By Hand London Flora by Closet Case Files
Sewing Projects


Salutations from the land where winter never ends. Montreal has become a city-state in Game of Thrones, the pale, sun starved citizens wrapped in fur, murmuring a collective prayer that Spring Is Coming.

Can you tell I’ve had it? I’ve reached that point in the season where sweaters feel like shackles and my winter coat might as well be a hairshirt. I just need some warmth, bare skin and sunshine! Thankfully, the By Hand London ladies have astonishing timing. As no doubt you’ve noticed around the interwebs recently, a few lucky ladies were asked to test the new Flora pattern before it’s launch this week. I’ve found in my sewing practice that the seasonal doldrums can often be remedied by making a heaping bowl of icing, and Flora was just the sweet treat I needed.
By Hand London Flora dress By Hand London Flora-3
By Hand London Flora-5

I picked out an absolutely luscious black wool faille suiting from Mood to make the perfect Little Black Dress but unfortunately my order didn’t arrive in time to meet the pattern testing deadline (I’m working on that version this weekend).  Enter The Stash. I had about 6 yards of this beautiful Art Nouveau-ish upholstery weight linen sitting in my closet for the last 3 years. The colour palette is admittedly “autumnal” but those warm orange tones were calling out to me and it was 60″ wide which is a must for this dress – the pleated circle skirt needs a wide fabric.

And now for a shocking confession: I’ve never sewn with linen before! The reason such a lovely fabric was languishing in stash purgatory for so long was because I really loathe wrinkles and the Out of Africa vibe of linen has never really appealed to me (although I love seeing what people like Carolyn make with it….) However, because this stuff is super duper heavy weight, and has a bit of cotton in the mix, it actually doesn’t wrinkle as much as I anticipated by the end of the day. And obviously, hello breathy natural fibers.

I made Variation B (the mock wrap version is destined for the LBD….) and the US size 10 fit pretty great straight up. As usual I had a tiny bit of back gaping (DAMN YOU ROUNDED SHOULDERS!) but due to the fact that it has straps rather than shoulder seams, it isn’t too noticeable. Since this is technically my “muslin” I left out the neckline darts that would have solved the problem.

by hand london flora dress

I put in a lap zipper since I thought it added a nice vintage touch, understitched the neckline and arm holes and serged the seams. And in VERY EXCITING NEWS I did a flawless rolled hem using my new Bernina foot. I used a generic rolled foot on my old Singer but it was like using baby fists to do heart surgery, which is to say: messy, frightening and totally ill-equipped for the task at hand. My Bernie foot JUST WORKS and gives the prettiest, even-iest hem you could ask for.

by hand london flora, rolled hem, bernina #64

I used some rayon bemberg scraps for the bodice lining and it totally matched! It’s like the stash was conspiring this all along…

by hand london flora
The only change I will be making to my next Flora is to reinforce the waist seam with a little twill tape. I noticed the waist stretched a little over the day.
Otherwise, wearing this dress reminded me that I love colour (I’ve been living in black and grey all winter) and cheers me up considerably whenever I wear it. I LOVE the dipped hem and full skirt (I remember seeing the line drawing and thinking the fullness was exaggerated, but the pleats really do give great volume without a crinoline) and I think it has potential to be super glamorous or more casual depending on your fabric choice. This baby is likely going to be a go-to summer staple. Espadrilles and iced tea, I am longing for you. I will see you soon. SPRING IS COMING.

By Hand London Flora-7

  • I am loving all these Flora dresses! And I love a big floral print right now, so what’s better than a floral flora? You hem looks great, too. I just got a hemming foot for my machine and can’t wait to try it out!

    • SO MANY FLORAL FLORAS! We were all drinking the same koolaid. The hemming foot is great but it takes a little practice to get the hang of. Once you get used to how to feed the fabric in it’s pretty much pure magic (the Bernina foot is great because you don’t even have to fuss with holding the fabric a special way – it glides right through on it’s own!)

  • Your stash really delivered! This is a perfect print for this dress. love it and can’t wait now to see your LBD!
    P.S Have serious envy over that hemming foot. Might be time to invest in a new machine.

