Ginger Made: By Hand London Anna Dress!

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!

Let’s just go ahead and ignore the Snapple bottled discarded on the sidewalk. I don’t even notice trash on the ground anymore!

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?

Hahaha, check out my neighbor in the background! You guys are seeing all the amazing sights from my ‘hood today!

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.

Anyway, you should check out Lauren’s version of this dress here, and be sure to peep Oona’s fierce sheer version here!

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?

179 responses

  1. Stabilizing zipper openings has revolutionized my life! (When it comes to inserting zippers, at least) and what a happy dress! I need to get my hands on the Anna and make it before sure ends!


  2. OMG I HEART DUSTY SPRINGFIELD!!! But your dress is so much chic-er than anything that decade of polyester monstrosities could ever dream up!! I think it’s far more floaty, bohemian, I-live-in-a-house-with-lots-of-glass-walls-overlooking-the-ocean kinda thing… And holy cow do you ever look like a total babe in it!! Winner!


  3. Ahhh its gorgeous! Love the colours on you:)
    I am making a silk one too, but scared after seeing yours and Laurens haha..
    She gave me some great advice tho, just worried about how accurate I am/how long its going to take to french seam haha


  4. Pretty pretty dress! I love the print, and being Dutch ofcourse I like the colour 😉 the shape of the dress really suits you. All the lovely Anna dresses make me want this pattern too but I already have so.many.sewing.plans so I’m holding myself back a little. First there is a bombshell bathing suit to finish, another Edith dress and a Papercut Watson jacket…


  5. This dress looks soooo happy! I love the colour and you are totally right about it flattering every shape. I’ve just finished my fourth Anna (and first maxi) and I feel like a princess in it! So floaty! I wish Mood would open an outlet in Singapore…!!


    • Thanks, lady! I can’t seem to stay away from crazy colors in the summer months (although I was able to pull myself away from a ridiculous electric pink yesterday… but I wanted it BADLY).


  6. I really love this, and how happy you look in it! I wasn’t sure whether the Anna would be my style, but the more versions I see, the more I’m tempted. I would love to know how you took fabric out of the back as I had to do that with the Elisalex, but just fudged it!


  7. Beautiful Anna! I really like the colour on you! I’m planning to make mine in some silk that I dyed, hoping to start on that one next week! Thanks for pointing out the sew-along 🙂


  8. Pingback: Club Tropicanna | nishiink!

  9. Oh, look at you Sonja!! This version of the Anna is one of my favourites! Such absolutely beautiful fabric, both type and pattern and colour. I want some, for sure! And, the style is very flattering on you. I would wear this to clean the toilet or take the dogs for a walk. Special occasion, smeshel occasion.


  10. Gingerrrrrr! Firstly, thank you so much for the kind words *blush*, was a bloody delight to meet you. I really cannot wait to hang out in real life again (come to London pleeeeeeease and let us take you out!) and keep looking fondly at the photos I took. And secondly, GURL this is an absolute knockout of a dress!! These supafly silk Annas that I’ve seen flying past on the interwebs, Lauren’s, Dibs’ and now yours, are so superb and are inspiring me to get down to making my own. Thanks for sharing this beauty! xxx


  11. Pingback: Silk Chiffon Slugger | Mood Sewing Network

  12. This is a GORGEOUS version, and totally practical for everyday! 🙂

    I do plan to make an Anna for the upcoming summer here, a slash neckline and shorter, above the knee dress will work just perfectly I think 🙂


  13. Pingback: By Hand London Anna Dress: Narrow Shoulder Adjustment! | Ginger Makes...

  14. Gorgeous Sonja! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look so good in orange! Great tip on stablizing the area around the zip before you sew it in, I’ve just finished a crepe de chine version and it came out ok but a little wobbly. I too loved the crepe de chine though, I liked that something about the texture means it stays in place rather than slipping about as it goes through the machine, I don’t know how!


    • Thanks, Fiona! I’ve lately come to embrace orange. I’ve always been more of a red girl, but it just doesn’t look that good on me (I tend to get really red in the face when I’m cold OR hot, so I kind of look like Santa Claus when I’m wearing cold reds). I’m trying out warmer reds or oranges lately!

      But yes, crepe de chine is so much more pleasant to sew than charmeuse (it had me ripping out my hair when I was sewing the lining for my Victoria blazer). I’ll definitely be using it every time I can afford it!


  15. Pingback: Beware my Deadly Flashing Blade | Is it fitting?

  16. Hey beautiful,

    You are boom, bang a bang perfection! They need freaking bring Hawaii to you. It’s so flattering. You have now refired my need to get back to this pattern. It’s been languishing under a pile of other more practical makes but f practicality!

    Also, I love Dusty more than should be legal and she is my total hairspiration 🙂



  17. The fabric you chose is so awesome, it the sort that you always feel special when you wear! I’ve been tempted by the Anna pattern for awhile. If I made I think I would possibly attach a circle skirt to the bodice.


  18. Love this dress, and I love the go big or go home mantra, and impractical sewing projects 🙂 ! Hey I can post on your blog again…was having some annoying firewall issues, have now magically disappeared…hooray!


  19. Very cute! I recently made a dress with a very similar bodice, but the back on this one is lovely. I think I’ll have to go back and have another go now. 🙂


  20. Hi Sonja. I’m making this dress at the moment. I’ve tried to post a Q on the BHL blog but it disappears. Does the waist on this bodice hit your natural waist? I made a muslin of the bodice and it is miles away from my natural waist, more so than other patterns. Also the sleeves are crazy on mine – like an American footballer. Yours seem to slant down which is what I want. Did you alter your sleeves at all?


Got something to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: