Finished: My Red Anna Dress

Red Anna Dress - By Hand London - sewing pattern - csews.com

I made a red Anna Dress! This is the second project I made as part of my summer stashbusting mission. Yep – I’m participating in Summer Stashbust 2014. My first project was The Trench. I seem to be making stuff from fabric I’ve had for a couple of years. Well, that’s not exactly true. I bought the solid red fabric – Robert Kauffman Radiance, a cotton-silk sateen, from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley last month. So it’s really not a stashbust fabric but it has a very nice hand that went well with my fabric. This cotton-silk blend is super shiny on one side and more of a matte finish but with a slight sheen on the other side, which went well with my print. I used the more matte side as the “right” side of my fabric.

Stashbust 2014 - red circle fabric - csews.com - C Sews
Robert Kauffman Radiance on left, stash fabric on right

[Confession: The stashbust challenge goes from June 21 to Sept. 21. But I wasn’t paying attention to the cutoff date and I bought this solid red fabric a day after the challenge started. Ooops!]

I’ve had this print – large sort of ying/yang randomly placed circles of two shades of red on an off-white background for about three or four years. It’s a cotton lycra blend. I think I bought it because I liked the colors but I didn’t consider just how big those circles were and how overwhelming they’d be on a skirt. So it just languished in my stash. And when the stashbust challenge came up I looked at it again and realized it could work if I broke it up with a solid red fabric. The print wouldn’t be as overwhelming.

Sketch of color blocking - Anna Dress - csews.comSo I decided to make a color blocked Anna Dress, the oh-so-popular By Hand London pattern, with a solid red bodice and then alternating skirt panels. But I had to think about how that would work because there are three skirt panels in the front and four in the back.

I thought I could alternate the panels: print/solid/print/solid. But you can’t alternate all the panels when you have an odd number of panels. Two panels will need to be the same fabric. I made this sketch to figure it out.

For the front, I decided the center and would be solid red and the two side panels the circle print. For the back I would put the solid red on the sides and use the print for the two center panels. The letters on my sketch refer to the Anna pattern pieces.

I cut out my pattern pieces almost exactly as I had for my first Anna Dress, which I made for Sewing Indie Month, except that I added about an inch of length to the sleeves.

After I pressed the pleats/darts in the bodice, spraying a little water here and there, I saw that wet spots really showed up, which meant it wouldn’t look so great on a hot summer day. So after I posted a blurry photo on Instagram  (@csews) and asked folks for advice (line or not?), I decided I did need a lining. If I had thought about this earlier, I would have underlined and just sewed the pleats/darts into both pieces of fabric together. That’s what Heather of Handmade by Heather B did when she made her Tiki Goddess Anna Dress. I confess that I never really gave much thought to underlining until I read Seamstress Erin PhD’s post When to Underline Your Sewing. I’ve lined dresses and skirts but I haven’t underlined anything.

Because I already put the pleats/darts in the bodice, I couldn’t underline. So I cut another bodice but I didn’t add length to sleeves. Then I sewed the pleats/darts, and attached the two bodice pieces at the neckline. I put the shiny side of the fabric on the inside – it’s oh so soft and luxurious. But I sewed the side seams together like an underlining as you can see in the back view here. I did the same thing when I attached the skirt to the bodice as you can see here. I didn’t feel like hand stitching a lining to the waist. 😉

Anna Dress - Back view lining - By Hand London - csews.com

I hemmed the sleeves by folding the ends twice and hand stitching it to the lining, which was cut the same length as the pattern pieces. Here’s a view of the inside of the bodice. Check out that sleeve hem!

Anna Dress - By Hand London - Inside sleeve hem - csews.com

For this version I sewed french seams for the skirt panel pieces.

French seams - Anna Dress - By Hand London - csews.com

I tried to careful in sewing and pressing my french seams, hoping that my bodice seams would line up but they were slightly off in two spots so when I pinned I eased them as much as I could to line them up.

And here are more photos of the dress. I took a lot of photos so you can see the color blocking. I’m wearing my white straw hat, which I got at a consignment shop in Oakland a few years ago. I don’t wear it very much so it was fun to take it out of the hat box for this photo shoot.

Red Anna Dress - left - By Hand London - csews.com

Note on photography: Exposure and focus are tricky when you’re using a timer on a digital camera. I focused on the ivy and then had to experiment with my exposure settings to get the colors of the fabric to look right. The ivy is more in focus than I am. If you have any tips on timer photography, let me know.

Red Anna Dress - back - By Hand London pattern - csews.com

I also took photos wearing my vintage black straw and velvet hat so you can see my Peterham ribbon flower, which I made a while ago (oh the hand pleating!). As you can see this shade of red is one of my faves. I took these photos last Sunday. My hair isn’t this long any more though. I got about six inches lopped off yesterday. No more pony tail!

Red Anna Dress - back - By hand london - csews.com

I had problems installing the invisible zipper. For some reason my machine got stuck after I sewed a couple of inches down the zipper. So I ended up hand sewing the zipper in place, which kinda sucked because it’s a long zipper. It took me an evening in front of the television to finish sewing it. And my waist seam ended up being a tiny bit off in the back – about 1/16 of an inch. I wasn’t about to unpick all my hand stitches though. It’s in the back so I can live with it.

