I feel like I must be the last sewing blogger on the internet to make the By Hand London Anna Dress (though Kat assures me she hasn’t made it either)! there are so many versions of this dress out there, and the bodice seems to get matched up with other skirts all the time. I managed to grab a paper copy of the pattern when BHL stopped printing them, and I’ve imagined it paired with several lengths of fabric from my stash since then. Then when I saw the Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co collaboration, I knew that I would use some of their rayon for my first Anna.
I’m going to rave about the fabric before I get to the pattern, because I love it so much. You might have noticed that rayon is one of my favourite fabrics to sew and wear, and C+S rayon is even nicer than most. This one is lovely and smooth and drapey, and has a nice weight to it which makes the skirt hang beautifully. And how gorgeous is the print? I’ve always been a fan of Rifle Paper Co., so I was super excited to get some of this fabric (it came from Miss Matatabi, by the way). I also have some of the canvas waiting to be made into shorts, and some of their cotton for a dress…I’m not obsessed at all…
I really wanted a pattern which would let the fabric be the focal point, and I think the Anna works really well as a canvas. The bodice and cut on sleeves doesn’t have too many seams to interrupt the print, and the multi-paneled skirt hangs and swishes beautifully in the rayon. I also really like the boat neck, I think the width of it is a nice way to offset the higher neckline.
I did make a muslin of the bodice, as I read enough reviews which said they had trouble with a gaping neckline to be wary. I ended up pinching out nearly an inch on either side of the back neckline, and half an inch of each side of the front. I used the tutorial on Ginger Makes to do my flat pattern adjustment, and it worked really well. I still get some gaping at the back if I roll my shoulders right back (how my mother would ask me to stand!), but I think that’s probably just the nature of a high, wide neckline. When I stand normally it sits nicely. I was surprises that I didn’t need to take any length off the bodice or adjust the bust tucks, it all fit pretty nicely once I had the neckline sorted!
I’m very pleased with how my zip went in, its one of the most invisible invisible zips I’ve ever sewn! I have a little bit of extra fabric at the back waist, but nothing too major. I have to have some moving room!
I also discovered that I could do a blind hem with my beloved Bernina! How did I not know I could do this? Its so pretty, and so fast, I love it! Blind hems for everything from now on.
It’s funny, this dress feels very me three years ago. Its the sort of thing I would have been desperate to buy before I could sew, and the sort of thing I would have sewn until about 18 months ago, but I feel like my style has moved on quite a bit from then! I still really like this dress, and I adore the fabric, so it’ll get worn, but it’s funny to think how much this dress sticks out in my current wardrobe. Its nice to have some really girly dresses in there, I suppose. I was planning on this being my Christmas day dress, but to be honest I’m not sure there’s enough room in the bodice for the two Christmas meals which I will be required to eat over the course of the day! I’ll see how I go, I might have to change into something more forgiving after lunch (because eating less really isn’t an option!).
I hope you all have a good holiday period! I’m planning a stay at home sewing marathon over New Year, then we head away for friends’ wedding. I had better get working on the dress I want to wear for the wedding…though I suppose I can always wear this one if I don’t get it done!