BHL Anna Maxi

Here’s a dress I’m not entirely sure about. I mean, it looks fine, well better than it ought, despite an epic last minute alteration. It’s just not my usual style or palette. I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘maxi type’ but I was curious to make the Anna dress as By Hand London intended it to be.


I have had success with this pattern previously. After a few alterations I ended up with a really well fitting bodice for my Nautical Anna dress. I chose to add a gathered skirt from the Christine Haynes Emery dress, rather than adding the gored skirt, and was very happy with it.

I’ve seen some gorgeous maxi versions of this dress, so I thought I’d make it in viscose and see if it might work as an evening gown in something fancy like satin backed crepe or silk. I mean, everyone needs a floor-length evening gown in the wardrobe for a rainy day, right?


I added the same alterations to the bodice: a 0.5″ FBA and lengthened the bodice by 1″. I had a lingering suspicion that the bodice had been too long on my Nautical Anna, but it still looked fine. My suspicion of a case of over-alteration was confirmed when the maxi skirt added to this dress. The waistline was way too low, so the extra 1″ was wholly unnecessary. It’s funny, isn’t it, how when you learn to fit there’s a real risk of over-doing it! This fitting issue came to light rather late in the day after the skirt had been stitched and overlocked to bodice. There’s also a big difference in fit on this diaphanous viscose number compared to the cotton poplin of the last one. I had to execute emergency procedures and removed the extra 1″. I moved waist seam by 1″ without undoing the stitching. A total hack in the literal sense of the word; this involved moving the waist seam up by 1″ and easing the skirt to fit. I am disappointed that at this stage I’m still bungling my mistakes, but the miracle of print and the generosity of viscose means that you can’t actually tell!


There is a residual fit issue: the waist seam lower at back than front on both dresses. Can you see? Any ideas? Hopefully my Christmas stocking will contain ‘Fit for Real People’, so I should get to the bottom of it. No pun intended! This photo also helpfully shows how I moved the zip to the right side. It’s quite possibly the neatest, most invisible zip I’ve ever inserted.
Here’s the ubiquitous leg split shot! This dress had lain half-competed for a while as my seasonally-inappropriate urge for a sweatshirt got in the way! I received a metaphorical kick up the backside to finish my Anna courtesy of Amanda at Bimble and Pimble, the blogging genius behind #Sewvember where people are prompted to post a sewing photo a day. I’ve been merrily snapping away on Instagram (@SewSouthLondon). The prompt for Day 16 was unfinished makes (UFO). It’s amazing how airing your neglected projects and have others urge you to complete them works like a charm.    

So here she is: Anna in her full length glory. It’s a bit cooler and wetter in Malaysia at the moment, but still around 30 degrees most days. As I write this I’m amazed to hear that my UK friends might be waking up to snow today! It’s a bit early for Christmas!

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An Ode to Stripy Tops (or the Grainline Appreciation Post)

A while ago I realised that I had a wardrobe full of colourful handmade dresses, but nowhere near enough casual tops. I knew that I wanted to wear more handmade while off-duty too, so I’ve been on the look-out for good quality cotton jersey that would indulge my love of stripes. I’d had my eye on the Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt since it was launched last year, but it had fallen down my to-sew list. As a warm-up I decided to sew up the free Hemlock Tee first so I could work out the sizing.  The Hemlock is free to Grainline subscribers, and I know it’s been hugely popular. The most recent contender for Hemlock I most want to steal was this beauty by Birgitte of Indigo Orchid. Birgitte did warn me that once I’d made one Hemlock I’d be addicted. She was right!

So here she is: the latest addition to my usual off-duty wardrobe of skinnies, flats and stripy tops. My other handmade favourite stripes have been my Tilly Coco and Bluegingerdoll Bonnie. A new stripy top was long-overdue. I love the dropped shoulders and casual but modern fit. I think it looks just a little bit more chic than a pyjama top, but that’s how it feels to wear. I shortened the bodice by several inches.

I am so happy with it that I can’t bear to take it off. The only improvement I would make next time would be to reduce the neckline a little. I had to cut a longer piece of binding for this top, resulting in quite a wide neck (although a cracking binding, if I do say so myself!). Next time I will cut two back bodices to create a boat neck as this one is on the verge of being too wide.

So after a happy experience with the Hemlock, I launched right into the Linden. I especially loved the casual raglan sleeves on this pattern, and used a grey striped French terry to enhance the raglan style. Again, it came out the right side of slouchy.

 Check out my raglan stripe-matching! I constructed both tops on the overlocker, using my new walking foot to topstitch the neckline bands down.  I wondered about the fit as the Grainline promotional photos always look quite baggy, but I am over the moon with both, just as I was with my Grainline Archer shirt. Grainline patterns seem to be perfectly proportioned to be modern and classic.  I had thought a sweatshirt was unnecessary in this climate, but the tyrants of air conditioning keep me permanently chilly indoors. Just like the Hemlock, I can quite bear to take this off to wash it!

I’m back on the balcony for this post. The quest for better blog photos in confined spaces continues. My photographer-husband has a new strategy: muttering insults at me and my modelling technique under his breath never fails to make me laugh!