The Purple Rain Dress (By Hand London Flora Dress)

The Purple Rain Dress (By Hand London Flora Dress)

The aesthetic of these photos is a lot more “goth-ish hipster in a basement” than I intended.

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? My apologies for that, January is not my favorite month. Now that we’re through with apologies, the dress. The pattern is the Flora Dress from By Hand London. I’ve made it before, and you can see some pretty terrible photos of that dress here. We all know I have a love affair with this pattern company, and also cleavage, so it was only a matter of time before I made this again.

Cameo by the camera battery charger.

For this version, I opted to use this stretch velvet I found at Joann. Velvet seems very on trend lately (have I ever been on trend?), and I’ve recently started a love affair with stretch wovens. Since making my Christmas party dress in stretch satin, I feel like I’ve entered a whole new world. No zippers!! Satin and velvet are both difficult fabrics (MORE ON THAT SHIT LATER), so I jumped on the chance to avoid trying to install a zipper.

Look ma! No zip

The Flora dress has a lined bodice, and I really debated on what to use. I didn’t want to use the velvet because boob sweat is a thing, but I still needed something with stretch. In the end, I opted for the previously mentioned stretch black satin. Folks, that was a fucking stupid choice. Imagine, if you will, sewing shifty velvet to slippery satin. I shouted. I drank wine. All to no avail. In the end, I had to concede that my sewing skills were just not really up to the task, and accepted some garment flaws. I REALLY wanted to finish this garment, you guys, so I refused to be defeated. Now, you may be thinking to yourself “But Ashley, it’s not finished! You haven’t even hemmed it!” You’d be right. I was a good sewist and let it hang over night, with every intention to hem it the next day after work. But…I just wasn’t up to it. You see, velvet needs to be hemmed by hand, and we all know hand sewing isn’t my favorite. I will mostly likely even out and hem Flora this weekend, I swear.


For construction, I just did everything from memory, I didn’t look at the instructions at all. I assembled the bodice and lining, except for the side seams, and then attached them along the neckline and armholes. I then pulled the fabric through and stitched the side seams in one long seam. Easy peasy. I cut a US 10, which is my usual size in BHL. Normally I shorten the straps, but here I didn’t, I think they’re ok. When it came to basting the front bodice pieces together, I totally ignored the pattern markings. I slipped the bodice on, and just went with what I was comfortable with. Kind of just overlapped them and pinned it in place.

I somehow took no side view photos of this, my bad.

For the skirt, I sewed the pleats and attached the pieces as normal, except for the zipper situation. When it came time to attach the skirt to the bodice, I broke my walking foot 😭 I’ve gotta stop buying cheap shitty ones off Amazon. As a consequence, the side seams and pleats don’t really line up. WHATEVER MAN. I also struggled with finishing the waist seam, because velvet+lining+darts+pleats=mega bulky seams. I tried to trim the bulk as well as I could and hand turned the wheel through the rough bits.

In addition to no side views, I also set my tripod WAY too low. Well done, self.

Speaking of bulk, I think all those folded and wrapped layers make the waist area look bulkier than it should. If I was a smart girl, I would have slashed the darts open and trimmed the bulk then. I did not do that, because derp. I’m super self conscious about my waist size anyway, so this added bulk was really bumming me out. To combat that, I put a corset on underneath my dress. Not only did it help my waistline, it also made my boobs look extra fantastic. Overall, I don’t hate the results. It’s not the best made garment, but for something to get my out of my sewing funk, it’s not so bad. It’s good to have my sewjo back!! Happy sewing πŸ™‚

10 thoughts on “The Purple Rain Dress (By Hand London Flora Dress)

  1. I think you did a fab job especially with two difficult fabrics, I love the idea of velvet but have stayed clear, when I get frustrated I swear ALOT but kids don’t approve (nor do the neighbors ) I tried the Flora and it wasn’t great with my boobs, maybe a stretch fabric would work much better. You look awesome!

    1. Oh I do too! Luckily I don’t have kids and the neighbors can’t hear me. For me, woven wrap bodices can tricky, it’s definitely something I have to try on and make adjustments as I go. Thank you!!!!

    1. Thank you! The fit was good for me, but I did ignore the pattern guidelines for the wrap front and went with what works best for my body. The BHL dress block works well for me, I tend to sew their patterns a lot because of it! I’ve never tried the tank bodice (I can’t resist cleavage), but I’ve been thinking of trying it for work.

  2. Well you look marvelous. Velvet is beautiful and you won the battle against the fabric. Have some velvet at home but i think i should finish my chiffon dress first (so slippery ).
    And ignoring the pattern guidelines often helps. I`m often more confused then before, when I read the guidelines.

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