By Hand London’s Anna Dress – The Discreet Flirt

The Anna Dress

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.

Anna Dress Rear View

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.

Anna Dress In Garden

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.

The Anna Dress Leaving

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91 Responses to By Hand London’s Anna Dress – The Discreet Flirt

  1. Lady you are smoking! If you’re snapped up a glorious hunk of a man as you wander through the garden then I believe the world will start spinning backwards. I’m just writing about my By Hand London love affair at the moment too 🙂 Go forth and be so very fabulous xxx

  2. Stephanie says:

    I agree- smoking! You look absolutely gorgeous and I love the colour and style on you. (You have a great figure!) I haven’t yet made anything by By Hand London, but you’re tempting me to try the Anna dress. I also quite like the Victoria jacket.

  3. Becky says:

    You look mahvelous! Really, this is so pretty, and you are right, it enhances all the right things. Lovely make that looks lovely on you.

  4. Nothy says:

    Wow, you look amazing! I am buying this pattern TODAY! Thanks for the heads up!

  5. Lynne says:

    Wowzers!! Your dress is fabulous, and it looks fantastic on you. I’ve just been reading about Sew Busy Lizzie’s version no 1 on her blog, and was drooling over Handmade Jane’s version on her blog the other day. Conclusion – I must buy this pattern!

  6. Adrienne says:

    Well hello! That is a stunner. I think you are way too modest Karencita here because you forgot to mention that: 1) your fabric-pattern pairing was absolutely bang on. 2) The dress looks great also because you have MAD sewing skills. 3) and also because YOU look great. That is all I wanted to say.

  7. You look great! The dress is fantastic on you! I’ve already put this pattern on my birthday wishlist, hope I get it. 🙂

  8. Carolyn says:

    You look stunningly beautiful in that dress! No wonder you’re raving about this make! Love, love, love this on you!!!

  9. Cameron says:

    So, so glamorous and gorgeous! What type of fabric did you use? It looks softer and drapy-er than the fabric than the photos on By Hand’s website to me. I love the way it changes the dress!

  10. Kat says:

    Love the pattern, love the colour, love the “blossoming flower” comparison, made me giggle. I am developing a serious crush on By Hand London. The Victoria blazer is high on my sewing list and I’m sure this won’t be far behind.

  11. ooobop! says:

    So chic, Karen. Proper head turner. (And size 16 my arse!) If I could get off my Elisalex bodice addiction I would gladly try one. But the Victoria has been waiting so patiently I’d be talked about if I didn’t oblige it first!

  12. redsilvia says:

    Love your dress! It looks amazing on you and you’re totally crazypants if you don’t feel like a total hottie (yes it’s always the 90s in my head) in it! It looks like polka dots which would make me squeal even more.

  13. Clare says:

    Wow, your dress is fabulous! My copy of the pattern arrived today so I look forward to your future post with construction hints and tips. I haven’t opened my pattern copy fully yet, I am still appreciating the gorgeous packaging!

  14. Liza jane says:

    Oh my gosh it’s beeeeautiful! So elegant. You look fantastic and I love that watermelon color.

  15. Gorgeous! And your new pad is also rather fabulous 😉

  16. Amanda says:

    Oh wow! I love it! You look fantastic……. Downton Abbey is calling!

  17. Oh so chic Karen, you look lovely! I agree, the pattern’s a complete winner all round. The Victoria blazer is next on my list too!

  18. It looks great. So much so that I ordered the pattern.

  19. I can see why you love it it’s stunning!! I can’t wait to make it too…’s become the maxi dress that has convinced me that I could wear a maxi dress….I think it has something to do with that thigh split…..
    But I need to clear some other sewing first before I have flowers under my boobies…x

  20. sewexhausted says:

    Very pretty… I am reading and ogling all if the Anna’s out there this morning. Love the maxi length, and the slit and bodice pleats add to the sexy, feminine factor… A wonderful make and you wear it well! ~Laurie

  21. stitchnsew says:

    Pretty fabulous on you, im still a beginner on sewing but cant wait to make something like this

  22. Sam says:

    Ooh, I love this. I haven’t tried a By Hand London pattern yet, but I love a good maxi dress so I’m definitely getting this pattern. I’ve just received a sample of a rather brightly patterned fabric… I wonder if the fabric and the pattern will go together?

