23

Birdy dress – Anna with gathered skirt

A summer dress to present to you all.

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The bodice is made from By Hand London’s Anna and the skirt is a plain gathered “dirndl” style skirt (just two rectangles gathered and attached to the bodice).

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I’m interested in the feelings I have about this dress. I think a lot of us who sew are a lot more judgemental about our own items, as compared to the RTW (ready to wear) clothes that we buy – it seems that I have always been rather accepting of all the fitting issues of RTW, so long as it mainly fits (perhaps that’s largely due to the fact that I’ve always been overweight, so clothing fitting/zipping up has always been a bonus. With my own clothes, however, I get caught up on quite minor issues that no one would ever notice.
I think it’s helpful to reflect on this in order to be happier with our craft. I don’t really go clothes shopping any more (RTW-free for 8 months so far) but I have gone into a couple of shops and tried things on and.. well, let’s just say it gives you a good perspective! The fabrics are not very nice, and the fit tends to be terrible.
Take this dress, that I bought from MAC several years ago to wear to Mr. Guy’s brothers wedding:
ImageIf you excuse the fact that I was a bit heavier, and the photo is blurry… this dress fits me terribly! Too short, too low, the waist is crazy high (it’s a gathered skirt on an empire line dress for goodness sake), it’s 100% polyester, and the pattern placement on the bodice leaves something to be desired. And yet, I loved this dress, put it on lay by and paid it off over several weeks. I think I only wore it that once.
In terms of my bird dress today, I feel like the waist is too high (by ~1″ rather than 3″ on the RTW version), the darts are definitely in the wrong place (as with all FOUR of my Anna dresses!) the shoulders sit a bit far back/the whole dress wants to slide back a bit (balance is off), and it’s perhaps a touch too long. The bias binding neckline didn’t work so well (I’ve decided I dislike these even more than facings, which I thought I disliked the most). That’s it, but I’m still so critical of it.

ImageIt can be so off-putting sewing something up only to be unhappy with the result, that I would encourage you (especially beginners), to not be so hard on yourselves! This dress cost me very little for the fabric quality, fits me well, is going to be really comfortable when Wellington decided to be summery (although I’m a bit worried about the skirt in this wind!)

ImageI constantly have to remind myself that whatever fitting issues I have, my clothes are still better than RTW. There may be construction issues, yet – but that’s okay, I’m still learning and my main problem is actually impatience.

ImageAnyway, I guess I should say a bit more about the dress itself. This is a simple dress made from a birdy rayon from Arthur Toye. The bodice is made from By Hand London’s Anna and the skirt is a plain gathered “dirndl” style skirt (just two rectangles gathered and attached to the bodice).

The dress is sewn in the flat and all seams finished with the overlocker. I hemmed it using the narrow hem feature on my overlocker (I LOVE this). In making the skirt, I just made it as long as I could and forgot to leave some fabric to make a facing from. I decided to do a bias binding neckline, which ended up looking like crap so the dress hung in my wardrobe for a month or so before I unpicked it and did it again – instead of sewing all the way around, I’ve just tacked it down at about 6 different spots. Seems to have worked alright, and saved me a lot of hand sewing.

ImageThis dress is going to be especially good for Camp A Low Hum, the best music festival in the world, that we’re going to in early February. Hopefully it’s super sunny like the last time I went (3 years ago) and this super-light weight rayon will be a life-saver. I also have another rayon that’s waiting to be made up into a ground-length Anna (hopefully after I’ve sorted out the bust pleats) for the same festival.

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Let me cuddle you!

Details

Pattern: By Hand London’s Anna bodice with a gathered skirt

Fabric: 100% rayon from Arthur Toye sale, originally $25/m, 2m = $25

Notions: cream zip, stash (for some reason) and thread, stash.

Total: $25

ImageI don’t know what I’m doing here but I look pretty fab.

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15

Frocktober week 2: By Hand London’s Anna with a collar

This dress combines three of my favourite things in sewing: polka dots, sateen, and collars.

