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?
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?
The wait is finally over and the time has come to say hello or should I say bonjour to my Chardon skirt!
The Chardon is my latest make from French pattern company and my new-found love Deer and Doe. Here I am taking my brand new jupe on a test drive at Columbia Road flower market.
My Chardon skirt has formed a key part in two of my recent Cheatsheet posts: firstly as a tutorial for inserting inverted box pleats and secondly, going a little off piste with this pattern, as a walk through for inserting an invisible zip.
For those of you who have followed those tutorials, I thought you may like a closer view of the finished article. Here is an example of the back of skirt where you can see that slinky invisible zip.
I hope you agree that this style of zip was the way to go here, I feel that the seamless continuation of the design fully vindicates the decision.
As you will soon discover the tension between following the pattern versus making sacrifices to preserve the overall design of the garment runs heavily in this post. The greatest of these decisions relates to the choice of fabric and as a consequence the structure of the skirt.
Let me explain. When I first purchased 2 metres of the gorgeous fabric in Barcelona I didn’t quite notice that the pattern was different on both halves of the fabric. As you can see in the below image, one half of the fabric featured small tight green triangles and the other larger green, blue and white triangles with bird designs.
This was a fantastic discovery for me, the fabric was even more beautiful than I imagined! However in spite of this great luck, preserving the actual design presented me with an alternative problem – if I were to cut the fabric along the grain line as intended I would at worst lose the pattern or at best have the left side of the skirt displaying one design and the right side featuring another.
Remembering I had only 2 metres of fabric to play with and unfortunately for me no imminent plans to return to Barca, I had to make a decision as to whether to use an alternative fabric or to cut the fabric on the cross grain which presented me with a tremendous risk. All of my research told me that cutting on the cross grain would ultimately lead to a sacrifice in the fit and shape of the design, this would surely be an unwise move. However I also discovered that the effect could potentially be minimised if the design was fitted and had a strong structure.
I thought long and hard about this and reasoned that the Chardon would fulfil this criteria and a design of smaller triangles falling down into the larger shapes was worth the risk. I went ahead and cut my fabric and I’m not afraid to say I’m tremendously and even a little disgustingly proud of the result – just check out that shape and volume. I hope you agree that it was definitely worth the risk!
I also made two additional alterations to the pattern, the first in name of necessity and the second by way of design. Firstly I lengthened the skirt by an additional 1.5 inches to match the length of my Belladone dress. Secondly I omitted the bow and belt loops from the pattern as I did not want to distract from the waist band design. I really wanted those triangles to cascade down the skirt like so:
That’s all from me today, I am planning on posting my grain line research here in the coming week if you would like to find out more.
In the meantime I would love to hear about some the risks you may have taken with your garments. Where do you fall in the pattern versus design debate?
Today’s post is a call for help, I need your advice. On my recent shopping trip I bought two beautiful Japanese prints, the green geometric print earmarked for my Chardon and this delicate orange star print on left of this image:
Ever since I purchased this orange star fabric I have been searching for the perfect pattern. The perfect pattern has to be a great wearable garment and yet simple and understated enough not to distract from the fabric design. I’ve finally narrowed it down to two classic patterns: the Christine Haynes Emery dress or a second version of By Hand London’s Anna dress.
In the left corner we have the Emery dress:
The Emery is great vintage inspired dress which has the simplicity to carry a delicate design such as my orange star print without swamping it. The detail of the bow or in this version a collar add a bit of interest to the dress which may be missing from the Anna. I can just imagine the star pattern with a contrasting cream collar and short sleeves, similar to these beautiful versions from Adey at The Sew Convert. How gorgeous is the Pink Bird Collar?
Taking on the Emery is the Anna dress:
The Anna is a cool, casual dress with great clean lines which would suit the orange star fabric. I am familiar with the pattern having previously made the above version in an olive green and have been keen to make a second version perhaps with a V-neckline.
Hopefully now you can see my dilemma: one great fabric and two great dress patterns – what is a girl to do?
And so this brings me to my call for help. Which pattern do you think I should go for? Have you tried making the Emery or the Anna and do you have any tips? Or do you think I’ve missed a great pattern perfect this fabric?
To help you with this decision I can tell you that I have purchased 3 metres of the fabric so there are no issues there. The fabric a stiff cotton and similar in texture and structure to the organic cotton twill used in my 8523 E.