Sunday, 26 January 2014

Turning 30 in my Anna Dress

Last weekend was my 30th birthday and I spent it at a fab lakeside resort in the Laurentians.  It was a fun break including ice skating on the frozen lake, relaxing in the nordic spa, and having friends join us on Sunday for tubing, rafting and tornadoes (three zero-skill ways of throwing yourself down a mountain!).

Dinner on Saturday night was a swanky five course affair at the hotel's lakeside restaurant and it was the ideal occasion to make and wear my first ever handmade dress.  I used By Hand London's Anna pattern, which this week was crowned one of Pattern Review's top ten patterns of 2013.  Definitely a worthy winner in my eyes as it was surprisingly flawless to make and flattering to wear.

I took a few gambles when making the dress.  The first one was the design of the dress itself.  I don't usually go for knee length dresses, and I did think that the modest, very covered up design might look a bit prim.  The sort of thing a 30 year old might wear (lol!!!).  They were needless concerns though as I ended up really liking the sophisticated, classy style and teemed with heels it still felt like it could be a fun party dress.


The second gamble was that I cut the pattern straight out in a UK size 10 without tracing.  It's actually quite rare for me to use paper patterns as I mainly use digital, and so to me tracing a pattern feels like a huge backwards step to start a project on.  Luckily the gamble paid off and I didn't need to make a single adjustment and it still fits like a glove dress. 


The third gamble was that my fabric was stash fabric that I'd originally bought from the bargain section of fabricville marked 'unknown fabric'.  I'm still not knowledgeable enough to know my chiffons from my charmeuses, and my poplins from my polyesters, but I think this is the latter.  You can see in some of the photos that the hang of the skirt is a bit clingy as it got quite static.  For that reason, even though we're in the depths of winter, I wore it tightless to dinner to avoid even more of a static attack. I've been researching some ways to reduce the static (e.g. fabric softener sheets)  Any tips would be very welcome!  Though in some ways I'm happy to take a little bit of static over the unsightly creases that have plagued some of my earlier makes.


The bit that I could have got better was the top of the zip. I concentrated on lining the zip up neatly where the bodice meets the skirt, but didn't manage to do this at the top and so one side is slightly higher than the other.  The zip insertion took place on the eve of my birthday so as I really wanted it finished I just went with it.  I'm not too offended by the imperfection, and at least it's one that wearing a cardie/jacket instantly resolves if it does ever bother me.

The Anna dress pattern was a Christmas present from my parents and it was accompanied by the equally 'must-have' Georgia dress pattern.  As the Georgia is an intermediate pattern I'm eagerly awaiting By Hand London's sewalong to swing into action so I can have a go at that, but it looks like it'll be another good'un.  

It wasn't the best light in our hotel suite when we took these photos last weekend and so Mr Fabric Maverick started getting a bit creative.  This last photo through the transparent fireplace nearly didn't make the cut, until I was persuaded it was a re-creation of James Bond's Live and Let Die opening credits. It just goes to show that even 30 year olds (!) can feel a bit like a Bond girl in a By Hand London Anna dress! 

14 comments :

  1. It is a gorgeous dress Suzie. I love the pattern and the bodice fit is perfect! Happy Birthday!

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    1. Thanks Caroline! Hope you're surviving and happily sewing your way through this harsh winter :)

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  2. Happy birthday Suzie - sounds like you had a great time and the dress is lovely.

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  3. Sounds like a great birthday weekend all around! I know what you mean about the Fabricville discount pile: I have fabrics that were labelled incorrectly or unlabelled and I've had to muddle through until I figure out how they are going to behave. I'd make a wild guess and say it looks like polyester charmeuse from the back photo. Fabricville does tend to have a lot of those in their discount pile ;)

    I love love love the last shot. Bond girl indeed.

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    1. I've just googled polyester charmeuse, and the description sounds similar, thanks Sherlock! I always struggle in Fabricville as even when it's labeled correctly I often find it hard to see fabric types that match the pattern recommended fabrics I'm looking for. It was cheap and easy to sew though so if I can solve the static I'd have another go with it. Thanks Vicki :)

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  4. Wow! Love it. I think I need a lesson with you. Tell Chris that we're very impresed with the last shot x

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    1. Thank you, I could help you make your zombie walk costume!x

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  5. Happy Birthday to you!! Perfect dress for what sounded like the most perfect birthday weekend bash!

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  6. Wow gorgeous dress! And happy late birthday, sounds like it was a blast :)

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  7. Great dress!! On my second Anna (yet to be blogged) I also had the same issue with the zipper at the neck. How are you going with the Georgia sewalong?

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    1. Thank you, and I've just seen your second Anna and it's lovely, so elegant. I'm a bit behind on the Georgia sew along but I'm home alone some of this week so hoping to catch up and have it ready for Valentines!

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