Some By Hand London Anna dress fitting issues

9 Apr

I have today off work, and was planning on using the time to try and make some headway on my Sew Dolly Clackett dress, for which I’m making a By Hand London Anna. I’ve made an Anna before, and although I love it, I did not get the fit right. Nothing drastic – it could definitely have done with an FBA, but other than that there weren’t really any issues.


I decided that, this time round, I was going to try and get the fit right. I initially thought I’d need to do an FBA, but then I looked again at the measurements, and thought that maybe I could get away without. Last time I made the dress I made US10/UK14, which fitted my measurements – 37 inch bust and 30 inch waist. But at the time, my upper bust measurement was only 34 inches, so I should probably have made a US6/UK10, with an FBA.


But just to complicate matters, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since then – I now have a 34 inch bust, 27 inch waist, and 33 inch high bust. So, looking at the measurements, and with only an inch difference between my bust and high bust measurements, I thought that a straight US6/UK10 might actually fit. So I traced off the pattern and sewed up a toile. And I’m not really sure what to do with the results.

On first glance, it doesn’t look too bad…fit under and across the bust looks ok:



But there actually seems to be quite a lot of excess fabric across my upper chest:



I can pinch a good couple of inches out to the front:


I’m not sure why this is – it’s not a problem that I noticed having on my last version. I just don’t know where the extra fabric is coming from – if I’d chosen the size based on my upper bust measurement and done an FBA, I’d only have made one size smaller. When I did the fitting course with fit2sew, I didn’t have any issues with needing a hollow/scoop chest adjustment, although maybe that could have changed since I’ve lost weight?

The pleats aren’t sitting exactly where I think they should under my bust either. Ignore my right hand side in this pic, as they seems to have risen up a little, but if you look at where my hand is on the left, my middle finger is at the top of the pleat stitching, and my thumb is on the bottom of my bra, right underneath my bust. I don’t think there should be that much of a gap.


It certainly feels like a better fit when I pull the bodice up slightly so that the pleats sit directly under my bust, but then there’s a good  inch or so excess above my shoulders, although it’s not amazingly clear in this pic. Bizarrely, I’ve also had the same issue recently with two RTW dresses – they’ve always been fine before, but I wore them both recently and spent the whole day each time pulling the dress up at the front, to save from flashing my bra at everyone, but when I did that, the dresses were way too long in the upper bust area. It’s almost like the space between my shoulders and my bust has shrunk!


So, with all the excess fabric across my upper chest, is an FBA what I need? The bodice is quite a good fit across my bust, and under my bust as well. When I’ve realised in the past that I’ve needed an FBA, it’s been when the dress has fitted across my bust, but been too big under my bust, and I’ve had to take in loads of excess at the centre back. The back doesn’t feel too bad on this, but looking at the top picture, maybe there is a bit of excess there:



Those pics also demonstrate another issue in that the shoulder seams are sitting too far back, but that should be easily fixed with a forward shoulder adjustment. The side seams however, do line up ok down my side:


So i’m just trying to work out where I should go from here, and any advice or guidance anyone can give would be much appreciated. do I need an FBA after all? And if so, does anyone have a good method for an FBA on an Anna? I don’t like the idea of adding a bust dart like the FBA BHL did in their sewalong. I was going to try using Alison’s tutorial, although she does say that’s for adding 1.5 inches or more, not sure if it would work for a smaller FBA?  Or do I not need an FBA at all? Is there something else I’m missing?

I’ve decided that I really want to conquer the fit on this. I have to admit, even though I’d decided to fit it properly, and gone to the effort of making a toile, I was half tempted just to say ‘it’s good enough’ and sew it up anyway. Mainly out of lazyness and lack of time and just wanting to get something sewn up. But I know that I wouldn’t be happy with it, and I’m much better off taking my time and doing a proper job, especially as I want to make more versions of this dress, so having a well-fitting pattern will be invaluable. But sometimes I find it hard to make myself slow down and actually take the time to get the fit right, especially when I’m making something as part of a sewalong and therefore have a deadline for getting it finished. But you know what, if I don’t get it finished in time, so what? I’ll still get the dress at some point, and I’ll be much happier if I take the time to make it fit properly. So instead i’m going to turn the fitting into a challenge, and I am determined to conquer it!


15 Responses to “Some By Hand London Anna dress fitting issues”

  1. Vairë Gwîr April 9, 2014 at 18:39 #

    That’s the spirit! Screw those deadlines and do what you thing will be more satisfying in the long run.
    It may be the way you are standing or the fabric itself, but it seems to me you have a few horizontal creases in the bust area, so maybe you do need an FBA after all? I have zero experience with FBAs (I’m on the smallish side here!), but it may be worth it to have a go to see if that would relax the fabric on the high bust, which now could be sticking out because the bust is too tight.
    I’ve seen on a couple of blogs that many people had issues with neck gaping (maybe gingermakes?) with their Annas, and it seems that you are having some of it as well. If you pull the fabric to the front as you are doing in a couple of photos your neck seems to be ok, but I think the excess fabric may be coming from that gaping (back) neckline rather than from the front.
    It was great to see you yesterday despite the result of the GBSB! Booo, I wanted Lynda in the final!

