Whoops — I didn’t mean to disappear for the last month; during April and May, I have been super busy toiling and sewing my top-secret project, along with working on a handful of other dresses that also need to be photographed and blogged! As the weather is so gorgeous right now, my #MinervaMake for May is this super sundress, using an exceptionally vibrant cotton sateen that Minerva gifted me — head over to Minerva to read up my blog post or scroll down for more details and photos!
This vivid floral cotton sateen totally captivated me when it arrived; the colours are so rich, with an almost stained-glass like appearance with the black outlining the flowers. The print is quite bold and large, although I wouldn’t class it as a directional print, which made laying out all my pattern pieces a breeze (I have been burnt so many times by not using the ‘with nap’ fabric yardage and coming up short, yet have I learnt this lesson? No). The cotton is blended with 3% spandex, which gives it some widthways stretch, and the fabric structure is medium-weight, so all the cutting and pinning was super easy. Gathering cotton sateen can sometimes be a bit of a pain, but I think that the medium-weight structure of this fabric has given the gathered skirt fullness and a bit of body, which gives the finished dress excellent twirliness. I used three lines of gathering stitches instead of two, and I think that helped manipulate the cotton into even gathers (plus the extra row was a very handy backup when one of my other threads snapped!).
I am a big fan of several By Hand London patterns, so making the Flora sundress for this summer was a total no-brainer! Flora is has a simple lined, square-neck tank bodice with bust and waist darts, narrow shoulder straps and different skirt options. I decided to do a bit of pattern hacking with the Flora, and changed up the narrow shoulder straps into tie straps for an even more here-comes-the-sun vibe. This was a super easy change, as I all I did was cut 4x strap pieces instead of 2x and lengthened them considerably, so I could tie them into large bows!
I also fancied a different skirt, so picked up my copy of the Deer & Doe Myosotis and used the main skirt and ruffle tier. To make this work with the Flora bodice (which is closed with an invisible zipper at the centre back), I cut the Myosotis main front skirt piece on the fold and then added seam allowance to the main back skirt pieces, so I could add the zip. I was also inspired by Kate Eva Designs, who hacked her Flora bodice by adding the Nina Lee Kew side straps; I don’t often go for strappy or sleeveless garments, as I think my silhouette looks very ‘top-heavy’ without sleeves to add some balance, so adding the Kew side straps makes me feel much more comfortable in this strappy dress. I reduced the length of the Kew side straps to make them work with the bodice by roughly 1″.
By Hand London instructions are perfect for beginners, with plenty of helpful tips included, so I whizzed through this dress without any problems. I cut out a size 12 and I also made a handful of adjustments to get the bodice fit; I lowered the front and back necklines by 1”, did a FBA to gain an additional 1″, I pinched out excess at both the armscye and neck, lowered the bust darts by 3/8″, and removed approximately 2″ from the centre back seam. I really like the square neckline at the back, although the invisible zip gods were not on my side… It is definitely not my best invisible zip, but at least I vaguely attempted to pattern match. Next time I make the Flora bodice, I think I will lower the neckline further and spend a bit of time perfecting putting in the zip.
I am so happy with my finished Flora hack! It will be perfect for the warm summer weather and my upcoming honeymoon to Greece ♥️
By Hand London Flora
Size 00/2 – 34/38
Full Bust: 30″-65¾″