Working for Flora

So, I’m sure you are more than aware that By Hand London launched their latest pattern last week, the Flora dress.  Oh, my.  Isn’t she an absolute show stopper?!  I’ve loved seeing all the tester versions across some of my favourite blogs.  And seriously is there anyone on this planet who, if asked, would turn the BHL girls down?!  And having seen some of the care packages they sent out to their testers, wow!  The BHL girls know how to look after their pattern testers!

She has a fitted bodice and full skirt that I love, but with a twist.  I love the faux wrap top and whilst I have always, always been wary of a mullet hem, this dress has converted me and I want one NOW!  But, I’ve made myself a promise to get fit and as an incentive for each fortnight I complete my 30 minute bike workout, I can buy myself a present.  Flora is going to be my first present.  I’ll tell you this, it makes me want to get on that bike and work!

In in the interim (when I’m not telling myself, xx minutes until it goes to an easier resistance, or xx minutes to go) I’ve been dreaming about which fabric I’m going to make her in.  And then Amy, who blogs at Almond Rock,posted an Instagram picture of a fabric at Textile Express and I was sold. I’d never come across this retailer before but I know Amy has used them on a number of occasions so I jumped in and bought the fabric (and some floral jersey too – well if you’re paying £6 P&P you might as well get your money’s worth!).


It’s just perfect, Navy, floral and a lawn.  It’s going to drape beautifully and I may be a little bit in love!

If you want any inspiration though, just look at Lizzy’s TWO versions (AM and Nightshade which is a knockout), Sonja’s vibrant beauty, Dixie’s classic interpretation, Roisin’s use of a fabulous print, Marie’s classic beauty, Fiona’s Pretty in Pink version, Lauren’s vibrant summer dress, Zoe’s chic monochrome number, Nette’s vibrant red dress and Emily who selflessly made the dress for her sister!  If these incredible pattern test versions don’t get you wanting to get behind your machine and make your own version in very short order, I don’t know what will!

This Is MY Pattern; It’s Got My Name On It!

The Victoria Blazer, of course.  Not named for me but I can dream, right?  I mean who wouldn’t want to be one of the By Hand London girls?!  I bought this pattern  on the way home from the Goldhawk Road meet-up in August and all the fabric for this project came from that venerable street of fabric retailers although I only paid for the lining!  I also made this in August and am still catching up with all the garments I’ve made and want to share with you!

Victoria 2

Now before you start to panic that I pilfered my way from one end of the road to the other I have one word for you: Swap.  I have never experienced anything like it in all my life.  Seriously, there was so much gorgeous fabric needing a new home!  Everything from Liberty Lawn to mystery vintage synthetics, miles of jersey, notions, patterns…  It was somewhat overwhelming!

So I hung back and didn’t lunge for the table, I just let everyone else do their thing and then had a look to see whether there was anything I wanted.  I picked up two pieces, some navy cotton drill / twill and a mystery fibre tiny houndstooth.

The navy twill / drill became my blazer.

I’d actually bought the lining earlier in the day whilst Roisin was still with us as I’d seen it in one of the shops (on the same side of the tube station) and as I knew she’d already made the cropped version which was also my plan I sought her expertise on the amount needed.  1m was advised and it was perfect and I think the fabric was only 45″ wide.

So this little jacket cost me the price of the pattern and £5 on some sort of cotton blend brocade in cerise and blue and a thank you to whoever brought that navy fabric to the swap!


I love this little jacket and whilst I didn’t line the sleeves like Sonja I did slipstitch the lining to the armhole seam, enclosing all the raw edges.  I also used one of the lovely labels that come with the By Hand London patterns; for some reason I guard these things and this is the first one I’ve used despite now having made four iterations of BHL patterns!

I’m seriously considering a longer length one but with similar mods to the shape that Jane has made, isn’t it delicious?

And I also have the winners of the Simplicity Give Away!!

Congratulations to Jenni and Tracy who each won the trouser pattern and to Amy and Grace who each won a copy of the dress!  You should each have received an email from me!

Elisa-ish Dress

I’m slowly catching up with all the things I’ve made over the summer!  This dress has earned the status of being ‘precious’ for a number of reasons.

First up, it’s responsible for starting my love affair with By Hand London patterns.  This was my first pattern from those incredibly talented girls and what can I say, that bodice is a dream, a dream I tell you!  I love the scooped neckline and the plunging back and the princess seams.

The second reason is that I wore this dress (having hemmed it the night before using a head torch in bed) to the Goldhawk Road meetup in August.  So this dress was made for a much anticipated event and has a lot of very happy memories attached to it.