Red Anna Dress - back - By Hand London - csews.com

Red Anna Dress - right side - By Hand London - csews.com

Red Anna Dress - By Hand London - csews.com

Have you made any color blocked clothes? What did you make and what fabrics did you use?

BTW – If you’re a member of Bay Area Sewists and are coming to our fabric swap this Saturday, July 26, you can get about 1 1/4 yards of my red circle print fabric. I’m bringing it to the meetup. 🙂

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The Trench – Christine Haynes Pattern

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing - csews.com

I’m on a stashbusting mission – spurred by The Quirky Peach, who launched a Summer Stashbust Challenge in June. I had intended to make The Trench from Christine Haynes‘ first book Chic & Simple Sewing but somehow never got around to it. A few years ago I had made two other versions of The Trench in solid fabrics (except for the bias tape, which was striped in one and houndstooth in another). You can see those versions here and here (warning – pix aren’t very good).

Joel Dewberry - Ginseng collection - Jasmine palette - csews.com

I’ve had three yards of this Joel Dewberry fabric, part of his Ginseng collection of cotton sateen home dec, since 2010 – yes, that’s a four-year delay! The image on the left is taken from Joel’s website so it has the correct color. Isn’t this fabric pretty? This is his Orchid design in the Jasmine palette.

It’s the fabric I picked for my first stashbusting projects. (Here’s my post on stashbusting.)

This is pattern is a TNT (tried and true) for me. It’s simple to make – with only seven pattern pieces to cu – front, back, sleeves, patch pockets, not including the bias tape. The only tricky part is the bias tape edging along the front edge and the neckline – you just need to be careful to catch the double-fold bias tape on both sides of the jacket. I didn’t do a very good job on the first one I made – my bias tape needed stabilizer. This is a medium-weight home dec fabric that didn’t need any stabilizer but it’s rather thick to sew at the beginning and end of the neckline where you have to fold over the ends.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic & Simple Sewing - csews.com

I used size large and only made one adjustment – I made the sleeves about two inches longer because I have really long arms and didn’t want my sleeves to end too near my elbows.

This jacket has raglan sleeves, which means the sleeves go right up to the collar (think baseball tee). This style works well with my broad shoulders. I didn’t have to do any wide shoulder adjustments! My biggest challenge in making this particular jacket was deciding which color bias tape to use. If you follow me on Instagram (@csews), you may have seen all the variations – hot pink, green, cream, fabric – and then finally the winner – the same fabric plus hot pink bias tape. (Special thanks to the many sewcialists who chimed in when I was pondering my bias tape options!) I did a lot of basting and pinning before I finally got around to sewing the bias tape – and then I had to rip out and redo some of the neckline because I didn’t catch all of the pink bias tape. :/

Here’s a compilation of the IG photos. The last photo is of one of my patch pockets. I put a little bit of pink bias tape along the top edge of the pocket. I thought about putting it around the bottom of the pocket but I decided to keep it simple.

Bias tape for the Trench - csews.com

I decided to use the green bias tape for a Hong Kong seam finish for the side seams and sleeves. The Trench is an unlined jacket so I thought that would give it a nice look on the inside.

Hong Kong seam finish - csews.com

And I do like the look but – wow – it sure is tedious because you have to sew the bias tape to each raw edge, which means two strips of bias tape per seam. Then I ran out of bias tape and I had to buy another package (grrrr), using nearly 6 yards total!

Check out those seams!

Trench - inside right

I used hot pink seam tape for the sleeve hems and the bottom hem, which you can see above. And here are a few more photos.

Trench - Christine Haynes Pattern - csews.com

I really like this jacket but I don’t think it goes with much of my existing wardrobe, so it’s not as versatile as I thought it would be. Actually, I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought it but I was really fixated on making this jacket with this fabric.

The Trench - Christine Haynes patterns - csews.com

I do have a few RTW things in a solid cream, such as this skirt and sweater but it’s not a color I wear very often. I have a lot of solid black in my wardrobe  so maybe I could wear that with this jacket in the fall. The large patch pockets are great. I can easily put my phone, keys, a small notebook, and more in these pockets.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic  Simple Sewing - csews.com

Here’s a closer shot of the front – you can see the flat piping.

The Trench - Christine Haynes pattern - Chic   Sim[le Sewing - csews.com

Finally, here’s  detail of my vintage beret. I got it at All Things Vintage in Oakland. It’s got eight sections, which gives it a nice round shape. It’s one of my favorite berets. Oh, and the lipstick I’m wearing is American Beauty by Besame Cosmetics. As soon as I saw it on Handmade by Heather‘s IG feed (@knitnbee) a couple of weeks ago, I had to get it.

Vintage beret - csews.com

Backstory of the shoot: I got up early because I knew it would be overcast in the morning and the cloud cover would be gone in a couple of hours and I wanted to avoid the hot California sun that would cast stark shadows. I walked to my shooting location, set up my tripod and shot about three test shots using my digital camera’s timer. Then the battery died! The one time I didn’t check the battery. Auugh! So I traipsed home, plugged in the charger for about an hour and hoped that would be enough power – luckily it was.

What are you making this summer? Are you using any stash fabric?

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