You know the By Hand London Anna dress, right? I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t sewn it. I got my Anna pattern in 2015 for my birthday and I’ve sewn the grand total of… one.
The shape of the bodice is the big appeal of the Anna for me; but the version I made years ago just didn’t hit the spot. I thought the sleeves were too short for me and the bodice was a little tight. I wasn’t overly enamoured with the shape of the skirt either. This haberdashery-print dress didn’t last too long:
I did have every intention of sewing some more Anna dresses, but never did for one reason or another. Until now!
This dress honestly started with the fabric. I’ve been thinking about a long floral print dress for months now. This is a good sign that I’ll actually wear something a lot, so fits in with my whole sustainable sewing ethos. What I’m finding very interesting about sustainable sewing is how many people are getting interested in it, whereas about 18 months ago I found it hard to find anyone who cared.
I found a lovely brushed cotton fabric in exactly the colours I wanted from Minerva Crafts. I did think about whether I should buy it, after all I have no way of knowing how ethically it was manufactured. It’s tough, this giving a shit business (especially when you actually give a shit, not just because it’s the latest trend). I bought the fabric in the end, because I knew it was what I’d been looking for and it will get worn plenty. I did try looking around for an alternative but it’s bloody hard trying to find awesome patterned fabric that’s been manufactured in an ethical way. Sigh.
Harry approves at least.
The Anna Pattern
So why go back to a pattern I didn’t have massive success with before? Well when I made my first one, I was fairly new to sewing clothes for myself. I wasn’t massively confident and so the fit of things I made back then weren’t great. Wearable, but not fantastic.
I wanted to use a bodice pattern that would show off the pattern of my fabric. The Anna fits the bill and I still love the shape of the bodice. Tweaks were definitely needed though and I thought I’d need to go up a size to get a comfortable fit. I’m cursing my past self for cutting out the pattern and not tracing it. What an idiot! I’d totally forgotten all about it too, so that was a nice surprise.
I traced out a size 12 bodice and just tweaked it a little. Then I lengthened the sleeves by about an inch, and made the bodice a centimetre wider at the sides. I didn’t move the markings for pleats or darts.
Sewing the bodice was nice and easy, as I knew it would be. When I tried it on, I was a bit worried that once it had a zip in, it would be a bit tight. Endometriosis strikes again. To make sure that it would I altered the pleats slightly and just made two of them smaller. Job done.
I really didn’t like the skirt on my first Anna dress, so I wanted to put a different skirt on it. After making a circle skirt recently, I was going to put a circle skirt on this. I love them and I think fit and flare style dresses suit me much more than other styles.
Being lazy really worked against me here. There was definitely enough fabric to add a circle skirt, I made sure when I ordered it. I didn’t end up doing it though because I just couldn’t be bothered. I’ve had a couple of weeks of feeling a bit ambivalent to most things. So once I’d made the bodice and it had hung around for a couple of days, I decided to stick a gathered skirt on (with pockets) to just get it finished on time. I’d given myself a deadline of a networking meeting I was going to speak at. I thought wearing a new dress would help boost my confidence a bit!
So, a midi-length gathered skirt was sewn on and immediately regretted. I didn’t make it wide enough at the bottom to create the shape I wanted. Fail.
The Finished Dress
Now I’m not saying I don’t like the dress. I’m about 90% happy with it, which is good enough. The bodice fits like a dream and I love the longer sleeves. The skirt is exactly the length I wanted and I’m happy with the gathered waist. It has pockets. Winning. Literally my only complaint it that it doesn’t flare out enough at the bottom.
Oh, I almost forgot. Just because I rarely use the embroidery stitches on my Juki, I made a little clothes label to stick inside. Utterly pointless and will only be seen by me, but it made me smile.
As I’m so happy with the bodice fit of this dress, there will be a repeat performance (with a circle skirt!) using some cotton I picked up over the summer. Watch this space! [Update: It’s taken me so freaking long to publish this post that I do have a watermelon-print version to blog about too.]