The fabric is Michael Miller and is called Rigging from his Ahoy Matey collection.  It’s a gorgeous fabric that just behaves really well and presses beautifully.  Rosin who blogs at Dolly Clackett is also a fan of this range of fabrics and has used this print here and using Ship Shape in the orange colour way here as well Stay the Course here (which I also have in the stash and is destined to be a Belladone, probably next spring now.)

The dress is an Elisa-ish as I chickened out on the tulip skirt.  I’ve got curves as is and I didn’t know if that was a step too far so for this version I created a pleated skirt using the full width of the fabric.  Nice and simple and doesn’t add too much bulk at the waist.  I also used a ‘Tango’ orange invisible zip.  I have no idea how I cam to have such a blazing orange zip in my collection but it matches the orange accents beautifully.

Elisalish Detail

I’ve been wearing this dress a lot and will be wearing it with tights and a cardigan as the weather is now so autumnal (well it is at the moment as I’m catching up on blog posts and scheduling like mad!) although if we do have an Indian Summer and late September gives us one last burst of sunshine I wont complain!  In short, I wish I’d bought this pattern a year ago when it was released rather than waiting a good twelve months to get on the By Hand London band wagon!

Put it this way, I felt so good in this dress and received so many compliments on that sunny day in London I ordered the Victoria pattern on the train on my way home!

PS.  I haven’t forgotten about the Simplicity Pattern giveaway, I’ll be posting the winners soon!

Victory Patterns Ava Dress


First up, you aren’t going to see this dress on my just yet because I screwed up. I’m not sure how I managed it but I managed to make it too small around the waist. It’ll do up but it is TIGHT and I don’t feel comfortable modelling it. I’d toiled it and checked and tweaked and carefully transferred back to the pattern but there we go. I also constructed the dress in a day so was rushing which may have also contributed to my idiot mistake. I’d intended to wear it to a black tie event that evening but ended up wearing my Vintage Vogue 2903. It’s an incentive to keep loosing weight though!

Despite all of that though I love this dress. A lot of love went into this dress before I even put scissors to cloth. The pattern was a gift from Sonja at Gingermakes. She surprised me with it after I organised the Sew Very Merry Christmas Swap as a thank you! Then Fleur helped me out by doing some shopping at Mood for the charmeuse and lace for me and then posting it to me here in the UK. The blue silk was an absolute score from a charity shop which involved begging a tiny swatch, buying a pack of matches to do a quick burn test in the car park and then handing over £40 and running off with nearly 5m of pure silk!

I pre-washed all the fabric by hand which was straight forward. The blue silk though shed dye like you wouldn’t believe. Even after three rinses dye was still leaching into the water so I just called it a day at that point. The soap was out of the fabric and I just made a mental note that this was never to be washed as a finished item as I’d run the risk of dying the charmeuse a weird grey colour!

The pattern its self was a pleasure to work with, I loved the little touch on the PDF showing you which sides of the paper to cut off. I did my usual FBA (as I do on everything!) and tweaked the shape of the darts a little as this gives me a better shape. I also extended the width of the dress across the sweetheart seam as I wanted a little more coverage there.

Ava 2

I underlined the lace yoke with the charmeuse as I need to wear a bra and wanted to be able to hide the straps completely. And let me tell you, that charmeuse is gorgeous against the skin. It’s like water through your hands, I’m a little bit in love with the stuff!  I simply basted the lace to the charmeuse in the seam allowance and then treated it as one piece of fabric.  I used a size 60 sharp for the entire construction to damage the fabric as little as possible.

Construction wise the only fiddly bit is the V at the centre of the sweetheart. It took a little bit of time to get that done neatly and if I hadn’t been time crunched I’m sure I’d have found it less vexing. Oh, not adding a lining and being a little less of a perfectionist might have helped as well!

Ava 1

As I mentioned, the main change I made was to add a lining to the dress. I used a navy cotton for the bodice and attached a skirt made of dress lining. I attached it at the same time as attaching the yoke, which was the major contributing factor to the headache with the sweetheart seam line.  As you can see though, if  wore this dress without a lining and was back lit, not a lot would be left to the imagination!

Other little touches were reinforcing the side seams and darts with strips of bias organza to give the seam a little more strength as the silk is old and I wanted to give it all the help I could.  I also finished the neck and armhole edges with bias silk charmeuse.  I attached it by machine and then whip stitched it down by hand.  The stitches are invisible from the right side as the lace hides them.  It gives a really clean edge and also stops any potential lace scratchiness.  Which to be honest wouldn’t be a problem as although synthetic, the lace drapes beautifully and is very soft.

