Forever Green Dress

I really did mean it when I said after exams, I’d be back sewing with a vengeance. I consider this statement proven by Exhibit A, the By Hand London Anna dress which I finished completely on my first weekend off!

Blossom Anna Dress

Though I’ve been sitting on dozens of planned sewing projects, waiting for my break, this wasn’t originally one of them. A couple of months ago, I applied to be a pattern tester for By Hand London. Sadly, I didn’t make the cut this time, but they were kind enough to give me a 20% discount code for their online shop. Unable to resist discount patterns, and wanting to soothe my disappointment a little, I had a browse of their collection. Whilst I saw many lovely things, nothing jumped out at me for immediate purchase until I saw Anna. Recalling the lovely version I saw made up by Bianca of Fabricate, and remembering the family wedding I have coming up, I immediately began imagining the gorgeous possibilities. I needed no further convincing to hand over my money; I bought the pattern straight away and got to work!

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Given that I wanted the dress for such a special occasion, I thought I’d allow myself a bigger budget than usual, in order to fulfil my visions of a luxuriant silk maxi dress. If I was going to be spending $100+ on this project though, I thought I’d better have a trial run of the pattern first to check the fit and style, before committing to the most expensive yardage I’ll let myself buy for the foreseeable future. So I decided on a midi length version in this printed cotton voile (on sale at Spotlight!), which I fell in love with as soon as I saw it online. I think everyone knows by now that I don’t really like making things which aren’t pretty, and I really don’t like making toiles, so the only way this was going to happen was if I bought pretty fabric and hoped for the best. I got baby pink voile to line and a lime green zip (because zips only come in hideous colours apparently, and that was the least offensive).

Blossom Anna Dress

I actually took the trouble to prewash the fabric (something which I’m not usually very good at doing I must admit), knowing that I was going to invest a lot of work into this project and wanting to make sure it wouldn’t be undone by unfortunate shrinkage. Even though it was a “practise” dress, a) I wanted to make sure it would be beautifully finished in the (hopeful) eventuality that it was a good enough fit to wear; and b) because I wanted to practise all the techniques I’d be using on the final garment, like French seams and hand stitching.

My first real dilemma came in sizing: normally, all my measurements fall into different size categories, but it’s usually just a case of checking the ease, picking the closest fit and taking in where necessary. However, this approach wasn’t going to work for the Anna, as there was a good three sizes difference between my bust and waist measurements, and the ease was not very generous. Still, there’s a first for everything – so I bravely prepared to grade between sizes. It’s not a difficult concept in theory, but the Anna presented some unusual challenges – as it’s got the built-in kimono sleeves, it was a little tricky to decide what line to follow where. I ended up going with size 8 around the neckline and shoulder, extending the line out to join the size 14 line at the sleeve, then grading back down to the 8 towards the waist, from the base of the sleeve, on both front and back pieces. I kept the size 8 pleats, and cut straight size 8 pieces for the skirt.

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I cut the lining first, so I could make up the bodice as something of a muslin of a muslin (if you will). It turned out to be almost perfect, except for some slight strain between the tops of the pleats and the shoulder seams. I realised what the problem was – I’d compensated for the additional width required for the bust, but not the additionalΒ length. I quickly unpicked my shoulder seams, and tried it with 1/4″ allowance – much better! I went back to my pattern pieces and added 2 cm to the shoulder seams, front and back. I could then proceed to cut into my gorgeous green material.

(Side note – I am always deeply suss of yardage requirements given by patterns. I’m too scared to buy less than specified, but I always always have so much left over; case in point, this pattern specified 2.85m for the midi length, I bought three (because round numbers and my need for a safety net), I probably used just over 2 – and that’s WITH being careful with my pattern placement! But hey, now I have enough to make a romper too. Rant over).

