Tag Archives: by hand london

Stef’s BHL Anna Dress

This week’s LSA Blog Squad post is brought to you by the lovely Stef from Stef Makes. She’s made the By Hand London Anna dress from our Libby viscose and it is just so pretty!

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Ok, so I made another floral number. I find something happens when the weather heats up and the impulse to wear flowery things on repeat sets in… just me? Well anyway, to add to my collection I now have a new By Hand London, Anna Dress in Libby Viscose from Like Sew Amazing. Not only am I in flower power heaven with this one, I think I’m actually in love.

So a little more about it…

I made an Anna Dress back in December last year for a friend’s wedding and so was not entirely unfamiliar with the pattern. Because of this I was able to make a couple of tweaks second time around to improve upon the fit even further.

The most notable adjustment this time was in making the neckline smaller. I have quite narrow shoulders and find that with the original version I am confined to wearing a strapless bra as the shoulder seams start quite a way over. This worked well for a statement evening gown but for a chuck-it-on Summer dress, I wanted to make it a bit more ‘everyday wearable’ (with any underwear I like!).

I made the neckline narrower by using the cut and slash method. From memory, I think I ended up taking around 4cm out of the circumference of the neck hole (i.e. 1cm on each of the front and back pattern pieces).

In addition to the neckline adjustment I took the bodice in at the back by a further 1.5cm. I chose to line the bodice (instead of making a facing) and found that the main fabric had a little more give than the lining. It didn’t cause an issue, just goes to show that fit will vary from fabric to fabric.

And so a word about this Viscose. What can I say, it’s gorgeous. The pattern is non-directional which meant I could be much more economical with the pattern piece placement at the cutting out stage (I am most grateful for this given that the skirt for the Anna has 7 panels!). Overall I managed to get the whole thing out of 2.5 metres. That said, I wouldn’t have had a scrap left to make any facings – lucky I chose to line the bodice instead!

The drape of the fabric also gets a thumbs up from me. It has all the lovely qualities of Viscose and makes the perfect Summer dress. Light and floaty (perfect for this hot weather) but substantial enough not to have to wear a slip underneath.

This version of the Anna is quite the contrast to my Winter wedding version from last year. It really is a versatile pattern and can be adapted for all seasons and occasions simply by changing the fabric and the cut. Hats off By Hand London! I will be making many more of these – especially now I have nailed the fit.

Speaking of style change… The last notable adjustment was the length. I realised that there is a gap in my wardrobe for dresses with skirts inbetween midi and full length and had bookmarked several versions of the Anna on Instagram where people have opted for a length that is somewhere between the two versions on the pattern packet. Not only does this fill a gap in my wardrobe, it fits the bill for a classic Summer dress; complementing style, drape and print for this version in particular.

So all things said and done I am really (really!) pleased with my new Anna. I am in the process of packing my bags for a Summer break and this little number with very definitely securing a spot.

Stef x

SewMyStyle February – Rumana Coat

February has been a really busy month for me and I wondered at times if I would get my Rumana coat finished in time!

I didn’t have any dedicated chunks of sewing time so I had to squeeze in the odd hour here and there but I got there in the end!

For those that haven’t seen it yet, the Rumana coat is the latest release from the girls at By Hand London. It is a fully lined, mid calf length coat pattern with princess seams that is an absolute classic shape and will be something to treasure for years to come.

I have some lovely grey wool in my stash but fancied making my first Rumana out of a navy cupro, to give it more of a trench coat vibe. I also wanted to check the fit and length before I cut into my expensive wool so was happy for this to be a toile if necessary.

I wanted to have a really interesting lining for a dramatic flash of colour and I found the most perfect tropical print viscose from Minerva Crafts. The colour match of the blue with the cupro is pretty spot on.

As per my previous post, I used an polyester lining for the sleeves to help them slip on and off more easily.

I needn’t have worried about the fit – it is spot on, and surprisingly the length is great on me, considering I am only 5’2! I have seen a lot of shortened versions on instagram but I love the longer length.

In terms of the construction, there are a lot of parts and I think it pays to be really organised. I like to keep my pattern pieces pinned to the fabric so that I can be sure which bit is which.

