Tag Archives: wedding

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 :)

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Homemade wedding garter, with tutorial

23 Jul sewn wedding garter

Last weekend I was on a friend’s hen do. She is the first one of my close friends to get married, and it was my first hen do, so exciting times! I had the idea a little while ago that it would be nice to give her a hand made wedding garter, as a memento. This idea was cemented when the bridesmaids asked us all to bring a small present for her to the weekend.

wedding garter

I had a vague idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like, and looked up a few tutorials online for some construction guidance. I decided to go for one that used the ribbon as the elastic casing, as opposed to making a separate casing out of fabric which I would then need to sew on.

The garter is essentially a ribbon and lace sandwich – 2 lengths of 1 inch wide ribbon with a wider piece of lace sewn between them, and the elastic threaded through one of the channels that is created by this.

making wedding garter

I went to Masons to pick up some lace and ribbon for the job. And there was SO MUCH LACE. I think it actually took me about half an hour to choose some, and even then, I ended up with about 6 different ones which I ended up buying to try. I knew I wanted something thick enough that it would show on both sides of the ribbon (the other option it to just sew the lace onto one edge of the ribbon), and because of that, I wanted one that was shaped on both edges. I wasn’t sure if stretch lace would work well or not, so I was originally looking for non-stretch stuff, but ended up buying some of both. I did end up using some of the stretch stuff in the end, and it worked fine!

handmade wedding garter

I bought ribbon to match the colour theme of the wedding, in a couple of different widths (I wasn’t entirely sure at this point what width I needed…this was all a bit of a guessing game!) and a little ribbon rose in a similar colour to go on the front. I already had elastic to use, and the construction was actually fairly straightforward:

– If you can, measure the thigh circumference of the person you’re making it for – a little way above the knee is apparently about right. If you can’t measure and don’t want to ask them because a) it’s going to be a surprise or b) you don’t want to sound slightly odd, then guesstimate, or measure your own and hope theirs is fairly similar! As it’s elasticated and gathered anyway, there’s a little leeway in terms of fit.

– To work out the length of ribbon and lace you need, a few of the tutorials I looked at suggested multiplying the thigh measurement by 1.5. I did this, which gave me a measurement of 75cm. Given that my two pieces of ribbon were 1m long (When I was buying them, I forgot that I needed enough ribbon for both sides, and asked her to cut 1m before I remembered I needed another). Knowing that I probably wouldn’t have much use for 25cm lengths of ribbon, I sewed it up with the full metre, and then trimmed it afterwards to where I wanted it. So somewhere between 1.5 and 2 times thigh circumference should work, depending on how many gathers you want. And yes I do realise that I use a complete mishmash of metric and imperial measurements in this post – am I the only one who uses both when sewing, depending on which is the most convenient number?

– Pin the two pieces of ribbon (with right sides, if there is one) out, onto either side of the piece of lace. I did this by laying one piece of ribbon on top of the lace and pinning, and then flipping it over, matching up the second piece of ribbon, and then pinning again, through all 3 layers. I then took out the pins from the first side. You could just pin all 3 at once, but I thought it would be easier to make sure both pieces of ribbon were lined up to each other, and centred on the lace, if I did it this way.

wedding garter construction

– Once your ribbon and lace are pinned, sew two straight seams (or straight-ish), one down each edge of the ribbon. For 1 inch lace, use about a 1/4 inch seam allowance (this allows enough space in the middle for the elastic to go through). It doesn’t matter if the ribbon puckers slightly when sewing the seams, as this will be hidden in the gathers.

– Once they’re sewn, you should have a piece of lace, with a length of ribbon sewn to each side. Next you need to cut your elastic. The general guidance seems to be to take 1 inch off the thigh measurement. I started with that, but did actually end up taking more off later. 1/4 inch elastic is ideal for this.

– Using a safety pin attached to the elastic, thread it through one of the channels created between the ribbon and lace. My lace seemed to have a slight right and wrong side, so I fed it through the ribbon on the wrong side. Before the other end of the elastic disappears inside, use another safety pin to pin that end, so that you don’t lose it. Once the elastic is all the way through, pin the end you’ve just pulled through as well.

sewing wedding garter

It doesn’t matter that the ends of my lace and ribbon don’t match up, as I’m going to trim them anyway.

– Spread the gathers out evenly along the length of the elastic. If you’re happy with the length of the elastic, and how the gathers look then you can sew it as is. If not, you can do what I did and spend half an hour playing around with different lengths of elastic and lace, hold it round your leg and ask your boyfriend if it looks right (to which he answered that he didn’t really have any idea what it was or what it was meant to look like), and eventually settle on lengths for both.

– Sew up each end, to hold the elastic in place, and then, turning the garter so that right sides are together, and making sure it’s not twisted anywhere in the middle – easy to miss when it’s all gathered up, sew the two ends together. You can skip sewing the ends individually first if you like, but I found it easier. Once the two ends are sewn together, trim the seam allowance.

homemade wedding garter

Trying it on for size!

– You should now have a basic garter to embellish as you wish. I went for a ribbon bow on the front, followed by the little ribbon flower which I glued on top (slightly wonky because I stopped to put the lid on the super glue before positioning it properly, and the glue set in the meantime!). Turns out it was a good thing I ended up buying more than one width of ribbon, as I used the narrower one to make the bow.

I forgot to take pictures while making the bow, but this page has some great tutorials for different kinds of ribbon bows – I made the hand tied bow at the top.

wedding garter rose

To make it more personal, I embroidered the bride and groom’s initials onto each tail of the ribbon bow. If you do this, make sure you leave enough space for the letter you’re embroidering, so that it’s not almost falling off the edge like mine is. I thought about re-doing it, but… I’ll know for next time!

wedding garter initial

embroidered wedding garter

Once you’ve finished your embellishments, you have a lovely hand made wedding garter. Whether it is a gift, or for yourself, it’s a really nice personal touch. And a really quick and easy sewing project as well! I have a few more friends who have got engaged recently, so I can see myself making a few more of these in the future.

sewn wedding garter

finished wedding garter

Slightly fuzzy picture, oops, but unfortunately it’s the best of the on-leg finished ones I have! Thanks to my friend Clare for modelling it.

And now that holidays and hen-dos, and urgent related sewing projects are out the way (not that that is a good thing), I have some time to get on with making some more dresses, it feels like its been ages! I’m currently working on a tank top plus added skirt creation, with my lovely giraffe print fabric from Walthamstow, so hopefully I’ll have something to show for that soon!

Giraffe print fabric

GIRAFFES!!

chinelo bally

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