{Interview} Lunch with By Hand London, my Victoria Blazer & Giveaway.

Me: Hi Girls, Thanks for inviting me for this lovely lunch and a visit to your studio. For those that cannot be here, can you give them an insight into a typical day in the By Hand London Studio?
ByHandLondon: We meet at Elisalex’s studio (ok let’s be honest – it’s her house!) and first things first we pour ourselves some big fat coffees and cue plenty of fast talking schemes and masterplans (and boy talk). 

{Editors thoughts: Already feeling part of the team with my hot drink and my feedback form… In my head we all dress fabulous outfits and drink from monogram mugs}

Still wired, we head into the studio and, as a priority, start by getting on with whatever needs to be done on the latest pattern. This varies wildly depending on the stage we’re at… For instance, right at the start you’ll find us feeling up the mannequin or hunched over the cutting table as we go about toiling and tweaking, drafting and redrafting. Whereas, towards the end of the process we’ll be making up an endless stream of samples and reading over the instructions for the zillionth time with a fine tooth comb. Tip from the top – to keep our wits about us, we take turns to read out the copy in different accents (our current favourite is Victoria’s ‘Home & Away’-worthy Australian!!).

By about about 12pm we send Mama (aka Elisalex!) off into the kitchen to prepare a slap up lunch – which at the beginning of the month is definitely more of an extravagant affair and it’s not uncommon to spot us tucking into a juicy roast chicken with a crunchy fennel salad, followed by homemade apple crumble. Entirely different towards the end of the month though, when it’s more of a fish fingers and beans on toast scenario! Armed with more coffee to avert the impending food coma, we get ready for the afternoon.

While the morning is usually a lot more practical and about getting our patterns ready for release, the afternoons are all about hustling! This is where we divide and conquer on new projects for the blog, collating examples of our patterns spotted in the wild, getting in touch with retailers, creating press packs, and more overall masterplanning (in our minds world domination is not far off!).

Our working day starts and ends fairly early as we leave the studio at 3.45pm to accompany Elisalex on the school run. Although we all part ways here, you can bet that come dinner time we’re all back at our individual workstations tackling our endless to-do lists. Word to the wise – there’s absolutely nothing quite like running your own business, but the work really is never ending!

These studio days are completely invaluable to us; at this point we only get three of them per week as we all have other part-time commitments. But fear not, in our heads we’ve practically drawn up the blueprints for the future By Hand HQ – complete with in-house sewing cafe, romcom room and Caribbean cocktail corner!

Me: I’m so lucky to be able to experience a little of the behind the scenes and testing the next pattern which I’m super excited, can you tell us more.

ByHandLondon: Victoria blazer is a casual blazer featuring 3/4 length sleeves, a turned up French seamed cuff and side seam pockets, with cropped and sleeveless variations. Designed with a generous amount of ease for a laid back style, this blazer is the perfect throw-it-over-everything wardrobe staple.

{Editors thoughts: In love with this pattern already, even more because I made it perfect for summer.}

Check it out Victoria herself, wearing my blazer while making final photo shoot samples.

Me: What else is on the horizon?

ByHandLondon: We’ve been wanting to get into teaching for ages, so we’re really excited about our forthcoming classes at Ray Stitch and The Village Haberdashery (and a couple of others – stay tuned for more details)! Also, our beginner sewing kits are doing really well, so we’re always on the hunt for more delicious fabrics so we can expand the range. Plus, not to be too coy, we’ve even got a secret plan for a new product line that we’re really mega excited about! But, enough about that for now πŸ˜‰

Me: Future designs, I can see something amazing over the rails…

ByHandLondon: From the very beginning we wanted our look to be up-to-date classics, and so far that seems to be getting a great response. Yay! All you ladies out there who have supported us by buying and making our patterns, let it be known that you are blowing our minds and changing our lives! In terms of future designs, we therefore want to continue developing the look we’ve established whilst always listening to the sewing community to make sure we’re giving you what you want.

After the Victoria Blazer, we can now reveal that there will be a Summer dress pattern coming soon, and plans are already well underway for an advanced pattern and a free downloadable PDF for the Autumn Winter season…!

Me:Thank you so much girls, I had such an amazing day and feel privileged to be part of the process.
ByHandLondon: Massive thanks to you Rachel, for being a brilliant pattern tester, supporter and general sewing wonderwoman! 

To celebrate the launch of By Hand London latest pattern they kindly offer one lucky reader to get one fresh out of the oven (printers). To have a chance of winning tell us what fabric would you make the Victoria Blazer. This give-away will be open til May 30, 2013, Midnight London. As always, it’s open to all my dear readers.

Competition Now Closed: Winner chosen by random number generator. Live draw here.
  • I would love to make it up in a nice cotton so it could be used in all of Florida’s “seaons” lol. I’m always obsessed with kelly green and navy … hmm…

  • I am loving cross weaves at the moment, so maybe in an organic cross weave?

