Tag Archives: anna dress

lily/anna separates

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Two years ago, I stitched up a By Hand London Anna in paisley Liberty. I loved that dress dearly and wore it hard for over a year, but last winter it developed a rip above the bust. I’d like to blame my impressive circus muscles, but it was more likely caused by poor posture and subtle fit issues that put too much strain on the bottom of the armscye. Whatever the reason, I wasn’t about to give up on such a beloved dress and so I stuck it on my “to-fix” shelf for a few months. It needed a new bodice, but I couldn’t use the Anna bodice again unless I was prepared to tackle the fit to prevent further rips. Eventually I decided to use the bodice of the Colette Lily, which I got on extreme sale and hadn’t yet made up. I, like pretty much everyone else, have struggled with the fit of Colette bodices/sleeves, but the Lily is delightfully sleeveless.

The muslin fit quite well out of the envelope (graded from 6 at bust to 4 at waist to 10 at hip), though I had to pinch out a bit from the side seams in the bodice. The skirt is great and I will make it up in the future–I love the pockets–but unfortunately is probably not very bike-friendly.

I stitched the bodice onto the skirt, but I wasn’t loving it. The simplicity of the a-line skirt seemed at odds with the little flap on the bodice, but without the flap it was a bit boring. So I made a last-minute design change. Separates! I cut the new bodice off the skirt and added a circular peplum, and trimmed down the top of the skirt until I could wiggle it over my head, then added an elastic waist. A regular waistband would have been preferable, but I didn’t want to deal with a zipper and didn’t have enough fabric to make a waistband piece anyway. It turns out, I love the elastic waist. It stays put better than a woven one, and since it’s only barely gathered around my waist, it’s not bulky underneath sweaters or shirts.

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I love my separates, which make a cute outfit together and can be styled apart as well! They feel unique and a little bit avant-garde in my fairly traditional wardrobe. An added bonus is that the bodice will still be wearable with other high-waisted skirts after this skirt inevitably wears out, having a whole year more of wear in it.

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I tried to have a little bit of fun with my self-timer phone-camera photoshoot, and pulled out 20,000 Years of Fashion to use as a prop, but it turned out to be so big it obscured a lot of the dress and I had to go propless for the rest of my photos. I’m trying to get comfortable enough in front of a camera that I can at least take pictures of myself without feeling awkward, and then maybe I can graduate up to asking other people to take pictures of me.

shift

This summer, I dreamed of shift dresses. Big 60s florals, bell sleeves, mini hems! The actual 60s patterns in my stash had been purchased without a true sense of my own measurements, so I turned to the Sewaholic Alma to satisfy my shift dress fantasies, extending the hem to a suitably mini-dress length. I cut according to my full bust measurement instead of trying to fiddle around with FBAs and guessing at cup sizes, and it fit surprisingly well out of the envelope–except for the sleeves, which I quickly dispensed with in the name of 90-degree days. My first version was sewn up in a bold, blue-and-white, surreal floral, but the fit needed tweaking (more fullness at the hips, less at the waist) and the color didn’t feel “me,” so I gave that dress to a friend and shifted my vision from mod to hipster.

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This dress then, is my second shot at the shift dress style and it’s been a huge hit. Simple and versatile in a navy swiss dot, I can wear it with sandals and pendant necklaces in the heat, and cardigans and oxfords when it’s gray and drizzly. In fact, it’s been in such heavy rotation this summer that it’s already starting to fade around the seams and across the bust where my purse strap rubbed against wet fabric in a summer storm. I’m not sure how much longer it will last, but I do know I will my making another version when it finally does give out!

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The pattern is the Sewaholic Alma, but I grafted on the sleeves of the Anna dress and mashed the necklines together for something a little broader and shallower than the Alma. Obviously the hem has been lengthened considerably (I can’t remember how much), but I tried to keep the lovely curved shape of the shirt hem. I omitted the zipper, as it slips over my head easily, french seamed the insides, and bound the neckline and sleeves in my Liberty bias-tape. The whole process from start to finish couldn’t have taken more than a few hours–as close as it gets to instant gratification!

