O hai! I made another dress! It’s a super practical bright orange silk maxi dress– a wardrobe staple, if you will! OK, this might be the single most impractical thing I’ve ever sewn, but I loooooooove it!
This is the Anna dress, the fab fourth pattern from the fierce gals of By Hand London! (Sidenote: I met the lovely and elegant Charlotte of BHL earlier this month as she was passing through NYC and folks, she is as cool and fun as you might guess, plus a little more! There’s a huge part of me that wants to run away to London and sew amazing clothes with these girls allllll day every day! Come back to visit, Charlotte!) Oona eloquently told the tale of how she and I came to make the same pattern for our August Mood Sewing Network projects, and how the reigning queen of Nashville, Lauren, joined in on the fun! In short, we now have an Instagram-instigated trio of silken Anna dresses tearing through the internet– fun, yes?
OK, so, I know that “less is more” is a good mantra, but I was kind of in a “go big or go home” mood when I grabbed this amazing silk crepe de chine from Mood Fabrics NYC. I’ve ogled this beauty before, twice in fact, but never really knew what to do with it, but the third time I saw it I knew it was destined to be an Anna dress! I love the print so much that I wanted to wrap myself in it from head to toe, and a maxi dress is a slightly better option than a makeshift toga, right?
Back to the pattern! It’s a seven-gored skirt with pleats under the bust and kimono sleeves, all of which were new to me. This is a real departure from my usual style, but it’s fun to play dress-up once in a while! The pattern comes together easily, but holy cow, it took f o r e v e r to French seam all those long skirt panels! It gives a nice, clean finish, though. I removed 1.5″ of excess fabric at the back neckline after a muslin showed some gaping (I’ll show you how tomorrow, if you’re interested), and I shortened the skirt by 7″, based on a quick eyeballing of the length. This was way too much! I didn’t want this lovely fabric dragging on filthy New York sidewalks, but I got over-excited and didn’t really think it through. Next time I’ll only shorten it by 4.5″. Maxis can be a real fabric-suck, but luckily, with my shortened pieces, I could squeeze the whole dress out of 3 yards– hooray!
The crepe de chine was surprisingly easy to sew with! It’s not slippery at all, especially compared to silk charmeuse or similar fabrics. I used my walking foot to help keep the long seams lined up correctly, and I pinked the facing to stop it from showing through this lightweight fabric. I understitched the facing, too, to help keep it from peeking out, and blind-stitched it to the shoulder seams on the inside. Another thing that’s helpful to do with fabric this floaty is to stabilize the zipper opening before inserting it. This prevents a wobbly, ripply zipper (yuck!). You can baste strips of silk organza to the seam allowances, or just iron on some fusible interfacing– I’ve had good luck with both techniques!
This is such a happy dress! The colors just make me feel so perky and fun! I’m sure I’m an eyesore walking down the streets of New York in this shrieking color, but I can live with that. There’s something kind of weirdly ’70’s about it that I’m not 100% thrilled about– you know those polyester floral maxi dresses worn by the likes of Dusty Springfield? So I’m not sure about that, but I’m choosing to commit to this dress in its entirety.
I like to pretend like I’m heading to a fancy dinner in Waikiki when I put this on! Hmm, I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii… Sadly, there aren’t any trips on my horizon, so I’ll have to settle for posing in front of my neighbor’s hibiscus.
Alright, how about you guys? Anybody planning to sew the Anna dress? I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve seen so far– there doesn’t seem to be a shape that it doesn’t flatter! If you’re scared, there’s a sewalong gearing up on the By Hand London blog– details here! How do you feel about maxi dresses– love? Like? Hate with a burning passion? Finally, do you love Dusty Springfield with a passion that sometimes scares you? Do YOU listen to “Dusty in Memphis” every time you’re home alone?