Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my Anna Dress. I’ve already bought fabric for a second version. But what did I use in the first version? An, um, something. No idea what. It’s red with white polka dots, barely creases, has a lovely drape. I squeezed this dress out of three metres bought from Classic Textiles at Goldhawk Road. I returned to this shop very recently and they still stock the same fabric. It’s not expensive.
What other fabrics would I recommend for The Anna Dress? For my version, the drape was a significant factor in its success. You’ll want something opaque enough to retain your modesty in the full glare of sunshine. This dress wouldn’t really stand lining. For my next version, I’ve bought a thick cotton and Sew Busy Lizzy has made an outstanding version in a rayon/linen mix. (Actually, she’s made three versions!)
So, squeezing a maxi dress out of three metres of fabric. How? You won’t want a directional print. You’ll need fabric that is 60 inches wide. And you’ll need a little helper…
Yes, for the first time in years I laid fabric out on my living room floor. The pieces for the maxi version were so large and I really didn’t want to start cutting out before I knew that I could get everything I needed out of the fabric. Once I felt confident, I cut the fabric into sections which I then took to my table top cutting board to set to with a rotary cutter. Because cutting out drapey fabric with shears on the floor did not lend itself to accuracy!
If you’re short-ish like me (5 foot 5) and you intend to use a narrow hem on the skirt (which I would recommend) I can tell you immediately that you can slice a full 9 inches off the bottom of the maxi skirt pieces. Yes, this dress is drafted for a 6 foot 4 Amazonian! Go on, save yourself some fabric right there.
Other key construction advice: I took 1.5 inches out of the top of the back bodice pieces and I know that Sew Busy Lizzy darted the top of her back bodice pieces. Shriek if you like, but I just graded these 1.5 inches out at the top of the zip placement.
I do think this dress works best with an invisible zipper. Here are my thoughts on working with an invisible zip:
- If your budget can take the strain, invest in an invisible zipper foot.
- Don’t assume you shall successfully insert an invisible zip on the first attempt. You shan’t. Or if you do, I hate you.
- Machine baste your invisible zip in first. Better than that, hand baste the zip in, then machine baste, then when you’re happy that the waist seams are lining up, properly sew the zip in. Below, you can see where I hand basted my zip in first using silk thread.
Why bother with the hand basting step? I find that zips travel during insertion on the machine, which makes a nonsense of any accurate placement. Hand basting prevents this travel.
If you’re making the version with a thigh split, I strongly recommend taking the time to hand stitch the split. It makes the world of difference. Remember, every time you sit down, you’re going to be gazing at that split. (And so will the rest of your immediate company – ooh, la, la!) You don’t want to wince, thinking, Hot diggity, I wish I’d hand sewn that split.
Oh, and if you’re worried that the thigh split makes sitting down a scandalous proposition – it doesn’t. There’s more than enough volume in that skirt to retain your modesty. Unless you don’t want to retain your modesty. Which is totally your call and a way of making new friends!
Finally, The Anna Dress is a nice opportunity to indulge in a concealed hook and eye. I’ve promised tutorials on this before, and never delivered. Mainly, because this is a really intricate step that I find difficult to interrupt for the taking of photos. Not this time!
But there are quite enough words on a page for now. I’ll cover that in another blog post.