Tag Archives: By Hand London

A review of 2020

I’ve done review posts (and then planning posts for the forthcoming year) for quite a few years on this blog and I wasn’t going to do one this year (I won’t be doing a planning post) but then I realised it’s been my most productive sewing year so far so it would be a shame not to celebrate all the things I’ve made.

I do want to acknowledge my privilege before I dive into my makes because I know a lot of people have lost friends and family members this year and have lost jobs and had their lives as they knew them fall apart. I myself work in a bookshop and was furloughed when the UK went into lockdown in March and was about to go back to work when we entered the second lockdown in November, but this was delayed until December. I was back at work for 4 weeks and a day when Gloucestershire was moved to tier 4 (today) meaning that I am furloughed again. I have been paid at least 80% of my wages that whole time and my partner and I have relatively low outgoings (and he went back to work in June) so we have been okay financially. I also have a flat to live in and hobbies to occupy me so I was able to enjoy most of my time not working. There were weeks when I was fed up of being in my house, but I did manage to visit family in the Summer when it was permitted and we have my partner’s family close by where we live. I have no children so I didn’t have to suddenly become a teacher over night and this means my time has been my own to do with as I please. I have also had regular online chats with my close group of friends from uni and I feel we have deepened out friendships – usually we try to meet up once per year and have a whatsapp chat but it has been nice to feel like we are close together even when we are (literally in some cases) thousands of miles apart.

With all that said for the first 3 or so months of the lockdown I sewed ALL THE THINGS that I had in my mind to make for probably years. I had bought fabric with specific projects in mind and then never quite got around to them, even with moving to working part-time last June (2019). In 2019 I made 16 garments and in 2020 I made 35 garments (2 of which I haven’t yet shared here) and refashioned one. That’s quite a difference!

I’ll start with jackets and coats – I didn’t realise I made 4!

Sequined Bomber jacket

Houndstooth Richmond jacket


Gold Rumana Coat

Victoria Blazer Coat hack

And of course, no sewing year for me would be complete without a bunch of shirts!

Blue and Pink Popover Kalle

Yellow Geometric Kalle

Faces Kalle


White and Black Checked Blaire

Classic White Melilot

I also did some epic scrap-busting and made a load of Inari Tees from larger scraps I had in my stash.

Silver Knit Inari

Electric Blue Inari

Jungle Print Inari


Crowd Inari


Cotton Lawn Inari


Pink Striped Inari


Yellow Geometric Inari


Black Striped Inari

2020 was also the year of making jeans for me – I made 5 pairs in total!

Ginger Jeans

First Pair of Dawn Jeans


Pale Denim Dawn Jeans


Black Skinny Dawn Jeans


Navy Skinny Dawn Jeans

I also made some other trousers that weren’t jeans!

Black Crepe Evelyn Trousers

Grey Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Double Gauze Arden Pants

Mustard Double Gauze Arden Pants

I finally made 2 pairs of Carolyn Pyjamas, the fabrics for which I had had for years and years!

Liberty Cotton Carolyn Pyjamas

Boaty Carolyn Pyjamas

I refashioned my Sew Over It Anderson blouse into a Marilla Walker Mercury top and I very much prefer the new iteration of this gorgeous fabric!

I made another Cleo dungaree dress mostly just to use up some leftover denim. I’m not sure how much wear it will get to be honest!

I also made another Sew Over It Nancy Dress – again not sure how much wear it will get, though it will certainly have to wait for warmer weather either way.

Another make¬† I’m not sure will get much (if any) wear is this Sallie Jumpsuit. The fabric is a little too thin and clingy for me to feel completely comfortable.


On the opposite end of the scale is my denim Roberts dungarees which have already had sooo much wear! They’re so comfortable and a good choice for days when I’m mostly sitting at home but don’t want to wear sweatpants!

It’s no wonder after all the sewing – and all the new items for my wardrobe – that I slightly ran out of steam after the first few months! Though a few things were made after the first main batch, the vast majority were made in April, May and June.

