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.
- 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.
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.
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?
I took this for you Little Stone Cottage…
and this one is for you Begonia Sews…