I did find the instructions/illustrations to be a little bit confusing in some places – it was really great to have the Facebook group for SewMyStyle so that we could all hive mind where necessary as it seems a lot of people were encountering the same issues. I think until the sewalong on the BHL website is finished, it may be a project to shelve for now if you are quite new to sewing, as it does need a little more handholding than the current instructions allow for.

I had to make some alterations to the pattern to allow for the fact that I wasn’t using a thicker wool. I redrafted the sleeve heads based on the lining pattern, as there wasn’t much difference in the weights of the two fabrics and I didn’t need to allow so much for “turn of cloth”. I managed to get the sleeves in with no puckers or gathers in the end, but it did take a while. Similarly, I had to shave some off of the collar band to account for the thinner fabric. Again that took a lot of patient easing in and unpicking!

I waited until my coat was finished before deciding on button placement. I ended up going with three wooden buttons which give a really nice shape and finish.

I will definitely make this coat again in a wool so that I have a lovely classic winter coat in my wardrobe. I’m just going to give myself a breather and some more “quick win” projects for a little while first!

Who else has made the Rumana and how did you find it?

Sarah x

 

 

Sew My Style – Rumana Coat – Getting Started

Hands up who’s excited to make the Rumana Coat?!

I have been itching to get my hands on this pattern since I knew it was coming out last August and we were fortunate enough that By Hand London agreed to work with us for February to have it as our featured pattern.

For those sewists who are fairly new to sewing, or coat making, I thought I would give you an idea of where to start when gathering supplies.

Printing:

Firstly, as this is a PDF only pattern, I would recommend printing via a copyshop. There are five AO sheets so, goodness knows how many if you were printing A4 at home! More power to you if you are up for that challenge, but I would much rather pay a few pounds extra and get someone else to do the leg work!

I personally use Netprinter, who are an online copy shop. I have used them for during 2017 and have never had any issues with them and find them super speedy. They do deliver internationally too. You can use the code ‘SEWMYSTYLE – Can I have my chocolate please?’ for an extra sweet treat with your order!

Outer fabric:

In the UK, we are still in the depths of Winter, so this is a great chance to break out the wool fabric. There are lots of lovely options out there and you can look at different wool blends with a fibre such as cashmere, for a more lux coat. Of course, if you are in a warmer climate, or would like a lighter coat, you could opt for more of a linen mix.

When I was shopping for wools, I found it much easier to shop in person. As the fabric tends to be more expensive, I really wanted to be able to see and feel the fabric to make sure I was 100 percent happy with it. Most online shops do offer samples though, if you do want to order online.

Lining fabric:

I love a colourful contrasting lining for a coat. It is mostly hidden but you get a flash of it, as you take it off. You can of course, use a more traditional acetate/polyester lining fabric and sometimes you can get them in a polka dot or similar pattern, however, they do tend to be quite plain. If you are looking for a patterned lining, I think a lovely cotton lawn or rayon would be perfect for the Rumana.

I adore the contrast lining of this version by Cotton Reel Studio.

One thing I would add, is that you should try and use something slinky on the sleeves, to allow you to get your arms in and out easily. You can use something different to your main lining fabric on the sleeves, but if you are using a cotton lawn for the entire lining, it will make it harder to get the coat on and off if the sleeves are also cotton lawn.

Fabric preparation:

I always pre-wash my fabric before sewing, however, with wool, I am going to leave it, as I won’t be washing it when it is sewn up into the coat. I would simply spot clean or dry clean. There is also an option to put the wool into the tumble dryer with a damp towel, however, I haven’t tried that myself, so please don’t take my word for it!

Lauren from Guthrie & Ghani has just done an excellent vlog on fabric care which you can find here.

Top Tips: 

Consider adding a small fabric loop on the inside under the collar (stand). This will help no end when it comes to hanging the coat up!

For a perfect fit, make a toile from a cheaper fabric before cutting into your main fabric. There are lots of areas that you can adjust the fit with this pattern – ie, the princess seams and the two part sleeves.

You may find it easier to block fuse your fabric. To do this, simply apply interfacing to a section of your fabric before cutting out your pattern pieces. I find this much easier and quicker than cutting out the interfacing separately from the main fabric and then fusing them together.

I can’t wait to see what everyone makes this month!

Little Red Dress Project

Hello and Happy Nearly Christmas to you all!

If you are a sewist on Instagram, you can’t have failed to have noticed that the Little Red Dress Project is back this December. This challenge started in 2016, and this year, Rosa from Rosabella Angelica and Renata from Running in Style are hosting.

