Firstly, quick thanks for the kind comments on my coat. I wrote that post the day I finished it when the woes of making it were still quite raw, so I was probably a bit more harsh on it than it deserved. Reading the lovely comments and actually wearing it all week (it’s become my daily coat) have made me very fond of it. Hurrah!
Onto a much more breezy sew, my third BHL Anna dress, with a festive spin. This dress started with a pin:
… which sadly leads to a dead Etsy link, but it was enough to spark the idea of a copycat. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not really a vintage style kind of sewist or indeed person, but I fell head over heels for this 1950s frock. The washed-out black silk, kimono sleeves, ruffly skirt and of course that fab geometric diamond pattern over the waist. Siiiigh. The silhouette immediately said Anna to me, so that was my starting point for recreating my take on it.
Appropriately, I wore it to BHL’s Christmas party bash last week, which was held even more appropriately on the fabric mecca of Goldhawk Road in a cosy Polish restaurant. BHL sure do make a good party frock pattern, I think about half us at the dinner were in BHL creations! It was a lovely night, as anything social involving sewists always is. Thanks Kathryn for snapping these photos in front of the impressive Christmas tree for me.
I should really have used a silk for this dress, as it says right in the description that my vintage inspiration is made of silk georgette. But the idea of creating the patchwork detail in diaphanous silk made me shudder, so I went for a rather sturdier cotton sateen in black and beige from Minerva (this is my Minerva network project so the fabric was provided for me). It’s my first time using sateen and I love it – it’s got a nice heavy drape, takes stitches and pressing beautifully and looks a bit formal with its sheeny finish.
To copy the dress, I cut the Anna bodice straight across about an inch shy of the end of the tucks. I folded the tucks out of the lower piece (and the darts out of the back) then joined the front and back together to make a wide strip, which formed the pattern piece for the diamond panel. I used this tutorial to cut and piece the diamonds and some strenuous maths to make sure I had the right size template to fill the length and width of the panel. With such a colour contrast accurate sewing was key, so I really took my time to get all the points lining up. The final panel got backed in a plain piece of fabric to hide the raw edges. When it came to sewing the bodice back on I just box-pleated at the notches to retain the effect of the tucks.
I used the Anna’s seven-gored skirt but chopped about six inches off the top so it was a bit wider than my bodice edge. Then I lightly gathered the top edge to fit the bodice, so I got a nice flared shape with minimal bulk around the waist. I’m quite pleased with this simple pattern mod and will probably use it again – a bit fancier than just whacking a plain gathered rectangle on.
This dress was really fun to make and wear and it’s a good one to have in the wardrobe for semi-dressy occasions. I’m looking forward to seeing more Christmas party outfits in blogland!