on my right shoulder, so the right one perks up more :(
      I know the dress you're talking about - is it my spotty rayon Anna? That one does rise at the front, even though I used the same pattern that I altered, I did add 2cm or so in the front bodice, but yeah still a little rise happening there.
      For Georgia, I've cut the smallest bust size already (2/6). I've taken out a 3cm wedge on each bust cup of my current Georgia that I'v working on and now it's fitting nicely :)

  9. Wow - what a cute dress! I've been following the sew-along (although not taking part) and you've made a totally gorgeous version! I love the fabric and it really suits you.

    1. Thanks Katy :) the sewalong has been great, the BHL girls really have cool sewing tips!!

  10. eh neeno!! shake dat cherry bombed perfectly fitted ass!!


    love the addition of cotton batting, i've gotta add that next time (which might be very soon :)

    1. Heheheheh thanks Oona!! If you think my ass looks perfectly fitted here, wait till you see my rayon version of Georgia!! I tried it on last night... wow!! Even I was impressed!!

  11. Looks wonderful! And a cherry print is just icing on the cake!!

  12. LOVE IT! Love the print, love the cut, just love love love it!

  13. Beautiful dress. I think I've said it before but there aren't that many young sewers who focus on fit and proper finishing of their well done on all points.

    1. Hi Gail!! Every day I am learning something new about my body and adjustments. It feels great when the finished garment fits nicely, love the feeling of accomplishment :) Thank you for your encouragement :)

  14. Oh this is such a beautiful dress, I love it! I would have totally used that gorgeous cherry print fabric too, despite it not being a stretch fabric, it looks fab! Thanks also for the fitting tips and shallow chest adjustment, I'll be using them when I make my Georgia dress in the spring. x

    1. Hey Jane!! I hope the shallow adjustment will help :) Georgia is such a beautiful pattern, can't wait to see yours.


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