It’s the first time I have sewn a By Hand London pattern, and the Charlie Dress was a great introduction. Surprisingly quick to make, it took me about 4.5 hours from start to finish over a couple of days. I used a cotton fabric from my stash – Riley Blake’s ‘Desert Bloom’ poppy print in red. I sourced it from the internet and was inspired after seeing the fabric showcased on Kittenish Behaviour.
It is a medium weight cotton, so I didn’t feel the need to line it, making the dress even quicker to make. Also as the dress is intended to be worn during the Summer, I thought lining it would make it unnecessarily heavy.
The PDF pattern cost £9, which I thought was a very good bargain as the dress comes in 2 versions, and both dresses can be easily adapted. For example, I hope to make the bodice as a stand-a-lone top, and I now have a 3/4 circle skirt without having to do the maths!
The instructions provided are well written and easy to follow, but I wish they included how to lengthen or shorten the bodice and skirt. As I have prior knowledge, I was able to adjust the pattern to my own measurements, but would have appreciated the guidance.
I had intended to make version 2 of the dress, with the 3/4 circle skirt. Sadly, the material I had wasn’t wide enough, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, The 2 panel skirt is a different style for me, I tend to sew only straight, A-line or circle skirts, so it was great to try something different.
I was concerned about the gathered waist, as I prefer smooth lines on my waistline, but again, the result was pleasing, and hopefully doesn’t draw attention to my tummy.
- I added 5 cm to lengthen the bodice
- The turn over collar was made with a cotton, solid white fabric I had in my stash
- I decided against adding pockets, but with future Charlie dresses, I’m considering adding large patch pockets
- I added 2 cm to the length of the first skirt tier, and 3 cm to the length of the bottom tier, to create a knee length dress
- I made extra long straps, and made a bow feature at the top of the shoulder – see picture below
I’m considering adding some sort embellishment to the bow, like a button or mini fabric flower – not sure yet, so if you have any ideas please let me know.
Overall, I really like this pattern, it’s quick to make and I reckon my next one can be made in around 2 hours. The sew-a-long on the By Hand London website is also a useful tool, providing clarity to the written instructions and enhanced with more, clear photographs.
I really like the ‘hackability’ of this pattern, and have already thought of several ideas to adapt this pattern to create a wardrobe of garments. Stay tuned for more on this.
For my first By Hand London pattern, I find it pretty hard to fault, and I look forward to trying more patterns from this company.