Hi! I’m Rachel and I have a recently-rediscovered passion for sewing.
My experiences with Anna v1 inspired me to undertake a bodice fitting journey which started with understanding my bodice and continued through the making of Simplicity 8523 E and Belladone. Anna v2 is a culmination of all of those experiences.
Today I will be providing you with a little more detail on fitting the Anna bodice. Having made quite a mess of the bodice for my Anna v1, I had a wealth of experience to drawn upon by the time it came to Anna v2.
As a general disclaimer, if you thought I talked too much about my assets in Sunday’s post you may want to skip this one!
General Sizing Notes
Anna v1 was cut to a size 12 all over without taking into consideration to curves of my body shape. The resulting bodice was too small at the lower back, struggling to meet at the zip and gaping at the neckline. To overcome the majority of these fitting issues I let out the side seam allowance, removed the back darts and reduced the size of the front pleats. These amendments reclaimed the fabric and allowed me to fit the bodice around my torso.
The below photo shows my attempt at inserting a zip on Anna v1, despite my recovery job it did get very tight at the join with the skirt!
I overcame these issues with Anna v2 by cutting the shoulders and neckline to a size 10 corresponding to my bust size. I recalled from Anna v1 that the seam allowance was quite tight across the bust despite the additional room provided by a size 12. This was likely to be a consequence of my slightly larger than average cup size. To avoid this fitting issue second time around I followed a trick I had attempted with my Myrtle top in bringing the sizing of the dress up to size 14 through the arm holes, thus allowing for extra give around the bust and centre back.
As a quick note the v neckline was also a much better fit for the bustier lady, I do find that the fabric on the straight neck is more likely to ripple when worn.
I decided not to lengthen the bodice for both Anna v1 and v2 as I liked the point where the bodice and skirt met. Choosing not to lengthen the bodice did leave me with some issues with the front pleats. Anna’s front pleats are intended to “open like a flower” at the bust, however on both occasions the pleats were too long and somewhat squished my assets like so:
Utilising an incredibly sophisticated method of visual assessment, i.e. looking and measuring with fingers, I decided to reduce the height of the pleats by one inch. This reduction in height would allow the tip of the pleat to sit just beneath the bust and allow the pleats to open as required.
You can see those reduced pleats and their effect just here:
Admittedly these aren’t great photos but hopefully you can see my point!
I wasn’t able to completely avoid the gaping neckline second time around but I did save myself from the masses of excess fabric found in v1. To amend this and ensure the right fit for me I followed exactly the same steps I tried first time around.
Firstly I assessed the amount of excess fabric like so:
Using this excess and some strategically placed pins as a guide I moved the left side of the invisible zip over to right to create a larger seam allowance at the top of the dress. This is allowed me to effectively fit the dress to my body using only the zip.
Due to the volume of excess fabric with Anna v1 I trimmed the seam allowance but do not do this second time around.
Just over a month ago I put out a plea for help on this blog. I had three metres of a beautiful and delicate geometric print fabric imported from Japan and purchased in sunny Barcelona and I just didn’t know what to do with it!
I had narrowed it down to two options, the first a classic and comfortable Emery, then second a clean, modern Anna. With your help I made my decision and here she is…
Say hello (again!) to By Hand London’s Anna!
I say again because I have made Anna once before, all the way back in June (that’s a long time in sewing days!). As I recall my Anna was something of a labour of love at that time and I promised myself that once I had attempted a few more makes and picked up a few more skills along the way I would come back to this pattern.I must say that she has been worth the wait.
I am so pleased with the improved fit, a legacy from my hard work understanding my body shape and assembling Simplicity 8523E. The close alignment of the delicate print in the multiple skirt panels owes it debt to Chardon, this skirt featuring a bolder but no less complex print.
Anna Take Two really does feel like a culmination of all of my sewing experiments in the past few months and I can’t begin to describe the great satisfaction in seeing your skills progress.
With my first Anna I really struggled with fitting the bodice although I have since discovered that this is not an uncommon difficulty with the pattern. All my subsequent research has pointed to the neckline being a source of difficulty for a number of seamstresses.
