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?
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?
In today’s post I’m hoping to give you all a flavour of what to expect in the coming weeks and introduce you to some new and long running features in this blog. It’s a rather long post but hopefully by the end of it you’ll be just as excited as I am!
1. Next On the Project Table Is… Anna
In desperate need of the perfect Summer dress I have decided to make my very own Anna. I’ve seen lots of great versions of this dress all over the internet, I love this version by Paunnet as it really great example of how use pattern in a dress. This Sewaholic version was the real clincher as it convinced me the dress could be a flattering fit without accentuating my usual post-food pot belly.
In one of those great occasions when a fabric just inspires you, this beautiful olive green fabric convinced me that my Anna could be a modern take of a 40s or 50s tea dress. Channelling Hayley Atwell in William Boyd’s Restless, I set to work…
2. Introducing Cheatsheet
The next few weeks will see the launch of my mini how to series Cheatsheet. The Cheatsheet series will provide a simple and picture heavy guide to negotiating your way through anything sewing. I will also be looking to throw in a few techniques I honed through my Textile Art experiences, this means plenty of free hand embroidery (aka drawing with your sewing machine) and appliqué.
For my first foray into “how to” I will be tackling the ever painful task of inserting zips – they just never seem to want to behave! On Saturday we will be starting with exposed zips and taking a sneaky peek at my new cushion covers in the process.
In case you can’t quite wait until until then, here’s a sneaky peek now:
3. My Sewing Space
I’d also like to introduce you to the very small corner I call my sewing space. My sewing space is currently made up of a tangle of wires, an old Illy ground coffee tin, a beautiful blue desk which I found whilst furniture shopping in Crystal Palace and not forgetting my tomato shaped pin cushion!
As you can see this area is a little on the plain side, over the coming weeks and months I am looking to develop my sewing space and make it a little more homely. Of course, I aim to keep you all posted on the way.
To help me with this task and to gain some much needed inspiration I have created a Pinterest board where I am slowly collating images of sewing spaces. I would really love to see your sewing spaces and, if you don’t mind, steal a few of your ideas as well.
Please feel free to send links to your sewing spaces below, it’s very much encouraged!
4. And Finally…
For those who live in the UK, be sure to make your way to the Central St Martins Graduate Summer Shows this weekend as its the turn of Schools of Fashion & Textile Design (Jewellery, Fashion, Textiles).
A number of famous names in fashion attended Central St. Martins to learn their trade including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Christopher Kane. I attended this show when I was studying Art for GCSE and found it really inspirational. If you have the time it’s definitely worth a visit.