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anna in liberty

Well! It’s been a long time since I dusted off this old blog. As long as it’s been (9 months!), it’s been just as long since I sewed something that wasn’t theatrical in nature. I’ve sewn dresses, vintage swimsuits, and biblical robes galore for at least three plays. I’ve altered countless pairs of trousers, I’ve taken dresses apart only to re-sew them, and I’ve torn beautiful tomato red wool to shreds with sandpaper. But, with the exception of an ill-fated tweed miniskirt that ended up several inches too large in the waist, I haven’t sewn a thing that’s meant to be worn in real life since¬†Ryan shipped¬†off to Morocco with a new shirt sometime around the first week of January.

Until now! We had a long stretch of house-sitting in which my sewing machines languished unused, my Kenmore gave out, I purchased a new one, and I discovered that all my machines were broken!–until I realized that I’d simply been threading my Featherweight from the wrong direction.

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So finally, I have a dress, and it’s destined to be a hit, I think. How could one go wrong with a TNT pattern and paisley Liberty?

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The fabric was given to me sometime last summer by my then-housemate’s mother, though why anyone would get rid of paisley Liberty I can’t think. I can’t find any information about the print, except that if I wanted, I could buy sneakers to match my dress.

With a fabric this precious I wanted to make sure it was really the right garment. After wearing my turquoise Anna for most of the weekend at Pickathon, I knew I needed another. I had hopes of finishing it for my birthday, but a month later is not so bad! It is a perfect late summer dress, being cool enough for hot days, but the colors will go with nearly all my winter clothes and with layers I can wear it right through to next summer.

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The pattern is By Hand London Anna, of course. I’ve made it twice before and wear the other versions a lot in their respective seasons. I like the simplicity and the shape and have to do very few alterations to the pattern as I cut it. For this version, I shortened the pleats by 1/2″ to make a little more room for my bust and it is just about perfect now.

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Grisly Details:

The insides are all french seamed, except for the back seam which is bias-bound in self-bias tape (catching the edges of the zipper tape for a super neat finish!). I used the same bias tape to finish the neck and arm holes. Neck, arm holes, hem, and zipper are all topstitched, but the pattern is busy enough that it’s barely noticeable, and I have greater confidence in its durability than if I had hand sewn them. The pattern in my size used a little over 3 yards of 33″ wide fabric. I could have got it out of less if the print wasn’t directional, but I still about 50″ left, enough for little bits of lining/bias tape.

So that’s that! I am back on the bandwagon, I hope! I have plans for my next two projects, both skirts. I got rid of a lot of my clothes in a panic while moving, so I am trying to slowly rebuild a grown-up and cohesive wardrobe. Here’s to layering season!

Aqua and Lavender Anna

Anna dress

This fabric is a Lisette lawn that my mother bought for me nearly two years ago, which I have been saving until my sewing skills improved. It was originally destined to be a maxi-length McCall’s 3246, but I have yet to get that pattern fitting perfectly. Or maybe an Ashland? But in the end, it was paired with Anna!

Anna dress

And I think they suit each other very well.

Anna dress

Anna dress

There is relatively little to be said about the process. I narrowed the neckline by about 1/4-1/2″ on either side, to fix the gaping I got on my last Anna. Neckline and sleeves are bias-bound, with decorative turquoise prick-stitching, which also features on the zipper and the hem.

sleeve detail

neckline detail

The inside is entirely french-seamed.

Anna dress inside

On my last Anna, I had stitched the side-seams at 1″, but as this one doesn’t have any stretch, I stitched them at 3/4″. I must have forgotten to do so on my skirt seams, or something, because none of the seams match up at the waistline, but luckily the fabric is busy enough that no one is likely to notice.

Anna dress

I have about a yard left of the fabric, which may actually be plenty for an Ashland if I felt like it. Or a high-waisted gathered skirt…? Or something else entirely.