December 1, 2014

(By Hand London) Kim is a Party Girl!

Those By Hand London ladies really know how to do their party dresses.
Behold, the Kim!
By Hand London Kim dress plus size
The Kim comes with two neckline and two skirt variations: I used the sweetheart neckline and the tulip skirt, because we all know I love myself a wrap (even if it’s fake). You may be thinking “huh, that doesn’t *look* like a sweetheart neckline” and you’re sort-of right – the way it’s been graded means that the sweetheart becomes less prominent the bigger the size, but there is a little dip in there, I promise!
By Hand London Kim dress plus size

I was a tester for the pattern, and I made it up first in a muslin for testing purposes, doing my usual BHL 2 inch FBA, which worked pretty well and also gave me the little more I needed in the waist too (I’d be a BHL 18/22 if they went up that far – they are ever so nearly in plus sizes!). Once that was done, on to my silk!

This is a lovely, slightly crisp, slightly mad (Rorschach anyone?) silk twill which I picked up on my trip to Vietnam earlier this year and had been hoarding for just the right pattern. I made a few further modifications to the testing pattern for my final version, sewing the straps with a smaller seam allowance to make them a smidgen wider, and making the back of the straps attach to the back bodice in more of a curve, to cover up my bra straps.

I underlined all the silk with silk organza, which is a time-consuming technique but one that’s well worth it-  I always feel like my underlined garments are the best looking ones! Then, I lined the dress with creme crepe de chine. I did the bodice as per the BHL instructions – although I did Oona’s “flip it over” technique to attach the lining to the zipper by machine (why did I ever do that by hand?!). I also lined the skirt, as the tulip shape means you’re going to be flashing to folks whether you like it or not, and I didn’t want to be flashing organza (or indeed have it next to my skin). To attach the lining I sewed it right sides together to the curved hem all the way round to the back seam. Then, I flipped it right sides out, and finished the back hem by stitching the lining and silk together (almost like underlining) and finishing that seam with bright pink bias binding, before putting the zip in.

By Hand London Kim dress plus size

The biggest challenge with this one was definitely print placement! I mean, what do you do with that print?! I decided that my goal would be symmetry, but I wouldn’t try to do any pattern matching. I did a reasonably good job – after an Instagram referendum I chose the front bodice motif, and then some “coordinating” (but not matching) side panels. The on the back I took the same approach and managed to do the mirroring pretty well. The eagle eyed among you will notice one error – the underlap piece of the front skirt is not symmetrical with the other side of the skirt.. Sadly I didn’t have quite enough fabric to match everything, and I figured that was the one piece that could cope best with being the odd one out. And I’m going to bet that only sewists would ever notice! (The front skirt looks like it’s skewed off center in the photo below, but it’s just the way I’m standing…).

My only qualm with the final thing is that it’s pretty short on me, and that skirt definitely goes a lot higher at the front than I’d usually wear. I may tack down the two pieces and/or just sit down very carefully…  Next time, I’ll probably add 2 inches to the whole thing.

By Hand London Kim dress plus size
So, here’s my party dress, which will be paraded around my company Christmas party tout suite. Alas, it will no doubt lead to ever more “Oh I didn’t know you can sew! Can you make me a dress?!” comments, though I usually manage to stem those by saying my hourly rate is $500 an hour 🙂

Are you making something colourful or sparkly for holiday parties this year? What pattern are you using? I think the BHL have a lot of options if you’re looking.

I was a pattern tester for the Kim Dress and received the testing and final pattern for free. It probably influenced my opinion. But I like my dress, so I don’t really care!

39 thoughts on “(By Hand London) Kim is a Party Girl!

  1. Katie says:

    Bee-yootiful! Love the fabric and pattern placement. The Kim tulip skirt is soo pretty.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks! It’s definitely a pretty-pretty party dress

  2. lisa g. says:

    Beautiful dress! I think you used the fabric perfectly. Looks great on you!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks, Lisa! I was a bit scared about cutting into the fabric because it was so precious, but I think it deserved to be a party dress

  3. Andie L. says:

    Just beautiful! I love that print! Your comment about people asking if you will make something is hilarious. I get that all the time and just say no outright now. The $500/hr thing is more funny. I may steal that. 😉

    1. Jenny says:

      Feel free to up it to $1,000/hr 🙂 You’re worth it.

  4. puu says:

    i think this length is actually fabulous on you. i love to see people get more daring with their hems – but then i’ve pretty much never met a short skirt i didn’t love, so i am biased. 🙂 the print placement worked out brilliantly, and the colors are really flattering.

