Anne’s Anna

This post has been a long time coming… who knows why I delayed sewing this dress or writing this post for quite so long, when I am really excited about the result?

Back in the summer, my sister Anne requested a dress for her company’s Mad Men-inspired Christmas party this November. We decided to go with By Hand London’s Anna dress with a full circle skirt. We bought fabric, muslined it, and everything looked great… and then somehow I ignored it for 4 months!

No worries though – look how fabulous she looks in it!

BHL Anna for Anne

 

I’m just so happy! It’s a very basic dress, but look how great she looks in it! (These pics are from the day I dropped it off – she threw on some accessories and let me take some pics. What an obliging “client”!)

As for the details… I did a slight sway back adjustment and took out some width in the front and back neckline. I totally forgot to do an FBA though, so thank goodness for the miracle of stretch! It’s sewn up in a rayon double-layered knit, just like the fabric I used here and here. It took 3m for the self-lined bodice and full circle skirt. For the skirt I used the Cake Pavlova pattern, which I’d forgotten about, but was happy to remember! Drafting my own just sounded annoying.

BHL Anna for Anne

 

As for the pattern… well, I kinda get the love now. It does fit and flatter beautifully! But g’damn, that PDF was AWFUL! Truly, I’m almost glad they stopped selling them (though I still don’t understand why BHL stopped without warning people!) The borders were really big, so a lot of the page had to be trimmed off… which meant that it took a lot of pages and therefore time to assemble. The kicker is that they chose not to include the maxi skirt pattern in the pdf, to save people paper. I find this really odd though – if I wanted to extend a knee-length skirt into a maxi myself, I wouldn’t pay you to draft it for me! I wish the maxi had been an optional part of the printing. That’ can’t be hard, can it? “Print pages 1-25 for knee-length skirt, and 1-40 for the maxi.” Also, while I’m gripping, why does each panel of the skirt have a flat edge instead of a rounded one? Doesn’t that make for a hexagonal hem instead of a smooth curve? I’m confused. Basically, the whole thing made me crotchety, which is too bad, because I’ve admired the pattern since it’s launch!

Phew. Breathe, Gillian!

spinning 3

It took me a while to figure out how to self-line the bodice most easily, while still leaving the side seams accessible in case fitting adjustments were needed. I ended up sewing it in this order:

  1. Sew shoulder seams of both inner and outer layers.
  2. Put outer and inner layers right-sides together, and sew neckline.
  3. Flip right-side out. Use the “burrito” method to finish sleeves. (Does that make sense? Would anyone find a tutorial useful, or does everyone know how to cleanly line a bodice with no seam for a zipper? I know Colette put up a video of their technique, but I find it needlessly complicated…) 
  4. To keep the side seams easily adjustable even once the skirt was on, I finished all found layers of the inner and outer bodice together in one swoop… but usually I’d finish them separately so all the seams are hidden.

BHL Anna for Anne

 

Once the dress was done it didn’t seem costumey enough, so I whipped up a very quick and dirty crinoline. Anne works in the Event Coordination department, so last winter she offered me some double-layered satin and tulle silver table clothes there were getting rid of… and now she gets to wear them back to work, in crinoline form! I ran the tulle through my serger, cutting and gathering at the same time. I cut the satin into a rough circle, and eyeballed two rows of tulle along the edge. Seriously the ugliest sewing I’ve done in ages, but it worked!

And here’s Anne in the photobooth at her party, with her appreciative husband!😉

IMG_0054-XL

 

Do you have any holiday parties coming up? WIll you sew for yourself, or go RTW? 


37 thoughts on “Anne’s Anna

  1. I loved this dress, it´s beautiful! I was really upset when BHL stopped selling their PDF patterns without any notice…I was just about to buy Anna, as I don´t like to work with paper patterns… It was such a disregard for their customers, I was very disappointed with them…

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    1. Yeah, the change from selling pdfs to not selling them was a surprise… I wonder if it affect their business at all, or if life continued as normal? I wouldn’t want to be in any kind of sewing business myself – very hard to make all the right decisions, all the time!😉

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      1. Did they? That’s good – and makes sense. The comments I read on their post where they cancelled sales sounded like they caught a lot of people off guard, but I’m glad that’s not the whole story!🙂

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  2. Beautiful! She looks great in it, the fit is perfect! I love the Anna with other skirts – I just made quite a similar formal one for myself for the upcoming BHL xmas shindig here in London.

    (No, the skirt edges shouldn’t be curved since the waistline isn’t either (it’s not cut like a circle skirt – woops parentheses inside parentheses) so it doesn’t end up hexagonal! But that PDF does sound a pain.)

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    1. I didn’t think to check the waistband – thanks for pointing that out! Does the hexagonal waistband mean that the fullness of the skirt hangs from each seam, instead of being distributed evenly? I’m curious to go look at some versions to check it out!
      I’m looking forward to seeing your Anna – it does make a perfect party dress!!

