Sunday, 27 July 2014

By Hand London Anna - Purple maxi

I am so happy to share this dress with you, as I absolutely LOVE it! Which is so weird considering when I first saw the Anna dress I thought "It's cute, but it's not for me". How wrong was I?! Eventually I started seeing pretty dresses and thinking "oooh what pattern is this.... Anna? But I thought I'd decided I didn't like it". Fool.

So this is Anna number 2, made much sooner than I had planned to make another, but it was one of those makes that starts with the fabric. I bought this at NyLon2014, on Goldhawk Road, saw this beautiful drapey purple poly for just £2 a meter, and instantly started asking everyone around me what I could make with it (I have a (loose) rule that I can only buy fabric if I have a plan for it). Some genius suggested a maxi Anna, and that was that. I'm very sorry I can't remember who made that suggestion, the whole day was a bit of a blur! But I bought 4m for £8 (WIN!) and then spent £4 on the zip (ugh, stupid overpriced invisible zips) and off I went. The fabric is polyester, but it's like a faux silk in texture and weight. I literally squeezed it into the 4m as it was a little bit narrower than I'd bargained for at 42 inches rather than 45.

Hey cat!

And of course as soon as I got it home I wanted to make that dress. I had a wedding in July, it seemed like a good idea to bump it up the queue!

Despite this being my second Anna, it was not without it's problems. This was all my own fault, but I'll learn eventually. Firstly, I learned the hard way to not forget to trim the inner seams when french seaming:

And I also learned that I should apply any changes I make to the paper pattern ready for next time. Last time, I did the cheats way of fixing a gaping back, but I didn't alter the paper pieces. After fixing my gapey back (poorly) I ended up with this mess:

Oh the shame! The zipper no longer reached the top, so what you see here is where the zipper tape literally ends at the top of the dress. I thought "ahh I'll just pop in a hook and eye and noone will notice. What do you think? Totally nailed it right? :s

Luckily I was part way through a very successful Colette Hawthorn when I did this adjustment, and was enjoying a sewing skills confidence boost, so I took a deep breath, told myself that I am an amazing seamstress and I CAN fix this, poured a rather large So Co and lemonade and I did fix it - redoing the zip in front of The 100 (is anyone else hooked on this?). 

See - fixed :)

Anyway, I debuted the wearing of the dress at my friend Lydia's wedding in Taunton. Sadly I didn't take any photos at the event, but I had a little self timer party in the garden of our B&B. 

The only alterations I made since the first one was to lower the neckline by an inch, and extend the sleeves about 2 inches - I did a narrow shoulder adjustment first time round which took away a lot of the sleeve length and I wanted to add a little back. I also did a rolled hem by hand which took FOREVER but was definitely worth it as it's practically invisible. Now that I sew I can't help but inspect the finishing of other people's shop bought dresses, and was sad to see how many fine fabric dresses at the wedding had been machine hemmed, in that obvious machine hemming way. I guess they don't notice it though, so it wouldn't bother them.

I'm now wishing I took some side view photos so I'd look slimmer. Oh well. 

Sorry for my angry pouty face here - I just thought it was a good shot of the skirt!

I received many lovely compliments about the dress at the wedding, some from those who know about my sewing obsession and some from complete strangers. And even though this dress is miles away from what I normally wear, I absolutely love it, and can't wait to find an occasion to wear it again!


  1. This is gorgeous! What a bargain on the fabric, and a great fix on the zip.

  2. Just catching up on some reading. How did I miss this post? It was me...I'm the genius!! Oh my God, the dress turned out so great! Serious dress envy over here...and to a woman waiting for an overdue baby, you look plenty slim!!!

  3. Loving the purple Anna - I have seen so many lovely versions of this dress but not yet taken the plunge. Maybe this summer?