I want to try my hand at underwear in 2021 – I bought some supplies to make period pants, to find another way to be more sustainable and reduce my impact on the environment. I did made reusable make-up wipes this year and they have been a triumph!

I also stopped wearing bras really at all last Winter (under so many layers of clothes when it’s freezing at work, who can tell anyway!) but in the Summer with only one layer on I do kind of want at least something else to protect and slightly support my boobs so I’m going to have a go at making some bralettes. I’m lucky that I don’t need the support of underwiring or more supportive bras – when I was younger (like a teenager) I wished I had bigger boobs but now I’m so glad they’re not!

I’ve also got a (rescheduled) wedding to attend in the Summer so I’ll definitely be making a new outfit – I don’t feel like I went out that much before the pandemic but I like having bigger events to go to as an excuse to make something fancier than I would wear in my every day life.

But these are my only plans – I used to plan yearly and monthly my makes but I almost never followed through with the plans so I’m just have ideas for now. And now my wardrobe if necessary items is pretty much complete I might have a go at some more frivolous makes just for fun – and to expand my sewing skills!

Happy New Year! And thank you for following my making journey this year – I’m so thankful I have had sewing to keep me occupied for the vast majority of 2020!

Victoria Blazer Coat Hack

Do you ever have projects in mind that you mean to make for literally years and you somehow don’t get around to? I clearly do (as with my Sallie Jumpsuit) and this make is no exception! I’ve had it in my mind to do a coat hack of the By Hand London Victoria Blazer since they blogged the hack back in 2013!! And it’s finally come to fruition!

I honestly have no idea when I bought the fabric, but it was from Rolls and Rems in Holloway Road (which is no longer there) and it was a 3m ‘remnant’ of curtain fabric. The lining I think was also from there. I have had both pieces in my stash for years and always ear-marked them both for this coat. I kinda put off making it for so long because of the pattern hacking involved – not that it was especially complicated – and always pushed it to the back of the sewing queue in favour of a quicker or easier make.

As they recommend in the blog post, I traced the pattern a couple of sizes bigger than I made the jacket versions (which I’ve made 3 times, see the bottom of this post for links), so I traced the size 12. I also have not liked in my jacket versions how, because there is no facing, the lining basically always tries to flip out at the front. This hack would be really really simple if you don’t want a facing, but I added one and that was the part that gave me a little head-scratching!

I am about 5’3″. I added:

  • 16cm to the sleeve length (they’re cropped in the jacket version)
  • 25cm to the length of the coat
  • I cut the lining 2.5cm shorter than the shell
  • I cut the lining with an extra 2.5cm on the fold of the back piece, which I took out with a pleat to add extra fullness to the lining (which is how I prefer a coat to fit)
  • I added 25cm to the lapels (though I think it should have been less, but I just stitched the bottoms into the hem to keep them in place)
  • I used the collar as drafted for the size 12
  • I didn’t use the cuffs
  • I used the pockets as drafted, and placed them according to the markings on the longer jacket view. (the shorter one doesn’t have pockets)

To make the lining with a facing, I took the front piece and drew a straight line down to the dart point, then a straight line down to the hem.

You’ll then need to trace both pieces, adding seam allowance (I did 1.5cm, as with the rest of the pattern) from the dart point, outwards, to the hem.

You can then stitch the dart and the seam in one – following the pattern instructions, but just carrying on stitching the new seam all the way to the hem. The thin piece (on the left in the below photo) should be from shell fabric and the other piece (on the left) should be from lining fabric.

I stitched the facing to the lining, making the lining look like it would without the facing, then I attached the lining (and facing) to the shell along the front edge, as dictated in the pattern instructions.

Since it’s not quite totally freezing yet in the UK, this is a great jacket to have added to my Autumn/Spring wardrobe. I’ve been alternating between this jacket and the trench coat I refashioned as part of my Miss Fisher costume.

Sorry, not sorry for a bajillion photos!

