Linen Flora of Trials

Not going to lie, I was super excited when By Hand London released the Flora pattern.  I love the look of the wrap bodice and the gigantic skirt – I just had to have it.

flora-front

I was just about to click the “Purchase” button when my brother asked me what I wanted for my birthday (the next day – he’s nothing if not organised).  We were both out of ideas, so he just paid for the pattern.  Heh, works for me!

Despite my initial insane enthusiasm for this dress (you know, when blogland is taken over by pretty versions of the same dress and all of a sudden I MUST HAVE IT NOW), this sat for a while before I made it up.  Life, etc.

The fabric is from The Fabric Store in Fortitude Valley.  Man, I love that place.  They carry such beautiful fabrics, it’s a real step up from the stores I generally frequent on the Gold Coast!  This is from the remnant bin – $18 for 2m of gorgeous royal blue linen.  This is one of my favourite colours to wear.  It suits me, I know it suits me and I love it.  Perfect, easy.  So it was a no brainer I zeroed in on this one!

flora-away

Despite the lovely outer fabric, I lined this dress with a questionable synthetic-something from the op shop.  In hindsight, cotton would have been better, but I was out of that at the time.

This sewed up nice and easily.  My muslin fit pretty much spot on – my actual dress is a bit baggy through the underarms and bodice.  One of these days I’ll learn to fit properly.  Maybe.

Leveling the hem was an absolute nightmare.  Loose(ish) weave fabric plus a circle skirt leads to some very challenging times!flora-skirt

It took Mum and I forever and I’m not even sure it’s entirely straight, but I’m kind of past the point of caring right now.  The dress is hemmed!  Moving on with my life!

flora-back

It’s kind of tainted the whole experience though – hemming took 3 weeks to get around to, then 2 days of back and forthing with measuring and pins and asking mum “Is it straight yet?”.  So I forgot what a breeze the rest of construction was and just focused on the hemming hell.

flora-rock

Looking at the photos though, I absolutely adore this dress.

It’s a bit more crumpled and casual than I’d planned (because, duh, it’s linen Laura) but it’s gorgeous.  I love the colour, I love the style.  I even love that it’s a bit loose around the bodice – I like the way that works with the fabric.

The only thing I’m not 100% sure on is the neckline – it’s a bit more low cut than I usually wear and I think it will take a bit of getting used to.

I’ll probably make this again, but not for a while and definitely in a nice easy cotton!

Med Ball Anna

EDIT: I’ve just been shortlisted for the Dressed to the Nines category!  Please vote for me!

This was a very unexpected dress!

Kyle invited me to the Med Ball run by the university – a week out from the actual event.

med-ball-kyle-laura

One week to sew a ball-suitable dress?

Challenge accepted!

I also really didn’t have the funds to spend much on fabric either.

Secondary challenge accepted!

The Anna dress from By Hand London was the only pattern I owned that really had fancy dress potential.  It comes with a maxi option and can be dressy or casual – it really depends on the fabric.

med-ball-anna-live

Anna had the added advantage of being something I’d sewn before, so I didn’t need to mess around with tracing and sizing and all that time consuming jazz.

I ended up buying 3m of a pretty dusty blue lace with gold strands woven through.  It looked really lovely over the top of a second hand cream sheet set I already had in my stash.

med-ball-anna-bodice-close

This was a really quick and dirty make.  I didn’t have much time, so while it looks great on the outside, the insides certainly aren’t very pretty!

med-ball-anna-insides

Yeah…

If I’d had more time and money, I’d love to have done full french seams, full lining in addition to the underlining, hand-stitched the hem – the whole shabang.

As it was, time was tight.

The bodice is underlined in lace and those seams are frenched.

The skirt isn’t underlined – there are two separate skirts – one lace, one cream.  I wanted the nice drapey effect down the bottom of the skirt, so no underlining for me.  The lace skirt has french seams, since they’re visible.  Those seams took forever, by the way.  Ugh.  Hence the fact that I was completely over it by the time I got to the cotton skirt, so they’re just overlocked.

The insides of this dress are pretty ugly.  When not hidden behind the lace, the cream cotton is actually pretty dodgy.  The colour is really inconsistent.   It’s fine for lining or underlining, but I’m definitely glad you can’t see too much of it.

If I’d had more time, I would have liked to fully line the dress – if you’re going to do something, do it properly etc…  Lining would also have hidden the blue seams you can see .med-ball-anna-blue-seams

Oh well.

Sometimes sacrifices need to be made and the pretty insides lost this time.

I understitched the neckline facing down, to theoretically stop it poking out.  Usually this works really well, but I guess the lace + cotton was too heavy, because it achieved precisely nothing.  So I hand stitched the facing down, which worked much better.  Usually when I do that I catch-stitch because everything always tells me that’s the best way of doing it, but I guess I just stink at catch-stitching, because mine never holds anything down properly and always catches on my fingers, nose, glasses when I put it on.  This time I just made up my own way of hand stitching it, which worked perfectly.

med-ball-anna-facing

So – the size!  I’ve made the Anna a couple of times before and it has always fit perfectly.  I made this the same size… and the bodice was 6cm too small.  WHAT?  I think I must have messed up my french seams and taken too much fabric.  And maybe the lace+cotton was thicker than my regular cotton.

Anyway, after a minor freak, I unpicked the tucks and back darts and divided the extra 6cm among them, sewing them back smaller.  It actually worked pretty well.

For the first time in all my times making this pattern, I lowered the waistline by 1 1/2″, which I think was pretty spot on.  Unfortunately last time I made the maxi dress I lopped 3″ off the bottom of the skirt pattern pieces.  With heels, I really needed those 3″ back.  I shouldn’t try to be smart.  It’s okay though – it’s a little shorter than I’d hoped and it has the tiniest hem ever.

med-ball-anna-manne

Despite the headaches, time limit and short comings of this whole project if you look too closely, I absolutely adore this dress.

I love how the lace and cotton work together, I like the very modest shape.  I might have to make a better/posher version of this dress again.  I’m thinking black lace on black would be excellent.

I’m really excited that I just squeezed into Sewing Indie Month!  Entries had to be finished after May 1 – I finished hemming this on May 3.  So this is my entry in the “Dressed to the Nines” category!

If you’re feeling wonderful, you can vote for me!  

Sewing Indie Month

The Maths

Fabric: 3m lace from Fantazia Fabrics $43

Lining: second hand sheet from stash

Invisible zip: stash

Thread: Rasant from Fantazia Fabrics $6.50