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″.

I love the tie-strap and shoulder strap combination!

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″
Waist: 23″-60¾″
Hips: 33″-67¾″

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