I'd originally intended the Victoria blazer to be my first introduction to By Hand London patterns. My plan was to join in their sewalong, but I'd chosen to make my version in double knit and try as I might, I just couldn't summon up the energy to sew a knit blazer in the current UK heat wave. It's a perfect early autumn project for me to get my teeth into though, so stay tuned. Sooo, I turned my attention to the Anna dress instead....
Ah, the Anna dress - I bought this pattern the second it was released and it was love at first sight. The kimono sleeves, the panelled A-line shape, the slash neck and the super flattering front bodice tucks - gorgeous! And just look at that packaging! I'm a sucker for stylish packaging and By Hand London patterns are by far the most beautiful I've come across to date.
I went for the midi version as I'm really not a maxi dress kind of girl. But, never say never eh? That thigh high split is quite tempting and I haven't totally butchered the skirt pieces, maybe one day.... So, what do I like about this dress? Pretty much everything! My favourite detail is the tucks at the waist instead of darts - this is a detail I've seen a lot in vintage patterns. I love the way the clever placement of the tucks adds shape to the bust, so pretty. It's also a nice change not to have to set in sleeves - hoorah for kimono sleeves! One final thing I like about this pattern is the neckline. I'll admit, I was a bit wary of the slash neck at first but I needn't have worried. Miraculously it manages to cover my bra straps without me having to pull them right down. It's cut a little lower than a boat neck so has a slight curve, which as well as being flattering doesn't sit right across your wind pipe.
For fabric I chose Brussels Washer in yarn dyed chambray, which must surely win the prize for most ridiculous fabric name of all time. One of the fabric suggestions for this pattern is rayon and this is a linen/rayon mix.
It's a lovely cool fabric, but very drapey and I did think at first that it might look a bit sack-like when sewn up. With this pattern, the fitted bodice comes to the rescue, giving the dress a loosely structured modern look I really like. The dress isn't lined or underlined, it's just me and 2.5 metres of Brussels Washer, wonderfully cool for my hols and so, so comfortable.
It is a very plain look, but that gives me the perfect excuse to tart it up with red accessories!
This dress was amazingly quick to make, it can hardly have taken me more than a couple of hours - a perfect dress for a beginner to try their hand at. I made a UK size 12 and the fit was more or less spot on. Apart from a complete and utter brain freeze when it came to inserting the invisible zip (don't ask, I had to unpick it in the end and insert a plain old centred one instead), this was an easy make and a joy to sew. The only adjustment I made was to take two inches off the length, making it just knee length on me.
If the pattern had been released a few weeks earlier, I'm in no doubt that I'd have made at least two more versions of this dress. As it is, my kids have now finished school for the summer, so sewing more or less grinds to a halt for six weeks. But...there WILL be more in the pipeline, never fear! Especially given the response I've had so far - I wore it to go supermarket shopping yesterday (I know, rock and roll!) and received not one, but TWO compliments from complete strangers!!! One woman's actual words were: "I really admire the cut of your dress"!!! I've never been so flattered and delighted in all my life! In summary, I absolutely LOVE this dress, it fits like a glove straight from the packet, it's insanely easy to sew and I feel fabulous in it. What more could you ask for?!