How’s that for a more interesting title? Thanks, Robbie Burns.

Here is my second version of the By Hand London Anna dress.

My photoshoot yielded some blown out results and then I got lazy and used a preset to adjust them. They look overprocessed now, so I apologise. The colours are pretty accurate, though.

The fabric is rayon from DK fabrics – it was labelled ‘lycocell’ but that’s rayon, pretty much. I bought it at the same time as I got the black rayon I used for my first Anna. This one feels thicker and denser – once I washed it on warm (to avoid distressing shrinkage later) it thickened up even more and now it hefts almost like a heavy silk. As you can see it’s pretty wrinkly too but as I’ve said time and again, that’s natural fabrics for you! It’s less obvious irl and I don’t mind it. This is straight off the line, no ironing, mind you. I took it out of the washer as soon as it was done and the wrinkles just fell out, so that’s a plus! But a few hours of wearing it means it wrinkled again. That’s life.

I cut the same size as last time – size 18 bodice, no adjustments. I was going on auto though and cut the skirt out at a 20 without thinking. That proved providential, in the end ~~foreshadowing~~. When I first sewed it up I did NOT get a good fit – I had a boob squish situation:

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It’s hard to take a photo of it, but trust me it was VERY obvious in 3D. You can kind of see in the above photo that my boob is kind of square. It was like someone had wrapped a rubber band around my bust. This is how I felt about it:

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Not good. Not good. The back was also too tight. Like, sausage casing tight. I spent a while mucking around and unpicking seams and resewing them. I tried sewing the side seams at 5cm instead of 1.5. That reduced but didn’t fix the issue. So I took out the zip and sewed that with a smaller seam. But then I sewed it in so one side was back to front, and had a mini hissy fit when I realised. I put it to one side, making a mini WIP pile with my B6055 and refused to sew anything for a week or so, because sewing is stupid.

After photographing and blogging B6055, I started to feel better about it – and thank you everyone for you nice comments about it! It helped a lot. I think high expectations were the cause of a lot of my disappointment, although I still shake my head at the hem and zip. But I no longer felt like sewing was stupid and awful, so I picked up Anna again. I re-set the zip and tried it on and my boobs were still squished. So going off of what I’d seen in the difference between the bodice shaped in B6055 and Anna, I decided to insert a 2″ panel in the side seam. With seam allowances this meant I added approximately 1.5″. This solved the problem entirely, although I did end up taking a dart out of the top because it was making the sleeves gape at the underarm.

Can you see the panel? It’s just visible.

I then took the front pleats in a bit because it was a bit roomy there. I had originally sewn them a bit smaller so I probably just put them back to as-drafted. I could maybe have taken the back darts a bit smaller, too, I am getting a bit of gaping there, but I do also use that room when moving in other ways, so that’s fine. My black version sometimes feels a bit tight across the mid-back when I’m sitting at my desk, and I didn’t want to replicate that.

I sewed one of the pleats a bit too high up but I’m not going back to fix it.

I also took a wedge out of the back neck, as that gapes on my black version and I find it really annoying.

My black version does have the boob squish issue but not as drastically – I suspect this fabric has less give and so there was no wriggle room at all.

I cut the skirt at the ‘midi’ line. But it looked like it was going to be really short, to me, so I cut it with 2″ extra length, figuring I could always cut it off later. Turns out it was basically the perfect length, I just turned up a 1cm hem. If I made this length again I think I would cut it 3″ longer and do a 1″ hem.

I had originally sewn the skirt together with 1.5cm french seams. Then when I realised the skirt was a size bigger than the bodice I just sewed them so the seam allowance was 2cm, but I only went a little way down, figuring I’d finish them off once the bodice was fitted. This was convenient, as I simply unpicked that, left the seams at 1.5cm, and it fit the bodice nicely! I compared the sizes and I still think the 18, adjusted, is better for me than the 20, because of the shape of where I need the extra room.

I am not sure the waist is sitting in totally the right place – I feel like it emphasises my stomach a bit. But then perhaps that’s just because I have a stomach! Whatever, I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. There is a bit of folding happening there, though, perhaps I could shorten it a half centimetre or so next time. I almost certainly can’t be bothered, however!

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Zip is from Lincraft because Spotlight didn’t have anything approaching the right colour and anyway, I think Lincraft’s haberdashery range is better in variety and quality. Don’t ask them for help though, I have asked about tailor’s hams and tracing wheels and no one there knew what I was talking about. I had to explain what carbon paper was before I could explain a tracing wheel, and I’m pretty sure the young woman serving me still didn’t know what I was talking about. Madness – but I shouldn’t trash talk them because I then sent them a mildly cranky email about it (my NY resolution a few years ago was that if I cared enough to complain about something to other people, I should let the business know as well) and got a very quick, very polite email thanking me and saying they’d do some more stock-knowledge training.

ANYWAY. The inside started out being mostly French seams but ended up with a fair bit of serging as I lost patience, and had to sew smaller seams. The waist is sewn and then serged to finish (plus a few zigzags where I ripped it whiel unpicking too aggressively. Ooops! Well within the seam allowance though so I’m not worried). The neck, arms and hem are all serged and turned over. The facing is SO annoying in my last version, and I just couldn’t be bothered. So far I think the neck finish looks just as good as the facing does, but we’ll see how I lasts – I suspect it will pucker over time.

I am really really pleased with how the zip went in the final time. The waist seam matched beautifully.

I am very glad to have this in my wardrobe! I pretty much only wear me-mades now, and since I’m not a fast sewer that means my wardrobe rotation is pretty limited. I am finding I need another dress I can wear when there’s a heatwave – the last few weeks have had temps up to 40C. This fits the bill perfectly! And I also needed one for when the weather is maybe 30C or so – and my blue linen works perfectly for that – the underlining makes it a bit too warm for heatwave wear. I showed this to S and he said ‘you’re so clever! You just whipped up two whole dresses this [long] weekend!’ I very politely did NOT laugh in his face, I just bathed in the praise instead! 😛

I have another dress cut out to sew and I am hesitating starting it because I feel like the sewing Gods have kind of turned their faces from me… tell me, how do you all get over the hump when you feel like everything you touch turns to ashes? Quick cleanser project? Just persevere? Turn to knitting? Let me know!

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2 thoughts on “Anna, thy charms my bosom flatten

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