Finished: By Hand London Flora for a summer wedding

11 Oct

If you’re a regular reader of sewing blogs, and you’re thinking that this dress looks a little familiar, that’s probably because it is. I admit, this is a shameless copy (with her permission) of Fiona’s Flora that she made during pattern testing. I saw her dress, completely fell in love with it, and thought it would be perfect for a wedding I had to go to in the summer.



The fabric Fiona had used just looked (and sounded) glorious, and when I googled it to check it out, I came across a listing for it on ebay for £2.50/m! At that price, who was I to refuse! I promptly bought 4m of it (and wished I’d bought more, but they were out of it when I checked back). The fabric is a gorgeous John Kaldor viscose twill and it is beautifully soft and drapey. I love the colours as well. I don’t wear a lot of pink, and am trying to wear a bit more after my colour analysis session.

The lining is some poly viscose that I picked up in Goldhawk Road at the NYLon meet up in May, for £1.99/m. I bought 3m of this and then had a panic when I thought it wasn’t enough, as it’s only 45″ wide, but managed to get around it by cutting the skirt pieces on the crossgrain.


The dipped hem version of Flora was perfect for a wedding – the longer length at the back would be too long on me if it was that length all the way round, but having it longer at the back adds a bit of class to balance out the shorter front. I went for the tank version of the bodice – I’m really not sold on the faux wrap version of the Flora bodice, but I love the tank version – it’s just nice and simple and unfussy but at the same time quite unusual.


In typical me-style, although I’d had both the pattern and fabric for months, I started work on this dress….oh, about a week before the wedding! Why do I do that! I can only imagine that it’s some subconscious thing because I know I perform well under pressure!

I did a very quick toile of the bodice (very quick, I didn’t even bother putting a zip in), and it seemed pretty alright, so I went ahead and cut it out in a size 10. Looking at the photos, the neckline is actually gaping a bit at the back, so that might need a bit of adjustment if I make another version.

By Hand London Flora

I also apologise for the fact that the dress has not been ironed in these photos! Luckily the full skirt hides it well!

I had a few issues cutting the dress out, mainly because the viscose was just so slinky it wouldn’t stay still. I cut out one of my skirt panels, only to realise that, after I took the pattern piece off, the pattern piece and the skirt piece I’d just cut were completely different shapes. My friend Clare (Clare number 1 to Marcus, who insists I number my sewing friends called Cla(i)re as there are so many of them) then suggested using spray starch, so I used that on the rest of my cutting, and it made things a lot easier. Luckily it was the main fabric that went wonky, and I had enough of that to re-cut the skirt panel.

I think the dress sewed up without too much drama. This is the point at which I really wish I actually did what I intended to do and keep a notebook by my side when I’m sewing, to note down things about the pattern and process. I actually bought a notebook for this purpose, but haven’t really taken to keeping notes. And now of course I can’t remember many of the details of sewing the dress up…we’ll take that as a good sign – if something had gone drastically wrong, I think I’d remember, and I managed to get it finished in time for the wedding, so it must have been fine!

By Hand London Flora

This is my first fully lined dress, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. I understitched the lining along the bodice, to stop it peeking out, which worked well, but due to the way the bodice is structured with the straps, there were a couple of bits in the corners of the tank I couldn’t get to to understitch. Is there a way I could have done that?


I wasn’t sure how best to attach the lining to the invisible zip, but I used the Sewaholic Cambie tutorial and it worked brilliantly.



Somehow the bodice lining ended up slightly longer than the bodice shell – I guess the fabric just stretched out a bit more. This doesn’t bother me too much, I just had to trim the skirt lining down a bit so that it was shorter than the shell. Looking at the photos, the lining could do with being a bit shorted on the right at the front, but I didn’t notice when wearing it because the skirt moves around so much.

By Hand London Flora

This is the first time I’ve made a circle skirt, and so I did what I was meant to do and left it to hang for a day or two before hemming it, so that I could even it out after the fabric had dropped. However, the fabric didn’t seem to drop at all. Either that, or I have a really bad eye for telling if things are level!

And how good are circle skirts for swishing around and dancing at weddings?! I did SO much twirling around!


Ok, have to be a bit careful twirling *too* much in the full skirt!

I just machine hemmed the skirt lining, and debated how to hem the main fabric of the skirt. Fiona beautifully hand stitched hers but I knew that I really didn’t have time for that. I also have basically never done any hand stitching on my garments, and so didn’t trust that I would be able to hand stitch the hem and have it look good. I decicded in the end to do a blind hem on my sewing machine. It’s something I learned how to do on my original sewing course, but haven’t actually used since. It turned out alright – not completely blind (largely due to the fact that the fabric isn’t a consistent colour all over), but it looks better than it would have done had I just stitched it normally. I need to work on my technique a bit – there are a few spots where it didn’t quite catch the fabric properly, but it’s good enough!

