Amanda vs the Anna dress

I like to think of myself as somewhat of an evil genius (in training). For Christmas I got my husband a long weekend away, staying at the beach in a safari tent, with me for company. And let me tell you I was declared the winner of thoughtful Christmas gifts. But what my dear other half did not realize is this was a sneaky way for me to get him to photograph three of my outfits in a scenic location that wasn’t my garage wall. BWAH HA HA! And I have to say after taking some snaps of this Anna dress at Narooma my poor old garage shots just don’t cut it…

 Anna Dress

Now I want to say my relationship with the Anna dress was special and magical and perfect all at once. But that would be a big fat lie. This pattern made me work for its love in the harshest of ways… My first attempt was the reddest of red hot messes imaginable. After my sewing sabbatical I was super keen to get back in the saddle and decided that the Anna dress was the way to go. In my haste I skipped making a toile (scandalous, I know) and just traced the pattern and hacked into this delish floral I picked up at The Fabric Store during December. Tra la la- everything is hugs and unicorns at this point…


But when I tried the finished garment on it was hideous. The bust pleats sat oddly, the bodice was too short and the waist was too large. Ick. So after two evenings of trying to fix this version I decided to start from the start again and even brought out the big guns by contacting Roisin for advice….

 Hullo Ocean Back

It took two muslins to get everything sorted and in the end the bodice needed two more inches, the pleats then needed to be lowered by an inch and lengthened by two inches and the waist was graded down a size. Oh, and I switched to a V-neck because I’m sassy like that. Rawwwwwr!


Now the fabric I used for my second version is pretty special. Last year I won a giveaway by the lovely Jorth and scored a bunch of spectacular Liberty offcuts and two metres of this Melly wool/cotton blend. I must admit that Liberty has never really been my bag, and this fabric is not something I would have chosen for myself, but I fell in love with it’s deliciousness as I created my frock. Sewing with this was a dream and I must admit to hoarding my offcuts into my scrap stash (in a scene uncomfortably reminiscent of Gollum). I’m already eyeing off some fabulous Liberty lawn that is covered in jewels! I think I’ve drunk the kool aid…

Anna Rock 

But enough fabric rambling, let’s get to the good stuff.

What I loved about this pattern:

  • Kimono sleeves. I feel like I stepped straight off the set of the Mikado and into awesome town.
  • The seam matching between the bodice and skirt pieces- there is something totes profesh about having those bad boys match up so well. Not that you can tell with this fabric but I know it’s there!
  •  The under bust pleats. It’s a nice change from having to be the queen of the darts to get a nice fit around the bust.


What I would change for next time:

  • This would look smashing with a circle skirt or even my trusty ole pencil skirt. Let those kimono sleeves shine!
  • Fix the neckline gape. I think I forgot to stay stitch during the construction process. It’s kinda hard to tell what was happening by hour elebenty billion…
  • Maybe the full length? Perhaps? I’m not sure if I can do the thigh slit… My lady sticks like to play hard to get far from the casual viewers eyes…

 Back of Anna Dress

Anna Dress

Pattern: By Hand London Anna Dress from Sew Squirrel

Fabric: 2 metres of Melly by Liberty (thanks again, Jorth!)

Notions: Thread from stash, invisible zip

See also: Dolly Clackett, Sew Busy Lizzy, A Stitching Odyssey 

 Anna Dress Sitting

Overall, Anna and I are getting on much better after the floral fail of January 2014. The bodice fits well and the fabric feels rather fancy so that’s a total win. The only thing that isn’t rocking it out for me currently is the lines of the skirt. I’m far more preferential to a full or pencil skirt and am not sure this style is me. But that makes for an easy solution – time to try the sassy bodice with a full skirt. I think that will be just what the doctor ordered! Styling times ahead!


  1. This looks fab, and I love the photoshoot location. And thank you for your candour, I am about to embark on my own Anna-sewing adventure and everything I have read so far has said “quick!” “easy!” – it is helpful to know that the fit might well need some tweaking and that it’s worth doing a muslin.

    • Thanks, Suzy 😀 Once I had the fit down Anna was a dream to sew and came together quickly. I seem to be the odd one out having to do make modifications- but that’s why Team Muslin is the cool place to be. Good luck with yours!

  2. Beautiful dress(and location… You sneaky lady!)! I’m working on their Georgia dress and having that same work-for-the-love experience…. But oh is it going to look so good when I get it right!

  3. Like. A. Boss. This looks gorgeous and all the hard work clearly paid off. And this bodice is a BEAUT with a pencil skirt so I can’t wait to see you rock that shiz. Nice one, buddy! x

  4. that second shot of you. your henchman wins all the prizes.

    LOVELY! i’m glad you’re finding your love with anna, cause she rocks on you. and i need to step it up next christmas. i got ruggy comic books.

  5. LOL @ “lady sticks”!! Sorry that you had some problems with this one, but I hear that even the best of us have trouble like this sometimes. Anyway, great dress and great location for your photoshoot–you really are the master of thoughtfulness, even if you do have an ulterior motive. 😉

  6. Hey, SMARRRRRRT X-mas gift, my dear! Looks like a truly gorgeous and fun location! And, round 2 (or eleventy billion) of the Anna dress came out really nicely! In this fabric, it has a real classic vibe to it. The V-neck was the right choice for sure. I have to admit I’m still not sold on the pattern (gasp, oh no she didn’t, what did she say? ostracized, get her, death to her!!) based on the sleeves and the other slit neckline. But, you look great in this version! Totally not just sayin’ that. 🙂

  7. What a fabulous location – I love the beach so much, genius Xmas pressie – you are a star!
    Your Anna is lovely and definitely worth the pain to get there. I have to say, I am with Gjeometry, I also have not been sold on the pattern (for my shape anyway), mostly because of the skirt, I think a circle skirt would be lovely on you and a pencil skirt would be hot!!

  8. This is fantastic on you, different shapes are confronting, but it really suits you. I’ve seen the Anna all over the internet, I need to get me one!

  9. This is totally something I would do! I’m all about the vacation gift…it’s better than some stupid tie or something anyway. Anna looks lovely on you! I sorta gave up on mine last summer, but I’m thinking I may have to give it another go.

  10. That’s a beauty of an Anna, sooo flattering! I’m not at all jealous of the location (she says shivering and soggy in Blighty). Nice new shiny website too! PS I’ve missed you!

  11. Oh, I love your dress! Your lovely photo shoot makes me look forward to summer on my side of the world even more than I already was looking forward to it.

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