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As soon as I saw The Fabric Warehouse’s post about their new sateens in stock, I was scheming. The next day I took my scooter (a piece of crap that Mr. Guy did up for my birthday; it now works most of the time) across town, trying not to get swept into parked cars in the strong Wellington wind. I narrowly avoided buying other fabrics (like a black sateen with cherries on it – that can wait until next time), hopped back on my bike and did the same windy trip back home – pulling out on a lady right at the end of a trip and giving her a nasty shock. I’M SO SORRY LADY!

It went straight in the washing machine (as with most fabrics I buy these days) – then, not having the courage to put it in the dryer, had to wait until the next day.

Once I got going, the dress got made… remarkably fast. In fact, from starting cutting at 6pm, it was completely finished (except for the actual hem) by 10.30.

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Obviously, it went together very smoothly. I added a collar (why WOULDN’T YOU) which I have had cut out for yonks, for some reason. I just raised the neckline of the bodice to match the collar I already had. This, unfortunately, made the neckline CRAZY high, coming half-way up my neck when I’m sitting, haha. In the future I will change the neckline of the dress as I don’t really feel that comfortable with high-cut boat necks, especially as the front is the same, if not a bit higher, than the back neckline.

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I haven’t included information about adding a collar, as there are already dozens of tutorials for drafting a peter-pan collar out there. Mine actually gets sewn in to the shoulder seams so it doesn’t extend all the way around – this is because it was originally cut out for a different pattern (Burda 7494) which I made once, but the skirt was cr-AAAAZY on ones bottom. Like Julia Bobbin, I found the skirt to sit like a tent. Like her, I also planned to just extend the box pleats down to princess seams but.. erm… never got around to doing it. And speaking of the cats mother*, I must admit that I am in total awe of Julia Bobbin. Not only gorgeous, and a very talented seamstress, she just seems like the kind of person I’d be trying to be friends with. But probably failing because she’s so cool.

* My mother-in-law uses the phrase “she is the cats mother”, which is in response to people using pronouns instead of people’s names. It is very school-teachery and I LOVE IT.

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I also lengthened the skirt (from the original version 3 cutline) by 3″, and I much prefer this length. It hits juuust below the knee which is much more work appropriate.

Speaking of work appropriate – does anyone else wear crazy stuff to work? I was walking into the hospital on Thursday in this dress and my red Watson jacket, noticing that everyone else was only wearing brown and grey – I stuck out. Most of the time I love this, but sometimes feel like it’s a bad thing and I should just… blend in. Sometimes I love wearing scrubs and a scrub hat for just that reason (although I do have my own, personal scrub hat with pansy’s on it rather than using disposables).

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The seams are finished with my overlocker; the whole thing has a rather professional finish, in my opinion. Like my last three versions, I did the facing last to tidy up the top of the zip. Using my pinking shears to trim the neckline seam right back means the neckline sits properly, unlike my last ones where the facing tends to roll out – why have I forgotten all these tips I had previously learned??

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Because of the sateen having some stretch, it has a fair amount of ease, which I am enjoying.  So far I’ve worn it with a belt, as usual! I never got around to removing some of the width from the skirt pieces, or moving the darts on the pattern so they line up. Should do that now but… well, I’ve put the pattern away and moved on to something else.

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Details

Pattern: By Hand London’s Anna dress, stash.

Fabric: Polka dot sateen from The Fabric Warehouse, 2.5m at $18/m = $45. I only used about 1.7m so will be able to make a skirt too, woot.

Notions: white invisible zip, black thread, from my stash

Total: $45 if you count all the fabric, ~$30 for the fabric I used.

9

My second Anna, in sea cotton

 

This is, obviously, the second dress I have made from By Hand London’s Anna pattern.

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To be honest, I’m not a big fan of this dress on me. It’s the same size as my previous one (I think I used a 2cm seam allowance because the last one was too big) but this cotton has zero stretch so it is toooo small. You can see it pulling around my ribcage. I’m also not sold on the colour on me – I looove the fabric, a light teal with seagulls over it, but a whole dress of it on me is pretty bleh.

