The wedding season continues! As my blogging schedule is very chaotic, I’m not showing you these dresses in the order I made them, but rather in the random order in which I manage to take pictures. After wedding number 1 in Virginia, wedding number 2 in Toulouse (where I wore the rockabilly cherries dress) and wedding number 3 in California, I went to Portland to attend wedding number 4. As far as weddings go, this one was pretty laid-back, so I had a lot of freedom when it came to my dress (as well as my hair, as you can see on the pictures as I recently dyed it blue..!). I went for a more casual one than for the others, with a By Hand London Anna dress in diamond-printed rayon.
This is the first time I’m posting a dress made from a BHL pattern on this blog, but Anna is actually the third one I’ve made from this brand: I made a Flora last Fall, and an Elisalex in April for the first wedding of the year. If I haven’t shown them here, it’s because I wasn’t really happy with them. The faux-wrap version of Flora was a nightmare to adjust and I’m very unhappy with the resulting fit in the bust, and Elisalex looked nothing like the pattern pictures (the difference in the skirt is so extreme it is plain shameful). I’ll tell you more about these two on the day where I manage to get motivated enough to whip up some pictures, but just know that I had quite a bad first and second impression of BHL patterns.
However, I still had a third pattern to sew: when I bought Flora and Elisalex, I had also bought Anna, and I had only seen good feedback about this one on the blogosphere. I also happened to have three yards of Cotton and Steel rayon that I had bought for another project (the Carmen dress from Ralph Pink – anyone tried this one?) but that had turned out not being enough yardage because the fabric was too narrow. The approaching #internationalannaparty on Instagram gave me the final push to give its third chance to the london girls (all of this to end up posting my dress too early on IG because I messed up with the time difference! Woops)
Things didn’t start that well with Anna either, because when I started tracing the pattern in size 6/10, I realized that the lines for that size and the 8/12 one had nearly exactly the same dot pattern, with just a slight difference in the density of the dots. With the dots not being super visible to begin with, it makes it a real pain to follow the lines; I had to stop regularly to count and make sure that I wasn’t accidentally tracing the wrong size. And I am used to Burda patterns, so it’s not like I’m new to this. It’s just… if you are going to make different types of lines for different sizes, why would you put the two identical ones next to one another? I don’t get it…
Well, the good thing with this pattern is that it has only 8 pieces, including the facing, so it still went quickly. The only adjustement I made was to directly add 7/8th of an inch to the front and back bodice to lenghten it, as the waistine on Flora and Elisalex was really high on me.
Putting it together was also pretty quick and straightforward. After several projects of lined dresses with a lot of different pieces it feels great to sew something unlined and sleeveless. Sewing the dress took me only one evening (not counting cutting the fabric, I had done that on the previous weekend).
Unlike Elisalex and Flora that I had to do a bunch of adjustments and fixes on, I sewed Anna as-is (except for lenghtening the bodice).
I was expecting to have to take the upper back in, because it’s something that I often have to do, but after basting the zipper I noticed that I didn’t have any excess fabric there so I skipped that part. I think the fit from the back and side is nearly spot-on. Looking at the pictures I’m thinking maybe I could have done some type of swayback adjustment, but I did not notice that when I was wearing the dress (also, the pictures were taken at the end of the day, and a lot of the wrinkles just come from sitting for a long time, not from fit issues).
I like how it looks from the front, but I’m not completely in love. I feel that it makes my bust looks somehow… saggy-ish? Also, I don’t like the vertical folds that start at the shoulder/neckline. It’s a problem I sometimes have with dresses that have a high neckline, but I don’t know what adjustment I could make that would fix this. Any ideas?
I know that some of the lines just come from the kimono-sleeved bodice, but the versions I’ve seen online don’t seem to have so many of them, so I’m thinking there might be something I can do about it.
Another thing I’m not crazy about is the color of the fabric, that I find a bit too drab. I was expecting more of a navy blue but the background is actually blue grey, and in association with the high neckline it feels a bit too serious and sad to me. Otherwise, this fabric is absolutely wonderful: it’s from the “Frock” collection by Cotton and Steel, and it’s rayon with just enough thickness, a great drape, and so, so soft. Fabrics from that collection are quite expensive but given the quality I’m thinking I might end up ordering more of them.
So in the end I have mixed feelings for this dress. I like the result a lot but it is not my favorite. And even though I had a much better time sewing Anna that I had with Elisalex and Flora, I think I’m going to stop there with By Hand London patterns for now: I love their style (retro dresses are kind of my jam after all), their packaging, and even their crystal clear and friendly-tone instructions, but I find the patterns themselves a bit disappointing. I find other patterns from the brand a bit simple (Zeena, Sabrina, Holly… I already have similar ones in my Burda collection), or they’re just.. well.. nope (Sophia for instance, I love the drawing, but I hate the actual pictures with the godets). What about you, did you make any BHL patterns? What did you think of them?
Anna – By Hand London
Cotton and Steel rayon bought on Fabric.com