Pattern hacking: Flora wrap top!

To wrap up (oh!) the Flora Dress Sewalong, we have for you one final post. As I'm sure you already know, we love a good pattern hack here at BHL HQ. The thrill we get from dreaming up an entire wardrobe from one pattern never gets old. So today, boys and girls, we'll be using our Flora Dress pattern to make the perfect little wrap top. Here's one we made earlier...

To make a Flora wrap top, you will need:

  • The Flora Dress pattern - you'll only need the Variation 1 bodice pieces A & B.
  • About a metre of your main fabric, plus the same amount of lining fabric. The fabric requirement will depend on it's width. We've made our Flora wrap top from our very own Eloise cotton, which is 60" or 150cm wide so we only needed half a metre.
  • 2m of ribbon/decorative tape/bias binding etc for the ties, cut into two equal lengths
  • All the usual sewing supplies

Step 1 - Altering the pattern

In order to make the Flora wrap top, we need to make one very small, and very minor adjustment to the bodice back pattern piece.

The Flora Dress, as it stands, has a zipper up the centre back, and a "faux" basted wrap at the front. When making the top, we're going to flip this around so that the centre back is closed (and therefore cut on the fold) and the wrap opens completely and is fastened with ribbon ties around the waist.

Take your bodice back piece and mark out the seam allowance at the centre back. This will now be your 'cut on fold' line.

Step 2 - Cutting

Fold your fabric in half lengthways, selvedges together, and secure your pattern pieces in place with pins or pattern weights. Remember that your bodice back piece will now be placed on the fold. Carefully cut your bodice out, and repeat for the lining fabric. We're using our glorious Eloise fabric and a buttery soft cotton lawn for the lining.

Step 3 - Assembling your wrap top

Start by assembling your bodices pieces as normal - stitch the darts, join the shoulders and repeat for lining - refer to your instruction booklet or see this post in our Flora Dress Sewalong.

Next up, and before we join the shell to the lining, we're going to baste the ribbon ties to the wrap front. With right sides together (NOT like I did - duh! - now my beautiful peach velvet ribbon has to be all twisted when I wear it so the right side can be seen...Bummerrrrr), and using the image below as a placement guide, baste your ribbon ties to the bodice front wraps. The ribbon needs to be 5/8" or 15mm up from the waistline, and meeting the raw edge of the wrap's neckline.

Step 4 - Joining the lining

Time to join the lining! This part is exactly the same as dictated in the instructions, except that as well as joining the lining to the shell (right sides together) at the neckline and armholes, we're also going to close the waistline of the front pieces:

  • Start your stitching from the base of the neckline where the ribbon (sandwiched inside) meets the 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance point.
  • Stitch all around the neckline until you come to the base of the neckline on the other side, stopping when you hit the ribbon.
  • Keeping your needle firmly in the fabric, lift your machine's foot and pivot so that you can stitch straight over the width of the ribbon, pivoting again immediately after the ribbon.
  • Continue stitching the waistline, but stop an inch or so before the side seam - this will make closing the side seams easier.

Now that the lining has been joined to the shell at the neckline, waistline and armholes, we need to clip into the seam allowance at the curves of the armholes and back neckline, and snip off that chunk at the wrap point to make turning your top out to the right side smoother and crispier.

As outlined in the instructions, pull your bodice front pieces through the shoulders and out to the right side and give it all a really good press. Nearly done!

Step 5 - Closing the side seams

This step is essentially the same process as shown in the instructions of the Flora Dress, just made a little more fiddly by the fact that the waistline at the bodice front has been stitched. Just go slow, and pin, pin, pin! to make sure that your shell and lining meet up perfectly at the armhole.

Step 6 - Closing the back waistline

The last thing to do is to finish the raw edges at the back's waistline. Press the waistline of the shell and lining in by 5/8" or 15mm and pin together.

Thread up a hand sewing needle and close the two edges with a blind slip stitch. See this post for more on hand stitching.

Done! Now excuse me while I go whip up a Flora skirt to match...

  • Elisalex de Castro Peake
  • EloisefabricFlora DressFlora Dress Sewalongpattern hacksewingtutorial

Comments on this post ( 5 )

  • Sep 15, 2014

    Hi Hollie – glad to hear you enjoyed the tutorial! If you make the Flora skirt with a fairly thick waistband, say 3" thick, then it should meet the hem of your Flora wrap top just fine. If not, then lengthening the bodice for the next one should work!


    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Sep 13, 2014

    Hi Elisalex,

    I fell in love with this wrap top and made my own version (http://holliecayzercouture.tumblr.com/image/97369478070) – I only wish I’d considered lengthening the bodice as you mentioned in the Flora dress sewalong, because, in all my excitement, I didn’t realise how much of a crop this top would be!

    I absolutely love how it’s turned out otherwise – I’m just not sure I’ll ever wear it due to how revealing it is :(

    Do you have any suggestions? Would the Flora skirt be high waisted enough to meet the waistline of this top?

    Thanks in advance for your advice – in the meantime, I’m off to try to make this again with another fabric, this time taking your advice about lengthening the bodice!

    — Hollie

  • May 20, 2014

    Hi Michelle, sorry to hear you’re having some issues fitting the wrap. The wrap bodice is definitely meant to have a more casual finish than the fitted tank, but puckers not so much! The only reason I can think of that you might have been left with puckers at the underarm is that the curved seam allowance at the underarm and side seam wasn’t clipped enough to allow the bodice to be turned to the right side and pressed smoothly… That, and the stabilising of the neckline are the two most important things to ensure that your wrap bodice fits to your body well and closely. The creases that you see here in these pictures are basically due to the fact that our mannequin is too small for the top we made here! Some creasing around the wrap area is completely normal, and adds to the more casual vibe of the wrap bodice. The type of fabric you go for will also have an effect on the finished look.

    I really hope this helps, if not, please don;t hesitate to contact me directly at elisalex(at)byhandlondon.com


    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • May 16, 2014

    I’m glad that you posted this, as it showcases one of the issues I had while making the wrap version of the Flora dress. I spent hours trying to find ways to eliminate all those odd puckers and wrinkles at the underarm and down the side seam of the bodice. I was a little surprised, after searching for other finished projects, that all of the wrap versions I could track down have similar issues with fit. It would appear from you images that they are an intentional element of the design. Is that the case? I had expect this to be a fitted bodice, and was sorely disappointed at how frumpy and unflattering it looked.

    — Michelle

  • May 16, 2014

    Wow this is beautiful. The fabric looks stunning in this pattern and I like the addition of the ribbon.

    — Camilla

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