Something really weird is going on with our weather at the moment! Back in April we had a spot of really lovely sunny weather, then immediately were plunged back into the depths of winter with snow at the beginning of May (I know), then I managed to get rid of the coat again mid-May only to have to wrap up in my giant scarf last week. And now look – sun and bare legs again! I’m so British, I know, always talking about the weather, but we so rarely have such hot sunny days like we’ve had this past weekend and today that we have to gush about it.
And today I’m here with a new sewing make: my By Hand London Anna Maxi Dress.
I talked recently about wanting to make a full length version of one of my favorite sewing makes, my Anna dress. I’d planned to find some silk or crepe de chine to do this in a washed out, watercolour floral print, but it was proving hard to find this. I was also a bit nervous about sewing something so slippery for such a big project – I think I’ll start smaller with a silky fabric as it can slide out of line easily. In the end, I decided a lightweight cotton lawn would probably do the trick, and I managed to get this at my “local” fabric shop, Fletcher’s Fabrics at Clifton Moor. I was surprised to find it so cheap there – I believe it was around £5.99/m, and I needed 3.5m for this project.
I went back and forth around the shop trying to choose a fabric, deliberating over this one, but I’m really glad I picked it. It does easily crease (this is after a full day’s wear in the sun – check out the creasing on the bodice!) and frays like mad, but it’s lovely to the touch and very floaty. The colours are also perfect for spring and summer.
The making of the dress was quite an effort to be honest! The By Hand London pattern is only available to be downloaded and printed as a PDF, not as a physical envelope style pattern. Usually I love these because it means no waiting around for my pattern to be delivered – you simply choose one, pay for it, print it off and get to work. However, when I made this as a midi dress, I noticed there were quite a lot of sheets of A4 that needed printing and sticking together – a thing which I find quite tricky. And the maxi version had even more…42 pages to print and stick! There is the option to print A0 at a copyshop, but unfortunately I couldn’t find one near us, so to the printer I went, then spent a whole evening and the next morning with scissors and sellotape carefully sticking it all together. Sadly I still haven’t quite got the hang of sticking it all in perfect alignment so I did have some slightly wonky pattern pieces!
Nevertheless, I persevered and ended up with my pattern pieces. So the majority of the day on Saturday was spent cutting up the fabric and putting the dress together. The fabric is so lightweight that it does slide quite easily, so a few areas are slightly dodgy if you look closely, but no one knows that unless they look close ;D The inside is also very messy as I discovered my pinking shears didn’t agree with the fabric and my overlocker foot didn’t work too well with it either. My options were either french seams, which would take too long, as I wanted it complete for Saturday evening, and would use up too much thread (I only had around half of a 100m spool left), bias bind the seams edges, and it was too lightweight for all the bias tape I had, or leave them unfinished, so, eek, unfinished are most of the seams inside!
As you can see, I went for the thigh split option and I love it. It feels so much more breezy and elegant than a full skirt without it would do. The slit was really easy to do, even though I worried over it.
I made this one up in a size 10 again with a full bust adjustment which adds in an extra dart at the bust in addition to the underbust pleats. I love this style of bodice and will make it over and over!
And alas, the dress wasn’t complete for Saturday evening as I’d hoped! I’d wanted to wear it out with the family for a meal at a local pub, but ended up wearing my old Anna dress instead. I ran out of time as we ended up talking to the neighbours outside for a couple of hours, so it had to be finished the next morning. Fortunately we had an event on Sunday to wear it too as well as Ben’s family all came over for lunch – his grandma and great aunt were very impressed by my sewing skills 😀