This post has been a long time coming… who knows why I delayed sewing this dress or writing this post for quite so long, when I am really excited about the result?
Back in the summer, my sister Anne requested a dress for her company’s Mad Men-inspired Christmas party this November. We decided to go with By Hand London’s Anna dress with a full circle skirt. We bought fabric, muslined it, and everything looked great… and then somehow I ignored it for 4 months!
No worries though – look how fabulous she looks in it!
I’m just so happy! It’s a very basic dress, but look how great she looks in it! (These pics are from the day I dropped it off – she threw on some accessories and let me take some pics. What an obliging “client”!)
As for the details… I did a slight sway back adjustment and took out some width in the front and back neckline. I totally forgot to do an FBA though, so thank goodness for the miracle of stretch! It’s sewn up in a rayon double-layered knit, just like the fabric I used here and here. It took 3m for the self-lined bodice and full circle skirt. For the skirt I used the Cake Pavlova pattern, which I’d forgotten about, but was happy to remember! Drafting my own just sounded annoying.
As for the pattern… well, I kinda get the love now. It does fit and flatter beautifully! But g’damn, that PDF was AWFUL! Truly, I’m almost glad they stopped selling them (though I still don’t understand why BHL stopped without warning people!) The borders were really big, so a lot of the page had to be trimmed off… which meant that it took a lot of pages and therefore time to assemble. The kicker is that they chose not to include the maxi skirt pattern in the pdf, to save people paper. I find this really odd though – if I wanted to extend a knee-length skirt into a maxi myself, I wouldn’t pay you to draft it for me! I wish the maxi had been an optional part of the printing. That’ can’t be hard, can it? “Print pages 1-25 for knee-length skirt, and 1-40 for the maxi.” Also, while I’m gripping, why does each panel of the skirt have a flat edge instead of a rounded one? Doesn’t that make for a hexagonal hem instead of a smooth curve? I’m confused. Basically, the whole thing made me crotchety, which is too bad, because I’ve admired the pattern since it’s launch!
Phew. Breathe, Gillian!
It took me a while to figure out how to self-line the bodice most easily, while still leaving the side seams accessible in case fitting adjustments were needed. I ended up sewing it in this order:
- Sew shoulder seams of both inner and outer layers.
- Put outer and inner layers right-sides together, and sew neckline.
- Flip right-side out. Use the “burrito” method to finish sleeves. (Does that make sense? Would anyone find a tutorial useful, or does everyone know how to cleanly line a bodice with no seam for a zipper? I know Colette put up a video of their technique, but I find it needlessly complicated…)
- To keep the side seams easily adjustable even once the skirt was on, I finished all found layers of the inner and outer bodice together in one swoop… but usually I’d finish them separately so all the seams are hidden.
Once the dress was done it didn’t seem costumey enough, so I whipped up a very quick and dirty crinoline. Anne works in the Event Coordination department, so last winter she offered me some double-layered satin and tulle silver table clothes there were getting rid of… and now she gets to wear them back to work, in crinoline form! I ran the tulle through my serger, cutting and gathering at the same time. I cut the satin into a rough circle, and eyeballed two rows of tulle along the edge. Seriously the ugliest sewing I’ve done in ages, but it worked!
And here’s Anne in the photobooth at her party, with her appreciative husband! 😉
Do you have any holiday parties coming up? WIll you sew for yourself, or go RTW?