- SINCE THE PUBLICATION OF THIS POST, BY HAND LONDON HAS POSTED AND RESPONDED TO MY COMMENT BOTH ON THEIR SITE AND IN THE COMMENTS TO THIS POST.
I try to keep my online presence positive. It takes a lot of courage to throw yourself out into the internet, and I think the crafting community is particularly respectful and mindful when it comes to sharing and commenting. That said, there is also space for constructive criticism. Everything boils down to a matter of opinion, and we don't all have to agree all of the time. What I'm about to say is difficult for me, because I really wanted to like this pattern and the independent pattern company who publishes it.
Over the last year, I've seen dozens of iterations of By Hand London's patterns. Everyone who sewed with the patterns spoke highly of the drafting, the sizing and the finished products they created. I was curious, but I couldn't convince myself to sew any of the patterns in their line. None of the designs seemed like the sort of thing I would be interested in wearing. I might start by saying, I truly don't believe I am their "girl" (this was further confirmed by the Manolo Blahnik-esque pattern story printed on the pattern). Still, when the Flora pattern was released, I eagerly purchased it. FINALLY, I thought.
My excitement was short-lived. I purchased this pattern with a specific purpose in mind. I planned to use it to make a bridesmaid dress for my friend's upcoming wedding. I don't typically muslin, but I wanted to make my dress as perfect as possible considering the importance of the occasion. THANK GOODNESS I did. According to the envelope, my measurements indicated that I should cut a size 6 at the bust and a size 10 at the waist/hip. I graded between the sizes. This was the result:
I asked Twitter for help, and made the following modifications:
- Shortened bodice "2
- Shortened shoulder strap "1/2
- Graded down to a size4 bust and 8waist
- Redrafted the front contour
- Redrafted the lower bodice darts
- Shifted the bust darts down.
Let me tell you. This was all a huge pain in the ass. I'm not "the standard" in terms of size, but the fit of this bodice came nowhere close to fitting. Even worse, the garment measurements were not the same as the finished measurements indicated on the pattern. That's unacceptable, in my opinion.
After all my tweaking, I had a better, but not great, fitting bodice:
Note the odd boob wrinkle and the, still, excess fabric in the bodice. By this point, I hoped that the skirt and the earth's gravitational pull might help to resolve some of the issues, and it did, a little. But it still doesn't FIT.
Convinced of some personal ineptitude, I started searching for other versions of the wrapped Flora. I had expected to learn that I was a complete moron; instead, I noted that NONE of the Flora's produced by sewers, much more capable than me, might I add, FIT. Every version I was able to track down had some combination of blousey and boob wrinkles. And, when the ladies of BHL used the wrap bodice to demonstrate how it might be used to sew a blouse, there was absolutely no question that this poor fit is the result of bad drafting. Oddly, a large percentage of people who have sewn this dress, do not have any complaints with the results of this pattern. Some of the bloggers who have sewn the wrap version of Flora do note issues with the fit. Most who take issue with the fit of this bodice, place the blame on themselves. I disagree. I think that the pattern produces very consistent results. And, the problem with the fit of the dress is in the drafting of the pattern pieces, and not with the body type or sewing of the maker.
I'm incredibly disappointed with my wearable muslin. Sure, it fits like a dress a person might buy off the rack at a cheap retailer, but I don't sew to have clothes that fit OK. I have made enough modifications to this pattern that it is unrecognizable from its original form. And, frankly, I'm not interested in doing anything further. I'm not interested in the alternate version; I can't get past the thought that the square neck and straps look like a lunch lady apron. I will likely follow Closet Case Files example and use the pieces to make a couple skirts so that I can dress like Meg and feel like I got my bang out of this purchase.
Ultimately, I feel this pattern was a waste of time and money, especially considering I could buy a high-low skirt pattern for $3.99 during a ClubBMV sale vs. the $34.02 (US) it cost me to buy and ship a pattern from BHL.
It's also worth mentioning that I did leave a comment voicing my frustration with the fit of the bodice on this post, and it was deleted rather than responded to.
When I buy from small companies, I expect more. I'm paying more for your product, because I expect that you are paying extra attention to detail and producing higher quality products than are available in the mass market. I also expect quality customer service. You're running a business.
I also expect honest and critical reviews from the community. That's why I read your blog. In talking about my experience with friends, the observation was noted that knitters, in direct contrast to sewers, don't hesitate to point out the flaws in a pattern. (Just hop over to Ravelry and read some of the project notes!) It's not mean to point out areas that could use improving. It helps everyone who chooses to work from that pattern and, hopefully, gives the designer important feedback for future work.
Now, pissiness and griping aside, there are some things about this pattern I did like. First the packaging and instructions are top notch. I REALLY like the method described for self-facing the bodice. It beats having to hand-stitch shoulder seams closed, any day! Also, the skirt is really lovely. I'm a huge fan of box pleats, and the high-low option is a really fun and interesting design feature.
Based on all the positive reviews BHLs other pattern have received, I'd like to think that the other patterns in their line are well done. I, however, don't plan to investigate. As I mentioned previously, I'm not their "girl". I'm good with that. And, it probably goes without saying, I won't be making this dress again.