  23. Gorgeous! It’s your Goddess dress. Bravo!

  24. Very summertime glam. I like the idea that the split can go as high as you are daring!

  25. Kelly says:

    Wow! It looks fantastic! I had passed on this pattern when I first saw it, but your version is making me reconsider…

  26. Sewingjen says:

    Love the dress and bought some fabric which may be suitable on our trip to Goldhawk road last Saturday. I think I need to buy the largest size as I am a good 18 and have a spare tyre, so would need to allow for that. Do you think that it would be unsuitable for someone with no waist and larger around the middle??

    • You’ve just described my body type! Yes, if you’re larger around the middle you can carry this off. I’d just give yourself a decent amount of ease around the middle.

  27. Sheree says:

    Oh Karen – what have you done to me! I made a promise to myself of no more patterns or fabric. I have gathered such a pile of “to do” that it is crazy. And NOW I have found that I have ordered the Anna dress. A question about sizing. How do you find they are, say compared to Vogue?

  28. Kiki says:

    SOLD! I’ve been looking for a pattern to restart my sewing (I haven’t sewn a single item of clothing since I sold my sewing machine over a year ago to move to Canada) and this is it. You look fantastic.

    PS Hiiiiiiii! (from the blogger formerly known as The Leopard Anchor)

  29. gingermakes says:

    Fabulous! This is quite lovely and romantic on you– a change of pace from your usual style, but it really suits you!

  30. Roobeedoo says:

    Oh wow! It is SO flattering and flirty and yet not in-yer-face “sexy”. What a winner!
    But I really don’t think you should go out with William Morris. Those Arts and Crafts boys were not to be trusted 😉

  31. Roobeedoo says:

    Me again – forgot to ask what sort of fabric you used? It has great drape!

  32. Amy says:

    Gorgeous! Just gorgeous. What more is there to say?!

  33. nettie says:

    It looks amazing on you!! This is such a great design, it looks great on everyone!

  34. Morag says:

    Wowza ! You look smokin. You always look great, but this is super sexy in a fabulously subtle way. Really, really fabulous. Off to order the pattern…….. ;0)

  35. You look fabulous in this! I’m still not going for the thigh split though.

  36. Portia says:

    I have this next in my queue! It looks amazing on you Karen! Looking forward to any insights you might feel moved to share 🙂

  37. 1107nikki says:

    Oh my so elegant! I think I really do have to get their patterns now. I saw a Rose Anna on another blog which waa stunning. So with the and the umpteen gorgeous versions of the Elisalex I just hope I can find cheap postage to NZ! Where did you take the pics?

  38. sewbusylizzy says:

    This is just beautiful on you! I agree about the hand stitching, it really it worth the time as everything sits beautifully with the hand stitching.
    I love your fabric choice – is it a linen??

  39. Dawn Redmond says:

    This looks beatful on you. I think I will get this pattern as I’m anout your size and would love something so flattering. What is the fabric?

  40. Karen I love this dress on you. The colour is lovely but the fit is so flattering (and beautifully finished) Big fan of By Hand London will be making my own Anna very soon the Elisalex is already a favourite of mine.

  41. tabathatweedie says:

    STUNNING! So, so beautiful. You look amazing x

  42. Jodie says:

    Hi Karen, I have been reading your blog for awhile but never left a comment. This dress is so feminine and flattering I had to this time. Congratulations on a beautiful make. Do you think this dress could be successfully made in a stretch?

    • Thanks for commenting. I don’t think this would work in a stretch. There’s a lot of weight hanging from your shoulders and it would pull all out of shape, I fear.

