I sewed the Anna dress from By Hand London out of a lightweight silk to wear to a girlfriend’s wedding this weekend. It consumed my every free moment last week since I didn’t leave nearly enough time to sew it (since I had a stomach bug on the weekend I had planned on doing most of the work.) But I got it done, and I adore the result! To make sure that the dress would work before I cut out my silk, I sewed the same version of the dress out of a cheaper fabric first, but that version is currently only basted together because, as soon as I saw that it fit and I liked it, I switched to the silk dress. (I will finish it soon). I originally had other ideas for what to wear to this wedding, but the more versions of this dress I’ve seen pop up in the blogosphere, the more smitten I’ve become, and the gorgeous version by Liz of Zilredloh was the straw that broke this camel’s back and made me decide to make it myself!
I’ve never sewn anything out of such light weight silk before. I haven’t sewn much silk, but I’ve really enjoyed the few projects I’ve done with heavier silk (like the blouse I recently made for my mom). I enjoyed sewing this dress, but it was a bit stressful to have to work so slowly and delicately on a project that I had too little time to finish! Cutting the dress took a very long time. I laid it out on my dining room table and used many weights to keep everything in place. In all, I spent 11.6 hrs sewing the dress (and that’s not including a hem, which I intend to do by hand but actually ran out of time to do before the wedding so (gasp!) I wore the dress unhemmed).
I made a couple of modifications to this dress. I removed the zipper from the center back and instead put an invisible zipper on the side underarm. Therefore, I was able to cut the center back bodice and the center back skirt on the fold and remove the seam. It worked perfectly for the bodice, but putting the center back skirt on the fold shifted the grainline enough that it was a bit fussy to work with. So, removing the bodice seam works well, but I don’t recommend doing it on the skirt. I also made a self belt out of a tube of fabric that I sewed into the side seam at the zipper and tacked down in a couple of places to hide the waist seam. Finally, I lengthened the bodice by 1/2″.
I lined the dress out of the same weight of silk in white. The bodice is fully lined and the skirt I lined to the length of the short version of the dress. I sewed the lining to the neck of the bodice, pinked the seam, and turned it right side out. I then sewed the lining to the sleeve edges of the bodice (careful with topology so you can still get the bodice turned right side out!), pinked the seam and turned it right side out. I sewed the lining sides to each other and the bodice sides to each other. I sewed the lining of the skirt for the length of the slit, and then hand rolled and hand stitched the rest of the slit. I pinked all the seams hidden inside the bodice and sewed french seams for all of the skirt seams.
I really love the Anna dress. It’s so flattering, simple to construct, and such a great canvas to show off lovely fabrics. I’ll soon finish my first Anna, and am definitely contemplating others. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the dress was actually too long for me out of the pattern envelope (nothing is ever too long on me to start with!).
I wore the dress without a necklace, with a chunky wood bangle (a handmade souvenir from our trip to Alaska), white salt-water sandals, and carried my red vinyl purse – my favorite dress-up accessory since I was 4 years old. The wedding was very casual, so I wanted to dress my outfit down. I played around with it before hand, and found that it looked quite elegant with a long string of pearls and some heels, which is good to know for future reference!