I’ve made some frocks! I finally got round to making the legendary By Hand London Anna dress and did some serious experimenting with pattern grading. I think I had to add about 8 inches on to the bust, waist and hips of the largest size (sigh) and I lengthened the bodice two inches on the second one I made. It must be said this was not entirely successful. Pattern grading is something I am really going to have to get my head round as being 5 foot 10 and large all over, I’m very often bigger than the biggest size in the the indie labels and well, I WANT TO WEAR COOL THINGS DAMMIT.
I know that pretty much everyone has to make adjustments to their patterns, but it’s annoying to have to both grade and adjust, and not really be sure how those two things relate. As a beginner I find it hard to know if I have graded every piece correctly and then if I make adjustments on top of that, I often lose track of if what I am creating is anything like the original pattern. However, nuff moaning. These two dresses aren’t perfect, but they still look like Anna dresses don’t they?
I made the nautical print one first in a very cheap polycotton from Chawla’s . As is often the way, I think I like my wearable muslin more than my actual dress. It’s a bit tight round the tummy and bunches up round the bust but it looks awesome, huh? Here I am wearing it for my Dad’s 64th birthday lunch in Camden.
I graded up the bodice really well I think, but didn’t add quite enough to each of the pieces of the seven gore skirt, so the skirt was to small to attach to the bodice. Being the idiot that I am, I didn’t unpick and re sew the skirt pieces with a small seam allowance, but instead took in the waist with some random extra darts. The joys of a busy fabric and under bust pleats mean I can kind of get away with such amateurishness. Well, that and being an amateur!
This did however make it too tight, so the bodice rides up constantly. And I can’t breathe so well when it’s pulled down. And I need to pull it down as the bodice is too short anyway. It generally looks kind of empire line when I wear it hitched up under my boobs. But it’s lovely, I love the shape and IT’S MY FIRST EVER FULLY LINED DRESS! I’m so proud. It’s lined with a lovely light cotton batiste which was way more expensive than the ‘fashion fabric’ but means it’s cool, breathable and not see through. I’m happy.
The second Anna is also nice, but I’m not actually sure it’s as flattering as my ill fitting cheapo first attempt. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t also function as a corset! This one is made with a lovely poly crepe de chine from Croft Mill. When I say lovely, I mean it looks lovely but frays and presses like a bugger. It was quite hard to work with, but I french seamed everything and it turned out ok, if you don’t look at the shiny bits where I ironed it without a press cloth. This was unlined with an annoying facing (are facings ever not annoying?!) that was very hard to press properly but that is not the fault of the pattern. I think I just hate facings and want to line everything. I graded up the skirt pieces a bit more (but still not quite enough as the bodice bags out a bit over the waist seam) and added a couple of inches to the bodice length which is much more suitable, but maybe I like the empire line look? Anyway, here it is.
I think I could do with lowering the under boob pleats half an inch and taking the hem up a good inch or two, but it’s pretty much there. I just need to add about another half inch over the skirt pieces (ah, tiny maths fractions) and I have a workable me sized Anna pattern. I love it as much as everyone else does and I think I will make a lot of these dresses. Next up is a teal maxi dress rayon version. I just hope the fabric is a bit less clingy in the breeze!
I’m very sad that I finally got round to making my first By Hand pattern just as the wonderful women announced they could no longer afford to run their business full time. I was so saddened and shocked by this news, as I thought that if anyone could do it, they certainly could. Their patterns are so fantastic but it’s tough out there, even for the most talented, creative and entrepreneurial. I am really pleased that they are going to continue releasing PDF patterns (inappropriately timed request: please extend your size range a few inches!) and will look forward to their latest designs. This really is as brilliant a pattern as everyone says, and was a good pattern to practice grading on. It’s simple, chic and stylish and easy to adapt. I’m looking forward to shamelessly copying gorgeous Idle Fancy and making one with a gathered skirt in future.
So which version do you prefer? Have you graded up any patterns? Will I ever be rigorous and accurate enough to do it properly? Or shall I bodge always?!