  43. Marie says:

    Oh Karen…you take my breath away in this number! You look stunning my dear and size ain’t nothing but a number, so who cares when you look this hot! I don’t like my legs, so was planning to stay away from the thigh split version, but now I’m not sure. I love that you made yours finish just above the knee…it’s got me reconsidering ;o)

  44. rachel says:

    You’ve inspired me to give this pattern a go – you look hot! Do you think it would work in linen? I am dreaming of a long linen frock for our upcoming summer.

  45. conniya says:

    Ah, so pretty! I would absolutely love this pattern but I don’t have the money right now 🙁 But I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s versions on the internet!

  46. Marie says:

    You look absolutely amazing. I love the dress. Thanks for sharing.

  47. Joanne says:

    You are beautiful in your stunning new dress!

  48. zora read says:

    you look incredibly glamorous, You just need the hot date now to go with it.

  49. Michelle says:

    Beautiful make! I absolutely love it on you.

  50. Gjeometry says:

    I just saw Lizzie’s Anna obsession and had to pop by and check yours. It’s just lovely! You look gorgeous. The colour is perfection on you and I love the way the dress flows over the body. The slit is a must, a hint of gina lolabrigida.(sp?). And those flowers!! please say that’s your garden. It’s to die for.

  51. I have always looked over By Hand London and decided against them, because there were no technical drawings with the pictures on the web. Now that I see you wonderful dress though I put it on my birthday list 🙂

    how drapey does the fabric need to be?

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  53. Sozzle doll but I have just re read this and I need to state how much I LOVE the line – ” It’s a dress of promises but no guarantees” If that’s not the start of a book I’d love to read I don’t know what it is. Again swit swoo xxx

  54. Bec Stitches says:

    Gorgeous! Love it and the colour on you:)

  55. Charlotte says:

    Karen your dress suits you so much! Very proud that we managed to tempt you into both a maxi AND a thigh high split – yay! In terms of sizing, just wanted to say that we simply just based it on an average of some of the most popular High Street brands – because it can vary so much from brand to brand!

  56. Uta says:

    You look amazing, Karen! Don’t put yourself down, there’s absolutely no reason for it (and how is a sack of potatoes worse than a beanpole, if we must speak of vegetables?). The dress is indeed a flirt, and a very grown-up one at that. It won’t make me abandon my magazine patterns, alas, but if I did sew single patterns I’d definitely look into this line.

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  58. busylizzieinbrissie says:

    Just lovely. How do you think this pattern would go on someone whose stomach is far from flat? Please be honest!

    • Hi there – you’ve just described my own body type. I have a real paunch. I think just make sure you have enough ease over the midriff section so that it skims rather than clings. It is bizarrely flattering for our body shape. You may notice a bit of ‘belly’ when you sit down, but I don’t find it too bad.

  59. maddie says:

    Karen, this looks great on you! I’ve been using commercial patterns recently (instead of drafting) and I’m putting this one on the to do list. Can’t wait for the post on construction details!

  60. Anne-Marie says:

    Beautiful! Your review, as well as others’, have prompted me to order the Anna dress. It will be the perfect dress to wear to a riverside wedding in Australia next year!

  61. Nicoline says:

    Gorgeous! It looks really elegant on you!

  62. Lisa says:

    Gosh that looks soooooo great on you! That pattern has just flown to the top of my ‘must make’ list.

  63. Jean says:

    Very flirty dress indeed. You look fabulous and thanks for the tips regarding us girls that are a little thicker around the middle. Very tempted to try this pattern.

  64. Melizza says:

    Oh Karen! You look breathtaking in this dress. The color, the silhouette, all perfect! I didn’t want this pattern…until now.

  65. LLADYBIRD says:

    Karen, you are a BABE. Especially in this dress!!

  66. Sassy T says:

    You look absolutely fabulous. I love seeing this pattern made up. So glad you went full throttle with the split.

  67. quiltyknitwit says:

    Attractive & elegant & feminine!

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