Finished: (My first) By Hand London Anna dress

21 Sep

If you are a regular lurker of sewing blogs then by now I’m sure you’ll had seen oodles of beautiful Anna dresses popping up everywhere. There’s only so much temptation I can take before I decided to jump on the bandwagon!

I’ll share with you some of my favourite ones that I’ve seen, which really pushed me towards buying the pattern. At first, it was some of the long versions that I really fell in love with, such as Lizzy’sRoisin’s and, later, Lauren’s. But then I started seeing lovely short versions cropping up too, such as Roisin’s (again!) and Fiona’s.

After seeing Lizzy’s and Roisin’s, I decided that a long, white version of some kind was the way to go. I had in my stash a piece of white linen-like fabric, with embroidered flowers on, from my freecycle hoarde, which was the right kind of design that I was after, but I thought the fabric was probably a bit too stiff, and not flowy enough for the full length version. After seeing Fiona’s, I though a short white version might also look good, and so decided to make that up as a wearable toile.

By Hand London Anna Dress

I ummed and ahhed a bit over what size to make, as I pretty much fell between two sizes. The versions of this dress that I’ve seen that I’ve liked most are the ones that are really well fitting round the bust and waist area, so I didn’t want it to be too big, but, based on the finished garment measurements, I thought the smaller of the two sizes may well be a little on the tight side for me. I decided to make up the larger of the two, and hoped I’d be able to take it in easily enough if I needed to.

By Hand London Anna Dress

Unfortunately the fabric looks a little washed out in most of these pics.

People have been saying that this is a really easy dress to make up, and boy is it! I did most of it on the Sunday of my weekend of sewing, and really only had the zip and hem left to do after that. Admittedly it took me almost another 2 weeks to get those done (I really need to stop doing that!), but it really is a quick make. Also took me another couple of weeks after that to be able to get photos taken – I stupidly didn’t take them on the first day I wore it, when it was nice and sunny, and then didn’t see the sun again for a while. Man I miss summer.

By Hand London Anna Dress

I only felt slightly odd posing with a lamp post in the car park of the flats! Luckily I had Marcus around to take photos, I’d have felt slightly weirder if I was posing with a lamp post while taking photos of myself!

The only bit I really struggled with was understanding how the pleats on the front of the bodice worked. Having never sewn a pleat of any kind before, I just couldn’t get my head round exactly what they meant by the instructions. I thought I knew what they meant, but I really wasn’t sure. In the end, the lovely people over on The Sewing Forum were able to help me out and confirm that it did mean what I thought it meant. Now that I’ve figured them out though, I think that they’re one of my favourite parts of the dress, I really love how they look.

By Hand London Anna Dress

I’m also having a bit of a problem getting the facing to behave itself – it just wants to flap around all over the place! I initially understitched it to the seam allowance, hoping that might hold it in place, but it still wouldn’t behave, so I topstitched it as well. That’s helped a bit, although it’s still not staying in place as well as I’d like.

By Hand London Anna Dress

Here’s a better view of the fabric

I used French seams on all the seams, except for the waistline, which I overlocked. I looks so neat inside! However, I must get better at keeping my stitch lines straight, and consistent. When I came to attach the facing to the bodice, I discovered that the front half of the facing was shorter than the front half of the bodice. Whoops. I’m not sure which one went wrong, but I fixed it by ripping out one of the facing seams and re-doing it with a slightly smaller seam allowance. The full length of the facing then somehow ended up longer than the length of the neckline! Maybe the fabric stretched a bit!

By Hand London Anna Dress

I did have to use a much larger seam allowance on the zip at the back than the stated 1.5cm. It was nearing 2 inches on each side in the end. This was one of the reasons it took me so long to finish the dress – I couldn’t work out exactly how far in the zip needed to be placed. In the end, once I’d basted one side in, I had to get Marcus to see if that was lying down the centre, and then to measure how much seam allowance I needed to use on the other side. It’s turned out a pretty snug fit, which I’m pleased with. I’ll probably be regretting that if I ever eat a big meal while wearing it! The tops of the zip aren’t quite level at the top, but adjusting that would mean they weren’t level at the waistline (see what I mean about getting my seams consistent!), so I left it as it is.