The straps on the dress are quite narrow set, so bra straps can show when you’re wearing it. I was going to put bra strap carriers in, but in the end just wore a strapless bra to the wedding. I’ll probably go back and add them at some point so that I’ve got a bit more flexibility with wearing the dress.


The dress lived up to all my expectations and was absolutely perfect for the wedding. I basically love everything about it, and the swirly skirt makes it especially good for twirly dancing. An extra unexpected bonus to the fabric is that when you’re trying to balance your plate with a scone with clotted cream and jam on (mmmm!) on top of your cup of tea (so that you have a spare hand to eat the scone with), and it all slips and you smoosh creamy, jammy scone onto the underside of your boob, the fabric pattern hides it very well!


The wedding was of two of our capoeira friends, Simon and Zanna, and it was absolutely amazing – it was held at Zanna’s grandad’s place, which was stunning, and the weather was glorious, despite the fact that it was forecast to rain all day. Zanna was wearing a gorgeous vintage wedding dress and looked absolutely fantastic.


Unfortunately, due to my leaving my dress making to the last minute, I didn’t have time to make their wedding present before the wedding. I have just finished that now (blog post to follow!), so they will finally get that soon! Sorry guys!

I’m going to leave you with this photo of our capoeira friends who attended the wedding – I love the fact that 3 of the dresses (and one of the waistcoats) in this photo are handmade :)



23 Responses to “Finished: By Hand London Flora for a summer wedding”

  1. Mindy October 11, 2014 at 08:36 #

    It’s a stunning dress, Kelly. Well done :)

    • Kelly October 11, 2014 at 09:04 #

      Thanks Mindy!

  2. smittenness October 11, 2014 at 08:47 #

    Just stunning. Really lovely fabric choice and looks so neatly finished

    • Kelly October 11, 2014 at 09:06 #

      Thanks Vanessa! I can’t take much credit for the fabric choice but it is gorgeous and I’m so glad I decided to copy Fiona! Full lining is great for neat finishes :)

  3. Emmely October 11, 2014 at 09:29 #

    Love the dress on you and you should get more garments in this pink colour as it suits you very well!

    • Kelly October 11, 2014 at 09:31 #

      Thanks Emmely! Yeah, pink isn’t a colour I tend to go for, but I do need to start wearing it more!

  4. Hila October 11, 2014 at 11:44 #

    Stunning! Absolutely stunning! That fabric looks so vibrant. Glad to hear I am not the only one who 1) waits till the last week to make something & 2) doesn’t put zips in toilets/muslin :-).

    • Kelly October 11, 2014 at 11:47 #

      Thanks very much Hila! I do work well under pressure, but sometimes I do wish that I could make myself start just slightly earlier! I do sometimes put zips in toiles – depends on how the fit is looking, and, more importantly, how much time I have!

  5. sewbusylizzy October 11, 2014 at 12:02 #

    Beautiful beautiful dress!

    • Kelly October 11, 2014 at 12:13 #

      Thanks Lizzy!

  6. Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!! October 11, 2014 at 17:47 #

    Very nice colour! The dress looks great on you.

    • Kelly October 19, 2014 at 13:44 #

      Thank you Linda :) I need to wear more of this colour!

  7. Meg October 12, 2014 at 20:18 #

    Aww this is lovely. I’m jealous of your skills and how great you look!

    • Kelly October 19, 2014 at 13:44 #

      Aw, thanks very much Meg!

  8. seamsoddlouise October 12, 2014 at 20:34 #

    This is lovely, you look great in it.

    • Kelly October 19, 2014 at 13:46 #

      Thank you Louise :)

  9. Daniela October 13, 2014 at 08:18 #

    You look gorgeous in this dress, Kelly. I can totally understand why you had to copy it :) I love the twirly pics of you :) the dress looks so summery making me want to have summer back. Especially on such a rainy and gloomy day!

    • Kelly October 19, 2014 at 13:47 #

      Thanks Daniela! Yeah, when I saw Fiona’s one, I just knew that it would be perfect for summer weddings! Hehe, I enjoyed doing all the twirly pictures – at the wedding, I kept asking Marcus to take twirly pics of me!

  10. Charlotte October 14, 2014 at 08:55 #


    • Kelly October 19, 2014 at 13:48 #

      Thanks Charlotte!

  11. Beth October 20, 2014 at 12:13 #

    This is so beautiful! I love the uneven hem. The fabric is beautiful and perfect for a wedding!

  12. Meg October 24, 2014 at 14:18 #

    Hey Kelly! You’re one of my favourite sewing blogger and it was really nice to meet you at SewBrum! I’ve nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World award on my blog:
    I hope you answer my questions!

    • Kelly October 30, 2014 at 09:25 #

      Aw, thank you so much for the nomination Meg, I will get on to answering your questions, really enjoyed your answers!

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