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Flora Dress Sewalong #1: The world (of fabrics) is your oyster!

Yoo hoo and welcome to the first post in the Flora Dress Sewalong! Today we'll be talking about the wonderful world of fabrics, and how you pretty much can't go wrong with the Flora Dress - how will you make yours...??

To make the Flora Dress, you will need the following basics:

  • Up to 3 metres of your main fabric, 60"/150cm in width (or 4 metres of a narrower fabric - we'll be showing you an alternative layplan for this soon). You will also need lining fabric - we recommend you go for a lightweight 100% cotton lawn, and you'll need up to 1.1m to line the bodice, or the same metreage as your main fabric if you choose to fully line your dress. Please check the back of the Flora Dress folder, or her product page for more details. 
  • A 22" invisible zipper
  • Other various dressmaking supplies - pins, tape measure, tailor's chalk, fabric scissors, matching thread, an invisible zipper foot, a regular zipper foot, tracing paper, hand sewing needle, hook & eye etc.

What we're making

Variation 1 - Faux-wrap bodice with an exaggerated dipped hem skirt: We've gone for the same medium weight, white broderie Anglaise cotton that we used for the official shoot of the Anna Dress - perfectly summery yet structured enough to hold the shape of the pleated circle skirt. This festival-ready number will be finding it's home with Victoria, who will no doubt be grunging it up with a pair of battered old Converse.

Variation 2 - Tank bodice with the given dipped hem skirt: For the quintessential Springtime tea dress, we chose this beautifully classic over-sized floral cotton lawn. It's pretty sheer, so a full lining is a must. This Flora number two will be seeing Charlotte through wedding season.

Bonus variation - the Flora Playsuit: Y'all have probably realised by now that we love us a bonus variation! We really wanted to show off Flora's infinite versatility by splitting the pattern up into separates. With this delicious navy dotted Swiss voile we'll be showing you how to make yourself a Flora Skirt and matching Flora wrap top. I (Elisalex) called dibs on this one!

Let's talk about... Fabric

We really do mean it when we say that the world of fabrics is your oyster with the Flora Dress! Pretty much anything will not only work, but will result in dramatically different looks depending on the type of fabric you choose. You could literally end up with a wardrobe of entirely unique dresses from this one pattern - and that's exactly where we're headed.

In terms of woven fabrics, we especially recommend cotton lawn and quilting cottons, voile, cotton poplin, cotton twill, seersucker, upholstery cottons, cotton silk, brocade, jacquard, taffeta, dupion silk, silk satin, silk crepe, silk habotai, silk twill, wool crepe, wool tweed, eyelet lace, embroidered tulle and rayon. When browsing, think about the kind of drape you want in your skirt - stiffer fabrics will give you a more 50s style, full skirted finish (which you could even underline in crinoline to make it really stand out!), whereas floatier fabrics will result in a flirtier skirt which moves with your body.

You could even make your Flora Dress from a stable knit such as ponte or double knit - this would work best for the faux-wrap variation, or even a stand alone Flora skirt! You will still need the zipper however, and we highly recommend making up a toile first when experimenting with new fabrics.

Let's talk about... Notions

Aside from the basic 22" invisible zipper and optional hook & eye, we will be going through a few extra techniques to really zhuzh up your Flora Dresses...

  • We'll be fixing any gaping at the neckline of the wrap bodice with twill tape - of which you'll need a couple of metres. Go for twill tape that is 1/4" - 1/2" wide, and in a colour that matches your main fabric.
  • With the innards of your skirt on show (if you're opting for the dipped hem skirt), we will be striving for perfection during this sewalong - with any visible seams and hems finished to such a standard that we would be just as proud to wear our dresses inside out. Stock up on pretty ribbons and decorative tapes to mask the inside of your hem, good quality bias binding (not of the crunchy kind!) to ensconce your excess seam allowances and horsehair braid to give extra body to your hem (not really suitable for drapier fabrics).
  • Inspired by vintage sewing techniques, we'll be adding a couple of really effective finishing touches that will make a world of difference to the comfort and practicality of your dress - bra and waistline stays. A bra stay is simply a little loop of grosgrain ribbon (the narrowest you can find) sewn into the straps of your dress, with a teeny weeny popper/snap on the end. As you might have guessed, these stays simply hold your bra strap in place preventing it from poking out the side of your straps. A waistline stay is a wider width (1/2" or so) length of grosgrain ribbon hand sewn into the waistline of your dress, fastened at centre back with poppers/snaps. This takes any pressure off the zipper, and also helps to hold up a heavy skirt, preventing the bodice from being pulled down by the extra weight.


That's all for today people - now go shop! Raid the stash! Stock up on supplies! And we'll see you shortly for some nice n' nerdy pattern alteration...!


Comments on this post (6)

  • Apr 22, 2014

    Hi Elisalex, thanks for getting back to me. I live just outside of London so will take a trip to A1 fabrics soon!

    — Nicole

  • Apr 22, 2014

    Hi Nicole, the broderie we got from A1 fabrics on Goldhawk rd in London. Are you London based? If not, have you tried online? x

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Apr 19, 2014

    Hi, I love the broderie anglaise fabric you have shown here, could you tell me where you purchased it please? I would like to make my Flora in similar fabric but finding it very hard to source. Thanks!

    — Nicole

  • Apr 08, 2014

    This will be my first ever sew along and I’m going to make it for my 25 year old daughter, I’m so excited so many decisions, I can’t wait till she is home from work to show her what I like. Wish me luck I’m currently on a diet and am working my way down the scale so far 9.4 kgs but a bit further to go till I can make your beautiful designs for myself. It is my goal to make something I nearly September as we head overseas for 2 months and all the weight has to be gone. So excited!!!!!!!!!!!!

    — Michelle196208

  • Apr 07, 2014

    What a huge range of suitable fabric! I’m going to make the faux-wrap, dipped hem version for my 20 something daughter. I’ve chosen a cotton 3% spadex mix, that has quite a lot of body, and a voile to line it. Looking forward to joining in.

    — barbarajanemade

  • Apr 02, 2014

    Totally ready to rock and roll with a metre of yellow cotton poplin for the bodice and two metres of black “oui Paris” cotton poplin for the skirt, along with black piping to emphasize my faux wrap neckline :) can’t wait to dig into this one :)

    — Anja

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