Sewing: A Retro By Hand London Anna

By Hand London Anna dress By Hand London Anna dress

This week has just been one of those crazy weeks – it hasn’t been that bad really, but more that lots of things seemed to be happening all at once! The craziness all started on Saturday with a rehearsal for my choir Carol Concert, followed by a bit of vintage fair browsing in a tiny local village, then a bit of wedding crashing, and finally the Carol Concert itself. So the wedding crashing probably needs an explanation! One of my friends from school that I’ve lost touch with recently was getting married in the Abbey at our school – Rosie, one of my friends from home that I see a lot, was a bridesmaid, so I’ve been hearing all about the preparations from her. She did mention that they were happy for people to turn up at the wedding, but I’d sort of forgotten about it. Then on the day itself, at my choir rehearsal, my old choir teacher was playing the organ for us and he mentioned that he was playing at their wedding that afternoon and that we should go as Phoebe, the bride, was hoping people would belt the hymns out. So an hour later, we were hastily throwing together outfits appropriate for a wedding – as we’d gone back to Charley’s following the rehearsal, I ended up having to dig through her dresses to find something!
The rest of the week has continued in a similar rushed manner. After finally getting my car troubles sorted last week – I’d been having to drive to and from work with my space saver spare as I’d managed to puncture my tyre (2 screws and a thorn – how do I manage it?!) – I had more travel related troubles this week. I’m sure by now you all know about the floods and storms hitting the UK. Luckily, we weren’t badly affected, or so I thought until I set off for work on Monday. After around an hour and a half of driving on a journey that normally takes around 30 minutes, I ended up passing my house again in an attempt to try yet another route – we agreed it was probably better for me just to stay put and work at home that day! I thought it was cleared, but last night I ended up having to find another route home from work and setting off early this morning to take the long way to work. In other car news – I also thought that a rather large parcel that I’d put in the back of my car only minutes earlier last night was a murderer, and I also got lost while picking up a Chinese from our “local” (we shouldn’t really have a Chinese that is now regular enough to be our local, should we?!) in a town I’ve known all my life and has about 3 roads.
But anyway, on with the show – my newly sewn By Hand London Anna Dress!

By Hand London Anna dress

By Hand London Anna dress FBA full bust adjustment

The Anna dress pattern by By Hand London is a popular one amongst sewing bloggers from what I can tell – the majority of us have sewn one up at some point, so I just had to join the masses, and I’m certainly not disappointed, even with the hype surrounding the pattern! I bought this fabric in my big birthday haul at Joanns – sadly I can’t remember the brand right now, but I may be able to replace this sentence later with the information once I get a chance to look at my selvages! It was my favourite fabric out of the bunch that I bought though – I’m in love with Scandi and Nordic prints and colours right now, in homeware too, so this went immediately into my basket.
I won’t do an in depth Anna review as there are so many out there, but the dress pattern has a few options including a midi or maxi A line skirt (with optional thigh split) and slash or V neck options. I decided to go with a simple slash neck and midi length skirt for my first attempt. I noticed on the Anna sewalong (this is really helpful if you’re a beginner sewer or want some help with the pattern by the way) that there was a tutorial for a full bust adjustment (FBA) on the pattern. I had never attempted a FBA before, but I know that in reality I should be doing it on all my dress and top patterns as I have a large bust to waist difference (at least 10 inches). The Anna dress especially seems to me that it needs to be well fitting in order to see how well the unique shape of it works to show off the bust pleats (SO pretty!) with the more fitted underbust and waist on the bodice.
I decided to knock up a toile version first out of some leftover fabric I had lying around without the FBA in a size 10. I decided that while it zipped up and looked alright without it, it would be a lot nicer if I did make the adjustment. I kept the size 10 bodice and followed the instructions which were nice and simple and added in a couple of extra inches on the bust, plus a dart coming in from the side bust (as the tutorial instructs) using my old trusty giant roll of tracing paper (you have no idea how handy this has come in!). I’m really pleased with how it turned out! You can tell from the side photos how much better it fits as it’s tighter around my waist and underbust, then snug around the bust. To be honest, I could probably do with losing a couple of centimeters from the waist of the bodice pattern and adding a couple more to the bust, but it’s a lovely comfortable fit. It does however need a couple of adjustments on the pleats and darts as the pleats end slightly too high (the tops of them sit on the underside of my bust) and the darts point upwards a little too much and end higher than the apex. Nevertheless – look how pretty! And how much better fitting it is already than my other dresses!
Let’s take a look at the innards now:

By Hand London Anna dress By Hand London Anna dress By Hand London Anna dress

I don’t normally do innard shots of my makes, but decided to with this one because…look at the edge of the neckline facing – I discovered I have an overlocking foot (this one) and stitch on my machine!! My machine came with a few extra feet that I’d never bothered to look at before. I finally did and discovered this! To be honest, I’m not going to use it all the time – even with my foot flat on the pedal, it was a fairly slow process just for the neckline facing. But for inside edges like this, it works perfectly. You can also see the darts and pleats more from the inside, plus you can see that I paid a bit more attention to finishing my seams with pinking shears – I’m normally very lazy with seam finishes, but I’m trying to be better. I like the look of the inside of this as it has a vintage feel.
I’m now already planning my next Anna – I’m thinking a maxi version with the thigh split for next time in addition to the bodice adjustments I need to make still. Have you tried making a By Hand London Anna yet?

By Hand London Anna dress

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6 comments so far.

6 responses to “Sewing: A Retro By Hand London Anna”

  1. Karen says:

    It’s a lovely dress, it suits you so well and you’ve got the fit perfect! K

    • Sian Thomas says:

      Thank you Karen! There are a couple of slightly hidden fit issues that aren’t obvious such as the pleats underbust going up too high and the darts being higher than the apex, but when worn, you can’t really tell ;D

  2. I love the dress. It’s dam beautiful on you!!

  3. Jo says:

    What a gorgeous dress. I love the scandi pattern too! Well done on tackling your first FBA, it was definitely worth the effort. The By Hand London girls are great with their sewalongs and pattern adjustments. I’ve made their Elisalex and Kim dresses so far and love them.

  4. Joanne says:

    So beautiful!! It fits so well and I love the fabric choice!

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