By Hand London Anna Dress Number 2

I apologise for the highly unoriginal post title- what can I say? I never started this blog for my writing skills.   The autumn makes are slowly being churned out and I would like to introduce you to the newest member of my handmade family, By Hand London’s Anna dress.

This is my second Anna, the first being the red cotton lawn version I made in the summer.   I had originally attempted to alter the pattern to have a cowl neck at the front.   I used this tutorial from Craftsy to hack the pattern and used a soft red floral twill I had in my stash, acquired through hand-me-downs from someone.   I think it may have been a liberty print as I’m sure I spotted some dunagrees made by So Zo… for her beautiful daughter, Dolores, in the same fabric and she labelled it as Liberty.   Although, having now checked the post again, the floral pattern on mine is very similar but not the same- must be a Liberty rip-off.   Anyway, I sewed up a muslin of my altered bodice, cutting the front bodice piece on the bias to help with the drape.   This was not a success, there just wasn’t enough drape at the front for the cowl to be successful.   I was too desperate for a new dress to faff around hacking the pattern again to get a better drape so opted to just go for the slash neck pattern.

I used this 70’s-esque soft wool (I think) twill which was another charity shop bargain.   I can’t remember how much I got it for and I removed the tags and threw them away when I pre-washed but I know it was probably in the region of £5 and I got at least 6 metres of it.   This Anna took about 2.5 metres and I still have about 3.5 metres left!   I’m thinking of using it to make a button-down shirt for nice snuggly winters.   I did my best on pattern matching and was pretty chuffed with the results, although the waist seam doesn’t quite match up.   The matching was never going to be perfect because of the diagonal seamlines on the gores but all in all it’s not bad at all.

I love the colours in this pattern.   From a distance it just looks black and orange but as you get closer you see the green and purple thrown in there too.   Loverly!


I hate neckline facings as they never seem to want to stay tucked in for me so I opted to use bias binding facing on the neckline.   I’ve fallen in love with this technique recently.   If you’ve never tried it yourself here’s a link to a tutorial.   I used some vintage satin bias binding I had in my stash to do this.

Otherwise, construction was very straightforward and I made no changes from the pattern- I used my overlocker to finish all the seams.   Unlike the last time I made the Anna, I made sure that I hadn’t missed any notches and I kept the pattern pieces pinned to the fabric until the moment I needed them.   Last time I got completely muddled which triangle was for what. Keeping the paper pattern attached meant that I knew immediately which piece I needed and the skirt came together easily.

This was a very quick make.   Tobi left for work at 2pm on the Saturday and I was just cutting out the last skirt pieces.   I finished the hem on Sunday morning while the kids had their breakfast.   Almost instant gratification.


Although I made a muslin for my last Anna, I have noticed that when I wear a slip with it the slip sits approximately an inch lower than the waistline of the bodice. Therefore for this version I lengthened the bodice by and inch so it will sit on my natural waistline. As usual, I graded the pattern from a 16 at the top of the bodice to an 18 at the waist and used size 18 skirt panels. I used my previously altered pattern in which I took some of the excess out at the underarm seams too.

This is definitely my best fitting dress so far and now that the waist is lower the shape of the skirt feels much more natural to me.

Project costs

Pattern: By Hand London list the Anna dress at £14.   I’ve so far used it twice, bringing the cost to £7 per dress.   As per my recent Emery, this cost will go down if I continue to use this pattern

Fabric: £2.50 approximately

Zip: £3.20 from Hobby craft

Notions: from my stash

Total cost £12.75 approximately

I really like this dress and, as it fits well, it feels really flattering.   The fabric is just thick enough to keep me warm on the coler mornings.   All in all, a success.


How’s everyone else’s Autumn/Winter sewing going?


By Hand London Anna

A little while I was lucky enough to snag some lovely fabric through Freecycle an I thought I’d share with you my first make from this haul.

As soon as I saw this 100% Cotton lawn I knew I wanted to make an Anna Dress from By Hand London, which was one of the Indie patterns I purchased recently.   The lawn was very sheer and very narrow so, despite having 3.1 metres, I only had enough fabric to make the midi version, which is fine by me as I tend to wear maxi skirts rather than dresses as I find them more versatile and wearable.   The sheerness meant that I needed to consider lining in some way.   I decided to fully line the bodice, rather than using the facings supplied, but I didn’t have enough lawn for this so had to sit patiently and wait for a metre of red cotton poplin to arrive from the lovely people at Minerva Crafts.   After seeking advice on Twitter, I decided I didn’t want to underline the skirt because I may lose some of the lawn’s floatiness, so I decided to make another half slip in a coordinating colour (navy as I have no red jersey or other fabric in my stash) using the tutorial I discovered on Gertie’s blog.   What do you think? Can you see my knickers?

The fitting for this dress was a breeze.   I traced the size 18 for the upper part of the bodice and graded to a 20 at the waist.   After making a quick toile (out of the weirdest, kitchen paper-like fabric) I pinched out about an inch at the underarm seam which removed some of the bagginess I was experiencing at the upper bust.

Now construction is a slightly different issue.   I used the Anna sewalong on the By Hand London site for a guide on how best to fully line the bodice.   This tutorial has you sew the lining and outer shell together at the neckline before the side seams are stitched, therefore before skirt is attached.   This meant it was then a bit tricky when attaching the bodice to the skirt as there was a lot of excess fabric floating around that I didn’t want to get in the way.   I then hand stitched the lining down at the waist seam.   If  I were to make another lined Anna in the future I think I’d use the technique from the Emery construction for neatly hiding the invisible zip in the lining.

Now, A few of the difficulties I encountered were due to my lack of ability to think things through before blindly starting stitching and also not marking pattern pieces or tracing notches correctly.   I’ll  After I did my first couple of seams I thought “I should have used a French seam”.   Being far too lazy to unpick and start again I just ploughed on with plain seams and overlocked seam allowances.   However, I forgot that I’d been sewing with a jersey previously and so the differential feed setting on my overlocker was not set correctly and slightly gathered the seam allowance, making the pieces not sit flatly.   I also neglected to mark the skirt panel pieces as to which bit went where and must have missed a couple of the notches when I traced as I had 6 practically identical triangles to fit together.   I think I got them in the right places.

This was my second ever invisible zip, with the first one going in with no problems whatsoever.   I ended up unpicking this one three times as it just wasn’t going well.   The centre back now also looks a bit puckered, I think because the centre back skirt section is on the bias.   In future I think I’ll use a strip of fusible interfacing along the centre back for reinforcement and stability.

I wasn’t sure about the shape of the skirt on me, I usually have a more defined waistline and I don’t think I own a single A line skirt/dress.   But it’s growing on me and I have worn this dress all weekend, in the lovely hot weather we’re having here in the UK at the moment.

I have so many ideas for variations of this- I love the bodice, kimono sleeves and tucks. So I’m sure you’ll be seeing some more of these pop up soon enough.   Have any of you made an Anna Dress? What are your thoughts on it?