Having made such a hash of it first time around I feel I have gained a some great experience in making the bodice work which I would like to share with you in greater detail in
my next post. Be sure to stop by on Thursday for that greater detail. in this post right here.
In the meantime a few general notes on the bodice. I did decide to go against my standard fit today and not add my usual extra inch as I felt the hem fell in the right place for making my waist look as small as possible. I also followed a trick first tested in my Mrytle top in cutting the neckline to a size 10 and bringing the pattern up to a size 14 through the curve of the arm holes, thus accounting for both my small shoulders and my breast cup size.
This time around I decided to cut a v-neck line as per variation 2 of the pattern. The motivation behind this change was not only personal preference but also in the name of fit. Putting this in the most delicate way possible whilst I may not the most well endowed in the breast area, I do still have a fair handful. With Anna v1 I found that the pleats and any subsequent alterations for gaping necklines etc, resulted in a slight stretching of fabric around the breasts. I have since found that the v neck is a more comfortable fit in this respect and avoided any unnecessary stretching.
Swiftly changing the topic away from my breasts, I also decided to put in what has turned out to be an exposed zip. As this rather confusing sentence may suggest this wasn’t supposed to be exposed zip, actually it was supposed to be an invisible zip. I know what you’re thinking now, this is surely the most visible zip in the history of the world, how could this have happened?
The short answer here is that I seem to have purchased a duff zip. Ok, ok I know a bad workman blames their tools but this zip didn’t even want to do what she was created to do – zip up. Some quick thinking, aka bending to her will, and she became an exposed zip and you know what? I think she looks pretty good for it.
As my final word for today I have to say Anna is surely one of my favourite patterns. Clean, modern, versatile she has it all, have you made Anna yet?
Hi all, first up I wanted to apologise for my post timings being a little erratic in the past week. I’ve been a little under the weather so have been trying my best to get a little rest and relaxation over the bank holiday week and weekend. You’ll be pleased to know I am feeling a little better now and am very happy to be back posting again.
For today’s post I wanted to keep it light and treat you to 5 of my very best bad sewing habits. Whilst this may not be the most original of posts I always feel I am drawn to finding out seamstresses’ naughty practices as let’s face it, its these compulsions that make our garments a little bit more human and very much handmade!
Without further ado, here are 5 of my bad sewing habits:
1. Thinking several makes down the road…
I am sure lots of you can identify with this one!
I guess you could summarise this as a lack of sewing focus, I start my garment but I’m already thinking one and sometimes two garments down the line. At this moment I’m sewing up my second Anna but I can’t help thinking about some beautiful purple bird fabric in my drawer (you’ve got to see it, it’s divine!), I’ve also got Waffle Patterns’ Zipper Blouson on the mind, oh and a special occasion dress for my friend’s wedding plus two men’s waistcoats….
Ok I’ll stop now but you can hopefully see my point here! I am working hard to slow down and enjoy the process a little more, as we all know, the making is all part of the joy of the finished item.
2. Threading an already wound bobbin…
This is very naughty indeed because you should never disrespect your bobbin, especially if you happen to have bobbin in your blog name! I admit it I do from time to time wind a new thread on a ready used bobbin leading to a messy bobbin and on occasions an angry and confused machine.
My only saving grace here is that this is the habit I am closest to kicking and in the most straight-forward of manners – buying more bobbins!
3. Skim reading instructions…
Ok so we’ve all been here right?
I’ll set the scene… you are sat down to sew after a long day at work and think I’ve got half an hour or so here I may be quite tired but I’m going to sew. With the noble intent of not pushing yourself too hard you resolve to complete one instruction and charge off to do it, complete the task and pat yourself on the back. Fast forward 24 hours and this time you are feeling a little more awake, you sit down again and read on… DAMN I probably shouldn’t have done that…
Yes I speak from personal experience here, it really is worth reading the instructions through before you begin, especially if you’re from the wing it school of sewing like me, it will save you so much more time in the long run.
4. Staying up late to just finish this one little bit…
Sewing has for me become just a little bit of an obsession and I am regularly in danger of getting a little infatuated with my makes and subsequently turning my sewing corner into sweatshop corner. I am often found sewing late into the night when really I should be getting ready for bed.