  • melanie (hippolicious@hotmail.com)

    I would love to make it in eyelet cotton … Maybe in a beige/gold-ish color …

  • I’m sticking to sewing lingerie but I just want to say that this was a great interview. I’ve heard of By Hand but I didn’t know much about them. I hope and pray that I can become a reputable pattern brand like them and it was great to get glimpse’s of their day-to-day. If it really involved apple crumble for lunch, I’m in!

  • What a great day you’ve had! Thanks for sharing the little insight into BHL. If I got my hands on their new pattern I’d make it up in a green patterned cotton in the Soho collection by Sandy Gervais. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • I would make it in a grass green fabric with some structure to it.

  • I think I’d use a cotton twill or something similar. Either in a dark grey or midnight blue colour so it can go from day to night. I’ve never made a jacket (too scared!) so this would be brilliant!

  • I’m always looking for nice casual blazer patterns. I like the collar on this one. I think I’d make it up in a ponte knit.

  • I am desperate to make a maritime blazer (I have a total thing about the mayor’s jacket in Jaws with all the anchors on it!). So I would need to find some anchor fabric in a medium weight cotton, and I would probably add a little red trim!

  • I’d love it in a wool tweed for winter

  • Leopard print!

  • Red! With navy trim.

  • I think a soft denim with a crazy or cute cotton lining.

  • I love their patterns:) I think I would try it in a liberty floral print.

  • I’d use a seersucker with a fine navy stripe with accents of red and gold for a nautical but all season feel.

  • Meg

    How great, I am super excited for this! I would make the blazer up in a casual solid fabric, so it’s not too stuffy for my work environment and will go with everything!

  • Ahhhhh! Yours is so cool!!!!!!!! I love it! Count me out of the giveaway as I already have the pattern! I just ordered a fun print to make mine in and I can’t wait to sew it!

  • Kim

    What a great interview! I would love to win this pattern and I would make it in a blue/green cotton which I got at Mood in april!

  • I have this green brocade sitting in my stash waiting to be used. I feel like the fabric would add just enough class while the pattern/cut of the blazer would keep it fun and fresh.

  • So jealous of your fun day! I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what fabric I’d like to use for the Victoria Blazer, because I know i’ll end up making it at some point probably sooner rather than later! I’ve got an emerald green wool crepe in may stash which I think would be perfect!

  • I just splurged on a great blue Liberty floral print and I think it would be perfect for this! But I’ll have to make a few muslins first, just to make sure I won’t ruin the lovely Liberty fabric!

  • Kat

    I’d make a baby pink winter version! I love this pattern and such a great interview! πŸ™‚

  • Oooooh! I have a madcap zigzag pinstripe that would go perfectly with the blazer!

    Loving the world domination references. Those ladies clearly have the right idea πŸ˜‰

  • That looks like an awesome day! I would make the Victoria blazer in a lovely soft grey ponte with some sort of crazy lining maybe polka dots and lengthen the sleeve to roll it up and reveal lining! x

  • Anonymous

    I would love to make it in a cool camel wool crepe type fabric, something with a bit of body. The lining would probably have some sort of detail, perhaps very thin stripes.

    Sorry to sign as anonymous!


  • Amy

    I want to be a rebel and make a leather version . . .

  • Hmm.. Must say that I would sew it from thick white cotton or linen and use big colourful buttons:)

  • Loving the look of that pattern! The fabric you choose is amazing Rachel so I’d definitely be tempted to make it up in a print! I’d love a summer cropped Blazer in a really stand out print to brighten up what will be rainy Glasgow summer days! We have a few at my work that would work so most likely would be one of those πŸ™‚

  • I’d love to make it in a shibori linen, maybe indigo on white. Thanks for hosting such a fun giveaway!

  • I have so many fabrics to choose from in my stash. I would totally go with a chambray. Although a funky print like yours would be awesome too!

  • I love the colour pops on your cuffs and collar! I think I’d have to go with a plaid wool for mine though. Anyone else think Victoria kinda looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal? Such gorgeous ladies!

  • Amy

    I have a crazy brocade that I think would make an awesome jacket. Or, I might go simple with a white cotton…

  • Too many options to choose from, but for summer (hopfully it will finally show up over here) I think of a peachy coloured linen… but I can totally se a black version with some studs or a electric blue/black combination…

  • I’ve wanted to make a nice crisp white blazer for a while now, just waiting for the right pattern. I think this might be the one. It’s perfect.

  • I love the jacket, and it looks like you had so much fun. Your version is gorgeous. I think I’d make it up in some kind of bold print, not sure what yet but I’d enjoy shopping πŸ™‚

  • Lovely interview Rachel! Ooo now I would love to be daring with it and make it out of silk organza in a navy or black colour! I’ve seen a few sheer jackets around and would love to make my own version!

  • Yours is so cool and I love your choice of fabric I think I would make it in a fun print. Great interview too.

  • Loving this pattern! I think it would look awesome in a really loud African wax print, a real statement piece πŸ™‚

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Great interview ladies, I’m so jealous that you got to hang out with them all Rachel!!!

