A Very Special Occasion (Part Two): The Anna Dress

Pattern House: By Hand London

Pattern: Anna Dress

Fabric: French Crepe, Minerva Crafts

If you saw my previous post, you'll know that I have been busy making some occasion wear of late, for a very special wedding that I attended a couple of weeks back. As Maid of Honour, I was tasked with finding two outfits of my choice to wear for both the ceremony on the first day and the party on the second. In my last post I talked about the Audrey Dress by Sew Ladida Vintage which I made for the party and so now I'd like to tell you a little bit about the outfit that I made for the ceremony.

I knew that for wedding itself I wanted a pattern that was suitable for both day and night as we were having an evening dinner following the ceremony in the afternoon. Having also picked and made the Audrey dress first (for the party), I wanted to find something contrasting and slightly less party-dress like. And then it dawned on me. Looking back at my Instagram MakeNine from the end of 2016, I had listed the By Hand London, Anna Dress, as a desirable make. Until then, I had not had an occasion to make it though. This was the perfect moment and the two contrasting patterns turned out to be just the job for their separate purposes. With the Audrey dress complete, I turned my attention to the Anna dress.

Having purchased and downloaded the PDF pattern for the Anna dress, I then sent my order off to Net Printer for preparing. (Not a page of A4 or a strip of Sellotape in sight - highly recommend Net Printer for those who wish to avoid this arduous part of the process!)

Whilst waiting for the pattern to be delivered, I took the time to source some fabric. I knew that I wanted something with reasonable drape but nothing too thin as the dress was for a Winter wedding and it would likely be pretty chilly in between venues. Minerva Crafts came to my rescue! I purchased 3 metres of their French Crepe in Charcoal Grey and was really pleased with both the colour and the quality when it arrived a couple of days later.

Ok, so with the pattern and the fabric ready to go I set about the making stage. With time of the essence and the wedding just a few days away at this stage, I cut straight into the fabric without making a toile first. Thankfully the By Hand London, Anna dress pattern is an absolute dream and fitted like a glove out of the packet. First time, no alterations needed. I will say however if I make it again, I will make the neckline a little narrower as, although it was fine for this occasion and in fact I think added to the final look, I would be unable to wear this dress without a strapless bra. If I made it again, especially for a more daytime/Summer dress look, I would make the neck line smaller for this reason.

So a word about the hand sewing... I can honestly say that I put more hand sewing into this dress than any other garment I have ever made. The shell itself came together relatively quickly on the machine; however, I was keen to ensure that the insides of the dress were seamless (excuse the pun), especially given that the split up the front of the skirt meant that you can see the insides as the dress moves. For the majority of the panels, I inserted French seams on the machine. However, for the back seam (below the zip) and the front split, I stitched entirely by hand (the By Hand London Anna Dress Sew-Along suggests this method for fancy fabrics). I also hand stitched the hem (that's a lot of hem!) and the usual bodice lining and zip.

Hours and hours of hand stitching later I was done and I am so glad I put so much love and effort into the finishing of this dress as I think it is what transformed it from a simple shell to an elegant garment. I absolutely LOVE this pattern and will no doubt be making it again and again. Something also tells me that it won't be the last By Hand London pattern I will be purchasing. Those ladies really do know how to make a party dress.