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      1. Not noticeably, it just means the flare is distributed evenly around the skirt rather than just added at side seams like an A-line. It’s a very pretty shape, just not great if like me you cary padding around your stomach/hips🙂

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  3. Well done, Gillian! Looks like a great fit on your sister.

    I actually prefer it when patterns don’t include rectangle pieces (UNLESS they would benefit from markings in any way). I find that I’m not as accurate cutting out around a rectangular piece of paper as measuring a piece of fabric.

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    1. That makes sense. The Anna skirt is a 5 or 6 panel skirt, and each one a slightly different trapezoid. Not difficult to extend, but since I’d have to use paper to extend it anyway, I’d rather just glue more pages! personal preference though…🙂

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    1. My issue with circle skirts is that somehow, when you sit or bend in them, I find they ride up indecently high! I’m not quite sure WHY that is so, but I always find it an issue! Must stay decent in front of the kids!😉

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  4. Your sister is adorable and the dress you made is beautiful on her! I love that you used the old tablecloths for her petticoat.

    I have one holiday party at my husband’s office to attend but it’s pretty casual, so I’ll probably just decide what I’ll wear from my closet based on the weather that day. I might make myself a Christmas dress to wear to church since I’m going to have a couple extra weeks off work though.

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    1. Is the time off wrk intentional, or a gap between jobs? Either way, I hope you really get to relax and enjoy it! What are you dreaming of doing?

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      1. They cut our time at the opera by a week, so we’re getting a longer vacation than we originally planned for. I’m less annoyed by it than my coworkers because I wasn’t expecting the job in the first place and it looks like they are keeping me for most of the production season.

        So I might actually be able to make the 1940s dress, which I mocked up before Christmas LAST year. I have some bright fuchsia crepe for it. =)

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  5. It’s so pretty! I really enjoy your pattern reviews by the way!
    No holiday parties for me but I’ve got a red plaid hummingbird skirt and some festive tops I could use if one suddenly arose.

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    1. Thank you! A red plain humming bird sounds lovely… ok, ALL plaid sounds lovely to me in winter! I need more of it in my life!

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    1. Thank you! It’s the second year in a row that I’ve sewn her Christmas party outfit – I’m going to have to raise the bar again next year!😉 Hope she asks for something easy…

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  6. What a gorgeous dress! Your sister looks lovely! I bet she was the best-dressed gal at the party! Oh, dear, I’m just realizing that I have a couple of parties to go to and haven’t even started anything for them… one of which is Saturday, yikes! Somehow I don’t think I’m going to get through all my planned holiday sewing!

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    1. Thanks honey! Surely you’ve got something in your closet you could wear? Slap a santa pin on a piranha’s head and call it a night.😉 How’s the pink coat?

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  7. Your sister looks stunning! That dress is a fantastic look for her, and i just LOVE the fabric. Beautiful!

    re: BHL—I’ve haven’t bought any of their patterns, partially because of the odd drafting quirk here and there (not to mention the price… yikes!). I can’t see any reason why the skirt panels should be straight across the bottom and top. Basic geometry tells you that that the angled sides will be longer than a line straight down the center of the trapezoid. I know they’re a darling company to many, but in my opinion, just because you’re good at designing dresses, doesn’t mean you’re good at drafting patterns. Just my two cents!

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    1. I can’t say I disagree with you, based on reviews I’ve read.. but then again, I haven’t sewn enough of their patterns know for myself! I am glad that there are lots of options in the indie world, because my life has absolutely no need for pretty party dresses!

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    1. I was inspired by Anne’s dress to make my own Christmas dress with a full circle skirt. I kinda like it… but it also feels a bit frumpy! I need to figure to the perfect length. (Also, hemming circle skirts is a b****. Why does everyone say they are good for beginner sewists? Give me an a-line hem anyday!

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  8. Great job, the look of happiness on your sister says it all – and the silhouette is perfect for a Mad Men party, which also sounds like a lot of fun! I rarely make things specifically for an occasion, because I find it way too stressful. But I did make a dress for Christmas last year. I may alternate, though, and pull out what I wore two years ago – and save the dress for another outing next year.

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  9. This dress looks so amazing on Anne!! It’s super flattering and you did a great job on it. I love the full circle skirt too – obviously as I am copycating it. I think the Anna bodice is the bomb and the skirt is pretty good too, but I love seeing people pair the bodice with pleated, gathered, & circle skirts too. Bummer about the pdf – maybe that’s why they stopped selling it. The only dressy christmas party I have to go to is on Saturday and I want to make a dress, but I still have no idea what to do. Cheers to procrastination!🙂

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  10. Pingback: Holiday Party Anna

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