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In fact, I didn’t get a single good photo in this dress – which may be because I dragged Mr. Guy out for another set of photos after doing the Cambie; or because I chose to wear these shoes which I don’t like – too high and don’t fit right, and make me fel like a giant.

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The lace at the bottom was just going to be a hem facing, but I decided I liked it and let it hang. Still not sure though.

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This is the first item in a wee while (that I can remember) that I don’t really like. It is well made (except I forgot to clip the facing seam, whoops) but, after making it ~1 month ago, I haven’t worn it once – and that’s not just because spring hasn’t quite hit Wellington yet.

 

Details

Fabric: Teal 100% cotton with white seagulls, from trademe. Cannot find the price, let’s say $20

Pattern: By Hand London’s Anna dress

Notions: cream invisible zipper, $4.50. Fabric and lace, stash

Total: $24.50

5

Anna the Red

As I write this, my Anna pattern is being borrowed by two other sewists, and I have some more fabric cut out beside me to make a whole other one. Obviously, this is one hell of a pattern.

Although I like the designs and aesthetics of By Hand London’s other patterns, I haven’t yet bought one – I figure I have pencil skirt patterns already and I need to alter/draft one to my shape more than I need to buy a new pattern. There are some gorgeous elisalexi (Roison’s million versions, in particular), but I already have a princess seam bodice pattern (srsly, did noone love princess seams before this pattern? Everyone raves like it’s something new – reminds me of how noone liked coulotts until Megan Nielson’s pattern – how could you not like coulotts?? More on that later…). The Victoria jacket is a bit too snazzy for my tastes.https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/by-hand-london-anna-dress-packaging-2.jpg

 

But the Anna dress – well. I don’t think I’d looked forward to a pattern as much as this one. It only took three versions (those by Sew Busy Lizzy, My Oh So Vintage Life, and Kim-ing – that squirrel rayon is so freaking fabulous) until I was waiting until pay day and buying the pattern from SewSquirrel. Unfortunately something happened on the trip from Australia to NZ and it took three weeks to get to me. When it arrived I immediately pulled out all the potential fabric I could make it with, and forgot that I was wanting to sew more for Mr.J this month.

So without further ado, my Anna in red linen.https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/dscn5394.jpg

 

When I traced off this pattern I did a reasonably usual alteration, grading out from my underarms to my hips. Generally I’m three different sizes (like a nesting box), so I went from size 12-14-16. In this pattern I didn’t need to do that; and I didn’t have to lengthen it, either. In fact, when I held up the full length piece, it’s too long – and I’m rather tall at 5’10”. So hooray for patterns designed for tall ladies!!https://tworandomwords.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/dscn5403.jpg

 

The dress came together really smoothly – easy peasy, in fact. The insides are all overlocked (in black thread). Since I first wore the dress (to Mr.J’s first gig, hooray!), I have taken the neckline a touch as the front was a bit too high, so I felt like the back was too low in comparison (so it felt like it was slipping back). Taking the front down a bit has fixed this. I also took out the ease I added at the waist and hips as it was a bit too roomy for me and I felt I needed a belt – which doesn’t quite suit the style.

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This dress is perfect for the warmer weather I’m expecting soon. I love linen but for some reason haven’t sewn with it much – I had this mental block “linen creases too much”, completely forgetting that’s part of it’s charm. In fact, at high school I used to have a black linen dress (from the $2 op shop in Christchurch) that I sewed checked fabric on the bottom; I wore this until it developed bit holes in the side, and I still wore it. I wish I hadn’t thrown it out so I can trace a pattern off it, though I think it was just a simple princess line shift dress.

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Details

Pattern:Anna, by By Hand London. Cost was $20 from Sew Squirrel, but I don’t count the cost of the pattern if I’ll make it again

Fabric: Red linen from Global Fabrics (now The Fabric Store), $20/m = $40 (can’t remember if it was on sale or not)

Notions: Matching thread and invisible zipper, $3.50 each. The zipper was bought from Made on Marion, on my rushed way home from work, in order to finish this (Project Runway style) in time to wear to Mr J’s first gig

Total cost:$47

In conclusion: I love linen. I love Anna. Here’s for many more of both.