The [Jo]Anna dress

So pleased with this dress, I can't wipe the grin off my face.

So pleased with this dress, I can’t wipe the grin off my face.

Let’s just get one thing out of the way before I start on this post proper. I PUT AN INVISIBLE ZIP IN FIRST TIME! No tears, no swearing, no hurling an unfinished garment to the other side of the room. In short, it was a triumph. Phew. Now I’ve got that out of my system, let’s get on with the show.

I’m a lady of my word – last time I said I had my sights set on By Hand London’s Anna dress. I’ve seen so many versions of this dress all over the internet that I thought it was high time I added my contribution to the pile. I chose the knee length Version 3 as again I’d like to wear the dress to work at some point and I reckon I’d probably roll my chair over the hem of a maxi, resulting in hilarious yet embarrassing consequences. You know the episode of Miranda where she gets out of a taxi, closes the door on her dress which gets ripped off as the taxi drives away? That.

layoutAnywho, I used some red cotton with small black polka dots from John Lewis. I bought three metres just in case I made a cutting error (the pattern recommends 2.6m). However, when it came to laying out my pattern pieces I found I could be a bit more economical with the fabric than the layout guide suggested. The result – extra fabric for a future project! Boom.

Pattern alterations?
The only pattern alterations I made to my Anna were accidental (ok, they were full blown mistakes). According to my measurements a UK size 12 would result in a good fit so I went for it without doing a toile or anything. The pattern instructions were so straightforward that the whole thing sewed up like a dream. Since I love a neat finish I did French seams on everything apart from the centre back and I measured my hems, producing a very pleasing inside. I also managed to keep my seams pointing the right way, which is an improvement on the Zinnia skirt.

Ooooh, so neat!

Ooooh, so neat!

Queen of the Stupid Mistake
My first issue came with clipping the seam allowance under one of the armholes. I can’t have been concentrating that hard or something because I clipped past the seam allowance, past the stitching and about half an inch into the fabric. What. An. Idiot. After an initial panic I very calmly rectified my mistake. Because I’d cut through both the front and back bodice I reasoned that cutting more pieces out would mean starting the dress all over again. Really, life is too short for such faffing so I spent 20 minutes hand stitching it together. It’s under the armhole so you can’t see it when my arms are down and even when my arms are up you’d have to be looking for it. Meltdown averted.

See! It's tiny!

See! It’s tiny!

My second and final issue came with the zip. Inserting the zip was absolutely fine – almost dreamlike in comparison to my previous attempts – but I could have finished it a bit better. The instructions recommend tucking the neck facing over the top of the zip but when I was finishing the seam allowance on the centre back I zigzagged the two together, meaning I put the zip over the top of the two. This is no biggie – you can’t tell from the back, it just looks a bit messy on the inside.

Would I make it again?
Hell yes! This dress really was a pleasure to sew. I’d maybe add an inch to the bodice and take an inch off the skirt ‘cos my body is long in comparison to my short little legs, but I have so many ideas for different styles, fabrics and occasions. The next one is going to be another knee-length version with a navy blue skirt and a white bodice for work (one of my colleagues suggested some gold buttons for a nautical touch), and I’m going to have a go at a maxi-length version for the forthcoming summer months. It’d also make a fabulous evening dress for an event I have coming up in November, which may call for something a bit more challenging than cotton…

Anyway, here’s the finished article – check out my shoes too! £29 from Dorothy Perkins. Bargain.

I love those shoes.

I love those shoes.

This dress was brought to you by the Stuff You Should Know podcast (again). I’ve been catching up on episodes from last year, picking out things that interest me. Throughout the making of this dress I learnt about marriage, bitcoins, grief, police chases and a whole variety of other subjects (I must have listened to about 18 through the course of this sewing session). Still highly informative, still highly recommended.

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