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Monday, 7 November 2016

How I made my BY HAND Anna Dress. A Minerva Blogger Network Post


I had such a great time choosing the fabrics for this post. I wanted to try a brand of pattern which I had never used before and this By Hand pattern, named Anna, really appealed  to me.  I am enjoying making and wearing garments made from the new pattern houses which are emerging. This one in particular fits well with little adjustment, the instructions are very easy to follow and the overall effect is extremely flattering. If you have not tried one of the new pattern houses yet then I do urge you to take the plunge. You wont be disappointed! The link to the pattern is below. Please note that this particular pattern is now only available to download,  the paper version is sadly no longer available. This design can quite easily be copied on any simple dress pattern though, so don't be put off

I am lucky in that I do get to wear a lot of evening dresses both long and short, so it was an easy decision for me to want to make the long version of the dress. I decided against the slit in the skirt seam as it can be very draughty in hotels!

The fabric I chose is this beautiful peachskin polyester fabric in Aubergine

 I also asked Minerva Fabrics to find me a piece of lace to match the beautiful Aubergine colour and I was delighted when they found the exact shade I wanted. At this stage I was not really sure how to combine the lace and the peachskin, I was just hoping for inspiration to strike!

Other notions which are obtainable from Minerva Crafts website were an invisible zip , medium weight interfacing and Gutterman sewing  thread.  You will need a couple of spools of thread as it is a wide full skirt and there is a lot of stitching.
Before even contemplating cutting into my lovely fabrics I made my toilet.  A toile is a test garment made by every single fashion house there is, it is made from cheap fabric because many toiles can be made for one garment, they are made and made again until the Atelier is happy with the design. .It made from just the basic pattern pieces with no facings etc.( although I sometimes tack a zip in.) I often just make a toile of a the bodice and sometimes if the toile looks nice I will finish making it up in the cheap fabric. A few of my favourite clothes were meant as toiles.
I have never used a By Hand pattern before and was pleasantly surprised to find that the only alteration needed  was to  the neckline where it gaped a little. I sorted this out easily by easing in the neckline with the stay stitches and by altering the shoulder seam slightly. I also shortened the skirt pattern by three inches.

Time to cut out. Shrink your fabric and pin it together  along the selvedges to ensure the grain remains straight. I also look for flaws at this stage and mark them with chalk. Decide which is the right and wrong side. I put a chalk cross on each wrong side to avoid confusion later. I learned this trick after many years of experience!
Make sure that you follow the grain lines when pinning the pattern in place.
Sharp scissors and away you go.

There are a lot of pattern pieces for the skirt so I put them in order before I did anything else and then pinned them together, I measured the waist just to ensure it was the right size and  machined and over locked. That was the skirt out of the way. Don't stitch the centre back seam at this stage.

Even after making a toile I still wanted to try the bodice on before machining it, so I tailor tacked the darts, tacked them, tacked the rest of the bodice and tried it on again.
It was at this stage I changed the high neckline to the lower V neckline.
The neckline gaped a little so when I did the stay stitching I eased it in slightly. This meant re-cutting the front facing but it was worth it.

The bodice was completed easily, without any more adjusting so I stitched it to the skirt and pondered over the lace

The original intention was to stitch the lace fabric and the main fabric together as one for the bodice, but something made me reconsider.
In the end I cut the lace out using the main bodice pieces and left it until later. When I was cutting it out I preserved as much of the lace edgings as possible, trimming them with small scissors.

I tried  the dress on again and tailor tacked the back where the invisible zip is to go.
I never rely on the actual seam line, I get a better fit doing it my way. This is where my OH comes in, he is becoming handy with the dreaded pins.

 Stitch the invisible zip in place using an invisible zip foot for your machine.  Stitch the rest of the back seam using your normal zip foot as you will be able to get up  close to the previous stitching and it will look neater.

When it comes to the facing, iron on your interfacing as normal then join the shoulder seams and  neaten the edge. At this stage I get a marker pen and draw a line exactly where the V on the front sits, this makes for a neat V neckline. Trim this after sewing, turn, press, under stitch. 
Neaten the sleeve edges and pin and stitch the hem. Tidy up any loose threads etc. and that is the  main dress finished.

I experimented with the lace for ages, and in the end decided to make a button-up-the-back over top. I stitched the side and shoulder seams. Then I pinned it to the dress which was on my tailors dummy. I decided to follow,the original darts, pined them to match the dress and stitched them in place.
I used the edging offcuts to finish the edges everywhere, stitching them in place with a zig zag stitch. I turned in the back edges with a zig zag stitch again.

I found this flower trimming in my local shop, it matches the colour exactly. I stitched it over the join where I attached the edging lace.

I wanted to make buttonholes in the back, but first of all I covered some plastic self cover buttons in my main fabric. I then got a spare piece of my lace and practised making buttonholes. I found that as long as I used a piece of tear away stabiliser under the stitching area everything would be fine. I also chose a slightly longer stitch

This is the back of the top showing the buttons and buttonholes. The advantage of making a separate top is that I get two looks from the same dress!

This is the dress without the lace top. The fit is superb and the cut is very flattering I think.

This is the back of the dress

This is the dress with the lace top. I love it!
And this is the back view of the dress and top together

Everything I used can be found on the Minerva Crafts web site, and I would like to thank them very much for the beautiful fabrics and the pattern. Thank you Minerva!

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this blog post, I would love your comments

Sewing Angela