My Anna Fail

Help - I can't breathe

The sewing blogosphere has been full of gorgeous By Hand London Anna dresses – long and short and everyone has said how quick and easy it is to sew up and is generally in love with it! I also still love the pattern but sadly my first attempt has shown up my limitations and I have ended up with a dress that doesn’t fit…

I also loved the pattern at first sight – I am not a maxi dress person (I admit I was tempted, even though I don’t think maxis suit me at all) so I really wanted to make the shorter version. And everyone said it was super easy so I was feeling fairly relaxed about the whole thing – I made a muslin out of old floral duvet cover (even basting in the zip to be sure) and it fit perfectly and was so cool that I actually wore an old floral duvet muslin for a whole evening

I think I complicated matters for myself in a few ways and this led to the chain of events resulting in a dress that doesn’t fit me

First – I used a mystery viscose/poly blend – again this is the result of doing my fabric shopping in Abakhan’s remnant section – I love the element of surprise and never knowing what you might find there but I think I need to know a bit more about the fabric I am using sometimes) I really loved it initially but as soon as I cut it I realised that it frayed like crazy. So I decided to do french seams – which I haven’t done before. This was probably the best solution due to the fraying but I think lack of experience combined with the fraying meant that I probably took slightly more than the seam allowances I should have done all the way round – and because the fabric was fraying so much I ended up with little bits poking through the seam allowances in places, despite trimming it back. I also sewed one seam the wrong way round initially as I am so used to sewing right sides together, so I had to unpick and probably lost a few more millimetres due to fraying (can you feel me falling out of love with the fabric at this point…?)

Then the invisible zip – another first for me – I had basted one into the muslin so I sort of understood the concept and at first it seemed to be going fine, I sewed it in place on both sides and then zigzagged the edges to the fabric because of the endless FRAYING. But when I tried to turn the dress out to press it all I realised that somehow I had twisted it when putting the second side into place and one side was on the wrong side, so I had to unpick the zigzag edge and the zipper and probably lost another half centimetre due to fraying

So when this was all finally done I tried it on – lets skip over the part where a couple of stitches seem to have gone over the zip teeth and the stupid thing wouldn’t go up or down, I eventually managed to get it free but it is still a bit sticky in that spot. The pattern matching is non-existent which has resulted in a dodgy line across the waist, but really that is the least of my worries now

Annoyingly it is only very slightly too small – I can zip it up, but if i did anything energetic I think it might burst. It is actually well finished with only slightly hairy french seams and a more or less invisible zip, But I can’t wear it without getting a bit panicky about breathing!


I’m trying to be positive though – I knew this wasn’t always going to be an easy process and I am still learning how to do a lot of things. I really want to remake this pattern – I may size up slightly and will probably try an easier fabric for now. Or I can remove a rib or two – after all it worked for the Victorians, didn’t it?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. sewexhausted says:

    I can feel you on the frustration of finding not knowing what a fabric is and then feeling like you failed. BUT, honestly, from the picture if does not look too bad at all! It looks rather nice! (Ofc I am not the one snugly zipped into an ANNA dress!) I use french seaming a lot- and I still manage to make a mistake now and then… I think if anything you learned some lessons which is always good! I know I am still making mistakes and learning things as I sew…. And I am positive your next Anna will come together very easily! ~Laurie


    1. mrszandstra says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I think the dress is wearable – I just can’t wear it! – I will see if i can find someone else that it will fit better and I absolutely want to try again – I still really love the pattern and I tried some new things which is always good



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