  • Cari Homemaker

    It’s so pretty. I love that oversized print fabric and your hem turned out so professional.

  • This is beautiful! I love this print! It’s so nice to have a sneak peek of summer with all these happy Floras poppin’ up!

  • What beautiful fabric, and so perfect paired with the flora! I’d love a rolled gen foot for my bernina – your hem looks so good!

  • The Stash Gods must have be speaking to you ’cause this here is a match made in heaven!! And how perfect is your lapped zipper?!

    I’ve been bravely resisting this pattern (especially version B) but seeing you style it here with tights is just about enough to tip me over the edge! Love it!

    • It’s a realy good one. Excited to try some pattern hacks too. I have only Megan Nielson to thank for teaching me how to insert the perfect lapped zip….

  • beautiful! the flora is really growing on me (as are most of by hand london patterns. i am underwhelmed at first, but that transforms into unshakable love) the fabric is a great match to the cut of the pattern. and i promise summer is coming. Montreal does have edless winters, but it also has glorious summers…

    • Joelle, let us try to survive this snow storm with grace and dignity. My boyfriend is having a really hard time adjusting but I keep promising him that the first warm week of spring in Montreal is basically the only place in the world I want to be….

  • EmilyA

    Oh I do love this version, hands down my favourite and the first that makes me think this pattern could work for me. Thank you

    • Thanks Emily! It’s one of those patterns that I liked when I saw it, and loved when I put it on. Also totally a good option for pattern hacking.

  • Oh love it with the tights, purple and orange, so autumy like and beautiful 🙂

  • Amanda Adams

    This is an autumnal masterpiece! What a fabulous effort (and my fave Flora so far!) Fab work 😀

  • Sew Little Time

    gorgeous! and i love how you paired it with the purple tights (i’m a big coloured tights fan!). it’s such a pretty pattern – i bought the pattern as soon as i saw it and have 2 versions already made (well, made in my head, unfortunately not in reality!). can’;t wait to see the LBD!

  • I do love the versatility of this pattern! Yay for your stash delivering the perfect fabrics (and your wardrobe for having the perfect shoes and tights! Can’t wait to see your black version!

    • Flora makes a perfect circle skirt too. Kinda excited to make a billion.

  • Lahhhhhv. While the wrap bodice is sweet I’ve been really digging all the tester makes that chose the square neckline. I just think it looks so flattering on everyone! This dramatic silhouette looks great on you, and I bet you can’t wait to wear this without tights in the spring!

  • sallieforrer

    GORG!!!! This is totally another fun, knockout pattern from those BHL girls! I’m kinda kicking myself for not jumping on that pattern testing bandwagon when I had the chance (Dammit!) Also, THAT PRINT!!! It’s pretty perfect. I kinda love it when people use upholstery fabrics to make clothes, and you, my dear, make it look so effing chic.

    • sallieforrer

      ALSO!!!! Shoes. Your shoes are doing little disco twirls around my heart right now.

      • I can’t wear them for more than 30 minutes. Disco heel foot cramps.

  • Camilla

    What a lovely outfit. Your dress is to die for and I love the colour of those tights. Flora rocks.

  • lovely, lovely, lovely lady. go outside in this, surely spring will come panting after you and then we will ALL REJOICE.

  • Helen McFadyen

    Gorgeous! I love it!

  • A Stitching Odyssey

    Floral Flora perfection!

  • prttynpnk

    I love this- the styling is gorgeous too!

    • Thank you! I’m kind of OVER tights (OH TO FEEL THE WARM WIND ON MY SKIN) but coloured tights are slightly less soul killing at this point in the season then black ones.

  • What a lovely Flora, great fabric. It looks great with those tights and shoes. Seriously impressed by the rolled hem and the lapped zip, something I’ve only just attempted.

    • Megan Nielson has an AWESOME lapped zip tutorial that works pretty perfectly.

      • thanks! I’ll have a look.

  • Oh that fabric is gorgeous! I love the look of a lapped zipper on any sewing project, and especially on dresses. Your earrings are beautiful as well.

    p.s. I’m loving the new blog design! I’ve been working on moving some things around with my layout too. Something about spring just makes me crave new, new, new things! 😉

    • Thanks Rochelle! I kind of copped your fixed menu thing. I though that was really smart. Super excited to see your blog designs. You are definitely one of the best blog stylists I know!