And as for the fit.  Well, there were nearly tears.  It fits beautifully across the bust but the waist is just a tad tight.  I should have realised when I had to add pleats for the skirt section to fit the bodice but I just assumed that the combination of silk and bias had just caused it to stretch a lot.  The perils of rushing.  By the time I tried it on, I’d already serged the waist seam and it was half an hour before I needed to be out of the door.  So, whilst I can squeeze into this dress, it’s obvious that the waist is too small.  It is far from a wadder though and I hope to be able to wear it soon.

Thank you Sonja and Fleur for making this dress possible in the first place.  You (and the sewing community in general!) are awesome.

3 Decades, 3 Prizes!

Sorry, this giveaway is now closed!

In ten days time, it’ll be my birthday.  My 30th birthday.  So to celebrate this milestone I thought I would do a giveaway, one for each decade – so I’ve got three prizes up for grabs!  I’m really pleased with the little packages that I’ve put together and really hope that you will like them too.

Prize Number 1

My first un-birthday present to you all is in the colour Teal!  A handmade baguette style purse (made by me) lined in a self-strip cream cotton, closed with a silver coloured frame.  There’s also 10 yards of teal rayon seam binding and a bamboo point turner.  Last, but by no means least is your choice of Sewaholic pattern!

Prize Number 2

My second un-birthday present to you all is in the colour Navy!  A handmade baguette style purse (made by me) lined in a self-strip cream cotton, closed with a silver coloured frame.  There’s also 10 yards of dark navy rayon seam binding and a bamboo point turner.  Last, but by no means least is your choice of A Fashionable Stitch belt kit and an eyelet setting tool to give your kit the perfect finish!

Prize Number 3

My final un-birthday present to you all is in the colour Purple!  A handmade baguette style purse (made by me) lined in a self-strip cream cotton, closed with a silver coloured frame.  There’s also 10 yards of plum rayon seam binding and a bamboo point turner.  Last, but by no means least is a copy of the new Colette Sewing Handbook!

I hope you like these little bundles as much as I’ve enjoyed putting them together!  I can’t thank Tasia of Sewaholic and Sunni of a Fashionable Stitch enough for helping me put this all together!

So, to win an un-birthday present, here’s what you need to do:

Leave a comment here, telling me which present you’d like; 1, 2 or 3 (or teal, navy or plum!)

For an extra entry blog about the giveaway, tweet or Facebook it

For a possible third entry, if you’d like, you can become a follower!  If you follow me already, please mention it in your comment telling me whether it’s via email, wordpress or RSS!

I will gladly post these internationally, so everyone can enter!  The draw will close at 19:40 / 7:40pm GMT on the 24 November 2011.  Why that time – according to my Mother, it was the time I was born!  And the date, well, it’s my birthday!

Autumn Colours

I seem to be drawn to rich, jewel colours this autumn/winter.  I find colours easier to work with at this time of the year as the saturation isn’t so searing.

Autumn Jewels - my palette for autumn!

Like the ones above – a palette I made on COLOURlovers.  I love the combination of teal and chocolate.  And plum works well with the rich brown as well.  The mustard adds some golden warmth and would be an accent rather than a solid for me.  Navy is my dark neutral or black.  Cream is my light neutral as I wash out if I wear pure white.  I seem to have chosen stronger, darker colours but all rich in tone.

When I make my Lady Grey coat (not likely to be this year – I don’t have the confidence yet…) I imagine it to be either teal or plum with a chocolate lining, finished with a flash of gold piping where the lining joins the facings inside the coat.

Other plans are for a satin Pendrell in teal, and maybe plum and a navy Beignette in a beautiful brushed cotton…  And of course my beret and fingerless mitts are in a tweedy teal too.  Oh, and if I get Colette’s Jasmine pattern for my birthday, I may consider a solid golden mustard piece.  Even if I said it’d be an accent colour two paragraphs ago.  Just look at Sarah Gabbart’s top she made for the Sew Weekly.  If that can’t change your mind, nothing will.

I love this so much!

This is the first time I’ve ever actually thought about what colours I’d like to wear and which suit me.  It’s helped focus me a little more.  I can understand why Colette’s Colour Palette Challenge is so popular!  I’m unlikely to create 8 pieces in 8 weeks, more like 8 pieces between now and spring.  But I’m not making any promises, or putting any pressure on myself.

Do you plan with colour like this, or are you much more of a sew with whatever pattern and colour combination inspires you at the time person?