A Most Suit-able Flora Dress
When By Hand London started showing teaser pictures for the Flora dress, I was enthralled. When they released the pattern, I ordered it from my phone before I even got out of bed that day. Now I’ve finally made it up, just barely in time for The Monthly Stitch Indie Dress Week.
One inspiration for this dress had nothing at all to do with fancy circle skirts, it had to do with taking grey suiting fabric and turning it into something special. Anne’s dress reminded me I had a similar stash fabric that I would like to use in my own way, but it’s taken me some time to figure out exactly what “my way” meant to me.
The red and gold polyester satin brocade is also from my stash. It’s been in there for years, bought during a time when I either was coloring my hair (and therefore looked less washed out in red) or shortly after I stopped coloring it and my color choices hadn’t caught up. I haven’t colored my hair since Romeo was tiny, so yeah, long time stashed. I think my original plan was some kind of shiny party dress, but I just don’t have many occasions to attend where all-over shiny red and gold would be appropriate. I’m loving how the red subtly peeks out from the high-low skirt.
This skirt is dramatic and swishy. It’s a circle skirt with pleats at the top, so it’s extra-full.
The fabrics I used are on the heavy side, so it takes some speed while twirling to get it to fly up. I’m hoping that means that ordinary winds won’t put me at risk for wardrobe malfunctions. My necklace was bought special for this dress (because special dresses deserve special jewelry). I couldn’t decide what I wanted, so I had Pete troll Etsy to find me something. He always finds me awesome stuff when he does that. This necklace came from PatinaBijoux and I love it.
Let’s talk dress details. After making several By Hand London dresses, I finally made a realization. I was cutting 14/18 at the shoulder/bust, then going out to 16/20 at the waist, but then taking in the seams at the waist. With my Newsprint dress I finally just cut a 14/18 for the entire bodice and it fits quite nicely, so that’s what I did with this one too. I wonder if I shouldn’t have given myself just a bit of an FBA, but overall, I’m happy with the fit. Any lumps and bumps you see are just my natural curves unrestrained by girdle or Spanx.
I did change a few things about the pattern. The skirt is really short as-drafted, even on a petite girl like myself. I don’t do above-the-knee skirts, so I added length at the hemline to get it below my knee. Since this is a circle skirt, this also made the pattern piece wider. There’s a really good reason By Hand London drafted the skirt at the length they did. Any lengthening will make it too wide to fit on even 60″ wide fabric. If you want to lengthen this skirt you have a couple of cutting options. You could put a seam in the front of your skirt. This messes with the design lines, but may not be too noticeable, depending on your fabric. That’s what I ended up doing with my lining pieces. The other option is to cut the piece on the cross-grain which is what I did with my main fabric. The pinstripes run horizontal at the center front and to keep it symmetrical, at the center back too.
Yup, it’s fully-lined. I was worried about having the skirt be two such different fabrics. I really wanted the skirts to move as one. I decided that the best way to achieve this would be to make the dress in such a way that I could stitch the hemline of the skirts together, then sew them to the waist. Being circle skirts, they needed to hang before they could be “hemmed”, so construction was a little bit of a puzzle. I needed to be able to let the skirts stretch without stretching out the waistlines.
I ended up making up the bodice, then cutting two pieces of grosgrain ribbon that were the length of the seamline at the waist. I marked the ribbon with disappearing ink at all the matchpoints (seams and darts).
Then I stitched a length of ribbon to the wrong side of the waistline of each skirt, matching the pleats and seams with the markings on the ribbon.
The ribbon stabilized the skirts while they hung out on my dress form. After a few days, I cut the bottom edges even where they had stretched, and treated the hemline like a facing. I sewed the edges together, then understitched the lining. I left the ribbon on the waistline and sewed it to the bodice. everything matched at the waistline just like it was supposed to.
Changing up the way I did the lining did mean some additional handwork compared to the way the instructions were written. It also meant that I had to sew the back seam in the skirt before I put in my invisible zipper. That isn’t a catastrophe, but it is against every bit of instruction I’ve ever seen about invisible zippers. The handwork attached the lining to the waistline and along the zipper in the skirt.
I’m inordinately pleased with myself about this dress. It turned out lovely inside and out. It is completely different than anything I could probably buy in a store, but without looking weird and homemade.
Final picture: I like this one because I look like I’m up to something sneaky.
Stash-busting Stats: 33/50. 66 yards.