Monday, 6 April 2015

Voila: A "Fan" of the Anna Dress

So happy, I finished sewing a dress!

It's my old favourite Anna Dress bodice, which is a very trusty modern pattern, and was one of the few I brought with me to Shanghai. My Christmas Dress in 2013 (that sounds so long ago now!) was the full pattern and I frankensteined an Anna Romper for a beach wedding, so those versions turned out fine... but I wanted to try a lined bodice, and with a shorter shoulder, as I'm aiming for better fit this year with my sewing!

Ok, the fabric is from our local fabric store in Xinhua Lu... where most 'cheap' fabrics are around 38RMB a metre... (around $8 AUD, $6US and 4 pounds UK) and I want to try cheap to get my skills up again... you may remember that I mostly have sewn with vintage or thrifted fabrics, but because of this, I actually don't know my fabrics... and now, I'm in China without any knowledge of fabrics, and it's really hard. My fabric store woman says 'Cotton' or 'Linen' in English, but my Sewing Teacher says fabric sellers say that about all fabrics, but it's rarely true.

I loved the big fans, and all the flowers, and thought it could be a good frock, and it is! It's very soft, and you can imagine curtains or a big fabric covered chair in this and there was a yellow version too. This fabric was labelled 'Yen Sing Design 100% Cotton Satin' but no googling or bing-ing brought anything up. As the print is really big, I didn't want to stuff up the placement of the pattern pieces (and have flower nipples or something weird!) so I started looking for larger printed dresses with gathered skirts, and found this one from Lynne at her Ozzy Blackbeard blog so I felt confident that a large print like these fans can work for the Anna Dress.

My main focus were the blue and brown flowers for the shoulder, I just thought that could be a sweet 'brooch' imitation, and after I cut & sew-ed it up, I see that the white fans mirror the actual V neckline, so that's a happy coincidence!

The back pieces give me some abstract wings because I thought an all blue piece along the zipper would be nice. I like things a little haphazard with big prints!

The dress fabric is so soft but a little flexible, so I used the By Hand London Sewalong as it deserves a lining, and for that I just bought the only cotton white my fabric shop had! There was a synthetic, but I didn't want to have anything like that on my skin as it will get hot here soon, and cotton should be better, right? I cut a 10/6 size and only changed the shoulder seam to about 1 inch, maybe a smidge more.

The gathered skirt from a rectangle was the best option for a big print like these fans/flowers, right? I just think cutting up gored skirts would make it a bit weird... I cut one long rectangle for the front and then two pieces for the back, and made sure I did three sections of long stitches to get an even gather!

And I added pockets! After looking at this tutorial on Tangible Artiste's blog about the pockets... I used a shape (a shape I just cut around my hand) similar but attached it at the waistband as well.

I'm really happy with how neat everything is on the inside! Another of my sewing goals this year, get neat!

But there were a few things I've now realised are a bit wonky... and I've sewn zippers happily and without tutorials usually, just winged them. And then I went to Sewing School! OOPS, maybe should have sew-ed the invisible zipper AFTER I learnt the better technique!


Most of my sewing is gungho, rushing in with gusto, and now with techniques from Sewing School, there is some need to be a bit 'measured', take things slower and certainly to make the invisible zipper actually invisible could be a good goal for my next dress right?

When I finished the dress, it was LOVELY and hot and sunny but perhaps springtime in Shanghai means that by the next day... when I took the photos it was rainy & slightly smoggy and just not nice for outside photographing... I'm trying to get the right time of day to photograph here at home, because sometimes it's too bright or too dark. I'll keep trying!

And one last note, I will try a FBA next time, but on the neckline and not shorten the shoulder seams that much... when I wear the dress I have to keep my shoulders back all the time... and when I looked at my other Anna makes, I think the neckline can get a bit gape-y, so maybe I'll try folding the pattern to make that line a bit shorter... I'm very happy with the darts under the bust, as it does flatter my bust and makes me look less top heavy... so don't need a full FBA, not sure... any ideas, let me know!

But I LOVE this version, and hopefully will wear it next week!


P.S. I'm dedicating my latest make to Shona, because she started sewing last year as I LEFT Melbourne, and she's made the Anna Dress as well! Here's mine, now show me yours Shona! xoxo Love you babe!

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