This is The Anna Dress, fourth pattern from By Hand London and first time I’ve sewn from one of their designs. Ever wondered how to make a lumpy sack of potatoes body look glamorous? Sew this dress. It is just gorgeous. Not only that, it’s beginner friendly.
I began sewing this dress on a Friday evening, and finished it up on a Saturday morning. Let’s say eight hours’ work in total. As you approach the finish line, you need to slow down, find your zen place and have a fresh brain. This dress kinda demands an invisible zip, and there are other elements you’ll want to get right – that thigh split does look best with time taken over hand sewing.
When I first saw this pattern, I believed it was way outside my comfort zone. Thigh high split? Are you crazy?! But then, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to experiment. The split could end anywhere I wanted it to – say, just above the knee. And I really felt that if I was going to make The Anna Dress, I wanted to MAKE The Anna Dress in its most glorious rendition.
So, what do I think to the package and instructions? Be still, my beating heart. I just love them. To wit: ‘The end of the pleat should arrive just under your bust, opening up almost flower-like to accommodate your boobies!’ I know this approach won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s like I’m at a pyjama party with my bestest mates. And I can compare my boobs to blossoming flowers. What’s not to like?!
If I had a moment’s pause, it was having to judge my size by UK high street standards. I’m a size 16 in this pattern. A fact that I don’t particularly mind, but after several years of sewing it was odd to re-engage with a sizing system I’d judged myself by in an old life. And if I’m saying I don’t particularly mind, that probably means I do mind.
But, seriously. If a pattern can make your size 16 body look like this, who’s complaining? I think what I love most, most, most about this pattern is what I’d call the Discreet Flirt. The neckline is modestly high, yet those pleats beneath the bust leave no one in any doubt that you do, indeed, have a bust. The skirt grazes your ankles, yet that split – at any height you so desire. It’s a dress of promises, but no guarantees. I absolutely love it.
What do you think? Are you getting on board the By Hand London train? I tell ya, it’s going places. I have much more to say about construction tips and hints, but that can wait for another blog post.