I started the By Hand London Anna dress a few weeks ago, and spent most of this time on three (THREE!) muslins to get the fit right. Everyone else who made the Anna dress seemed to have a made to measure dress right out of the packet, which was one of the reasons I was so keen to try it, as I hate fitting, mostly because despite reading whole books about it, I just can't seem to make sense of what I'm supposed to do to fix a particular issue. I must admit I'm getting there, slowly, but it can be very disheartening when all you want to do is make something. That fits.
But I wanted it to fit well, so I put in the hours, and the cheap fabric, and finally made version 4 in pretty fabric. I then accidentally put the iron on full and burnt a hole, literally a black edged hole, as I was pressing the first dart. Thank goodness it was so early on and I could just cut another piece or I probably would have cried. Gotta love polyester, huh?
So here we are, with a finished dress. I bought the fabric from the Fancy Silk Shop in Birmingham, I think it was £5 a metre, and it's a kind of heavy chiffon. It doesn't behave like chiffon (you know, being a pain in the arse and warping all over the place) but it has the same texture and drape. Perhaps there is a name for this mystical fabric that I just don't know?
I'm still not 100% happy with the fit. There's still a little more room than I'd like in the chest area above the boobies, even though I raised the shoulder seams AND did a narrow shoulder adjustment. By raising the shoulders I also raised the neckline, so if I make another I'd bring that down a little.
It's actually very comfortable to wear, so no fit issues in that department, I'd just like it to look a bit more perfect :) and not like it's trying to strangle me either. A few new techniques for me on this project - as the fabric is a chiffon like material I decided to try out some French seams. I wasn't sure what to do with the waist seam, so just pinked away as usual. I will admit to being quite a lazy sewer, and the idea of faffing around with bias binding on the inside of a dress where noone will see it, seems a little excessive to me. Maybe one day I'll change my mind, but right now, I'mma Pink!
I also learnt from my last project to put the dress inside out on the mannequin to tack down the facings. Where they fall naturally is not necessarily where you would sew it flat, so this helps to tack them down in the right place.
Personally, I think it looks fab with this lovely cream belt, but I took a picture sans belt, just for your viewing pleasure. I wore this dress to the project launch of Make, Mend & Modify, a free event put on by local charity Action 21 to pass on sewing, knitting and crochet skills. I volunteered to be a skill sharer and had a great time passing on tips to new sewers, and it seemed fitting to wear something homemade. I think a lot of the people there have been watching sewing bee, and as much as I love that show, I don't think it really connects viewers with the reality of what goes into making a garment. For example, the 3 muslins!!
So will make another Anna? I think so, but not right now. I have a looooong list of projects. I have been thinking of making a maxi black silk Anna for a birthday in July (theme is Black and Gold) but we'll think about that nearer the time. It is really comfy, and pretty easy to sew together, so I can see in the future there may be a little family of Annas. Just not right now.
Also - bonus! I bought this fabric intending to make a Colette Hawthorn, but then realised it would look as an Anna. I bought 4m, only used 2 for this! (though I did cut into the remaining fabric for that extra bodice piece I needed). So it's great to have a dress pattern I can do in under 2 metres.