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So sewing began in earnest! As those of you who follow me on Instagram already know, there was a small incident involving our iron and our house being short circuited (a minor disaster at the best of times, let alone when you’re making a fully lined, fully French seamed, darted and pleated dress in cotton voile!), but Dad came to the rescue and we had a new iron by the afternoon (thanks Dad!). Construction proceeded pretty much without incident; all seams were successfully Frenched, and my slip-stitching of the sleeve hems worked really well (an idea I got from the BHL sew-a-long – their tip for getting the waist seam to match on each side was A+++ also).

Zipper insertion time; I basted it in about four centimetres in from the back seam each side (a reasonably wild guess), and, lo and behold, a perfect fit! I sewed it in properly, finished closing the back seams (another aside – I hate hate hate closing the seam below and invisible zip; I can never seem to do it easily or neatly). There is a method of doing a French seam underneath an invisible zip, but I used it for my ball gown earlier this year and, well, let’s not call it an unqualified success. So I pressed in the raw edges and slipstitched those together to create a faux French seam (while watching Master of None in bed – for those of you with Netflix, I definitely recommend it!). For the hem, I decided on a baby hem, and actually took the trouble of measuring and evening outΒ this time (I’d already put that much work into it…) – but stitching around both hems three times must have been the most maddening thing I’ve done for a make in a while. Still, soon enough it was done!

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Yeah this post is picture heavy (sorry not sorry) – but I liked all the pictures my sister took for me so much (thanks again dearest!) that I wanted to use as many as possible. Aaaaaaand given how much work I did to make the insides pretty too, here are some guts shots:

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I really can’t express how much I adore this dress! The Anna is an incredible pattern – the design is beautiful, it sews up like a dream and the fit is amazing. In fact this dress turned out so well my whole family is saying I should just wear this one to the wedding! I’m not convinced – I’m still determined to live my dream of a glorious swishy silky maxi dress. Buuuut if I can’t find my dream fabric (in my price range – I’ve already found my dream fabric, several times, going for about $70/m ;_;), it’s good to know that I already have an excellent back up option.

Blosson Anna Dress

Well! That was a wordy one as well as being photo-heavy – I think I’d better stop talking πŸ˜›

Until next time,

Miss Maddy xx

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33 comments

  1. Abigail · November 17, 2015

    I love this fabric on you, it looks really good! And the dress is very well sewn, great zip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Thanks so much! I am pretty proud of this zip I must admit, it’s one of the best I’ve done πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. kaitlynssimplyvintage · November 17, 2015

    Anna is one of my favourite patterns. This looks fantastic

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Thanks! I love this pattern too, I can definitely see myself making more! πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. Sian Thomas · November 17, 2015

    This is so beautiful! I’m currently working on my first Anna dress too at the moment – I’m really excited by the bodice of the pattern as I think it’s so pretty with the pleats instead of darts and kimono style sleeves – I feel like your choice of fabric really highlights the prettiness of the sleeves too. I’m just the same as you with muslins too – I hate making ones that I can’t wear, so if I don’t know a pattern, I don’t use my more expensive fabrics on them. But for this one, I decided to actually do a bit of a test first, mostly because I have a big difference in the measurements between my bust and waist, and I wanted to see whether it would work without the full bust adjustment or not – “or not” was the answer, so I’m glad for once I did make the muslin, although it would have just about worked without! Anyway, I haven’t started my real one yet, but it’s all cut out and ready to go – I’m so excited as I adore the pattern!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Thanks Sian πŸ™‚ those features are one of the reasons I love this pattern too, it gives it such a pretty and distinctive look. Sometime it is well worth having a practise run, even I have to admit! I look forward to seeing yours, I’m sure it will be lovely πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. Michelle · November 17, 2015

    It’s so beautiful and very lovely on you too. Thank you for including those ‘gut’ shots. The inside is a lovely as the outside. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Thanks Michelle! I think clean finishing insides is one of the most patience-consuming tasks in sewing, but I’m aways glad I did it once it’s done πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nathalie · November 17, 2015

    This is so beautiful! The colours suit you! I’m so glad to read that you don’t always pre-wash your fabrics! Great to know that I’m not the only one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      It’s a combination of laziness, forgetfulness and impatience that leads me to skip out on pre-washing most of the time – but I thought seeing as this was one make that will almost definitely get machine-washed a few times, I’d better make the effort πŸ˜‰ and thank you for your kind words!

