Having been without a sewing machine for more than a month, my sewing productivity is at an all-time low. I picked up knitting again but I’m very slow so I still don’t have anything new to show here. Now the only thing left to do is to show the pictures of this dress I made two years ago. Do you also have projects like this, which went so wrong, or left you so disappointed, that you procrastinate blogging them for weeks, months… years?
This dress was my first experience with By Hand London patterns, before I made Elisalex, Anna, and Zeena. It’s the Flora dress, whose pictures completely won me over as soon as it was released. The wrap bodice variation, more precisely, with this white eyelet version and this other in a floral print, both of them fitting the BHL model to perfection. The strapped bodice, however… I don’t know, the high neckline proportions are a little… weird I guess?
I was a little disapponted by the fit of all the versions I had seen on the internet, as they all seemed to have some weird fabric folds on the bodice, but I thought I had found the solution in this post by Sew Busy Lizzy: adding clear elastic to the wrap bodice edges, to prevent them from stretching and bagging over time.
I started by making a first muslin in size 6/10, following the size chart. The result was a disaster: the bodice was wrinkling and sagging all over the place, with the fabric on the bust bagging on the sides, as if my boobs were suffering from exotropia and were looking outwards. I was at a loss, not really knowing what to change to fix this. I decided to use another method and pick my size based on my upper bust measurement (so a size 4/8) then do an FBA using the BHL tutorial. Then I made the huge mistake of cutting directly into my fabric without making a second muslin.
After assembling the bodice, I realized that my divergent breasts problem was very much still there. The apex pointed by the darts was nearly two inches to the outside of my actual bust apex. In a desperate “make it work” moment, I took in width from the center front by augmenting the overlap of the wrap, and modified the skirt pleats to match the new bodice width, which unfortunatly removed any wearing ease that was left at the waist (BHL patterns having very little ease to begin with). I also tacked the wrap edges together at the neckline, which seems to have made it a bit better.
The end result is wearable, but only because the fabric is black… It’s alright from afar, but looking closely you can clearly see that not everything is where it should be.
I was really sad to have wasted my fabric, a beautiful textured rayon found in the Toto fabric store in Montpellier, with a subtle chevron pattern. If I could go back in time, I would take the time to do another muslin before cutting into it, but to be honest I’m so sure of what I could have done to fix the pattern. Does anyone have good resources on adjusting a real of mock wrap bodice?
It’s a shame that this bodice didn’t work out, especially since there are other aspects of the pattern that I really like. The skirt pleats are gorgeous, and the high-low version works really well thanks to the amount of flare in the skirt – even though now it’s already a bit dated. The back of the bodice is also very pretty, with its subtly scooped-out armholes, and I think it is really flattering (sorry for the bra straps on the picture though!).
I definitely won’t use this pattern again for a dress: I’m still not liking the other bodice, and after reading Michelle’s post I’m convinced the wrap bodice is not worth struggling over to make it work. That said, now that I’m looking at these pictures (from a trip to New Orleans this spring) I realize I do like the skirt a lot, and that I’d like to make the non-high-low version someday. I’m keeping the pattern for the day I want to make another pleated skirt, maybe that will make me feel better about this failed project!
Any positive or negative experience with this pattern? Wrap or mock-wrap bodice dresses to recommend instead? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the subject!
Flora – By Hand London
Size 4/8 with FBA and makeshift adjustments
Textured rayon and solid black rayon lining from Toto tissus