The Sewcialite Soiree and a customised By Hand London Anna Dress

The Sewcialite Soiree and a customised By Hand London Anna Dress

Sewing people really are the best...they even arrange events where you can wear the projects you love to make yet rarely have occasion to wear. Last month I headed over to Bristol for the Sewcialite Soiree to enjoy an evening getting to know other makers and having a good old dance too. It sounds odd enough when you tell your family that you are heading across the country to meet people you have only seen on the internet, let alone never talked to or met, and it's even more odd when you arrive at a party where everyone is not only cool with that, but also in having what they are wearing examined in detail. And yet, we all loved it. So much so that the only evidence I have that I was there is the photo booth...I took no photos because I was having such a good time! Hence why it's taken me ages to actually photograph and talk about what I made for the event....


The Sewcialite Soiree and a customised By Hand London Anna Dress

I seized my opportunity to make something that I know I've never had occasion to wear. I had been toying with all sorts of ideas for a while then picked up this satin backed crepe at the Knitting and Stitching show (£5 a metre, thank you very much). I was doing the whole draping thing in front of the mirror and immediately came up with what I wanted to make - something long, with a pleated feature in the skirt and a simple bodice. The Anna dress from By Hand London was a clear front runner and I used the bodice from this pattern, changing the skirt to what I had in mind (it does have a maxi length option by the way).

Bodice alterations

If you are looking for a detailed review of the By Hand London Anna dress, then check out my knee length Anna here. For this version I used What Katie Sews' tutorial on non flipping facings. I also didn't sew down the sleeve hems other a couple of tacks at the shoulder and armhole. They are folded and pressed into place which wears fine. Sleeve hems would have looked too bulky in this fabric.

The only real alteration I made was to move the centre back zip to the side. I remembered that the back neck and upper back area were a little loose, and took out a little extra from this seam. Moving the zip meant that any excess fabric draped nicely in the back, rather than sticking out stiffly if the zip was there. I couldn't find a colour matched invisible zip so used a black one - it blends in pretty well though - the photo below is the side with the zip and it's not very obvious. 

The Sewcialite Soiree and a customised By Hand London Anna Dress

The skirt

If you are expecting something highly technical and precise, you are going to be disappointed. That's not how I roll. My main concern was squeezing out a full length skirt with what I had left after the bodice from my 2m total fabric. I did do a bit of standing up and wrapping around to check. I'm not sure I could have used the Anna pattern even if I'd wanted to as it would have been in 6 pieces.

I used a pencil skirt pattern as my base point. It is one that I have drafted myself, but any pencil skirt pattern would work (one with straight sides, not tapered). I didn't want any darts so folded these in on the pattern paper which created deeper curves at the back waist. I have a swayback so a curve is better fitting for me in this area. I extended the pattern in a straight line (basically to the end of the fabric as I didn't know how long I was going to need it). 


The Sewcialite Soiree and a customised By Hand London Anna Dress

The front skirt was a little more involved. I was still using the same pencil skirt pattern but where I would normally have cut this on the fold, needed to cut it in one single layer. The right hand side (as you wear it) followed the same principle as the back, with darts folded in. For the other side I gathered one portion into three diagonal pleats. I measured to make sure that they would match up with the bodice pleats, then folded the fabric into something that sat nicely and pinned these into place. I tried to make sure that I was maintaining the grainline wither side of the pleats so that the fabric would continue to drape evenly. Once I was happy with these, I laid the pattern piece over the top and cut it out this remaining half.

The Sewcialite Soiree and a customised By Hand London Anna Dress


You can't see it in these photos (or hopefully in real life either actually!) but the hem is deep...about 3 inches. I overlocked the raw edge and slipstitched it in place. Anything else would have looked bulky and I actually achieved an invisible hem which was far more glamorous.
Or like a bridesmaid, as having my hair up would demonstrate, and as Sarah from Like Sew Amazing commented when I was standing next to Jen (gingerellaj).

And it held up fabulously on the evening! (more than my voice did). I loved having the opportunity to meet some of my favourite sew-lebrities in real life and be inspired by what everyone had created. I wasn't the only one who didn't know anyone, so don't be put off if you are worried for next year...it's fine! I loved it. Oh, and great goody bags too!

The Sewcialite Soiree and a customised By Hand London Anna Dress

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Hi, I'm Laura. Welcome to my journeys with modern, feminine dressmaking; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm a lifelong foodie, so you'll also find some delicious recipes and places to get that foodie fix.
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