Saturday, 19 April 2014

By Hand London Anna Dress for Dolly Clackett

Firstly I must apologise for my very long absence from blogging, for which I have no real reason. I have been making as much stuff as ever, but I just haven't felt the need to document it. The reason for today's post is a dress which I felt compelled to create because of another blogger who is getting married in May this year and in whose honour a sew-along was created.

I have been reading Roisin's blog for a while now and it always makes me smile, plus, she makes A LOT of pretty awesome dresses. Seriously, does she have a second home for her clothes?

Coming back to my blogger programme, I see that I had first intended to post about the Anna dress back in August of last year. I had bought the pattern after seeing some lovely versions made up by sewing bloggers and I duly completed my very first dress. The fit of this dress is great straight out of the packet but unfortunately the cheap-ish cotton I used to make it looked fine on the bolt but, I think has the unfortunate appearance of a hospital gown when made into an Anna.

Buoyed by it's sort of success, I then went on to make another for my daughter when she needed a frock for a wedding she was going to. At first I was really sceptical about the print that she insisted upon but I think it looks brilliant as a dress and had to concede that my daughter was right. So, apparently my fabric-choosing skills are sadly lacking when it comes to dress making. Unfortunately, my computer has decided to hide my old pictures away in an as-yet undiscovered file so you will have to make do with a hanger shot and a picture of a photo!

I love how you can't tell what the print is until you get close and then suddenly you think 'Oh, Pandas!' Note to readers: my daughter looks decidedly unimpressed with her frock, but actually, she loves it. That's the closest thing you'll get to a smile from her.

Fabric-wise, I had read about the sew-along and had toyed with the idea of participating, but then, browsing through some home-furnishing fabrics whilst looking for some fabric to make a present with, I came across this fabric which immediately shouted 'Roisin' at me. May I present 'Anna in Paris'.

Because of the print, I knew that the seven-piece Anna skirt would look very odd unless I was prepared to pattern match and waste metres and metres of fabric (I wasn't) so a gathered skirt it was to be. As a complete dress-making novice, I now realise that pleats might have been a better choice as they would not only have been more flattering, but they wouldn't have taken a whole morning to do because of repeatedly snapped gathering threads.

I french-seamed the bodice sides initially, until I realised that my gathered skirt had a front piece and a back piece and therefore nowhere to insert the zip at the back, so I did an ordinary seam up the back and finished it with bias-binding. I un-picked one of the side seams and placed the invisible zip there instead.

The waist seam was also bias-bound although the gathers made this a bit tricky, but the dress sits well on me so no harm done.

I was just going to do a bias-finished hem too but I really liked the contrast so I decided to show the binding on the outside. It was also a perfect match for my purple shoes, which I bought years ago but have never had an outfit to match.

I can even twirl like a princess and not feel remotely stupid as a middle aged woman doing so. Ahem. 

I'm not quite sure where I will wear this dress (although I will most likely be heading to Paris over the next twelve months) but I really enjoyed the challenge of making it and learned some new techniques along the way.

I wish Roisin and Nic a very happy wedding day and a long and gin-filled married life. Congratulations chaps! xx