I really like the loose, easy fit of this coat/jacket. I’ll definitely wear it basically every day it’s not too cold or too hot for it!

What’s the longest you’ve planned a make before it came to fruition – or are you still counting? I don’t really know why I procrastinated about this for so long – I thought the pattern hacking would be harder than it turned out to be!

 

 

Bonkers Gold Rumana Coat

What’s one thing everyone needs in their wardrobe? Obviously the answer is a gold floor length coat! Sorry not sorry there are loads of photos! This is definitely a #SewFrosting garment!

This is, of course, the By Hand London Rumana Coat pattern. I made the size 10 with no fitting adjustments – I was definitely taking a bit of a risk by not making a toile, but I crossed my fingers it would fit well enough to get away with. And I think it does. For reference I’m 5’3″ so if your’e taller and want the coat to be ankle-length you may need to add some length.

The only thing is maybe the sleeves are a little long, but that’s a relatively minor thing in the grand scheme of a gold floor-length coat!

I’ve done quite a few of the techniques involved in making the Rumana coat before, in make my Honetone coat, my Joe Jacket and my Richmond blazer, but I still found the sewalong so, so useful – so if you’re planning on making a Rumana and you’re feeling intimidated, there’s no need!

The fabric was actually 2 pairs of curtains I picked up from my local antiques centre for ¬£5 per pair. Definitely a bargain! And I’ve already used the original lining from the curtains for a toile for my Dressmaker’s Ball dress. Speaking of which, I was originally going to make this coat to wear to the ball last year but didn’t get around to it. And actually it’s a completely different kind of gold to the sequins on my dress so I’m not sure it would have gone that well anyway. I’m glad I finally got around to making it though…..like a year later!

It doesn’t look like it but I’ve ironed this coat and all the seams so many times! I guess curtain fabric doesn’t really need to press well apart from at the hem?! I steamed it and everything and it still looks quite bouncy on the seams, but there isn’t much I can do about it so *shrug*.

I think I cocked up the vent somehow btw. I ended up with the vent trying to go the wrong way and being somehow twisted so I kind of had to fudge it. I have no idea what I did but maybe be aware of your cutting and construction to see if it looks like the instructions/sewalong.

I found making the pockets particularly satisfying as I hadn’t done that specific kind of pocket before. And who doesn’t love a great big, deep pocket?!

When I first had the idea to make this coat, I wanted a monochrome patterned lining. I don’t know why, I just did! I found this viscose from Abakhan, which sadly they don’t seem to have any more. I definitely should have taken more time cutting out the lining – it’s pretty slippery fabric so my cutting was…..not the most accurate. But it was good enough to just about come together so I’m counting that as a win!

I love how it flows out when I sit down!

I think I might just wear this coat for, like, going to the supermarket! Too much? I’m kind of feeling like I want to wear all my favourite clothes all the time now. Anyone else feel better if you wear something you like and feel great in?

 

 

My Christmas Party Dress

This dress was the main thing I had to get finished in November, in time for the New Craft House Winter Party which was the first weekend in December. I did finish it in time, but it did spill into December as I was hand stitching the lining down on the Thursday before the party, which is early for me!

The fabric came from this dress which one of my work friends gave me as it didn’t fit her. It was a bit big for me, and not really my style. But I loved the fabric, so set about unpicking all the seams. Because the skirt was so full I did end up with some quite big pieces of fabric to cut my new dress from. I reused the zip and I’ve saved the boning to use at a future date if I ever need boning for something. The dress was completely lined in black shiny lining fabric, which I reused to line the bodice of my dress – there wasn’t enough fabric or any need to line the skirt.

The original dress had pockets, which I also unpicked and reused, even though the pattern I used didn’t originally have pockets. You can never have enough pockets! At the New Craft House Party everyone whose dress had pockets got a cheer when they did the best dress fashion show, and I can definitely understand why!