  • I have a fabric at home just waiting for this pattern.
    Its a non-dyed hemp/silk(most hemp)mix with a “stripe-y” structure, I’ll dye it, but havn’t descided in wich colour yet. This fabric is quite stiff now, but I think it will soften up just perfect with a few washes.
    For the lining I’m thinking a lightweight silk or silk/cotton (not shiny thou1) fabric in a strong solid colour or a bold print.
    I’m really nerdy for my material choices =)

  • These ladies rock! Thanks for the chat πŸ™‚

  • Great interview, thanks for the interesting read! πŸ™‚

    I’ve got an off-white cotton twill with green, gold and burgundy thin lines running along and across it, that I’d use to make up the blazer. I reckon that would work for both casual and work.

  • Meg

    Oooh- I am so excited about this pattern release! I plan to make an Indonesian batik version, since I live in Jakarta!

  • Probably a bright lime dupion silk with contrast lining. Perfect for a zesty summer! Lovely patterns By Hand London.

  • I have a black white and yellow flower fabric. I bought this fabric to make a blazer out of. I fell in love with this pattern first time I saw it.

  • I kind of want to make it out of linen, is that weird? I have a lovely red color that I could make it from. Fingers crossed!

  • Hmm. Tough call. I’m thinking navy with either red or white collar.

  • Tricky- definitely not stripes – I have wayyyyy too many navy and white stripes….. I think a bright, plain cotton would be lovely – coral? green? Thanks

  • I would love to make the Victoria blazer out of two completely different fabrics! The first would be a white linen for the summer in the longer version; the second would be out of this amazing vintage fabric I inherited from my grandmother. I’m thinking a little shorts suit using the Sewaholic Thurlow shorts pattern and the Victoria cropped blazer would be adorable! And then I’d have to make a black one with leather accents on the collar of course… I just basically want a whole closet full of them!

  • Thanks for the fun interview and great giveaway! I adore your version – the lining color and print are stunning together. I would love to make a cropped version of this to go over summer dresses in the evenings.

  • I think a printed one would make a great statement.

  • Hmmmm….I have been wanting to make a chambray blazer for ages, so I would probably start with that. I have some in my stash with polka dots that I think would be perfect πŸ™‚ Yours looks awesome!

  • Thanks for the insight into By Hand. I would make this blazer in the three quarter sleeve version in a gorgeous beige linen with a polka dot lining, if I can find the fabric of course!

  • Love behind the scenes glimpses like this!

    I’ve been really into shot cotton recently. They manage to be both fun and colorful but still natural and organic feeling. I think I’d go with a blue or gray and line with something crazy…

  • The fabrics you chose are lovely! I think I’d go for light denim and cotton for spring or wool for winter…

  • I’ve got the pattern πŸ™‚ but had to comment… LOVE your jacket! gorgeous and so very you! I’m also crushing over that fabulous print skirt… why didn’t I buy more of that fabric while I was in London!

  • Thank you for conducting such a great interview — neat photos too! I have tropical prints on my mind these days because we just booked our summer vacation — a week in Hawaii! — so I would have to make a Victoria with either a batik-y print or a bold floral!

  • thank you for the generous giveaway! I think I would like to make it up in an African Wax Print!! I’ve been dying to work with it and have just found a really good stockist near me. Can’t wait to get my hands on some.

  • This was a really fun interview to read – thanks! I also love love LOVE your version of the new blazer pattern. Your fabric choice is awesome and the colors and print you picked are fantastic! I think that I would go for a bold geometric print with a contrasting lining also. πŸ™‚

  • I love your jacket!I fell in love with this pattern the moment I saw it!I would start with a beige linen version with bright flower lining for this summer!Thank you for the giveaway!

  • Fun interview! I love reading behind the scenes.
    I think a light pink with red cuffs would be pretty darn cute. I’ve been wanting to do something like that for a while.

  • Thanks so much for this interview – totally want to hang out with the BHL girls everyday πŸ™‚ The jacket is great – love the relaxed look, especially for summer! I would probably go with a floral print on navy on the outside with a bright solid print cuff! Ooh now I might just have to get the pattern anyways! I really love that idea πŸ™‚ Lol

  • Anonymous

    Hi Rachel, I am a seamstress from Brazil,I used to live in London, and I’ve been following your blog for ages! I have this printed light corduroy with some small flowers on it, like a Liberty print, it’s the perfect fabric for this pattern!


  • Great interview, and your Victoria is gorgeous! So great for summer!
    I’ve been considering navy blue with a black velvet collar. And reading all these comments has just got the cogs turning with more ideas.
    Thanks for running the giveaway.

  • I LOVE THIS (obviously). Those girls are my favourite (excluding present company of course!). x

  • I would make it in one color outside (perhaps turquoise or blue) and the inside and collar with a nice print!

  • I love this for a houndstooth fabric…..

    Something like this?


  • I have some lightweight wool suiting in my stash that would be perfect for a dressier version of the blazer.