Monday, 6 June 2016

Black & White BHL Flora Dress

I started the By Hand London Flora dress in April and have worked on it a few hours at a time finally finishing it yesterday. It is not a quick make. With this sort of dress you want to take your time and take care with it.

I have had the pattern in my stash for quite some time. The fabric has also been in my possession since a trip to Birmingham in 2014 to see my friend Hayley who happens to live in Moseley the home of the lovely haberdashery that is Guthrie and Ghani. I bought two metres of this beautiful viscose fabric for about £8 per metre.

The Flora pattern calls for over two metres of fabric so this is where the fun began. I had to put a centre front seam in the front of bodice version one because I couldn't fit it onto the fold. I also had to use the selvedge for the skirt centre back seam.

The fun of paper pattern tetris! 
I hadn't intended to make the dropped hem version of the dress and as you can also see I had to fold the pattern back to the next size down on the skirt length as I just didn't quite have enough fabric.

The instructions were very clear throughout but due to a few silly mistakes I had to unpick the bodice a few times. You sew. You unpick. You learn.

The centre front seam is barely noticeable due to the busy print
I didn't have a concealed zip in the stash so used this 14" black zip
The overall fit of the Flora dress is OK, the skirt is beautifully swingy but the bodice needs a little more taking out of the side seams and also at the back where I inserted the zip.

The bodice is fully lined with some white organic Bamboo from 'le stash' that I bought from MacCulloch and Wallis last summer. I cut out the lining for both the bodice and skirt but decided just to line the bodice as the Bamboo affected the drape of the viscose skirt.

The lined bodice with satin bias-binding on the waistband to stabilise and neaten the edge
What hand-stitching?

The lining is hand stitched at the waist and zip. I decided to use some black satin bias binding to finish the hem of the skirt and luckily had enough left to use around the waist of the bodice lining. This addition seemed to stabilise the lining fabric and also gave me a definite edge to sew with as the slippery bamboo was prone to fraying.

The faux flat-felled seams of sorts with the satin bias-bound hem

As I had decided to forgo the lined skirt I realised I needed to tidy up the seams on the inside of the skirt so created a faux flat-felled of sorts. I ironed the seam allowances open then tuned each side under and sewed them both down parallel to the central seam. It hard to explain but you will probably get the gist when you see the photos.

Overall I am pretty happy with this dress. The fabric makes a huge difference to the feel of the garment as it has a lovely weight, handle and drape. I am looking forward to wearing it somewhere nice as I realise this is the first 'party dress' I have sewn!

Enjoying the sunshine in Regent's Park

Luckily all the components of this dress were from my stash rather than purchased specifically for this project. Costings are as follows:

Pattern: By Hand London Flora = £9.00
Shell Fabric: Two metres of Guthrie and Ghani Black and White patterned Viscose = £16.00
Lining Fabric: One metre of MacCulloch and Wallis Bamboo lining = £6.00
Satin Bias Binding: Three metres from stash
Zip: 14" black from stash
Gutterman Thread: Black and white from stash

Total: £31.00


  1. This is a lovely dress Caroline! The fabric seems very you and having the soft, flowing viscose skirt must feel wonderful to wear. Definitely a garment worth taking your time over!

    1. Thanks Alex. The skirt is very swishy and quite a departure from my usual more practical orientated makes.

  2. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think having more fabric would have solved your problem. Because I think the problem is the width of the fabric, not the length. That's why the instructions explicitly call for at least 1.40m wide fabric. I think. :-)
    However I think you made a pretty dress, I really like the fabric and its drape! I think those faux flat felled seams are a real thing and you, I have had a pattern that instructed me to do them as you explained it! :-)

    1. Maybe you're right Kat! It was a fun challenge to squeeze the pattern pieces onto my fabric though. Next time I will need to look out for a wider fabric!

  3. Oh this is lovely Caroline! Great choice of fabric!! Xox

  4. Really pretty! Lovely fabric and pattern combo xxx