October 22, 2017

My Makes: By Hand London's Anna Dress

By Hand London Anna Dress Rayon Woven Sewing Fabric

Hey all! It's been a while since my last post and that's mostly to do with lack of material. As you may remember from previous posts, I recently moved, and so my sewing space is far from set up. In fact it is mostly still in boxes and will be for a couple of weeks. This means, one, I feel incredibly disorganized and two, I've kind of lost my sew-jo. I've always sewn in fits and starts, mostly based on when I could get two days off strung together because I am decidedly not a "sew after work" person. But right now, I don't have a day job and I'm even worse at planning my sewing than ever. Go figure!

Right before moving, I did finish a dress, and I've finally gotten around to taking pictures of it. But I'll admit from the beginning that I don't particularly like getting my photo taken. It's awkward and self-conscious and any woman can tell you that you are your own worst enemy when it comes to seeing the best in yourself. I can't look at a picture and see what other people see. I see the crinkle of my nose or the thickness of my ankles. 

It's probably for this reason that it's taken so long for me to start blogging about my sewing projects. A blog needs photos. Plain and simple. But the internet is a scary place, especially for a self-conscious person. The internet is basically a Heather - you know, that person in high school who no one actually liked per se, because they were mean and made snide remarks about everyone, but who everyone wanted to be friends because, hey! they were popular. 

But here's the thing I realized: the bloggers who I love were probably self-conscious in the beginning and then they became less self-conscious as time went on. And the internet is also a great place where people form a community, so I shouldn't let the Heathers out there ruin my good time.

Which leads me to my first ever...

Photo. Shoot. 

So, now to the good stuff, the actual dress. Here she is, my Anna Dress from By Hand London.

By Hand London Anna Dress Rayon Woven Sewing Fabric

This dress was totally an inspiration from the fabric. I LOVE this fabric. In fact, it seems the internet loves this fabric too as I seen makes from both Oonaballoona and SallieOh. But no matter. Most people walking down the street don't know that. So, back to the fabric. It's a digitally printed rayon woven from Mood, and if you look closely enough, it has a trompe l'oeil thing going on where it looks like it's needle-pointed flowers, but it's really just printed onto the fabric. Oh, and did I mention that it is incredibly soft? Like "before cutting, I used to rub my face on it" soft. It's also mostly opaque, which is perfect for this pattern and also sturdy enough to sew easily but drapey enough for the bodice of this pattern.

By Hand London Anna Dress Rayon Woven Floral Printed Fabric Sewing

By Hand London Anna Dress Rayon Woven Floral Printed Fabric Sewing

By Hand London Anna Dress Rayon Woven Floral Printed Fabric Sewing

Because I've never used a By Hand London pattern, I made a muslin, which was good because the bodice was way too tight under the arms or too narrow across the bust, I'm not sure which. It was also a little short-waisted in the bodice for me, which meant that the double pleats were sitting way to high and not "opening up almost flower--like to accommodate your boobies" like the instructions said it should. I ended up adding about half an inch of length to the top of the bodice and then letting out the side seams by a quarter inch on each side. But other than that, I was really happy with the fit. I'm not typically a fan of cap sleeves, but even those were really flattering with the boatneck neckline (or boat-neckline, if you will).

Cutting the whole dress in the fashion fabric was an endeavor. This whole pattern takes a whopping 3.8 yards of 60" fabric. And each skirt panel is longer than my cutting mat. So, I cut my pieces on an entirely separate day from sewing. I wasn't too concerned about matching the pattern mostly because I didn't want to use more fabric, but it also seemed impossible. Eight skirt panels meant sixteen seams to match, and I just didn't have the head space to do that matching. I figured the pattern was busy enough that no one would notice (or care).

By Hand London Anna Dress Floral Rayon Woven Sewing Fabric

By Hand London Anna Dress Floral Rayon Woven Sewing Fabric

The whole thing sewed up beautifully, if not slowly because I used french seams on all the skirt pieces. Once I tried it on, I realized that the rayon had more give than the muslin I used for the test piece so I ended up taking back the quarter inch I had initially given to the side seams. But, live and learn, right? I'd much rather take something in than cut it and have it be too small.

I am still struggling with the tops of zippers though. I can never get them to lay flat with the facing.  Maybe you out there on the internet can tell me what I'm doing wrong. As I see it, I probably should move the whole thing down about a quarter of an inch and use a hook and eye closure to fill in the extra space.

By Hand London Anna Dress Floral Rayon Woven Sewing Fabric

I wore this dress on my last day of work and I felt like I as ten feet tall in it. I absolutely love it and despite it taking forever, would sew one again in a heartbeat. It's quite a statement dress, which means I can't wear it all the time without people noticing, but I'm sure every semi-formal event I go to for the next year or two will feature pictures of me in this dress.

That is once I fix this thing:

By Hand London Anna Dress Floral Rayon Woven Sewing Fabric

The second time I wore the dress, this happened. Apparently I cut my seam allowance just a tad too small and I like to swing my arms a lot. It's totally fixable; the underarm is flowy so there's extra fabric to work with, but I'm still mad at myself for my error. But oh well... I'll fix it before I wear it again.

So, that's it! My first blog post about something I made. I'm hoping to get my sewing space set up by mid-November and then I have plans to make a winter coat since my beloved J Crew coat from 2008 is literally wearing thin. But that's for another day. Til then...

Happy sewing!!

1 comment

  • Absolutely beautiful project! I’ve been eyeing the Anna Dress. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    Alyssa on

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