Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sewing For Beginners: By Hand London


Looking forward to the Great British Sewing Bee tonight? Do you think you'll be inspired by it in the same way you were by the Great British Bake Off? I.e. will you spend half your wages in the nearest haberdashery department, cackhandedly set up your dusty sewing machine, ruin some fabric and bin the lot in a huff?

Well, before you run before you can walk (zigzag before you can overlock?), get yourself along to By Hand London. Set up by friends Charlotte and Elisalex, By Hand London takes classic patterns and give them a modern twist, and provides ideas on how to customise them. The high-waisted Charlotte skirt, pictured above, can be adapted with a peplum or ruffle. Check out how different it looks with a floral ruffle:


AND it's designed with hips in mind. Hallelujah! I suspect this is what happens when two 20-something ladies set up a sewing label - you can almost sense their fury at trying to squeeze into a narrow Zara skirt.


Intermediate sewers might want to try making the elegant Elisalex dress, which comes with a low scoop back, fitted waist, tulip skirt, and three sleeve variations. The model is rightly giddy about her new frock. The dress pattern is £12 and the skirt is £10.

Still feeling nervous about getting started? Then follow the sewalongs on the By Hand London blog, which take you from how to find your size and cut your fabric through to assembling the finished piece. There's even a brilliant tutorial on adding pockets, which I'm tempted to try on all the substandard pocketless skirts I own. So why not take the sewing plunge - if you order today you could be happily outsewing all the Sewing Bee contestants by this time next week.

24 comments:

  1. Yay! I love By Hand London - I bought the Elisalex pattern last month and have already made three dresses from it. It's beautiful - the pattern is packaged in the most delightful way and even comes with a little label for you to sew into your finished garment. Charlotte and Eliselex are so helpful and friendly on twitter and facebook too if you run into any issues with the pattern. They're absolutely effing amazing, so glad to see them fetaured here!

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    1. Oh wow, such enthusiasm - that's great to hear! It's such a brilliant idea. I'm very tempted to try the skirt.

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  2. This looks great, and I'm further encouraged by Roisin's endorsement. I love their blurb for the Charlotte skirt - anyone who attributes character traits to an item of clothing is my kind of girl!
    And yes, ridiculously overexcited about the sewing bee tonight and the ill-advised 'projects' it will no doubt inspire....

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    1. I think it's describing Charlotte, one of the co-founders, but I assumed the same when I first read it! I hope none of it's about her and it's an entirely fictional biography of a skirt.

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  3. That ruffled Charlotte skirt has my name all over it.

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    1. Are you going to give it a try?

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    2. Oh, God no. I'm going to ask Frances or Gemma to make me one. I have many crafty skills, but I've learnt that sewing is NOT one of them.

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    3. Don't ask Gemma. She's terrible at zips.

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  4. I am airing my non-euphemystic twinset in readiness for tonight (so excited!). I am a total amateur so forgive me for being a total tool but can someone give me a word of advice on sizing? The sizing charts show MASSIVE size brackets (ie 16/20) and being at the very much more generous end of that bracket I would hate to end up with a single legged culotte instead of a shexy pencil skirt. Am fully prepared to accept this is my ineptitude not the By Hand London Gals... anyone?

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    1. I'm not too sure on the skirt but I think their sizing is based on high street sizing - I cut a 12 in my dress and it fit but I wouldn't say the sizing is overly generous. It'd be worth dropping them a line to ask about measurements of the finished garment as that would give you a better idea.

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    2. Yes, why not get in touch? They're @byhandlondon on Twitter, or contact them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ByHandLondon

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    3. The size brackets are actually the difference between USA and UK sizes, not a bracket of UK sizes. A 20 UK size is the same as a 16 US size. There are measurements underneath that should hopefully help!

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    4. Hi Miss Louise, its US and UK sizing

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    5. Doh! Of course it is - thanks all x

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  5. So tempted by both these patterns!

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    1. Aren't they gorgeous? I really love that you can customise them.

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  6. I lurve that floral skirt with the frill, and you're right, these are skirts for proper child-bearing, have-a-bit-of-meat-on-my-bones-and-not-afraid-to-use-it type hips. Love it.

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    1. Exactly. They should use your description to promote it, quite frankly.

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  7. Eep I just bought both. I got myself a sewing machine for for Christmas and so far my boyfriend has just mocked me as its sat in the box unused as he said it would. (He of little faith)

    I bought a burda style pattern for a similar skirt but i completely flummoxed me so I gave up. I need to get that machine out and I think that skirt might be the incentive... (fingers crossed!)

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    1. Hooray! Please post an update here or on our Facebook page, I'd love to know how it works out. The By Hand London ladies seem happy to help out if you get stuck too. I have faith in you!

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  8. Hello Sara, just came across this great post about us - thank you so much! I laughed heartily when I read the bit about squeezing into Zara skirts, because that is EXACTLY what drove me to sewing! Not per se Zara in truth, but generally the high street not being able to handle the junk in my trunk. I've got fingers and toes crossed GBSB will get Britain enamoured with sewing again too - it's time! And finally, to all the gals who are making up your creations and have any questions, definitely just holla at us on Facebook or Twitter. x

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    1. Hi Charlotte! Thanks for dropping by - we have a lot of love for By Hand London, as you can see. I think GBSB will have lots of people dusting off their sewing machines this spring.

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