The idea is that you sew a red dress and do the reveal on Instagram between 17th and 24th December.

I didn’t take part previously, but this year, I had a dress to make for the New Craft House Winter Party so I thought I would combine the two.

Normally, I am a dive right in kind of gal. I rarely make a toile and just fit as I go. However, as I don’t make many party dresses any more, and wanted this one to be a real labour of love, I spent quite a lot of time on preparation.

I liked the look of the By Hand London Flora dress, so made a toile of the bodice out of some old pillowcases. It really didn’t work for my figure and would have needed a lot of fit adjustments, so I abandoned that one in favour of the By Hand London Anna dress.

Initially, I did think that I would mix the Anna bodice with the Flora skirt to create a Floranna mash up. I made a toile of that and I really loved it as the skirt is much fuller and more twirlable (!) than the Anna skirt. But, after watching an episode of Mad Men where Peggy has a navy dress with the most amazing red godets, I came up with the idea of adding godets to the Anna to give that extra fullness. And not just any godets, sequinned ones!!

I bought some stunning deep red satin from Barry’s in Birmingham when I was up there for Sew Brum. I bought the red sequins and lining fabric from Fabricland.

As with my Liberty Anna, I decided to fully line it, especially as I didn’t want the sequins to irritate my skin. I didn’t add the godets to the lining skirt, as I didn’t think that would be necessary.

The godets were a bit of trial and error, I ended up making them a bit smaller in the end as I preferred how that looked.

I usually love a dress with pockets but decided not to add them to this one, as I didn’t want to ruin the line of the dress and the satin showed every single thing so they would have really shown through.

The sequinned fabric was really good to me – I just sewed it up on my normal machine and I even managed to overlock the edges, with only one broken needle to show for it! I know you are normally advised against overlocking sequins, but as I was only finishing the edges in a single layer, I went for it and it paid off!

As an extra flourish and to add a bit of detail to the bodice, I added some sparkly beads, which I painstakingly hand stitched. The plan was to add quite a lot of them cascading down from the shoulders, however, when the four rows that I did manage took about 3 hours, I decided to call it quits then!

I had to be really precise with my stitching as the plain fabric was not very forgiving. I also decided not to hand hem, as even the tiniest of slip stitches would have created a pull on the outside, so I used bias trim and then folded it under and machine stitched. It is visible but it almost gives the effect of a horse hair braid hem.

I am glad that I took my time and I am really pleased with the overall dress.

As an added extra for the New Craft House party, I also made myself a fake fur stole and a silver pleather clutch bag. I will do a separate post on those as I am aware that I have gone on quite a bit here!

I can’t wait to see what everyone else has made!

Thanks

Sarah x

 

Birthday Anna dress

I made my first By Hand London Anna dress a couple of months ago and I absolutely love everything about it and resolved to make another one very soon.

I was lucky enough to get some money for my birthday earlier in the month so headed to Liberty at the first opportunity and bought a couple of metres of one of their new collection cotton tana lawns – Earthly Delights.

I thought it would be perfect for another Anna and as it is on a black base, it would still be good to wear in winter with tights, but I decided to make it fully lined so I wouldn’t have to worry about it riding up.

For the previous version, I had done the slash neck option but I decided to try out the v neck for this one. Having looked at a few pictures of other people’s makes on Instagram, I took the decision to take the v down about half an inch as I thought that would look more flattering. I think I might split the difference though next time, as it is maybe a teeny bit low for work, without a cami underneath!

The other major change I made, was to abandon all of the facings and line the top instead. I think this gives a much nicer finish, and as I wanted to line the skirt, it made much more sense. I managed to engineer it so that I could machine stitch all of the seams to make it a really clean finish. if you would like more details or a tutorial on how I did this, please let me know!

The Liberty lawn was such a pleasure to work with – if you’ve been working with slippery or difficult fabrics for a while, it is such a refreshing change to work with something that just behaves itself!

The biggest challenge I had though was when it came to pattern placement. The fabric contains lots of fruits and vegetables that, if placed incorrectly could be quite comical. There are some very phallic looking carrots and some very “yonic” looking fruits – look at me, I learned a new word. Basically, I didn’t want to end up with any of these in the wrong place but it did create the hashtag #secretvajayjay!

