Anna Dress from By Hand London


Anna Dress from By Hand London

Since I first started sewing I have read a lot online from other sewists' blogs and communities like The Fold Line.  The Anna Dress appears everywhere and seems to be a staple for summer wardrobes. Many reviews have talked about how easy this dress is to make so this looked like an obvious project to add to the list. So with spring on its way here we go....

Anna Dress from By Hand London review

Fabric

I had a beautiful rayon from Sew Over It waiting away in my fabric stash which I bought for £12 a metre.  I had originally bought it with a playsuit in mind but somehow at the outset of a weekend I had put aside just for sewing, I suddenly decided it would be perfect for an Anna. I think it was actually a good choice for this dress now as it is very easy to sew with, and is quite floaty and summery without being see through at all. The fabric irons well which helps for the pleats on the skirt. The only other materials I needed were black thread and a black invisible zip.

Pattern and Instructions

The Anna Dress made its way onto my dressmaking wish list quite a long time ago (pretty much when I started dressmaking). I did order this well before I was ready to attempt it as By Hand London announced they were ceasing paper patterns and moving to pdf only. At this point I preferred paper patterns so I ordered this along with two other projects which I have yet to make, and have set it aside for some time. The upshot being the pattern I have is on paper, which I know is no longer available…

The tissue pattern pieces come in a pack with a booklet of instructions and key pattern details on the back of the sleeve. This pattern is also rated on the front; this is rated a difficulty of 1 out of 3, so seemed suitable for my beginner skills! The different variations are presented on the sleeve:

  • Version 1 includes a maxi length skirt with slash neck and thigh split, 
  • Version 2 includes a maxi length skirt with V neck and 
  • Version 3 is a shorter knee length version with slash neck (this is the version I selected).


Anna Dress from By Hand London review; pattern and instructions

I traced off the key pieces to preserve the pattern, then transferred markings with carbon paper and a tracer wheel. The bodice pieces are fairly straightforward, and there are no separate sleeves to cut and stitch as they are kimono style (part of the bodice pieces). There are a number of skirt panels - I labelled these with a code in a washable fabric pen in order to keep track of them.

The instruction booklets contains layplans for all versions of the pattern, and diagrams for each stage. The wording of the instructions is also fairly straightforward, and I supplemented these with the Anna sewalong onthe By Hand London website when it came to trickier/new elements like pleats and invisible zip. I thoroughly recommend looking this up as there are colour photographs and other helpful tips that give more detail than the booklet.

Alterations

I did need to make some alterations as this dress was put together. (FYI I am a 5ft UK size 10 in the shops, and my measurements aligned to a size 8/12 for this pattern).
I found that the back neckline gaped a fair amount. On the sewalong pages By Hand London have included a link to a post where you canalter pattern pieces to address this, and they also have a cheat/quick fix version of their own. Being an impatient kinda gal I did use the quick fix which basically involved trimming away from the centre back seam. I also confirmed my view that zips are the devils’ work throughout this process and have since concluded that it is better to tack a zip down than spend ages fiddling about with pins that don’t sit right any way. As it turned out even though I did trim away some of the material the neckline still gapes a little as I move about…this may also be contributed to by the combination of stiff zip and flimsy material. In future I think I will try to adjust the pattern piece in the first instance, and may possibly experiment with a v back (but I’m not sure what this will do to the structure at the front).

Anna Dress from By Hand London back neckline

I did also have to alter the front pleats because the bust area on the finished dress was a little ‘saggy’. The width of the fabric across the bust points was fine, but I think that my short stature warped how this was meant to look. On this Anna dress I lengthened the pleats which seemed to fix the issue. If anyone can help me to identify what this suggests about my dimensions and possible alterations that might apply to all patterns I would greatly appreciate any guidance! (I'm thinking my waistline is higher than standard and this is what made the front bodice look saggy).

Anna Dress from By Hand London review; side view

Conclusion

I was really looking forward to making this dress and feel that I have achieved my aim in creating something cool, comfortable and attractive for warm summer days. I was happy with the length of the skirt, which swishes in a very satisfying manner, and the dress has enough room in it to be easy to be flattering yet not restrictive at all. The fabric I used was really easy to work with – it pressed properly, went through the machine smoothly and holds the shape of the dress well.

This was quite a therapeutic make as there is a lot of straight seam sewing. Other than some darts and pleats it is a case of matching notches, sew and finish seams. (That is apart from inserting the invisible zip, which I can never get right no matter how clear the instructions). The kimono sleeves mean that this pattern is accessible for beginners with limited skills and don’t require a great deal of thought. However, I did not make a toile first and I recommend taking time to do this for the bodice at least….I will if I make another as I know that there are some alterations that I will want to make for future projects
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Hi, I'm Laura. Welcome to my journeys with modern, feminine dressmaking and delicious food.
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