Category Archives: Spoolettes

Celebration Anna

Anna dress

This dress is a double celebratory one for me. Firstly, I think it shows how much I’ve progressed in my sewing, even since March when I made my last Anna (which I cringe when I look at now!). Secondly, I got round to re-making the Anna in order to wear to By Hand London’s Kickstarter celebration party on Friday!

Anna dress

This time round my Anna fits like a glove, and a few little tweaks here and there have got it just to my liking. I used Ginger’s tutorial to take out some back-neck excess (quite a lot in my case) and lowered the front neckline a little.

Anna dress

I moved the zip to the underarm side seam – I’ve grown to dislike centre-back zips a lot, both from an aesthetic and practical point of view. The zip is even hand-picked! I’m a changed sewist, man.

Anna dress

The bodice is lined in my beloved stretch mesh instead of using facings. I burrito’ed the lining to attach it to the sleeve edges with all raw edges enclosed, but found that I needed to both understitch and edgestitch the neckline and sleeves to keep it tucked inside. Like with my Centaurée, I didn’t make a duplicate bodice for the lining but traced the constructed bodice, leaving the bust pleats off. I like this technique with a stretch lining as it lies very smoothly with no additional bulk from two sets of pleats.

Anna dress

I swapped out the gored skirt for one of my all-time favourites, Simplicity 1610 – same as my kitty dress (which has recently undergone surgery to make it fit better). I maintain that it has the quickest and cutest yoked pockets ever. I had a feeling it would be a successful match for the Anna bodice and love how it turned out.

Anna dress

The pocket edges match up nearly exactly with the first set of bodice pleats, and I pleated the centre of the skirt by eye to match the other line of pleats. Looking at this makes me happy.

Anna dress

The back is just gathered between the darts and the skirt hem is a deep machine blind. Look at the perfectly fitting back! Don’t think I’ve ever had a non-stretch bodice fit so well.

Anna dress

The fabric is part of my Quito haul. I wish I’d bought more of this one as it’s totally dreamy: it’s a fairly heavy poly crepe so hangs really beautifully, sews easily and doesn’t require lining. The subdued but fun (Pacman, anyone?) print and colours make it suitable for day and evening occasions: a real wardrobe workhorse but still a bit special. It reminds me of something that my ultimate brand crush Sessun might make. Luckily I think I have enough fabric left for a little cami or something as well.

BHL Party
BHL Party
BHL Party

As I said, I wore this frock on Friday to the By Hand girls’ party to celebrate reaching their Kickstarter goal to fund their foray into fabric printing. Naturally there was a bunch of beautiful By Hand dresses on show, including no less than ten Annas. It was an amazing night, which culminated in a circle-dance lovefest to ‘Let’s Get It On’ before a sprint down the road to catch the last train home. Congrats, girls!

Minerva meetup & my Tarzan Vogue 1289

Minerva meetup

I’ve held off from blogging more about the big Minerva Crafts meetup weekend – it was two weeks ago now, but it’s my time now to reveal my party dress so I can share my other photos too. As I’m sure you can imagine with so many sewists (and fabric) around, it was a riot of fun.

Minerva meetup

The day event was held at Minerva HQ. It was a treat to browse all their fabrics in person and even more so to catch up with all the bloggers and some local sewists too. Obviously I didn’t come home empty-handed: I picked up some grey slubby viscose jersey (I think it’s this one), a beautiful soft and stretchy mid blue denim, and some amazing PU-coated black jersey which I’m going to use for a skater skirt and maybe some slouchy trousers.

Minerva meetup
Minerva meetup

In the evening we had a fabulous meal at Blackburn Rovers FC(!) followed by dancing away til gone 2. A bunch of sleepy but happy Spoolettes trundled back to London on the train the next day. (Somehow Nicole and I found the energy to make a quick detour to Abakhan in Manchester for MORE fabric. Carrying it home was my penance.)

Minerva meetup

So here’s my dress for the evening do, in the glamorous location of the Premier Inn car park. Gosh, I look really short as well. Really should have gone for height over comfort in my footwear.

Minerva meetup

Trying a Rachel signature pose in her absence – hmm no, doesn’t really help.

Vogue 1289

Meaty construction details ahead… As I mentioned, after the fail of my first project I thought carefully about the kind of dress I’d usually pick to wear to such an event, which led me to Vogue 1289, a Pamella Roland design from 2012. It was a bit risky going into slightly unchartered territory as I’d only made one Vogue pattern before and could only find one other version of this dress on the internet. But I was pretty sure that the style and silhouette would work on me and I picked quite a forgiving fabric to work with, so luckily the gamble paid off.

Vogue 1289

And the fabric, ah, this is what I’d call a hidden Minerva gem. A crepe satin with slight stretch and a slinky abstract print in my favourite sludgy colours. And get this – it’s £2.39 a metre! (I’m slightly tickled that the pattern and thread for this dress cost way more than the fabric itself.) I’m buying up some more before it all goes – it comes in a couple of other great neutral colourways too. I call this my Tarzan dress because in retrospect the dappled green print together with the draped shoulder gave off that vibe – grey might have been a more subdued choice. It was really great to work with, with that typical grippiness that comes with a crepe weave so despite looking slinky it’s not too slippery.

Vogue 1289

The most time consuming part of this pattern is definitely the cutting and marking stage. There are 13 pieces to cut and all those pleat placements to carefully transfer. I cut the lining from self fabric too so made sure to carefully label all my pieces so I didn’t get mixed up. I didn’t have time to toile (risky!) but did a lot of basting and trying on throughout construction to check that the drape and fit were working out ok. It’s not a difficult dress to sew overall and the instructions are excellent.

Vogue 1289

The drafting is pretty amazing as well. The front bodice lining pieces have princess-seamed ‘cups’ over which the bias-cut outer fabric loosely flows. This gives a bit of interior support (meaning I could go braless) while not ruining the fluidity from the outside: a very clever element I have not seen before The skirt – cut in one single wide piece – has deep pleats in the opposite direction to the bodice, giving a lovely flattering drape across the hips. Luckily I didn’t have to make many fitting adjustments as I went along, just 1″ off the bodice length plus taking some length off the skinny strap. The pattern recommends you fully interface all the bodice lining pieces, but I wanted a softer drapier effect so left it off.

Vogue 1289

I did a blind hem on both the skirt and lining – the pattern recommends a baby rolled hem, but I didn’t want to come unstuck at the last hurdle so used a technique I know I can do well! I used a matching green silk thread which completely disappears into the print. I gave the hem an extra spritz of spray starch when pressing it to get a nice crisp edge. I only realised later that I’ve hemmed it inside-out – my brain was obviously shutting down by this point.

Vogue 1289

Because of the fabric’s stretch I was able to leave out the back zip completely – I breathed a big sigh of relief when I realised this because fitting the zip is where this type of project always goes awry for me. As you can see I didn’t try any clever pattern matching or placement at all, which I think is fine in such a random print – except I really wish I’d placed the front bodice with the pattern falling inwards, ie in the same direction as the pleats instead of diagonally across them. That’s driving me a bit crazy, and I didn’t have enough fabric left to re-cut it.

Overall though, I was really happy with how this dress turned out. It was really fun to step up to the challenge of making it and I’m glad I had such a great occasion (with such fun company) to wear it to. Be sure to check out everyone else’s dresses on the Minerva blog.