Flora in the Wild

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So with the outfit-of-the-day frenzy that is Me-Made-May done and dusted, we’ve officially (as of yesterday) moved into Indie Pattern Month and all the competitions that come with it! Indie  Pattern Month is an annual month of competitions centred on, you guessed it, indie patterns and is organised by The Monthly Stitch. To enter, you sew up a garment in line with the rules and post about it over on The Monthly Stitch blog – click here to see my entry!

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The By Hand London Flora dress has been on my to-sew list since I first started sewing – that’s almost a whole year ago! So when I decided to enter in the dresses competition, it HAD to be the Flora. This is by far my most involved garment to date and is definitely my current favourite – it’s got weird and wonderful Alice in Wonderland-ish paisley flowers, who can resist that?? To match the whimsical nature of the print, I decided that the futuristic Gardens by the Bay in Singapore would be the best place to photograph it, amidst the strange and exotic plants of the Cloud Forest dome. But enough of the chattering from me, keep on reading to find out all the juicy sewing-related details!

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The Pattern

By Hand London’s Flora Dress (Tank bodice with hi-lo circle skirt)

I found the pattern instructions very easy to follow, and coupled with the sew-along, is extremely manageable for a beginner sewist! The only pain was finishing the hem of the voluminous circle skirt – I used my rolled hem foot and even then it took ages (not to mention it got a little tricky at the side seams and centre back seams). Other than that, the construction went very quickly, even having to make slight fit adjustments to fix neckline gaping issues.

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I also loved the gentle shaping given by the knife pleats in the front and the box pleats in the back – I didn’t realise it at first, but a friend asked if the “wavy” effect of the skirt hem was intentional, and it dawned on me that it was due to the shaping from the pleats! (Rather an unimpressive revelation to have, but there it is)

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Adjustments made

– Small Bust Adjustment – I found BHL’s tutorial in their sew-along really helpful!

– Shortened the centre back of the skirt by 3 1/4″ and smoothed out the curve gradient. I still found the skirt a bit too long in the back and the curve gradient a tad too severe for casual wear, I would probably shorten the skirt a further 2″ the next time or try out the other skirt option.

– Removed 2″ total from the back neckline where there was gaping. On my next make of this pattern I’ll be sure to remove a total of 1″ from the front neckline as well.

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Fabric & Notions

Purple paisley lightweight cotton (only slightly heavier than voile), bought from Hong Kong for a mere S$5 (US$3.70) a metre! #winning

White voile for the bodice and a 22″ cream invisible zipper

I had actually bought a similar liberty-esque purple paisley print from Goldhawk Road (and was told that it was a William Morris – I still don’t know if the shopkeeper was telling the truth as the selvedge doesn’t mention it) with the intention to use that for a Flora instead. But lo and behold when I saw this alternative in a dingy Hong Kong roadside fabric store, I decided I liked vibrancy of this print a little more and snapped up 3m of this right away.

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I got such a humongous kick out of finally making up this dress – thank you Indie Pattern Month for the huge shove up my behind I needed to do it! Am really looking forward to showing a few more of my entries this coming month and fingers crossed I’ll have time to finish them all! Wish me luck!

Pattern Hacking // Bow V-backed Sabrina Crop Top

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In case you haven’t realised, I may be slightly obsessed with the By Hand London Sabrina dress pattern. I also seem to be riding a severe crop top kick (though I have neither the figure nor desire to be bearing my un-toned midriff in them).

Enter this new franken-garment and my second entry for the By Hand London #Patternhackathon competition: a bow V-backed Sabrina crop top, also affectionately known as the “Sabine top” because it makes me feel like a leggy Eastern European model who walks for Chanel. (Of course I look the exact opposite, but the gorgeous sunset in the background is meant to distract you from my awkward posing.)

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This top was made from a white bamboo knit that I snagged at Chinatown, and is a mash-up of the Sabrina dress bodice, a large V-shaped hole and the Tilly & the Buttons Brigitte Scarf attached as a sash for the tie back bow! On hindsight, I should have taken in the princess seams a little or gone down half a size, given that the back was to be left open and I was using knit fabric this time round… I still think it looks fab though and I’m mighty pleased with the result!

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Hurray for the Pattern Hackathon and I can’t wait to see all the lovely entries by other talented sewists out there!

Pattern Hacking // By Hand London Sabrina Dress Crop Top

I love the boat neck collar and that it’s not overly tight (though it does pull a little, I haven’t figured that bit out yet) and major love for it being completely work appropriate with a high-waisted pencil skirt! I also put in a slightly curved hemline to mimic the (inverse?) dip hem that’s been so popular on crop tops recently. Plus I totally intended to put in that peek-a-boo slit at the back… or maybe the only zipper I had on hand was a couple too inches too short… you will never know 😉

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Given my choice of career that has me spending 9 hours a day behind a desk in a (rather formal) office, you would think that my closet included more business-friendly attire – it doesn’t. My dress rack is full of prints and lace, skirts that toe the line between casual and business and t-shirts. Lots and lots of t-shirts.

Enter the Sabrina Dress. By Hand London’s new offering is a modest, princess seam dress targeted at beginners that (hallelujah!) is of a completely work appropriate length and style. My wearable muslin is also mighty comfortable but I have yet to experience what an actual make will be like.

I did make up a muslin of this dress but sadly it was too long in the bodice and wide on the sides (I lopped it all off but am now wondering if I should have done an SBA instead…) so I made the necessary alterations to it and sadly, it looks nothing like the dress is supposed to look anymore. It is wearable though! And I absolutely love it. Still, I think I’ll wait for the Sabrina sew-along to start proper before I give the dress another go…

In the meantime, spurred on by the ongoing #PatternHackathon, I hacked myself a nifty Sabrina crop top instead!

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I love the boat neck collar and that it’s not overly tight (though it does pull a little, I haven’t figured that bit out yet) plus this top gets major love for being completely work appropriate with a high-waisted pencil skirt! I also put in a slightly curved hemline to mimic the (inverse?) dip hem that’s been so popular on crop tops recently. Oh and I totally intended to put in that peek-a-boo slit at the back… or maybe the only zipper I had on hand was a couple of inches too short… you will never know 😉

I was so enamoured by the top when I first made it that I put it to the ultimate comfort test – taking my crazed dog for a walk. If I could walk my dog in that top and it didn’t fall apart, then I could do anything! Pigs could fly, spiders could tap dance!

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I’m glad to say it passed the test. Naturally, we celebrated with cake and coffee.

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I’m looking forward to making more of these beauties, maybe the next one in double knit? I’m pretty sure it will be a closet staple for quite some time to come. Have any of you guys tried the Sabrina dress pattern? Any tips on getting it to fit right?