There isn’t much about By Hand London’s cult Anna pattern that hasn’t already been discussed and photographed on the bloggersphere – basically I am late to the party. Luckily I think I’m still on the cusp of fashionably late rather than crying in the kitchen with makeup running down my face late…the Anna is still plenty fashionable for me to enjoy making and wearing it.
Firstly, apologies I don’t have any blog photos of me actually wearing the dress! I’ve been waiting for weeks for Hubby to take photographs and we’ve been so busy I haven’t been able to get him behind the camera!
Let’s talk about this fabric – I love it so much. It’s a peacock print by Fabric Freedom and I got 2m of it from Abakhan at the Knitting & Stitching Show back in March for about £9 pm. It’s a quilting weight cotton and was so easy to sew with. I love the vibrant greens and turquoise which is flecked with gold details and has little hearts in the centre of the peacocks eye. I am kicking myself as I found it again in a shop in Goldhawk Rd for about half the price and I didn’t buy it! It’s true you don’t want to have everything in your wardrobe made from the same fabric, but I really regret not snapping up some more as it was so lovely to work with. I have seen it on the Lady Sew & Sew site but it’s £11 pm so I’ll hold out and hope to see it again somewhere.
This was the first By Hand London pattern I purchased, directly from the BHL ladies before they sadly stopped printing paper patterns. As with most indie patterns, the packaging is beautiful, with a line drawing of the dress on the front. The pattern pieces themselves are the thin tissue paper type. The instructions are step-by-step with illustrations and really simple to follow.
The Anna bodice is possibly my favourite of all time, the kimono sleeves and double darts are so flattering, it accentuates your bust and defines your waist. I did find the bust came up quite small on me (I believe for my size it is a D cup, but I am a DD verging on E depending on the amount of hormones or cake in my system at any particular time!) so for subsequent versions I’ve made a FBA, and BHL have a fab tutorial here on how to do it. In fact, there are sewalong posts for the whole Anna process.
For this first version I decided to go with the slash neckline and I’m glad I did. Usually with a large bust a high neckline can look quite matronly but the shape of Anna doesn’t do that at all. I will post a V-neck version soon, but it’s safe to say, the slash neck wins every time for me. I also followed the BHL ladies tip for attaching the zip slightly wider at the top to avoid the slight gapey back neckline I often seem to get. It’s not dramatic enough to need a full adjustment, so moving the zip seems to have solved the problem, thanks ladies! I followed the instructions for the bodice to the letter aside from adding interfacing to my neck facings as I don’t really like the stiffer feeling of interfacing close to my skin and this fabric is solid enough not to need it anyway. The zip isn’t invisible either as I had one to recycle that matched the colours perfectly.
The six panel skirt is also very flattering, especially if you’re ample in the hips like me – it skims nicely. The skirt has two options, a dramatic, floor length version with sexy split, or a shorter version which is what I settled on. I’d love to make the maxi version but I know I won’t get as much wear out of it at the moment. I used french seams all the way through, which give a lovely finish to the dress, but I won’t lie – sewing and finishing all the panels on the skirt was a tad dull – but hey no pain no gain as they say and it was worth it!
Multiple seams aside, Anna didn’t take very long at all to sew up, I finished it in two sessions during a weekend. For such a simple pattern it is so pretty, I can tell I am going to have a lot of Anna’s featuring in my wardrobe, maybe one day I’ll even rival Roisin! There are already a lot of hacks I’m pondering, such as a peplum top version, longer sleeves for cooler weather and a mismash of the bodice with a different skirt, so keep your eyes peeled.
Finally, here’s Anna in the wild again – I wore her to Royal Ascot this year and loved that absolutely no one had the same dress as me, it’s the best feeling especially as I got lots of compliments on it!