By Hand London Anna Dress

The fabric I used is also slightly see through. Luckily this is solved when wearing it by wearing a white vest top underneath, and white underwear. It does mean that the seam allowances are visible through the fabric. As they’re nice tidy french seams, this isn’t too much of a problem, except where the front bust pleats lines up with with the front skirt seams, there’s a slight mismatch, due to the pleats being pressed open, and the french seams being pressed to one side. It looks like my seam isn’t match up properly, even though it is!

By Hand London Anna Dress

The finished dress is perhaps a little wide across the chest – that, and the fact that I had to take in so much at the back suggest that maybe I should have gone for the smaller size after all! You can see where some of the excess fabric is from where it’s really creased under the arm. I think next time I probably need to make a smaller size and do a full bust adjustment. I’m actually doing a pattern fitting course in a couple of weeks’ time, which I’m really looking forward to. I think that I should probably be doing full bust adjustments on all my dresses, so it will be good to establish exactly what adjustments I should be making, and get some guidance on how to do them.

By Hand London Anna Dress

Creasy fabric

I debated for a little while on how long to make the dress. I originally thought that I’d have to shorten it a bit to make it a suitable length for me I tend to like my dresses to hit around the knee, and I’m not a massive fan of wearing heels, so anything approaching mid-calf length is not ideal. I tried it on, and pinned it up to various lengths. In the end, I decided not to chop anything off the bottom. It’s a little longer than I’d normally go for, but I think it works ok, and I can always shorten it later if I decide I want to do that.

By Hand London Anna Dress

Overall, I really like the finished result, I can’t wait to make more of these dresses! It’s such a lovely pattern to make up, and definitely the quickest dress I’ve made so far. I really want to give some more By Hand London patterns a go now!


14 Responses to “Finished: (My first) By Hand London Anna dress”

  1. sewbusylizzy September 21, 2013 at 21:00 #

    Lovely fabric! It’s a highly addictive pattern, I want a couple more for summer!

    • Kelly September 22, 2013 at 15:09 #

      Thanks! I would like some more summer ones, but I’ll think I’ll have to make a wintery version for now!

  2. Roisin Muldoon September 22, 2013 at 12:24 #

    This is so pretty! My tip for the facings is to catch-stitch them down. I do this the whole way across because I enjoy the process but you could probably get away with just doing it at the zip and the shoulder seams.

    • Kelly September 22, 2013 at 15:08 #

      Your comment didn’t get eaten, it was just pending moderation! Although I think the internet does eat an awful lot of comments! Thank you, and thank you for the advice, I might try that with the facing, it just has a mind of its own at the moment!

  3. unlabelled clothes September 22, 2013 at 13:18 #

    Looks really pretty.

  4. Vairë Gwîr September 22, 2013 at 18:36 #

    This is a lovely dress! I have a very similar fabric that I got in a bundle and I have been wondering what I could do with it for a while. It is perfect for summery dresses! Maybe next year?
    Your pattern fitting course sounds pretty tempting. I’ll be busy with work until Christmas but I have plans to treat myself to a week-long workshop at LCF in January if I survive this term. Wish me luck!

    • Kelly September 22, 2013 at 19:07 #

      Thank you Vairë! Yes, good for summery dresses I think, made mine a little too late! Maybe we’ll get some more sun later in the year again! I’m really looking forward to the course, I’ll let you know how it goes! What workshop are you planning on doing? Good luck!

  5. Ruth Procter September 23, 2013 at 12:51 #

    Very pretty! It’s a lovely dress – there are so many nice versions of Anna in the blogging world. Going to have to add it to my (very long) list of patterns to make!

    • Kelly September 25, 2013 at 13:13 #

      Thanks Ruth! I finally gave in after seeing one too many fabulous versions! My list is also insanely long, but this is actually a very quick make!

  6. Lynne September 23, 2013 at 16:56 #

    Your dress looks gorgeous! I’m in the middle of making this pattern, and mine has turned out a bit too big as well. But I suppose it’s better than being too small!

  7. Neeno - Sew Me Love January 20, 2014 at 00:24 #

    Gorgeous fabric!

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