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