      • Well I certainly wasn’t the first one to do a fixed menu so you actually copped nothing 😉

        Thank you, I’m itching to re-do my blog every six months!! It’s a problem lol. I had been thinking of a left sidebar forever, mostly because I’m left handed so the left feels like the superior side (ha!) so I’m glad to see it works so nicely on your blog. …I might just have to cop that 😉 😉

  • Amber Johnstone

    beautiful work on the dress. well done! i have to say, i also love the rug that’s in your living room (is it your living room?) a really pretty design.

    i know what you mean about the cold. i’m in maine- just below you guys, and it’s been really cold here, too. definitely feeling like i would imagine game of thrones once winter comes. can’t wait for spring!
    beautiful blog you have. very pretty design. glad to have discovered you 🙂


    • Hi Amber! Thanks for the kind words! That rug was actually a sinfully cheap score from a rug dealer in Canada called They ship to the US (but not the Persian rugs because of the Iranian embargo). I love them, and if you’re in the market they have REALLY good sales.

  • GAHHH, I love this so much! Just gorgeous! I got the email introducing this pattern but wasn’t 100% sure about it, and I still haven’t made up the Elisalex pattern I have. But your’s is so amazing that even though I just took advantage of recent sales at both Sewaholic and Vogue patterns I may have to get this one too after all.

    I’m totally with you on being tired of winter. I’m in Kingston and we got the worst of yesterday’s snowmageddon + crazy wind in Ontario. And it’s a balmy -16C right now, whee! A few years ago I started gradually building what I call my ‘Canadian Spring’ wardrobe: winter-weight clothes in spring colours. It’s slow going because I don’t encounter pretty spring coloured woollens and the like too frequently (most of my wool fabrics come from Value Village these days – a potentially great source for vintage wool fabrics) and I need to use what’s already in the stash as much as possible anyway, but I’m getting there bit by bit.

    I think your fabric could work equally well for spring and autumn. For example, it looks like pale green or robins egg blue (my current fave colour) would work with the print to make it a little more spring-y.

    You’ve totally inspired me with this, thank you for the pick-me-up as I look out on an unendingly snowy landscape outside my windows!

    • KINGSTON HAS THE BEST VALUE VILLAGE EVER!!! The last time I was there (visiting a friend) I could have taken a UHaul home with just vintage kitchen stuff. Sigh. So jealous. I definitely need to take your lead on this Canadian wardrobe thing. I am SOOOOOO over my winter stuff (by the end of the winter I basically just give up and wear the same black leggings, oversize sweaters, Sorels and wool socks every day. My boyfriend is looking forward to seeing a dress again). Our climate definitely makes getting excited about getting dressed a challenge 12 months a year. I nixed the LBD idea and am making an awesome circle skirt out of the Flora from my beautiful black wool – this is gonna geta TON of wear this spring with bright silk and cotton tops.

      • Haha, I do like the Value Village here. For a while I was getting really awesome vintage china plates and making those tiered dessert/tea servers with them – they make for really great and inexpensive gifts! And tea cups. I’m hoping to snag a silver tea service from there one day (ummm, yeah, so tea and sewing kinda do run my life).
        Is the friend you visited here also into sewing? Do they still live here? I need more sewing friends around here, lol.
        I think the black circle skirt from this pattern is an excellent idea. I’m planning something similar myself with black wool (blend) using the Colette Zinnia pattern…..after I’ve finished the crazily giant (or giantly crazy?) sewing project I’m working on right now.

  • LOVE IT! I hear ya about winter. Damn Starks!

  • Amy

    “out of Africa” linen… ha! Linen is such a perfect fabric in my climate but often dislike how it gets all baggy and loose (especially in trousers). This one seems to really hold its body well. Annnd you always look so good in their dresses. Lucky you to have discovered a good hemming foot–hemming’s the one thing that drags me in making such big skirts!

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  • omigod, this is perfect. How could I have missed this?? You look fabulous, and this floral is not too sweet but kinda edgy so I love it! Thanks so much for the mention too 🙂

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