Monday, 8 September 2014

Finished Project & Pattern Review: By Hand London 'Flora' for Frocktails, Melbourne edition.


Similar to my last few "relationships"; this dress was anxiety ridden, hard work, and close to being set on fire.

However, unlike my last few exes (who would set themselves on fire cos they are that dysfunctional and self destructive) Flora was worth saving, worth the effort, worth sticking around for.

I started Flora back in July, planned to finish to wear to Cicilia and Herbert's Wedding, but I bailed on Flora due to some issues. Ended up making something else the night before, post here.

Sloping waist seam. Bane of my existence!
How could such tragedy happen to a dress this beautiful. Sigh.

Was I drunk during the whole sewing process?? I mean, I had some "low calorie, low alcohol" (why even make such a drink... only bought it cos the bottle-shop threw it in for $5 when I cleaned up on wine and vodka) white wine on the night I was cutting the fabric, but I was not even tipsy.

My guesses are:

- Stuffed up the waist line when I graded pattern from size 2/6 bust to size 4/8 waist

- Fabric stretched during construction

Lesson here is always stay-stitch; and avoid low calorie, low alcohol wine - tastes like Moscato, yuk.

I did make a toile of the bodice using calico (muslin) to check the fit of the bust, but even if I attached the skirt I might not have had the sloping waist seam cos calico doesn't stretch like cotton sateen.
I would have picked up on the "dipping" waist seam though, bloody Anna all over again. I'm 100% convinced now that it's a standard adjustment for me, moving forward.

Despite construction spanning over two months, and my issues; the Flora definitely is an easy pattern to put together, suitable for a beginner.

I wasn't entirely sold on the faux-wrap bodice and dipping hem (both design features I avoid on RTW because of bust gaping and "mullet" hem) but after seeing so many stunning dipped hem versions on my Feedly, I pre ordered myself a copy. The pattern also has a tank bodice with high square neckline and regular hem circle skirt. Might give that version a go next time!

This dress is far from perfect. The insides are ugly; edges frayed from hours of unpicking, very dodgy seam allowances; so thank goodness it's fully lined. Out of sight, out of mind.

There was a lot of reactive-quick-fixes; I don't want to go into too much detail, I don't want you being accessories to crimes of bad sewing.

Basically, every time I tried the dress on, there was something fcuked; dress comes off, unpicker come out, furious pinning, swear words, then praying.

Spent a gorgeous Sunday inside with my unpicker.

My issues with the dress:
  • sloping waist seam front
  • the above resulted in a very uneven front hem
  • dipped waist line (like Anna)

The fixing of sloping waist seam was me sitting on my sewing room floor; unpicker in hand, pins in mouth, strategically pinning skirt to bodice, removing the "excess" fabric from bodice by not matching the edges. See pic below. Gawd, such dodgy technique here. Shameful.

The 'right side' of fabric peeking out is the extra SA I took from the bodice front.

After the waist seam was straightened up, the front hem fixed itself. However, the lining stretched so bad; glad I left it hanging for over a month to get all stretched out, bemsilk you are mean.

EDIT: OMG, I just realised why the bemsilk stretched so much. I didn't cut it on the 'straight' because the bemsilk was not wide enough for the skirt pieces. FACEPALM. Okay, that gamble did not pay off. Lesson learnt. Please don't stretch anymore. I'm a fcuking idiot. URGH.

To "fix" the hem, I hung the dress on my mannequin and simply hacked off what was hanging past the hem of the shell. Was not a pretty sight, so much potential for disaster... I then overlocked/serged the lining hem, then handstitched it to the shell.

EDIT: I also fixed the "sloping waist" at the back using the same technique... similar to a sway-back adjustment, I suppose!



Pattern reviewBHL 'Flora'

Size: 2/6 bust, 4/8 waist, 4/8 hips
Fabric: 2.5m cotton sateen, 2.5m lining (sunsilky for the bodice, bemsilk for the skirt)
Notions: 000 Gutermann thread, 22" invisible zipper - could have used a shorter zipper, but had this in the stash

Pattern Modification/Adjustments: 
  • Removed the CB seam from back bodice and back skirt (both pieces CUT ON FOLD)
  • Side zipper
  • Had to trim off some of the circle skirt sides to fit on my fabric
  • Next Flora I need to make adjustments to the bodice. Will check if I need to cut a bigger size then do a SBA, or do a FBA on current size; I feel a little tightness across side-boob/armholes
  • I suppose I did do a swayback adjustment...
What I learnt: 
  • Always stay-stitch
  • Always make a toile
  • Moving forward, will need to make adjustments for my erect posture (or whatever it is that is causing the dipping waist seam) for all patterns
  • Don't try and outsmart fabric, cut on the grain; do the right thing. Fabric stretches, Nee!!
What I love about the pattern: Although I am not a fan of the dipped hem on myself, I do like it on other people. If I was taller or if I used a lighter weight fabric, it might look better on me.

What I didn't love about the pattern:The pattern is great, style of the dress does not suit me as nicely as the Anna and Georgia; I feel dowdy in the dipped hem circle skirt. Next time, might make Flora in cotton voile for a softer, summery feel.

Cost: Cotton sateen $30, lining $20, zip $5
Hours: Lost count. 
Completed on: Sunday 7th September 2014.
First worn: I will wear it this Saturday, 13th September 2014; Frocktails, Melbourne edition.




The dress looks beautiful on the outside; but behind closed doors there was a lot of crying, swearing, wanting to tear her apart, wanting to give up. Like most dysfunctional relationships I guess, haha ;)

Front view, back view.
Removed CB seam on bodice back and skirt back to keep beautiful floral pattern uninterrupted.

I'm very glad I persisted, worked out all the issues cos now I have something handmade to wear to Frocktails (Melbourne) this Saturday night.

Looking forward to having a drink and a feed with all you fabulous Sewcialites this weekend.
Thank you for organizing, Oanh!

To all the ladies attending the Frocktails in Sydney, I am very jelly that I can't be there!

12 comments:

  1. You always have the most beautiful fabrics! The dress looks lovely. The hem may just be something that you need to get used to. Keep up the good work!

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  2. This sounds like a total labour of love- awesome work persevering, Neeno! So bummed I'll miss you in Sydney Frocktails. See you in MEL next year then! :D

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  3. I'm so surprised you don't really like this- I think the dipped hem looks mega cute on you, especially the way you've lined it with black! I never would have known you struggled with this one just looking at the dress. It's so pretty!

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  4. Hello this dress looks cute on you. Is this dipping waist problem at the back of the skirt? If so, you need to do a sway back adjustment. Try your dress on again. Get someone to pin the extra fabric up at the waist so the seam sits straight along your waist. Measure the excess fabric you've pinned up. For me I normally take a 0.5 - 1.0 inch wedge out the back, tapering to nothing at the sides to get the waist seam not to dip. Hope that might help.

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  5. I really like the dipped hem with the black lining poking out, looks great.

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  6. Hi Neeno. The dress looks very pretty. It makes me want to get this pattern. Well BHL patterns are a bit expensive so I am thinking a pattern swap, just temporarily, for a few weeks or shorter. I have sent you an email. Let me know what you think. :)

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  7. Despite the dramas this is one HOT dress! You look amazing.

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  8. I would never have known all the trouble you had with this dress from looking at it, it's gorgeous! I think we are often our own harshest critic. I usually have to fix dipping waist seams too.

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  9. I LOVE take bits of fabric.!!! They are just the cutest!

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