13 October, 2014

An Evening Anna

As usual, I'm a little late to the party when it comes to popular indie patterns. I am probably the last person in blog land to express my love for BHL's Anna dress, but I'm about to do it anyway (sorrynotsorry!).

This is THE most flattering, comfortable and amazing dress I have ever owned, let alone made. Construction-wise it's not perfect, but neither are any of the RTW dresses in my closet! It's soft and flowy. It's both modest and daring. The combination of colours and fabrics (and time!) somehow magically came together to form a dress that is completely me. That feels amazing. I may never accomplish it again. If I do, I hope it's a coat...

The Details:

Pattern: Anna Dress - By Hand London
Size: US 10.
Variation: Maxi length with slash neckline and side slit. Full lining.
Alterations: Shortened waist, shortened shoulders, shortened hem, used shorter back zipper.
Fabric: Navy bamboo/viscose + weird baby blue viscose from the Remnant Warehouse. Burnout poly chiffon - thrifted.
Necklace: thrifted. Hair piece: somewhere in Katoomba...

I made this dress specifically to wear to the inaugural Recycla-Ball (like recyclable!?) - a formal evening function celebrating sustainability and the arts at my university. The entire evening was the brainchild of my dear friend Mel and myself, and is the main reason for the lull in sewing projects around here these past few months. Between the two of us, and a couple of helpful friends and mothers, we made almost all of the decorations, including an awesome DIY photo-booth with props! The guests were encouraged to wear formal attire that was either handmade or altered, vintage or thrifted. The night was completely amazing and still feels like a dream. I was planning on doing a whole post about the Ball, but honestly I can't bear to think about paper flowers just yet...

The thing I love most about BHL patterns is the way they show the included ease for each size. This dress needed enough room for a night filled with mini hamburgers and sorbet, fancy cocktails and all of the dancing (followed by a speech! ahhh!), so I confidently cut a size US 10.

The good thing about being late to indie pattern parties is that I go in fully aware of the problems I might encounter. This pattern was in no way designed to fit a petite frame right out of the packet. But that's okay. It's the prettiest dress pattern I have ever seen. Why learn to sew if not to make pretty things fit properly?

Petite Alterations for Anna:

Basically, the unaltered Anna dress fits me perfectly horizontally. Vertically, however, I am suddenly transformed into a small child waddling around the house in her mother's clothing. It's seriously bizarre. I didn't make a muslin because... I don't know. Paper flowers were more important at the time! The following alterations were all made mid-construction.

1. Removed 1-2cm (about 5/8 inch) from the shoulder seam, starting at the neckline and grading slightly back out toward the sleeve to avoid shrinking the armscye. This pulled the bust pleats up into the right position and solved the neckline gaping. There is still wrinkling around the sleeves. I don't know whether this is a result of the shoulder seam change or if it's just the drape of my fabric, but it seems pretty similar to the examples on the BHL website.

2. Removed about an inch (possibly more) at waist seam.

3. Removed approximately one basquillion inches from the hemline. Seriously, it was a lot.

My other major alteration was a semi accident. Out of pure laziness I used the only black invisible zip at hand, and decided to button the top and leave a keyhole style slit at the upper back. On the night of the Ball, ten minutes before people started coming through the doors, I threw on my dress only to realise I had completely forgotten to attach the button! So, I folded in the edges and went with it...
After seeing all the photos from the night, I actually love the V shape in the back. Obviously, it would be nicer and neater if it were intentional, but I can't decide whether to leave it or change it...
In the picture below it's pinned closed the way I had intended.

Construction Details:

The main navy fabric is a weird and wonderful blend of bamboo and rayon. It has an odd texture with a faint sheen that almost looks like crepe in these photos. It was the tiniest bit too sheer to use on its own, so I added a full lining of another weird rayon substance (not the bemburg I was hoping for). Online shopping is risky business...

As much as I love the feel and pressability (that's a word now) of rayon, it has it's problems. Half an hour of meticulous ironing was completely undone after a 2 minute drive to the photo shoot destination... Don't even know what is going on with the bust pleats in these photos. I promise it was lovely and smooth on the night!

I used french seams throughout the lining and waist seam, and pinked the main skirt seams to avoid bulk. I added facings to the lining to avoid any pale blue from peaking out around the neckline, and handpicked the lining to the main fabric along the side slit. The awesome orange stuff on the front panel is a piece of velvety burnout chiffon that has been in my stash forever.

Obligatory leg flash!

Angelina Jolie makes it look so much easier...
It's the end of Winter, so no judging the ghostly colour of my leg... I wore lacy black tights to the event and it looked much more glamorous. I hope.

So, I'm pretty sure this is the first of many Anna dresses.
Have you made a version? Or multiple? If so, show me show me!

And have a lovely week :)

11 October, 2014

A Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe

[images via Pinterest]
Something has changed in me over this last year. Maybe it's just the recent lack of bedroom storage, but I suddenly cannot stand stuff. So, in the spirit of Spring cleaning, last week I unpacked my Summer clothes and began a much needed cull.

Creating a capsule wardrobe for Winter was helpful on so many levels. I'm the complete opposite of a morning person, so anything that makes getting out of pajamas a little easier is a very good thing. The Summer version has been a bit more difficult, but I'm pretty pleased with where I'm at. As usual, all images and their sources can be found on my Pinterest board.

My Summer style can be broken down into two basic recipes:
1. Loose top + comfortable pants + flats.
2. Loose top + high waist skirt + flats.

From these two recipes I can create at least four silhouettes, just by swapping out the jeans for shorts, or the mini for a maxi skirt.

If you're interested in this exercise, you can read more about proportions and silhouettes here and here :)

The result is a capsule wardrobe of 20 items, excluding accessories like belts, etc. I used Polyvore to create a basic outline of the items - mostly based on clothes I already own, and items I'm planning to make. Neither of my capsule wardrobes contain dresses - but not because I don't wear them! I want to give myself room for experimentation, especially when it comes to sewing. There are so many shapes and lengths that I feel comfortable wearing in different situations, so it would be silly to limit myself strictly to two or three styles! Heather of Closet Case Files wrote a great post a while back on a similar topic - dressing for multiple identities/situations - definitely worth a read!


I'm super excited to get started on some warm weather sewing projects. A floaty button-down is currently in progress, and my stash has grown significantly larger (and prettier!) after a massive fabric sale last week... So much for having less stuff!

Hope everyone has been having a lovely Spring/Fall! Have you been making any sewing or wardrobe plans for the new season? I'd love to hear about them!