A little late to the party – My Sew Dolly Clackett By Hand London Anna

27 Apr

I know, I know, I’m late to the Sew Dolly Clackett party. Sew Dolly Clackett is the brainchild of Sarah from Rhinestones and Telephones – getting sewists worldwide to create a dress emulating the style of Roisin as a wedding present to her and Nic. And it’s a great excuse for us all to create a dress in Roisin’s fabulous style – colourful, often novelty, prints, and well-fitting dresses!


Although I said in my post on trying to get the fit right on this dress that I was going to forget about the deadline, and just focus on getting a great fitting dress, when more and more Sew Dolly Clackett dresses started popping up in my blog reader (you can see them all in the Flickr group), the temptation to get it finished in time was too strong, and I knew I had to give it a good go.


I had a bit of time over Easter weekend (turns out, not as much as I’d planned, isn’t that always the way?!) and I managed to make some pattern adjustments, sew up a new toile, and get the dress almost completely finished, other than the zip and the hem. I didn’t think I’d have any problem getting those done before the deadline on Wednesday. Famous last words.


Anyway, I’ll get to that, let’s go back to where we left off in the my last post. I’d sewn up a toile in a UK size 10, but had a lot of excess fabric across the chest and the back. Thank you all for your helpful comments on that post, I did a lot of research, reading about other people’s fitting issues, and how they’d fixed them (Neeno’s and Sonja’s were especially helpful).

I tried going down a size and doing a full bust adjustment, using Alison’s tutorial. This is what my pattern piece looked like when I was done with it:

By Hand London Anna Dress FBA

It did not work. It ended up too big across the bust, and I decided that this definitely wasn’t the way to go. I went back to my original toile. The main ares of excess fabric were across the top of the chest and back, and the point at which the sleeves joined the body (or where the would, if they weren’t cut on). This photo shows where I’d pinned out all the excess:


Taking the wedges out the top of the neckline would have been straightforward enough, but I just couldn’t work out a way to take out the excess by the sleeves – all the excess was in the middle of the fabric, not at the edges, so taking out a wedge wasn’t going to work. I spent quite a while trying to get this to work, but it just wasn’t happening – I couldn’t find a way of doing it where I was happy with the result.

Due to the fact that the toile fitted well across and under the bust, and all the excess seemed to be in the upper chest, I wondered whether it would work if I tried grading out the sizes. I retraced my pattern (for about the 4th time, ughh!), tracing off the 8 for the top half, grading out to the 10 just under the bottom of the sleeves. I fudged it a little bit – on the pattern piece, the shoulder line of the 8 sits above that of the 10. I stuck with the line for the 10 here, but then only extended it out as far as the 8.


I also did a narrow back adjustment on the back bodice piece, taking out half an inch on each side of the bodice – this was something that was picked up when I did my fitting course, and as there seemed to be excess fabric all the way down the back, I thought this would help.



I didn’t do any other adjustments at this stage – I thought that I might need to, but decided to work those out once I had sewed up the toile. As it turns out , I didn’t need to :) The fit of the toile was pretty good, a definite improvement on the last one.



It was actually a little tight now, so I let out the side seams a bit, sewing them up with 3/8 inch seam allowance instead of the usual 5/8, and that was enough to fix the issue. I also put the zip in by lining up the edge of the fabric with the zipper tape, rather than using a larger seam allowance here.

I was happy enough with this fit to get straight onto making the actual dress – yay! I bought this fabric when I went to Goldhawk Road in March. The colour of the fabric I chose was entirely determined by the only pair of Roisin-worthy shoes I own! I chose to make another By Hand London Anna, which is one of many patterns that Roisin has made multiple times. Her swimmers Anna was one of the first ones I saw that made me decide I needed to make this pattern!


The pattern specifies that for a size 10, midi length Anna, you need 2.6m of fabric. I knew, based on my last Anna, and other people’s comments, that this was an over-estimation, so I bought 2 metres of this cotton lawn from Classic Textiles, for £7/m. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised that this fabric was a directional print and so, according to the pattern, I’d need significantly more. This threw me into a bit of a panic, I had a vision in my head of Anna made up in this fabric, and wasn’t going to be going anywhere near Goldhawk Road again to get any more :( But I decided to lay out the pattern pieces and double check that I didn’t have enough. Turns out I did! 2m of (50″ wide, so not sure if this would work with 45″) directional print fabric is enough to make a By Hand London Anna :) That made me very happy! I’ve even got some pretty decent sized scraps left over.


Most of the rest of sewing up the dress went without a hitch – I said it last time I made this dress – this is a lovely pattern to sew up – it’s one of the quickest sews I’ve had. I used French seams throughout. I didn’t think I’d be able to on the reduced bodice side seams, but just about managed. I then overlocked the edge of the facing, and the waist seam.


All was going well until I tried to insert the zip on Wednesday evening. I know invisible zips get a lot of bad press, but I have to say, I have never had a problem with them. I use an invisible zip foot, and they have always gone in beautifully – no zipper tape showing at all – truly invisible. But of course, the one time I needed to get a dress finished for a deadline…I don’t know why it wasn’t work – every time I put it in, the stitching was either way too far out from the teeth, so that a few mm of zip tape was visible on either side of the zip when done up, or, when I tried to get the stitching closer, I ended up sewing through some of the teeth, so it wouldn’t do up. After 4 unsuccessful attempts, I took Claire’s advice and took a break from it. But after cooking dinner, I just didn’t have the energy go back to it. So I had to admit defeat at getting it into the sewalong on time, but I knew that I wasn’t going to get a good result by rushing it.