    • Kelly April 10, 2014 at 21:39 #

      I see what you mean about the horizontal creases, I hadn’t noticed those. Although as you can see, I didn’t do a very good job of ironing the fabric, so it could just be that! I’ve attempted an FBA on the smaller size – my tissue is now a mass of tissue and tape, but will see how that works out. Good to see you too, we need to get together more often!

  2. Jo April 9, 2014 at 21:18 #

    Hi, I have much sympathy for you-I have the same issues! I didn’t like my first anna because I sewed it up knowing the fit wasn’t satisfactory (even after muslining!). My rush for the better of me and I am annoyed every time I wear it.
    I think there are common quirks to anna- I think I need to pinch a lot out of the front neckline too. I see yours sits too far back on your shoulders (just like mine), and the waistline drops to the back (just like mine). I found pinching a lot out of the front neckline helped pull it forward so I’m wondering if this will be my solution…. I think I need to return to muslin stage *pout* good luck with yours, I hope you find the solution!

    • Kelly April 10, 2014 at 21:54 #

      Thanks for the help Jo, I will give pinching the front neckline out a go. Hopefully that will solve at least part of the issue. I read through all Neeno’s posts today – they are great! And inspired me to actually stick with it and get through the fitting issues because her end results look great!

  3. Jo April 9, 2014 at 21:20 #

    Oh and check out neeno from sew me love’s posts on her anna fitting, it could help :)

  4. fionaparker17 April 10, 2014 at 08:23 #

    O fitting can be so mind boggling can’t it?! I think quite a few people had issues with gapey front and back necklines with this pattern. I did and my measurements are very similar to what yours are now. Sonja from Ginger Makes did a fab tutorial on taking a wedge out of the neckline which I think would help you at the front. At the back it looks a bit like you could take it in a smidge down the c/back seam. As for the under bust pleats I’d just lengthen/shorten them until you are happy with where they sit. Good luck! Looking forward to seeing it!

    • Kelly April 10, 2014 at 21:56 #

      It really can! this is the first time I’ve decided to really tackle it (i’ve made a lot of skirts recently…) yeah, I remember lots of people having issues with gapey necklines, and I thought I got away without that issue last time, but seems it’s snuck up on me now! I’ve checked out Sonja’s tutorial, that looks like it might help, will give that a go. And yes, I think I could lose a bit out the back. I hope I have something to show you soon!

  5. Nissa April 10, 2014 at 09:13 #

    Have a good read through Sew Me Love blogs on this! I have a gaping neckline in mine too – it’s not related to FBA I promise. There’s a few methods to fix (I’ve put mine on recent blog post). I think you can also lower bust darts by literally drawing a line lower on pattern and reconnecting it. Good luck!

    • Kelly April 10, 2014 at 21:57 #

      Thanks Nissa, I read through Neeno’s posts today, I think they will really help. I’ll have a look at yours as well :)

  6. Penny Dresses & Me April 10, 2014 at 10:37 #

    I think I agree with Jo, it looks like if you take some fabric out of the neckline it could really help with the fit. I really struggle with fitting issues too and have just conquered BHL’s Georgia dress so I feel for you! Plough on :-)

    • Kelly April 10, 2014 at 22:02 #

      Thanks Penny. It seems that taking a chunk out the neckline is the thing to do, so I’ll give that a go. Your Georgia looks great, so I will take some inspiration from the fact that the effort will be worth it to get a great fitting dress :)

  7. ellebougies April 12, 2014 at 10:12 #

    I have no helpful comments re fitting this dress as I’ve not made it yet (though I’d be happy to hear what you’ve learnt, as our measurements aren’t far off!) but I just wanted to say (even though I know that’s not the point of the post and it’s maybe not politically correct for a sewing blog but) HOT DAMN your abs!

    OK, that’s all I’ve got. ;)

    • Kelly April 13, 2014 at 00:53 #

      Haha, I don’t think sewing blogs have to be politically correct, and I’m certainly not going to complain if you want to compliment my abs – that comment made my Saturday, thank you :)

      And yes, will keep you updated with how my Anna fitting progresses!

  8. Pootle and Make April 23, 2014 at 22:27 #

    I’m in the middle of toiling my Anna and have the same problems as you. I have excess fabric at the front and the bodice gapes a little at the back. The bodice fits ok around the bust and under bust so I don’t think I need a FBA. Getting the fit right is driving me doo lally. I’m going to lower my seams at the shoulder as this gets rid of some of the excess. I need to take a wedge out the front and am still to work out how to do this. Good luck with yours.

    • Kelly April 24, 2014 at 21:26 #

      I think I have sussed mine out now, will write it up in full in my next post on it, but in case this helps you in the meantime…I didn’t actually end up doing many adjustments to mine. I used a one size smaller for the top half of the bodice – the chest and sleeves, and then graded out just under the arms. This didn’t alter the fit across or under the bust, but made the top of the chest fit a lot better. I also did a 1/2″ (on each side) narrow back adjustment (which I know I sometimes have to do), but actually then ended up letting the side seams out a bit. I could possibly still do with taking a wedge out the back neckline, but haven’t for now – might try that next time. Hope you get on ok with yours!

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