The Flyaway Anna Dress

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

It’s time for the fall frenzy! Thick linen skirts, cozy knitwear, LONG SLEEVES! Well…not quite yet. Snuggly, warm-hued clothes-to-be are being cut as we speak but there are still summer makes left to share. It feels awful rushing these end-of-season projects along. I mean, had they been made just a few short weeks earlier they would have had more than a few seconds in the spotlight. I guess it happens to all end-of-season makes, but it’s extra tragic when our victims are pretty summer dresses. I hope they will forgive me when I wear them all the time when spring rolls around.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

After our little week in Banff, Rory and I took our real vacation south to Waterton and Nelson, BC. It was our first time venturing to that part of the mountains and we were so glad we opted to visit. The mountain views and hikes in Waterton were so stunning and unique, plus there’s nothing like sitting lakeside eating a hot dog after a day exploring waterfalls and trails. Nelson was a charming little town filled with heritage buildings, beautifully designed and unique parks and not a chain store in sight. We ate delicious local food, took a vintage streetcar to the beach and danced at a night market that appeared to have the entire town present. It really reminded me that some of the best travelling doesn’t need to be that far from home.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

Anyhow, back to the dress. This is my second Anna dress and it has been sitting in my to-sew pile for a good long while, and only after planning the trip did it shoot to the top of the pile to actually get finished.

The fabric is from my Paris visit to Anna Ka Bazaar (it only took a year to get to that stash, but I am working my way through it now and it’s very exciting). It’s a buttery soft rayon fabric and has a gentle stretch that makes it super comfy to wear. I love the subtle abstract print that many people think looks like a flock of birds. When we were taking the photos we were secretly hoping a bunch of birds would fly up from behind me to match, but it was far too windy for any feathered friends to fly.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

As you can see the wind made this shoot kind of tricky, but I was determined to utilize that beautiful view. I guess I am stubborn that way, but it also made for a creative challenge which is something I enjoy. I always want to think of different ways to present my makes on the blog that is visually interesting but still useful for people looking for inspiration and information about the garment.

With my first Anna dress, I find that the waist is very close fitted, and actually a smidge too tight after a wash. I decided to cut this one a little generously around the pattern pieces, which naturally meant I was totally swimming in it. After taking it all back in, I found a fit I was happy with, but the fabric was shifty and hard to press, so my seamlines no longer match up. C’est la vie.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

Since I made this dress on relatively short notice, I didn’t have time to head to the fabric store. Luckily I had a cream zipper from my stash. It’s a vintage metal one from a random bag of zippers my grandma gave me. It’s a little worn down and if I simply pull the two back pieces apart it will just slide open. After wearing it twice I haven’t noticed it open much with movement which I am happy for, but it’s still not an ideal situation.

I find that stocking up on notions to be a challenge for me. When I am at the fabric store I only grab the zippers I need for projects I have immediately in mind. I don’t know how to properly anticipate which ones I might need later on. I don’t drive and there are no shops nearby, so trips to the fabric store only happen once every few months. Sometimes I want to make something spontaneously but get stuck by the fact that I don’t have a zipper in the right length or colour or style. Any tips for stocking up on notions in advance? Do you just buy one of every type and colour and stash them like a squirrel preparing for winter?

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

About making this dress, there’s not too much else to say. Anna is a beautiful pattern and I love that I don’t have anything else quite like it. It’s perfect for making in soft, floaty fabrics and has a dressier vibe while still being totally wearable any day. I hope I can transition this dress a little further down the calendar with some layers, but it can sometimes be hard to blend in light, wispy (unlined) garments. Many times the skirt fabric just sticks to my tights! Nothing like walking to work and having to tug at your skirt every few steps.

A Tipsy Anna Dress

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

Anna anna bo’banna banana fana fo fanna. What can I say about your loveliness that the sewing community hasn’t said already fifty times over? I am a little late on the Anna train, but am so happy to finally be aboard. I can’t honestly see myself making another dress pattern for a while.

The bodice shape is so flattering, it has my favourite kind of neckline, the skirt has just the right amount of flare, (though I could customize that in many ways if I so desired), it has a vintage feel but plays well with modern fabrics…I could go on for days.

The first Anna I saw that made me seriously contemplate owning this pattern was this stunning maxi version by Zoe. I ordered the pattern on a whim (nabbing a hard copy before they were all gone, whew), without a purpose or fabric yet in mind. So it sat on my pattern rack for months.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

The rest of the story kind of plays out like a mediocre romance novel. The fabric destined for this dress was actually waiting quietly in the background all along. I acquired this rayon voile from my time at Télio 3 years ago and had it earmarked for a Deer and Doe Reglisse. I kept procrastinating and kept them in an extended engagement because something in that match never felt quite right to follow through. Then one day the proverbial eyes met and I knew that this fabric was destined to be with Anna.

Then Elle, Pips and Ute announced the #InternationalAnnaParty, which was a swift kick in the bum to move this project forward full speed.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

I wanted to be very careful with this special fabric to make sure I didn’t ruin it somehow, so I made a bodice muslin to test the fit of my standard 3 cm waist lengthening as well as making sure the shoulders had good fit. And it was perfect, first try! Woo hoo.

So eager to get a dress happening, I jumped right into real fabric cutting. At midnight.

A note to readers (though you are probably logical enough to know this) do not cut into your nice I-can’t-get-any-more-of-this fabric when you are exhausted, yet anxious and rushed.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

First, after cutting out a few pieces I noticed I had cut out the BACK bodice on the fold and had the front piece in two (luckily I had enough to re-cut, but I was hoping to make something else out of that…boo) THEN after the kerfuffle I wasn’t paying attention to the shifting grain on the bottom layer of the fabric, leaving me with a totally skewed bodice. UGH.

Add to that, I pretty much forgot about pattern matching altogether. Though it is one of the most important thing when working with a print, I almost always forget about the concept of pattern matching until I am sewing side seams together. I think I mentally wrote this one off as a ‘busy’ pattern that you wouldn’t notice, even though it is most definitely a stripe. Ah, I will figure it out one day. I promise.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

I was secretly hoping that all this wouldn’t be too noticeable so I marched on. I had sewn her up about 3/4 of the way and the errors were glaring. I got quite mad at this dress (and myself) for a few days. To the point where, I couldn’t even look at her.

After cooling down a bit, I started to wonder if I had a ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ effect going for me with the print placement. I posted on Instagram to test the waters and the response was quite positive! I gained some confidence in that and finished up.

AND THEN I PUT IT ON. OMG. The fabric is so so soft, light and floaty, yet totally opaque. The fit is perfect. The crazy pattern is actually quite intriguing. It  also feels so good in the summer’s heat. This is now the coolest dress I own. In more ways than one.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

Shifty fabric aside, I feel like this is one of the best constructed dresses I have done to date. The darts and pleats actually match the skirt panels, the facing lays flat, the waist seams line up (thank goodness for this tutorial!) and the invisible zipper is, well, invisible for once. I am looking forward to applying all this to future Annas.

I also added some basic inseam pockets, because, who doesn’t love pockets?

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

It was such a pleasure to participate in the Anna Party this last weekend and it was such a blast. So many amazing seamstresses and an endless array of Anna ideas and inspirations. It was so exciting to check in every few hours to see what was new! I love this online community so much.

Plus, many people thought my crazy mis-aligned stripes were an intentional design choice. So from now on if anyone asks…