    1. Jenny says:

      Hahaha maybe I need to be a little more daring! Trying to figure out if it’s too exposing to wear to the office Christmas party now…

  5. This fabric is sublime. The colors, the print, they’re fantastic. I am curious about the position of the faux wrap. Is the opening to the center of the dress? How does that affect sitting?

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks! The wrap lines up with the princess seam, so it isn’t all the way over. It’s easy to sit *but* it does splay open a bit, so you have to be careful.

  6. Gail says:

    Absolutely stunning!

  7. Wendelah says:

    You look terrific in this new dress. The shoes are perfect.

    1. Jenny says:

      Ha, I barely ever wear these shoes but as chance would have it they have suited the last two things I made! Just goes to show you should never through patent fuchsia heels away 🙂

  8. Oh it’s glorious, and that fabric is so amazing. If it was used for the Rorschach test, I think everyone would just say ‘party’ after looking at it. Was it hard to grade up/do an FBA on? My pattern arrived the other day and I’m keen to get cracking on it but scared of grading as usual. Any tips would be most appreciated! Good to know how short it is on a tall girl too: I will lengthen! You look stunning in it and will be the belle of the ball!

    BTW I’m totally with you on the $500 dollars an hour. After a weekend of sewing entirely for others I am chomping at the bit to get selfish again! It’s just REALLY stressful!

    1. Jenny says:

      Totally straightforward FBA – it’s a Princess Seam bodice and luckily they go up to a UK 20 so you probably wouldn’t have to add much. Mary has a great tutorial on this type of FBA:

      It’s *so stressful* to sew for others sometimes! That’s why I prefer to sew surprise presents for folks because then there are fewer expectations and timelines and it’s just a bonus for them to get the thing

    2. You’re ace, thank you! And yes, surprises are definitely the way forward: no deadlines and you choose the pattern!

  9. tanyamaile says:

    Wowza! That’s a hot dress, my friend! Love everything about it. That fabric is truly sublime.

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Tanya! I’ll just have to sit very carefully 🙂

  10. It looks great on you! And I think the hem is actually a great length for a party dress.

    And I love the $500/hour comment…I just might steal that!

    1. Jenny says:

      Feel free! Or just up it as you see fit. We all have a price!

  11. Carol S says:

    Terrific dress.
    I love the length, but you could see how you feel in colored tights.

    1. Jenny says:

      Ooh that’s something to think about! I’ll be ALL THE COLOURS

    2. You know I second this idea

  12. Fab party dress, the material is stunning and I agree with the others, the length looks really good on you.

  13. Very pretty on you. I think as long as you don’t intend to do the cancan you’ll be just fine…..

  14. thekirbs says:

    Hey that looks great! What’s the “flip it over” lining method? I need to learn this!

  15. She Dabbles says:

    This is amaaaaaazing! I love the way the symmetry looks. Well done, lovely! I think I may have to make myself a Kim dress for a winter wedding I’m heading to.


  16. Anne Szabo says:

    Beautiful dress. You look amazing. Love the fabric.

  17. Dude. You look hot. I’ve descending into incoherent bro territory.

    I won’t make anyone, anything. Ever. No. R/Cidell from Miss Celie’s Pants once said, “Not until you put a ring on this finger,” which is totally what I tell my grandmother when she asks me to sew things for her. I’d pay good money to see someone take you up on the $500/hour thing, though.

  18. Bobbi says:

    Wow – you look stunning! No one at the party will be able to take their eyes off you.

  19. This. Is. Fabulous. The print almost looks like a kaleidoscope- it’s so great paired with this pattern! Absolutely fabulous. Your lipstick and shoes are a perfect match, too! I’m floored! You look hot as hell!

    I sometimes sew for friends or coworkers, if I really love them, but I also really love telling people, “You can’t afford me!”

  20. Beautiful dress! The fabric is great and the shape is very flattering on you. Great job!

  21. Our ceremony was the most beautiful and romantic ceremony I could have ever expected (and all our guests made sure to tell us they felt the same way once it was over!).
    party venue nyc

  22. Margo B says:

    You look stunning ! Your choice of fabric is stellar. Oh and I am going to borrow that comeback of $500 an hour for sewing services! Brilliant.

  23. I’m making this at the moment and my muslin on the side fronts it looks like I need a dart can you tell me what I would be doing wrong I have a 50 inch bust

Let me know what you think!