A rose by any other name….

By Hand London Polly TopAs well as my By Hand London Anna dress, I’ve recently fallen in love with their fab Polly top pattern, and even better, it’s only bloody FREE! You don’t get much for free nowadays so it always makes me happy when I find a genuine bargain.

This was the first time I’d used a printed PDF pattern. There are pros and cons to this verses a professionally printed one. Firstly, it printed on 38 sheets of paper, so it’s not that economical on the old paper and ink front, although it is all in black so it’s not that bad. It took me around two hours to cut it all out and stick it all together, yes two whole hours! It’s actually really well labelled so it wasn’t complicated; I just had limited space to work in and was very tired so kept getting in a muddle! Extra-wide sellotape was my friend! Even though it was time consuming, you do get a nice sturdy pattern to trace from, and you can draw amendments onto it easily. And did I mention it was free?! You can’t complain about freebies, if you do you’re a bit of a plank.

Polly with sleeves
Polly with sleeves

After assembling the pattern I added in some little sleeves, as I prefer to have the top of my arms covered. To do this I just matched up the BHL Anna bodice pattern armholes with the ones on Polly and drew on the sleeves.

Polly top hacked with Anna bodice made in Sheona Rose Liberty Lawn....AKA the Sholly-Anna! Hideous name but nice top...
Polly top hacked with Anna bodice made in Sheona Rose Liberty Lawn….AKA the Sholly-Anna! Hideous name but nice top…

I spent quite a while trying to decide on fabric for the top, as I wanted something with a bit of drape and a standout pattern for the contrast panel. Then it dawned on me that the contrast panel is the perfect size to use a fat quarter and still have some left over for the bias binding. Cue a couple of orders on Etsy for some Liberty Lawn that I’d been coveting, and five of my favourite prints arrived on the doorstep, cue many excited squeals!

I love this Liberty Sheona Rose print so much, and not just for the obvious reason!
I love this Liberty Sheona Rose print so much, and not just for the obvious reason!

The first print I decided to use was this amazing bright summery print, which just happens to be called Sheona Rose! Obviously having a Liberty print in my own name (with the right spelling) means I’m going to end up with quite a few bold rose print clothes over the coming months, however as I’m just starting out, I thought practicing with a fat quarter would be ideal.

I made a mistake with the black fabric I used for the rest of the top, as it was too stiff compared to the softness of the lawn. I think it was a poplin or similar, but it was cheap and I had a load lying around and couldn’t wait to get started, so it’ll do for now.

The neckline is very low at the back
The neckline is very low at the back


I look very peeved about the shoulder slippage!
I look very peeved about the shoulder slippage!


The pattern was surprisingly easy to make up, the trickiest bit (aside from the binding) was the curve adjoining the panel. As long as you match up the notches and use a trillion perpendicular pins, it’s actually much easier to sew than it looks. Joining the front and back pieces were together only took five minutes so from cutting to an almost finished top was only about an hour.

But…and it is a big old BUT, then came the bias binding! What a bitch! I’d never made bias binding before so looked up a few tutorials and decided on the piece-by-piece method – oh what a fool I am. It was hardwork from the beginning, I used tailors chalk to draw my lines, which didn’t work very well so my strips were wonky, then trying to sew less than an inch in lawn to get all the pieces together was a nightmare. They kept getting chewed up in the machine and I nearly gave up and chucked it all away. I didn’t though, and made it to the ironing stage, which resulted in more trauma (a drama queen? Moi?!) as I attempted to use my much lauded binding folding gadget, which was actually rubbish and more hard work than it was worth. Anyway, I eventually ended up with a strip of slightly uneven binding that I then had to attach to my neckline. By this time, I’d spent twice as long on the binding as the rest of the top, had burnt fingers from the iron and was a tad stressed so didn’t read the instructions on how to apply the binding properly and just made what I thought was a logical guess. I simply folded the binding, sandwiched the neckline fabric in the middle and sewed. It was wonky and looked rubbish but hey it was done! The worst part is at the back of the neck and I figured as I wear my hair down I’ll just hide it until I can work up the energy to fix it.

Bias binding nightmare! I almost don't want to show you, but I want others to know it's OK to be rubbish in the beginning!
Bias binding nightmare! I almost don’t want to show you, but I want others to know it’s OK to be rubbish in the beginning!



Even though this is the untidiest thing I’ve made, I still can’t help liking it and I love, love, love the pattern. It’s not the patterns fault I’m a new and ineffective sewist! I was initially unsure how it would fit my ample bust without any darts, but the curve of the panel and waist gives it a really nice shape. When I make my next one, I’ll make it a bit longer, take the back neckline up and in to avoid bra-flashing and perhaps add in a little more fabric at the centre of my bust, as well as using a softer fabric and of course working on my binding skills!

Anyone else made something that looks far from perfect that they can’t help feeling fond of?

By Hand London Polly Top



The Sewdown (Sorry I couldn’t resist)

Pattern: By Hand London – Polly

Price: Free

Fabric: Sheona Rose, Liberty Lawn from Alice Caroline/Cotton Poplin from Fabricland

Difficulty Rating: Easy (if you’ve already mastered bias binding!)

Love Level: * * * * *

Make Again? Immediately



One thought on “A rose by any other name….

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