Hi! I’m Rachel and I have a recently-rediscovered passion for sewing.
All of this beautiful sunny weather has inspired me to make some summery dresses and here is my first – Anna.
Unfortunately on the day it came to photographing my Anna we’ve been treated to some typical English summer rain so I apologise in advance for the lack of sun!
If you are an avid fan of sewing blogs like me you will have seen lots of variations of By Hand London’s gorgeously feminine Anna dress, I have noted a couple of my favourites here. There are three versions of the pattern, I always like to show a bit of leg so I’ve gone for version 3 for my summer staple.
I’m really happy with my Anna, she’s the perfect summer dress but she’s been a bit of a labour of love. I know there are a number of you who have the Anna on your sewing table so I am going to share my tale with you warts and all.
The first note on this cautionary tale is that I didn’t make a muslin, this is absolutely essential for the bodice. Instead I cut my pattern pieces with no adjustments to a UK size 12. I have always been smaller on top and usually buy tops in sizes 10-12, although I have been known at times to fit into a small. I believed that the size 12 would give me plenty of room for manoeuvre and if any adjustments were required I would be giving myself the ease to do this. I strode ahead assembling the bodice which included two front pleats and two darts on the back.
Now, I have always suspected that I possess a longer upper body than average but it was only when I tried on my completed bodice that this was confirmed for me. The resulting look was a bodice too small to meet at the back of bust but with a 7cm overlap leaving me with a gaping neckline. The front darts which were meant to “open like a flower at the bust” were 5cm too high and squashing my assets. Disaster!
I went into auto-pilot, I unpicked the back darts and let out the seams, restitching them from 1.5cm to a careful 6mm (1/4 inch) allowance. I unpicked my front pleats firstly by 3cm and then by 2cm more. Holding my breath I tried the bodice back on…
It fit! (I am much happier about it than this picture suggests).
Yes I had minimal seam allowance to work with for the invisible zip and I still had that gaping neckline but still I did my victory dance!
In comparison to the bodice the skirt was joy to stitch, it consisted of seven individual skirt panels to be sewn together. I whizzed through them and then sooner than I could blink I needed to attach the bodice to the skirt.
As you can see I was now in the situation where the seam allowance for my bodice was more generous that that of the top of my skirt. Nightmare!
I took a deep breath and attached my first ever invisible zip as carefully as I could. To remove the gaping neckline, I created a larger seam allowance at the top of the dress and fitted the dress to me. Once fitted I cut away any excess fabric, leaving a more manageable seam.
Although I did not spot this at the time the By Hand London sewalong recommended using the same technique for rectifying a gaping neckline.
I am very pleased with the result, although as you can see the zip is a little less invisible at the join between the bodice and skirt. I won’t beat myself up about this though as I only had 6mm to work with!
Since making this dress I have received a number of compliments about the fit on the back so I will definitely consider this a successful rescue job. Here’s a photo of the back of the dress and a celebrity guest:
This is my neighbour’s cat Simba, our garden is part of his territory and he insists on supervising all activity within it!
Back to the garment, I’m very happy with how this came out and if anything the trials I went through in making it have made me love it even it more! A special mention should go to this gorgeous fabric, an olive green cotton with cream coloured spots which I found in my local fabric shop Rolls and Rems Lewisham. Without this patterned fabric my amendments and rescue efforts may not have been disguised so easily.
You’ll be pleased to know the trials and tribulations with my Anna haven’t put me off and I’ll definitely be making another one soon.
Have you tried making an Anna? I’d love to hear your stories.
In the meantime, do you ever feel like you’re being watched?