Kermit the frock (By Hand London Anna)

Finally, it’s done. The pattern is the By Hand London Anna dress gifted to me by my sister, the fabric is a green bubble cotton bought from Stone Fabrics last year. It feels like a cross between seersucker and broderie anglaise and looks green, as green as mushy peas with extra saturation. Bold and bright, this frock is the complete opposite to most of my summer tea-dresses and I love it for that.

You might recall that I had a falling out with this project last autumn and mothballed it. This week however I decided that a half-finished frock in a bag was no good to woman nor beast in a hot June, and decided to sort out its issues and sort them out fast.

Issue 1 – I should have stay stitched the neckline and facing. The instructions don’t tell you to do this, but listen hard and you can hear a Greek chorus of Anna makers on the internet muttering that the neckline needs stay stitching. I didn’t do so, and attaching the neckline consequently gave me all kinds of grief. The finished neckline is a little wavy, which I think means that it would have benefitted from a lightweight interfacing attached to the facing (also not in the pattern). I had to rip out my understitching twice and clip extensively to get it to behave. I wound up topstitching the dress to the facing and I’ve never done that before. Next time, and surprisingly enough there will be a next time, I shall do the slash neckline rather than the v-neck and probably interface it too, or else line the bodice. I suspect there’s a good reason you don’t see many v-neck Annas on t’interweb. Issue 2 – this is completely my error – I managed to find the one flaw in the fabric and position it on the centre front skirt panel. Considering the amount of time I spent trying to differentiate right from wrong side I’m actually almost impressed that I managed to do so. It’s not really that visible, although it was all I could see last autumn. Anyway, I spent a few hours this week sorting out the facing, hemming, and finishing a few details and hey presto, a new green dress. I followed the pattern instructions for the hem – 1.5cm pressed under, then the same again. This length just grazes my knees and I’m 5 ft 5 – I think the maxi version is rather more generous in length.

Let’s look at the plusses, of which there are many. The pattern is clear and straightforward to follow and is well supported by sewalongs and blog posts on the internet. The dress sewed up very easily indeed (apart from the facing, natch). The many long seams were easily neatened with the overlocker. Instructions included the genius idea of hemming the sleeve edges before joining the bodice seams. I wish I’d done this on my Simplicity 1666 dresses. It has my first ever invisible zip, which is ok, if tending more towards the discreet rather than the completely invisible. I didn’t enjoy doing it much but it was nothing compared to the facing trauma. The fabric is perfect, light and easy to sew and such an unusual texture and colour (though it was unusually difficult to find matching thread and zip).

The really great plus though is The Fit (capitalised because it’s awesome). I made a straight size 14, in real life I’m a top-heavy vanity-sized 12. No alterations, though I could probably do with lowering the under-bust pleats just a smidge, once I work out how to do it (I think just stopping the stitching an inch or so short of the top of the pleat should do the trick). It’s simply the most comfortable woven dress I’ve ever made and it’s a really flattering shape too. As soon as I finished the (quick and dirty machine stitched) hem it felt like a dress that I’ve owned forever. The bodice stays nicely fitted over the bust, the sleeves allow free movement, the waist just skims over mine and the skirt is flared and non-restrictive. The kimono sleeves which I thought might be a bit top heavy (see the pictures) are fine and delicate in wear. I think this would be a great dress to wear on the bike. I’m going to make another, in red linen with the slash neckline. Watch this space….

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