      Like

  6. fabricfan · November 17, 2015

    Beautiful dress and colour on you. Lovely insides as well. Rosemary

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elizsews · November 17, 2015

    MissMaddy…..pleased to see that you have not wasted time in getting back into your sewing! The dress is beautiful and I fully support the idea of it being perfect for the family wedding in December. Maybe the dream silk maxi Anna dress could be next year’s Uni Ball!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Great mind think alike! Whether or not I end up making the maxi version for the wedding, I too am already thinking about how nice it would be to wear to the ball πŸ˜›

      Like

  8. Siobhan · November 17, 2015

    So lovely! Might be off to Spotlight to pick up some of that voile!

    If your bust measurement is substantially different to the rest of your body, you probably need an FBA (full bust adjustment). They are super, super easy. You just cut out your size 8 everywhere, and perform the adjustment on the front bodice piece. That way the bodice fits your shoulders, waist and back, and you have the extra room where needed (ie, over your boobs). Patterns are only drafted for a size B cup so everyone bigger is a candidate for an FBA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Thanks Siobhan! And I definitely recommend the voile, it’s as lovely to sew and wear as it looks πŸ˜‰

      Mmm, that drafted-for-B-cup thing annoys me so much! Surely it would make more sense to draft for at least C, so it’s a little closer to being average! Oh well. I have done pretty well without doing FBAs so far, but it’s definitely something to think about for future makes…

      Like

  9. SofΓ­a · November 18, 2015

    Wow! That’s gorgeous!! If that’s only the muslim, I can’t imagine how wonderful is going to be the final dress! Even the inside is as beautiful as the outside!
    The Anna dress is a lovely pattern. In fact, I was considering making it too for a fancy dinner I have in two weeks… I finally settled for a Burdastyle dress pattern I already have, but seeing your beautiful Ana dress makes me have second thoughts! πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Thanks Sofia! It’s just as well this one turned out so nice, I’m still having trouble finding a suitable fabric for the maxi version…so this may in fact be the final dress (for now, at least)! I’m looking forward to seeing your dress, I’m sure it’s lovely as well πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. lucyannluna · November 18, 2015

    Looks fantastic

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Very pretty! I love the fabric and it looks like you got the fit just right!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 19, 2015

      Thanks Linda! I’m pretty proud of the fit, this is in fact the first dress I have fitted completely by myself without any help πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Sarah · November 23, 2015

    Very nice dress indeed, I may have to add this pattern to my ever growing wish list. Great photos too! Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 25, 2015

      Thanks Sarah! I definitely recommend it, I think it’s a very flattering style πŸ™‚ I’ll pass the photography compliments onto my sister- she does a great job!

      Like

  13. redflaminghair · November 24, 2015

    What a beauty! Love the colour, love the look, I’m gonna buy this pattern, I’m sure of it! πŸ™‚

    I just checked the size charts, I always happen to fall between two sizes.So don’t worry, everybody is different πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 25, 2015

      Thank you so much! I’m a bit in love with the look too πŸ™‚

      Like

  14. Hannah · November 24, 2015

    This dress is so pretty on you – I love the fabric you’ve used!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 25, 2015

      Thanks Hannah! I love the fabric too, I’m so glad there’s some left over for another project πŸ˜€

      Like

  15. Scavenger Annie · November 28, 2015

    Absolutely gorgeous! You’ve done an amazing job! This makes me want to bump the Anna pattern up to the top of my To Do list. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Miss Maddy · November 30, 2015

      Thank you so much! Well, I can safely say the Anna comes highly recommended by me! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

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