By Hand London Flora: Cold shoulder hack

Friday, September 23, 2016

Despite mainly sewing my clothes, I still visit the high street regularly and keep up with what's in store, and I can't help but notice that cold shoulder tops and dresses are everywhere. A lot of these garments are quite loose fitting, which is not a style I can get away with too easily, but I sort of wanted in on the trend too. So I decided to make my own version, using the tried and tested By Hand London Flora bodice.
By Hand London Flora bodice hack
I'd already tackled the fit adjustments for the the Flora bodice for a culotte/jumpsuit hack, so that made it an obvious choice for experimenting with shoulder inserts. I hung onto my muslin - it's a pretty rare occasion that I'd even make one, so this was lucky - and made use of some scraps to do a bit of testing. I ended up with what's essentially a gathered arm band insert that I was pretty happy with - I'm thinking of putting this together in a more detailed fashion in the near future as a bit of a how-to if anyone's interested!

Sketches and plans
Scraps and muslin practice
The fit of my Flora remained almost the same, but I took an extra inch off the front neckline to open it up a little. I also shaved 0.5cm off the centre back, to get a slightly closer fit. I used a mid-weight crepe from the grab bins at Abakhan, which could have only cost me about £5, if not less! The fabric may look plain, but it has such an expensive feel and drape to it - the sort that you might find in Whistles or Cos.

Side view
The only thing I would do differently if I made something similar would to be line up the neckline with the shoulder inserts a little better, and lower the back neckline 1" to match the front. I'm just slightly out with these, which makes the neckline look a little disjointed rather than creating a clean line across, but oh well, practice makes perfect!

From the back!
I made the bodice without too much consideration of what the skirt would look like. I think I'd sort of envisaged a straight, just-below-the-knee-length darted style, but to be perfectly honest, I got lazy, and couldn't be bothered to draft, adjust, or find a pattern to match. My gathered skirt wasn't on a complete whim though - I tried the bodice on with an old self drafted gathered skirt to get an idea of the shape, and it just sort of worked. I used all the fabric I had left so I could make it as long as possible, and I think the gathers hang really nicely in the fabric. There's no visible stitching on the outside of the dress so I decided to go all out and finish the hem by hand too.

A long gathered skirt to off set a slim bodice
I'm really pleased with the results, and massively proud that I managed to translate what I saw in the shops, into something that's much more wearable for me. It's actually turned out quite a lot posher than I imagined, and I'm wearing it at a wedding in these pictures - who says you can't wear black to a wedding eh? I think I'd like to try it again in a print fabric, or maybe as just a top version eventually, but I do have quite a lot on my list at the moment - imminent Autumn sewing is calling! - so we'll see!

A Polaroid of me and Chris at the wedding :)
As a side note, and speaking of the Flora bodice, my culotte/Flora hybrid made it in print! Thanks Megan of Pigeon Wishes for recommending my project as her favourite pattern hack. Check out Megan's own (amazing) pattern hack and article in the latest Sew Style mag.

I'm in Sew Style!
Can anyone think of or recommend any other Flora hacks for me to try?! I've definitely got the bug now!
Stay in touch!

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  1. The dress looks really great! It's always so cool to see how people hack and add different details to different patterns :)

    1. Thanks Carlee! Yeah I love how by the end, something can be almost unrecognisable from the original pattern. One pattern can have so many possibilities! :)

  2. I love how the dress turned out. I saw your picture on instagram of the inspiration from Topshop. This is so much nicer! Good job. :)
    The Artyologist

    1. Thanks Nicole! Ha yeah the Topshop jumpsuit definitely wasn't the one for me, but at least it gave me an idea of how the 'cold shoulder' style would look! :) x

  3. This dress looks amazing on you and I love what you hav done with it, I've also looked at this trend and the free patterns of how to make a ruffle off shoulder number but it's not my style where as this is perfect. I have the Flora pattern and tried several times to muslin the wrap bodice failing each time so the pattern was put in the naughty corner :) I'm going to dig it out again, a how to tutorial would be fab.

    1. Hi Lynsey, thank you for the lovely comment. You should definitely persevere with the Flora dress - I had to make it up a few times before I got the FBA and all the fit adjustments spot on! I've just posted a little 'how to' on the cold shoulder inserts if you want to try them out too:

      :) X

  4. I love what you did, another great flora hack! I keep thinking about making a 'little black dress'!

    1. Thank you! I wear a lot of black, but surprisingly didn't have anything a bit fancier that I could call my go to LBD (maybe long black dress is more apt for mine!)


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