Anna stole the hearts of many this summer and now the latest By Hand London pattern has stolen my heart too! I had grand plans for a slinky, thigh-split maxi...but summer just ran away from me. No worries though - I already have my maxi fabric ready, and in the meantime, I'm overjoyed with my Autumn Anna!
These top two photos crack my boyfriend up...he says I look like a Meerkat...hehe!
My autumn Anna plan was hatched when I came across this burnt-orange, Liberty cotton-viscose at Leicester market. It was just £6 a metre (or maybe £8) due to a slight print flaw, but you honestly can't even tell with such a busy print. Anyway, it's buttery soft with a beautiful print that complements the pattern's distinctly 1940s characteristics. One of these are the unusual front bodice pleats which make a welcome change from darts and create a very feminine and flattering silhouette.
I cut a size 10 for the neckline and sleeves and a size 12 for the rest. I shortened the bodice by my usual inch and next time, I probably need to pinch a little ease out of the back neckline - lucky for me though, Sonja from Ginger Makes has just posted a nifty tutorial on this!
Like so many before me have already said, Anna really is a breeze to sew up. The lack of darts and easy kimono sleeves mean the bodice comes together super fast. The skirt too is very simple to sew with its straight lines and lack of gathers - it does have 7 pattern pieces though, so I really would recommend you mark and snip all your notches thoroughly to avoid confusion.
Anna even requires a simple invisible zip insertion, another speedy feature. I'm really happy with how neat and indeed, invisible, my zip turned out...but you see the ugly zip bits sticking out of the top? Yeah, well...would you believe it took me around two hours to get this zip in? It was a comedy of errors from the start which resulted in me unpicking more times than I care to remember. When I finally got it right, I realised the top was sticking out, but I couldn't give a flying monkey by then! I mainly wear my hair down, so I'm ok with that, but I may re-insert the zip at another time.
Having said all this, invisible zips are usually pretty easy to insert so please don't be put off. There are loads of good tutorials out there, this one being one of my favourites. My main advice to you would be: don't over iron the zip open before inserting! That's the mistake I made and I kept ending up sewing too close to the teeth...tres frustrating!
I know I've waxed lyrical about this pattern so far, but Anna has a dirty little secret. When combined with viscose, she's a tubby-tummy-hugger! It's not Anna's fault that I have a tubby-tummy in the first place, but she's not particularly forgiving in this department due to the slimline nature of the skirt. So consider yourself warned if you plan on using slinky or 'unstable' fabric. I was sucking my gut in as much as I could in the photos below, but to no avail. Maybe it's a dress for 'thin' days!
I'm not going to hold Anna's tubby-tummy-hugging ways against her though. She's far too beautiful for that and far too agreeable to sew up. I'm glad I French seamed the insides for a neat finish and I even added some Petersham ribbon as a waist stay, because viscose has the tendency to loose its shape.
Anna is definitely another triumph from the sassy By Hand London girls. If you haven't tried this delightful pattern out yet, consider yourself lucky because there's a sewalong kicking off on Monday 16 September! I definitely intend to cheer myself up this winter with a maxi-version all ready for next summer. In the meantime, I'll enjoy feeling ladylike in my vintage-inspired Autumn Anna...