My entirely hypocritical advice for fellow late night sewers is to remember to slow down and enjoy your makes. I have made so many silly mistakes when I have been tired or have been baffled by an instruction for hours instead of getting up, walking away and returning with a clear and awake mind. Sewing should always be a joy no matter what deadline we set for ourselves.
5. Putting pins in my mouth…
Yes this is just silly. I hiccuped once whilst having pins in my mouth, I was very lucky on that occasion!
That’s all of my bad sewing habits for now. Do you have any bad sewing habits? If so, what are yours?
Fresh from setting my sewing goals for the remainder of 2014 I would like to introduce you to the first tick on my list with the completion of my first knitted make Colette’s brand new pattern Myrtle – well the top half of it at least.
My journey with Myrtle hasn’t been the easiest of my dressmaking career. To tell you the truth we just lacked chemistry, we were like one of those couples leaning in to kiss but forever bumping noses. I also cannot say I was without my suspicions from the start. I’m an English graduate and pay great attention to my literary characters; all of my literary Myrtles, Gatsby’s Myrtle Wilson and even Harry Potter’s Moaning Mrytle, were all very tragic ladies.
Despite all this initial doom and gloom I’m channelling the tenth and most important tip from Coletterie’s 10 things I wish I’d known when I started sewing post – Mistakes are Good. I couldn’t agree more and hey, Mrytle and I worked it out. She isn’t the dress she started her life as but Mrytle top and I are getting by quite happily.
The weight of initial fabric is where our problems first started, the cream and grey jersey was just too thin for a beginner knit pattern user. The fabric just couldn’t withstand any unpicking from my trusty stitch ripper and small holes kept appearing at my unpicked seams. At first, I tried to patch the holes but to no avail, my cream coloured jersey had to be abandoned for the top half at least.
I pressed on with the intention of making a two-tone Mrytle with a coffee coloured top and the construction went rather well all in all. Barring a blip with my back right arm hole, my twin needle efforts went rather swimmingly.
The coffee and cream appeared to be a good combination, that was until it came to inserting the elasticated waistband. Once inserted the elastic waistband seemed to pull the waist higher than intended, the elastic bulged outwards from the dress and made a thick ring around the join.
I just couldn’t work out why this had happened. A quick google later and it appears I’m not alone in this one as Jeanette from the Lazy Seamstress posted about a similar experience here.
Jeanette tackled her waistband by inserting a thinner elastic, the pattern calls for a thickness of one inch. I considered following this route myself until my boyfriend mentioned that he really liked the top half. I looked again and thought a Myrtle top might not be such a bad idea.
You know what, I might be right!
Mrytle and I may not have had the smoothest of relationships but I have to say she has been one of the most rewarding projects I have worked on to date. I wholeheartedly believe that overcoming and working through those challenges will make me a much better seamstress.
That’s all for me today but I’d love to hear about your sewing challenges. Do you agree with Coletterie’s Sarai – are mistakes good?
Last Sunday marked my two month blog-iversary and I’ve loved every minute!
In that time I have made a lot of progress, always a few steps forward even things weren’t quite going to plan. I have also met some amazing people who happen to share my passion. I can only thank you all for your support in the past couple of months, it’s been great to meet you!
To celebrate this occasion I’ve compiled a little collage of first two months. I can’t believe I’ve fit so much into just over eight weeks!
My sewing projects so far have followed a scatter gun approach, like a magpie I have picked and chosen patterns which most appealed to me with the general aim of picking up new techniques along the way. I’ve decided that now I have given my myself a good grounding in dressmaking I feel its time to consolidate that knowledge and set myself some sewing goals for the rest of the year.
By 31st December 2014 I aim to:
I will aim to teach myself something new with every make, be it my first french seam or mastering those pleats which fried my brain the last time around! As always I will seek to pass on everything I learn to yourselves as I go along.
I am also aiming to tweak the design of my blog in the next few months, making it as user-friendly as possible. Fingers crossed I should be mobile accessible very soon – a big milestone for me. You should hopefully have seen a couple of updates already as I tidy things up a bit.
That’s all for now but I will leave you now with my biggest achievement of my fledgling sewing career, my version of 8523 E making it on the Kollabora banner! I can’t begin to tell you how exciting this was (and still is) for me!