FLORA Nightshade, By Hand London – the PM edition

Hello Flora Nightshade, the new By Hand London dress pattern – and some amazing fabric courtesy of Tessuti Fabrics (thank you very much!). Colette at Tessuti sent me images of a range of options – and I just immediately fell in love with this strong & striking blue/black classic print.

It’s an amazing cotton sateen with a satin finish… and I just adore black and blue together, possibly my all-time favourite combination.

While predominantly dark, the repeat does have a small amount of white – I chose to use this in the bodice and keep the skirt dark and dramatic.

BY Hand London Flora Dress - wrap bodice version

Do I take my shoes off at every opportunity? ummm… yes… oh course I trimmed just that little too much off the lining hem and now need to attach some bias tape to the hem to hide the reverse of the fabric. SewIdiotLizzy

BY Hand London Flora Dress - wrap bodice version

Back view – I moved the zip to the underarm so I didn’t have to break up that lovely print

BY Hand London Flora Dress - wrap bodice version

Just proving that sometimes I do wear shoes…

By Hand London Flora Dress - wrap bodice version

Just love this shot – even if it is blown out. It’s so soft in comparison to the other images

Pattern Modifications

  • I lined the skirt
  • I added elastic to the warp bodice edges
  • I moved the zip to the underarm so I didn’t disrupt that beautiful pattern.

Hem Alert

Please be aware that I am not particularly tall. People are often (politely) surprised when they meet me. I’m a very unimpressive 5 foot 4. I make the smallest size in By Hand London patterns (US 2 / UK 6). So I’m not just short but also have a very small frame – yes, at some point I forgot to grow in all directions – sorry about that. This skirt is quite short at the front. If you are a leggier lass than me, you might like to consider that when cutting your fabric.

Fabric Choices

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again… you need WIDE fabric. This fabric was certainly wide enough… except the pattern repeat wasn’t quite centred… so it was either have an off-kilter pattern repeat… which would have been terribly obvious in such a strong and striking print… or centre the print and find a solution.

I was bamboozled for a while… rather than decrease the volume of the skirt, I cut as much of the skirt pieces as I could – which left a triangular wedge at each side of the dress. This needed to be filled – so I cut wedges from the remaining fabric and sewed them into the side of the skirt… see if you can spot them in the above photos!

Even I find the wedges hard to spot – one is directly below my hand in the side shot above.

The wrap bodice

I was concerned about the slight bodice gaping with the Flora AM version.

After some investigation I tried something new *faints*.

I studied Couture Sewing Techniques: Revised and Updated by Claire Shaeffer and came across a technique to prevent necklines from gaping using elastic.

While Shaeffer has you create a tunnel with herringbone stitches along the inside of the neckline which you then thread the elastic through, I was bamboozled as to whether these were in the inside or outside of the lining.

In the end I created my own little technique – well at least I haven’t seen it elsewhere.
After attaching the lining to the front wrap pieces, I then understitched the lining. Then I sewed another line of stitching in the seam allowance, in effect creating a tunnel running alongside the line of understitching. I threaded some narrow flat elastic through this. I secured the top end in the seam allowance. I let the elastic relax and then gently pulled about an inch out at the bottom end and secured it to the seam allowance.

This is no way gathers up the wrap edge but does create a slight tension which helps the bodice sit more firmly against your chest.

Do not gather the elastic up excessively or you will end up with a puckered bodice edge. I dunno that might be the look you are after – but I dare say not.

I don’t think this is a solution if the neckline is gaping massively – it just helps it sit firmer against your chest. I did find taking in the back by straightening up the centre back seam helped the front bodice fit enormously.

Is that clear enough? Or do you need pictures?

Pattern: Flora, By Hand London
Fabric: Cotton Sateen with a satin finish, Tessuti Fabrics

Also see: Dolly Clackett | Gingermakes | Jolies Bobines | Diary of a Chainstitcher | A Stitching Odyssey | Dixie DIY | Nette | Lladybird | Zo Sews

I took this for you Little Stone Cottage

Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie

Lighthouse Beach, Port Macquarie

and this one is for you Begonia Sews


Kookaburra… this one is for your Begonia Sews!

110 thoughts on “FLORA Nightshade, By Hand London – the PM edition

  1. What a gorgeous dress! There is nothing wrong with being petite! I’m 5′ 1 so mini skirt/dress patterns are a generous length on me! The fabric for this dress is so beautiful. You did an amazing job with the pattern.

    • Thank you so much, I was a little nervous as it was much stronger design than I usually wear. Always good to try something new!
      So many people have the impression that I’m dramatically taller than I am. I often see them do a double take when they meet me in ‘real life’.

  2. Just beautiful. I’m well impressed by the lovely front wrap and the fact it doesn’t gape at all. If you have the time, I’d love to see pics if the process you used to eliminate gaping. The instructions are great though.

    Love the kookaburra pic, I really miss the sound of the Aussie birdlife.

  3. Wit woo! Another stunner! You are really knocking it out of the ballpark at the moment, lady!
    I actually think this length is perfect on you, some others I’ve seen have been dangerously short.
    Great tip on the elastic too, thanks!

    • There is an upside to lack of vertical prowess, few things are too short!
      I’ve got some simpler things in the pipeline – I needed some ‘downtime’ to just relax & sew. This project & fabric rather terrified me!

