Charlotte in Amsterdam (and Kim in Scarborough)

Last weekend a friend and I went on a cheeky mini break to Amsterdam.  Cheeky because it fitted into a normal weekend for me and I didn’t need to go in the school holidays.  I don’t work Mondays so I have a slightly longer weekend than most people!  As part of my preparations I had to make something, for no other reason than to take photos of it in Amsterdam for this blog! The stupid thing is it was too cold so I hardly took any photos of my skirt as it was covered with my warm coat!


I chose By Hand London’s Charlotte skirt as I find their patterns, and sew-alongs, so easy to follow.  I didn’t make a toile but I did change the paper pattern to fit my measurements – I am most definitely not a standard shape.  Thanks to my children I have a thick waist (Bryn was 10lb 15oz when he was born!). My waist measurement puts me into the size 16 category whereas my hips (and bust but that’s not relevant for this pattern) are a size 12.  Some serious grading needed to be done!  I traced a size 16 at the waist and graded in to a size 12 at the hips and below.  This seriously changed the shape of the pattern.  The waist was actually bigger than the hips on the paper pattern.  I wasn’t convinced it was going to work but as the fabric I chose, an embroidered chocolate brown cord, was given to me for free I thought I had nothing to lose.  I had originally planned to make a different skirt with the material so I had already bought an invisible zip and thread in the correct colour.  This meant that I could crack on with it.


As it turned out I was really happy with the fit of the skirt.  It looked absolutely fine on so I’m chalking it up as a success!

I wanted my new skirt to be comfortable to wear whilst stomping around Amsterdam and I also wanted it to be quite casual. This meant shortening the pattern a great deal (7 inches plus a 2 1/2 inch hem).


Whilst we’re on the subject of By Hand London I’ve also been having a bit of fun practicing making their pretty dresses in preparation for being a bridesmaid in July. So far I’ve made the Kim dress (twice now) from a bed sheet and I’ve made the Flora tank bodice.  I love the Kim dress and I think it would be amazing in some beautiful silk fabric.  It doesn’t require that much material so it is an option.

My first toile of the Kim dress was far too big and I knew it would be.  The instructions tell you to make the dress based on your waist measurements and adjust from there.  As already stated my waist measurements are big!  I was quite excited to do some pattern adjusting – I’ve read lots about it and was looking forward to putting what I learnt into practice.  I followed the BHL Kim sew along for the SBA (small bust adjustment) and came to a juddering halt.  The bodice of the dress has princess seams and I could see that carrying out a significant SBA just would not be possible. It would completely alter the shape of the bodice front pieces.  I had to put the dress away and think about it for a couple of weeks or so before I got back to it again.

Still unsure about what to do next I decided to message BHL themselves to see what they would suggest.  They were really good and got back to me straight away and suggested that I make a size 14 dress, grading out to a size 16 at the waist. This meant the SBA needed would not be so big an alteration so wouldn’t have such a negative impact on the shape of the bodice front pieces.

I can assure you that the dress fits really nicely but I won’t show you me in the dress.  Being made out of a bed sheet the dress is quite see-through, and a more appropriate bra is also required!

Before I go I just want to draw your attention to my invisible zips.  The zip in the Kim dress was my first ever invisible zip!  It looks pretty invisible to me!  It also matches perfectly at the waist seam.  Something went a bit awry though because the dress does not quite meet up properly at the top of the dress or the bottom of the dress.

The zip in the Charlotte skirt was my second ever invisible zip.  It wasn’t quite the right size for the one suggested for the pattern but I can wriggle into and out of the skirt quite easily so it’s all good.  Again, it looks pretty invisible so the first time was not a fluke!

With the Easter holidays here I’m going to have to give some thought as to what to make next.  What are your Easter holiday/weekend sewing plans?

10 thoughts on “Charlotte in Amsterdam (and Kim in Scarborough)

  1. I think the waist sizing you have if fairly normal – sounds like mine – it’s everyone else that’s wrong! Looking forward to seeing you’re Kim dress made up!

    • Yay I love being right! I’m hoping to get some fabric for my dress on Wednesday – Scarborough is rubbish for fabric unless you’re a quilter! Really looking forward to meeting you then ☺

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