Karma’s a bitch, as they say. There are several things that sensible sewists should not to do when working on a project and I committed a cardinal sin of sewing the other day. This massive ding-dong was to post a picture on Instagram of my bias binding progress, while making a jokey comment about how I rarely make a muslin. And, of course, this finished project is a very good example of why you should make a muslin, and particularly when you’re using a new-to-you designer. That’ll teach me.*
Doesn’t it look pretty on the hanger? This is the Flor Top/Dress from designer Bella Loves Patterns, who are based out of London. As you can see, it’s quite a dramatic design, with big flouncy ruffles and a distinct silhouette. The dress version was just a little too flouncy for me, so I knew from the get-go I would make the top and also exactly which fabric I’d use. I was delighted on holiday in September to get a chance to pass through Missoula again and pop into The Confident Stitch. I went in primarily to buy some fabric for one of the many tests I’ve been working on (yes, that’s where I’ve been), but while there picked up this black broderie anglaise without any clear idea what to make with it. As luck would have it, I spotted this pattern browsing on Instagram and immediately knew it was THE ONE.
Speaking of Instagram, there was another BIG schoolgirl error apart from the one in the first paragraph. In all seriousness, I do sometimes make muslins and the only reason I make fewer these days is that I’m familiar with my adjustments for many designers. As well as that, I also do research patterns on Instagram, patternreview.com, The Foldline and so on, to get an idea of how the garment looks on “real” people before I make any pattern decisions and I find it enormously helpful. This pattern is fairly new, so when I didn’t find much under #flortop I didn’t think about it too hard. In actual fact though, the proper hashtag is #blpflor and if I’d looked at that, it would really, realllyyy have helped. Do you want to know why?
This is why.
If you’ve read this blog, well… EVER… you’ll know that my tummy is not my favourite body part and you’ll also have heard me banging on about how my height is basically between my underbust and my crotch. Now, I knew this top was cropped and, I must admit, I did think the pieces looked rather petite when I cut them out. But I figured, well, I still have the sizeable waistband to add. Except it wasn’t that sizeable.
On many/most people this top looks fine. If you are petite and/or short-waisted, or possibly even smaller-chested you’ll have no issues I wouldn’t think. I read about one lady who had to shorten her top to make it work. I don’t know how that’s possible since, in my case, if it were any shorter I’d need pasties, but – hey – if it worked for her, then fair play. If I’d looked at the proper hashtag I’d have seen a couple of people who look a little like me with a much shorter top than others, but I didn’t. I could also, you know, have measured the pattern, but I didn’t. And, of course, made a muslin, but I didn’t. Entirely my fault, but let it serve as a note for you, should you make it.
And you may well choose to make this because it’s a nice design if you’re partial to a flounce or two. The other nice thing about it is that it comes with cup sizes A to D, which was another reason I jumped straight in. I don’t mind doing FBAs, but I haven’t had 100% success with princess-seamed garments, so it’s definitely an incentive if someone’s done the work for me already. The draft seems pretty spot on in terms of volume (for me at least) and I would perhaps lower the apex very slightly next time. The only area that needs improving is that the front is significantly shorter than the back, so I think I definitely could do with a bit more length in the front. Not an unusual alteration for a fuller bust, but I’d be interested to know if other D-cuppers had the same issue.
Of course, I need a bit more length in general, so I would definitely widen the waistband too I think – maybe double it, or more! I would prefer the crop to reach at least my high waist, but maybe even my natural waist. To put it in perspective, I’m wearing my high-waisted Dawn jeans here, which I added an inch of height to! I made the 18D cup Flor Top, which matches my measurements fairly closely, but I would grade out to the 20 below the bust next time.
The construction was set up in a logical way that I like. Basically, you do a lot of prep work right away, such as stay-taping the necklines and armholes, finishing lots and lots of edges before you sew and then, I thought quite unusually, attaching the front and back pieces at the shoulder seams, before staystitching the entire side-seam. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it before where you attach the front and back before completing the princess seams on the front and back body pieces, but then I haven’t made a ton of princess-seamed garments, so who knows? I rather liked getting it all out of the way one evening to give me a fairly straight sew the next day without stopping and starting too much. It seems like it might be more of a European style of construction as I’ve seen this kind of thing in a couple of Scandinavian patterns before.
I thought the instructions were very good, with excellent illustrations, although a complete beginner would probably have to look a few things up. I would note that the seam allowance changes a lot, so keep an eye out for those changes. There is a TON of binding to do, but it is well-explained. My main changes were to staystitch instead of use stay tape, and I also didn’t interface the waistband. This was just because of my fabric choice since the eyelets are see-through. It probably didn’t help with the waistband, but there we are.
So, look, overall, if I were still 19 with a flat stomach I’d wear the hell out of this. But, as it is, I’ve been figuring out how to fix it. I could rip the waistband out and redo it, or I could wear it on top of some other things. I did try that, but don’t have quite the right garment, so I’ll have to have a think about that one. I could also add on the skirt to make the dress version, but I think that would just be too much frill for my personal style. Or maybe I’ll just donate it to a shorter-waisted friend – who knows? It was a fun project, but probably not the top for me at the moment.
Up soon will be the myriad of test garments I undertook this autumn, which include two jackets, a coat, a dress and a shirtdress. Am I nuts? Possibly. But I really enjoyed these projects, so am looking forward to showing you. Have a fun week and talk to you soon! In the meantime, enjoy some more belly pics.