    • Thank you Amanda! I’m so grateful to Tessuti for providing something so brilliant – when they sent through the options I fainted when I saw this one. Love a bit of drama!

  4. Oooh, that fabric is gorgeous! I love how you faded it with white on the bodice to black on the skirt. Looks so dramatic. And, triangle wedges??? Brilliant. I can’t see them, must’ve taken hours to get just right? I have directional and repeating challis fabric like this and I’m afraid to cut into it. So many aspects to line up, center and match. I’m just not sure what to sew with it.

  5. That is a stunner! I LOVE the pattern placement at the back of the skirt and the beautiful way it drapes into those puuurfect little folds. Gorgeous.

  6. Beautiful – and I totally understand the lust for the fabric – perfectly utilised! Thanks for the elastic bodice tip – I think it’s the answer I’ve been seeking, at least it’s much more intuitive than anything else I’ve read or tried.
    Again, gorgeous 😉

  7. Absurdly gorgeous. This is a beautiful shape on you and the fabric, with the light on top and darker bottom, just makes it!
    Will hit you up for more tips re neckline when I get around to flora. I managed to miss out on the bust inches when I was in line for measurements 😉.
    Thanks for the lighthouse shot. Makes me so so homesick on this grey day. Can’t wait to get home xxx

    • thanks Jane – I was terrified mid-make that is was going to overwhelm me – which stopped me in my tracks for a few days as I worried about it. Glad to stuck with it though. The fabric is just outta this world.

    • The fabric is just amazing. As soon as I saw the line drawings I knew I wanted a dark and dramatic Flora – which is interesting as everyone else has gone for light and pretty! I must be the black sheep!

  8. How beautiful! ! LOVE The material and print! As for those triangular pieces, if you hadn’t mentioned them I wouldn’t have seen them.. I had to zoom in big time to see where they were. 🙂

    • I worried about the skirt for days and just could bare to use it off centre. I actually hand stitched the panels in – with the fabric flat on my ironing board. The extra time was worth it!

  9. That dress looks stunning! Lovely fabric and very smart cutting (the white in the bodice and the black in the skirt is absolutely perfect!)

  10. That print is amazing! I love that you kept it light on top, so dramatic! Thanks for the elastic tip! I steer clear of wrap bodices for this very reason, even though they’re so pretty…

  11. This print is INCREDIBLE! What a stunning idea to use the white/blue for the bodice and let the colour gradation to the black/blue occur! Absolutely beautiful! I’m in LOVE with this dress. I’m already obsessed with this pattern – now this fabric!

  12. I love this version! I always like a wrap. If autumn wasn’t showing its presence I would make this. Oh well, maybe next summer! For the record I am 160cm tall or 5ft 3″! I have also been told on my blog that I look taller.

  13. So beautiful. Love the gradation effect. I’m seeing too many Floras that I want to downright copy/steal, but I have too many unsewn projects already.

    Please tell me that kookaburra is in a old gum tree. Even if it isn’t.

  14. Beautiful dress. I think I saw sneak peeks of it on Instagram, but I’m not sure.

    Great idea about the neckline elastic. I’m thinking about what I would have done and want to ask you why you didn’t do it. If it were me, I would have inserted the elastic in the tunnel (cut 1″inch shorter), and the stitched it down using a zigzag stitch so that the extra was evenly distributed through the entire neckline. Is there any reason why you didn’t do this?

    I’ve done this same trick, but I used gathering stitches and steam to eliminate gaping.

  15. AAAAHHH a kookaburra!!! He is so cute! Thank you! But not as inspiring as this version of Flora – I adore that fabric. The fit looks spot on in this version as well, and your piecing efforts are invisible. Nice work!

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  17. You version of this dress is really beautiful! i’m itching to get my copy of the pattern in the mail. Seeing gorgeous renditions like this makes me really eager to sew!

    • I think the fabric’s body & the lining really give the mullet that bit more pizazz – makes it look more elegant. Plus I think the moodiness of the fabric makes it look more night-time elegant than ‘sunshine party girl’

  18. This fabric is so stunning!! No wonder you fell in love with it!! I really love this on you – it’s 100% your style – so feminine and graceful, and totally perfect without (or with!) shoes 🙂

  19. I really love this wrap version of the dress. I think that’s the one I’ll try too.
    I used that elastic technique you used for the bodice on the back of one of my Elisalex dresses that refused to sit flat without it

  20. This dress is amazing! I love the fabric and I think the placement is brilliant. Thank you for the tips on how to handle elastic in the bodice, since gaping is not something I’d want in that area 🙂 I’m almost 5’3, so seeing the length of the skirt on you is really helpfull! (I also thought you were a glamazone!)

  21. wow. what an amazing creation – you make the most spectacularly gorgeous things, and i love your finishing… My aunt (who was an adult during WWII) was an amazing seamstress, and what you did with your skirt was what she used to do whenever a fabric wasn’t wide enough – in fact, most of my patterns from the 30s with flowy skirts have patterns for the jointed bit. and she used to put hidden elastic in almost the same way you did in strapless tops, even bustiers, wrap dresses, etc – with just a little bit of tension so that no gathers are created. So you have invented/ unknowingly used vintage techniques. Isn’t that cool? Feel the connection…

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