Slight wrinkly back, but I’m not going to let that bother me!

I had some time to go back to it on Saturday, and FINALLY managed to get the zip in in a vaguely acceptable fashion. Still not perfect, there’s still a bit of zipper tape visible around the waistline, but it was good enough.


There was only one problem with the zip insertion – the top of the dress didn’t quite line up (neither did the waistline or the hem, by even more). It was only about 4mm out, and I was going to leave it as it was (I had finally got the zip in, I felt I ought to take that and run!), butttttt…I decided to re-do one side of it to get it to line up better.


Luckily the zip went in ok again this time, and the top of the dress is now lined up, although the waistband and hem were still a little off. I had already taken 1 3/4 inches of the bottom of the hem, so I just trimmed off the excess from one side to make it even, and then turned it up by the specified amount. My previous Anna dress was a bit long for my liking, but this one is just right, hitting at my knees.


As you can see from the photos, the fit on this dress is pretty spot on – I’m absolutely delighted with it. I think it’s safe to say that this is the best fitting garment I’ve made – it was definitely worth the time it took to get the fit right.




Stupid smile, because the fit of this dress makes me deliriously happy :)


And because a dress wouldn’t be a Dolly Clackett dress without a name, I’m calling this one the ‘Get me to the church on time’ dress. Maybe next time I will make it!


I am, and I’m sure many other sewists are too, really grateful to the competition for encouraging us to sew up a dress in a print that we might normally not have chosen. I love my dress, and I do have the fabric for another Sew Dolly Clackett dress lined up as well. My dress may not have made it to the wedding, but it’s in it for the marriage. I wish Roisin and Nic all the best for theirs.



19 Responses to “A little late to the party – My Sew Dolly Clackett By Hand London Anna”

  1. Rachel April 27, 2014 at 18:50 #

    The dress is beautiful and was certainly worth taking the effort to get the fit right and ensure the zip was inserted well! The temptation of finishing a garment sooner can be great, but the satisfaction of such a well-finished dress is greater.

    • Kelly April 28, 2014 at 08:15 #

      Thanks very much Rachel. I’m so happy with how it turned out, I’m glad I took the extra time. I agree completely – the temptation to get it done sooner can be so strong, but I’d only have regretted it.

  2. Emmely April 27, 2014 at 19:11 #

    I agree it was well worth the extra time! Fabulous print too!

    • Kelly April 28, 2014 at 08:16 #

      Thanks Emmely :) I do love the print!

  3. carol April 27, 2014 at 20:03 #

    it looks fantastic, well done

  4. Elena April 27, 2014 at 21:30 #

    This is gorgeous, Kelly! Definitely worth that extra bit of time.

    • Kelly April 28, 2014 at 08:16 #

      Thanks Elena, it really was, I’m so happy with it :)

  5. Claire (iwanttobeaturtle) April 27, 2014 at 21:59 #

    It is wonderful, Kelly! You can see from the photos how pleased you are with it and rightly so! The fit is great and was really worth going back to, even if you end up tracing the pattern four times. Can’t wait to see you in it.

    • Kelly April 28, 2014 at 08:17 #

      Thanks Claire! It really was worth it, even though I hate tracing patterns! And now I’ve got a great, well-fitting pattern that I can make up again :)

  6. ellebougies April 27, 2014 at 22:06 #

    Well done! The fit of this is perfect! Bet you’ll get a lot of wear out of this – it’s gorgeous.

    • Kelly April 28, 2014 at 08:17 #

      Thanks Elle :) I do love it, I think it will be perfect for summer!

  7. craftsanctuary April 28, 2014 at 00:26 #

    Love it! The fabric is gorgeous, and the fit is spot on! Who cares if you’re late to the party?! I plan on sewing dolly clackett for a long time :)

    • Kelly April 28, 2014 at 08:19 #

      Thanks Ashley, I’m so happy I cracked the fit. And yes, I do have a couple more dolly clackett dresses planned…the way I see it, this one was in it for the marriage rather than the wedding!

  8. Daniela M. April 28, 2014 at 09:10 #

    I love your dress and your shoes! Well done in persisting to get the fit perfect. The dress looks stunning on you! It was a great idea to grade between neckline and sleeves. I will keep this in mind if I ever should fit the Anna dress. I don’t have it yet (although I really like it) because I am worried that it does not suit me due to my small bust.

  9. Vairë Gwîr April 28, 2014 at 11:32 #

    Congratulations on a truly amazing dress! I was definitely worth it to take some extra time. It paid off! You look stunning, and I think the colours and silhouette really suit you.

  10. Ruth April 28, 2014 at 18:32 #

    It’s lovely – definitely worth taking a bit of extra time to get it right. And well done for persevering through the fitting issues, it was definitely worth it!

    • Lucy May 1, 2014 at 10:26 #

      Beautiful! The print is lovely :) Definitely worth the effort in fitting properly, it really is an amazing dress!

  11. sewsleepy May 1, 2014 at 16:24 #

    Really cute dress, such a brilliant choice of fabric and thankyou for sharing your fitting issues

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