A Nautical Anna

So I’m back on my balcony. The pollution has been so bad of late that the schools have been closed on and off ¬†and we have been staying indoors at the weekend. Funny how the decrease in air quality correlates with a spike in sewing!

I wonder whether I’m the last person to tackle the Anna dress by By Hand London. This was a slow-burner for me. I wasn’t a fan of the gored skirt. I thought it looked a bit dated. I was also not convinced that the gathered under-bust darts would create a flattering shape on a fuller bust. There was a danger, I thought, that the girls would look like saggy, forlorn dumplings.

But then the #internationalannaparty happened on Instagram… Without exception, every single Anna dress on ladies large and small, tall and short looked absolutely cracking. By golly, these BHL ladies have only gone and designed the perfect dress for the whole of womankind, I thought.


I’ve had a bit of fun with this pattern. I cut a size 10/14, graded to the next size up at the waist. I added 1″ across the chest with a FBA, which resulted in additional bust darts. I also added an inch to the length of the bodice as the muslin felt like it was riding high. I had the same issue with my Emery dresses. As much as I love them I get a mild feeling of discomfort, as though the skirt is beginning just under my bust. I did wonder if the bodice was a touch too long but these photos suggest that it’s about right. Maybe that odd feeling I was getting in the midriff region was a sign that I’d got the fit right for once!
So the tinkering didn’t end there. I decided to move the back zip to the right side seam. I think it gives a much cleaner look, and if it’s not as invisible as it might be, who can tell? I also added the Emery dress skirt instead of the original design. I have to credit Meg at Cookin’ and Craftin’ for that stroke of inspiration. After feeling ridiculously joyful and chic in my culottes I thought I might try out the midi length on this dress, so I added 5 inches to the length of the skirt, following the line of the pattern and continuing to grade it out to maintain the flare.

My other hesitation with this dress was the fabric. I was totally sold on the nautical print I found in Singapore. There was no doubt that I had been influenced by a certain Ms Clarinda Kaleidoscope and her divine nautical BHL Kim dress as seen on the high seas, well Norwegian fjords! But as I began to sew I started to envisage myself dressed in a giant toddlers’ dress in novelty print. Had I made a huge error in nicking Clarinda’s style and this was my punishment??!

I’m pleased to report that I am totally in love with Anna and her modifications. This really is a bodice to flatter all dimensions. The cherry on the cake was having my Instagram pic re-grammed by the BHL ladies. What a compliment! Next up will be a full length viscose version complete with thigh split. Once I’ve mastered it I might be bold enough to have a go with my precious Shanghai Tang silk, you never know!