I also had to avoid any melons on my er, melons!

Amazingly, I managed to avoid all of the pitfalls although cutting out did take a lot of thought and consideration!

Had I bought the fabric online, I may have been more clued in, as the website describes it as capturing “a hidden fairy-tale world of thick foliage and luscious fruits, presented with a delectably twisted sense of humour”!

So yes, secret vajayjays aside, I have a lovely new Anna dress and it is one of my favourites!

x

Pattern review – By Hand London Anna Dress

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to make my first By Hand London Anna dress. This pattern was released in 2013 but it is such a unique style that I don’t think it has aged at all.

I bought the pattern a while ago, after trying on one of Vicky from SewVee’s Anna dresses and falling in love with the style.

Anna has stunning kimono sleeves and a choice of necklines and skirt variations. As I only had a metre and a half of my stunning jade green Japanese cotton lawn from Guthrie Ghani, I opted for the midi length skirt with the high neck. I just about managed to squeeze it out of the fabric that I had, with a few scraps to spare.

I was very careful with the pattern placement of the birds, and was keen to avoid them right on the boob!

I cut the size 6 and was very pleased to find that it fit me perfectly with no adjustment at all! Yay to By Hand London for making patterns that fit us smaller ladies!

I did have to wait a while until I found a green zip – I really struggled to find one, but eventually found one in a near enough shade from Minerva Crafts.

The cotton lawn was lovely to work with, pressed well and hangs nicely.

The instructions were really straightforward to use. I think that maybe real beginners might struggle slightly, but if you have sewn a garment before, you should be fine.

I love this dress – I am so glad I decided to use the fabric for a dress rather than a shirt, as it is far more special. I have a wedding to go to in a couple of weeks so I hope to wear it then for it’s first spin!

I can’t wait to make a maxi version of the Anna with a side split for some drama! I just need to find the perfect fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Hand London Orsola pattern review

I absolutely fell in love with the latest pattern release from the girls at By Hand London – the Orsola dress and skirt.

It is a unique take on a shift dress that means you put in on almost like an apron and it wraps at the back and ties at the front – no zips, buttons or anything!

What I particularly loved was the deep v of the back neckline and the stunning scalloped hem.

Fabric recommendations for the Orsola are quite drapey fabrics, such as viscose. I chose to make mine in a cotton lawn from Liberty as, with all of the bias cut edges, I wanted to use something a bit more stable. Plus, I had just bought this gorgeous black and white print in the recent Liberty sale, and thought it would be perfect.

I decided to line the bodice with plain black cotton lawn, to save some of the Liberty fabric for another project. It was really easy to fit into much less fabric than the pattern suggested – probably less than 2 metres.

There is a wide facing that runs along the entire curved hem. I did initially think that I would scrap the facing and use bias binding instead, however, on second look, I decided that this would be much harder to do as I wanted to make the version with the front scallop, so I stuck to the original instructions. I do think that you could use bias binding on the non-scalloped version though.

In terms of construction, it all came together pretty easily. The instructions were clear and concise and the illustrations were helpful. If you are making this pattern yourself, I would add a few pointers:

  1. It may be helpful to draw a stitching guide for the scalloped hem to make sure you get an even curve.
  2. Sew the hem with the facing side towards you.
  3. Topstitch the hem with the facing towards you, otherwise the main fabric can bunch up a little if that is on top. It may also be worth using a walking foot for this stage.
  4. Take the time to do all of the stay stitching advised at the start of the pattern – these details will make all of the difference and prevent any stretching out.
  5. There are 18 darts to sew in total (!) Mark and pin them all out and batch sew them in the beginning for greater efficiency.
  6. Press the lining darts in the opposite direction to the main fabric darts. This means that you will have less bulk at the seams.

Overall, I am absolutely thrilled with this dress. I really enjoyed the process of making it. I think the fit is brilliant and really true to size. I love that it is a smart dress that can be worn to work, or out to dinner.

I actually don’t have that many darker items in my handmade wardrobe so I am really pleased with this combination, especially as it means that I can wear it in the summer, but also in the winter with tights and a cardi. I love the way you can synch it in or let it out, using the waist tie, as needed.

The crossover back and scalloped hem details are what really sets this pattern apart and make it a really special dress.

Well done to the girls at By Hand London!