The pattern is the By Hand London Sophia DressBy Hand London really are the best indie pattern company for party dresses. I made the size 6 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist, and I cut the skirt out in size 10. In a break to my usual modus operandi, I made a muslin (well, actually I made 2) as I thought I would probably have to do a small bust adjustment, as I have done before with fitted BHL dresses.

Because of the shape of the darts on the bodice of the Sophia Dress, I did kind of fudge the bust adjustment as I didn’t want to affect the darts’ shapes so I took a 1cm wedge out underneath my bust, from the boob out to the armpit. I also extended the bust darts by 4cm, making sure to make them straight as I didn’t want to ruin the great style lines of the dress.

I don’t know if I ended up over-fitting the dress or whether I should have gone a size up at the top of the bodice and done a bigger bust adjustment, but the bodice ended up very snug – like so snug it wouldn’t do up! So I reduced the side seams’ seam allowance to 1cm instead of 1.5cm and this helped – I wanted it fitted but not so tight I couldn’t breathe! It was still maybe a little tight, but it was pretty comfortable.

Usually the place where I have to make adjustments to a fitted pattern is on the back because I have a fairly narrow back, but this pattern fitted me pretty well right out of the packet. I took a 1.5cm wedge out of the back straps, taking the widest part from the side of the strap towards the centre of my back, tapering to nothing on the arm side of the strap.

I did, however, do something very odd to the back of the dress I think when I was attaching the bodice to the skirt. I don’t know what I did, but when I then put the zip in, I made sure to line up the waist seam on both sides of the zip, but then the bodice really did not line up at the top of the zip and so neither do the darts which should match across the zip. I didn’t notice until I had stitched the lining to the bodice because The Boyfriend was kindly zipping it up for me and I didn’t zip the zip with the dress off my until it was completely finished and I was giving it a final press. Lesson learned! But it’s not tooooo noticeable – though in typical sewist style, I pointed it out to everyone at the party! Does anyone else do that? When someone says ‘I like your dress’ you point out all the things you did wrong!?

There is a sort of weird bulge over my tummy, but that’s just room for eating!

I added the pockets into the side seams right at the top because I thought them being on my hips would look the better than if they were part of the way down the side seams.

The next time I get invited to a Winter party I’ll definitely wear this dress again! Do you have a go-to festive party dress? Did you make one this year?

 

 

November Makes and December Plans

November has been a quite quiet month for me sewing-wise. I only finished 2 things, though one of them was a shirt and I like taking my time with shirts to make sure all the top-stitching is all neat and lovely. And this white Archer shirt definitely contains some of the neatest topstitching I’ve ever done. I really took my time because this was the really nice quality fabric I bought at the Great British Sewing Bee Live, plus I discovered it marked a bit when pinned and a lot when unpicked so I made sure to unpick as little as possible! The eagle-eyed reader may spot I haven’t sewn on the buttons yet – that’s for this evening in front of the tv!

My other finished item in November is possibly my favourite thing I’ve ever made – and I’ve had a lot of compliments each time I’ve worn it. I think it might be one of my best instances of matching pattern and fabric. It’s my first Sew Over It Nancy Dress. I signed up to the PDF club because of this pattern and it’s the only one I’ve bought this whole year!

I’m going to try to be as realistic as possible about how many things I’m likely to make in December, and I’ve come up with 2-3, though I know I won’t get them all finished! One thing I do have to finish, though, is my dress for New Craft House’s Winter Party next weekend. One of my friends at work gave me this dress which doesn’t fit her and it doesn’t fit me either, so I’ve unpicked it and am planning to make it into a By Hand London Sophia Dress. I’ve muslined it once and have made some tweaks, so just need to make a second muslin to check the new fit, then hopefully I can get cracking!

The other thing I’m hoping to get finished is this spotty melilot shirt. I cut it out a while ago, so I just need to get cracking.

I’ve got one or two Christmas presents I want to make, too, so it’s going to be a busy month! Plus I haven’t started any of my shopping yet! Does anyone else like Christmas but find the lead up to it a bit stressful and overwhelming?!