by hand london anna by cathy in london and some other places too

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon01I will start this grand opening party with the very first thing I made after I left Benin: The By Hand London Anna dress. Except mine has a fancier title, which is The By Hand London BY CATHY Chez Frances IN LONDON in Paris in Quimper Anna dress.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon02It all started here, at a shop called Ray Stitch in London. Please be aware that if you arrive here by the subway, the station Angel has “the longest escalator in London so don’t even think about climbing them,” according to Frances. She wasn’t joking. I abandoned my attempts at being healthy and stood lazily as it brought me up to ground level. Important as you want to save your energy for browsing fabrics, not for climbing stairs.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon03Before we came here Frances had already taken me to Berwick St. As wonderful it was to have shop after shop and floor after floor full of fabrics, it was quite overwhelming and I ended up not purchasing anything because there were just too many choices – I was too inspired and too many potential ideas were flowing nonstop into my brain to settle on anything. Ray Stitch had a smaller selection, but that’s exactly what I needed – a small curated assortment of fabrics to pick from.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon04We both made decisions after an hour or so of browsing. I left happily with an organic handloom cotton in red to make the Anna dress by By Hand London. It was my goal: make a By Hand London dress IN London.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon05With the aid of Frances and her sewing machine and serger!

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon08This was my first time serging… and it was as if I had just driven on the freeway for the very first time. I hit the pedal, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZMMMMMMMMMM and suddenly I had a perfectly cut and finished edge! Without any effort at all.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon06I kinda took over the dining table.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon07At first I used a facing but ripped it out when I realized the fabric was too thin and needed a lining instead. Also my pieces weren’t matching up correctly – facings just aren’t my thing.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon09Once the dress was done, it was time to wear it around town.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon10We played tourist and asked a passerby who didn’t look busy to take our photo.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon11Then I gave the camera to Frances. Can you guess what happened next?

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon12Yep! Anna Flash!

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon13Here’s my “okay enough photos” face.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon14Then we went here…

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon15I bought two meters of this…

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon16Then we sat down and ate… hmm, have a guess?

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon17If you guessed nitrogen frozen ice cream, you guessed correctly.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon19Then another impromptu photo shoot.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon20A garment must be tested out in the wild too.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon21And by wild I mean Hampstead Heath.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon23Does it pass? I think so! The only trouble I had with this pattern were the bust pleat directions, “press the pleats so that the stitching is centered.” There wasn’t a clear illustration for this and the text didn’t really make sense to me. But luckily there was a sewalong going on at the same time so they had photos illustrating this step.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon24I’m also not sure why they even bothered with the UK/US sizing differences. As long as there are measurements in both metric and standard, I don’t see why there’s a need to label them differently. It just makes it confusing when selecting and cutting out a size.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon22I was also a bit sad that I didn’t get a “By Hand London & Me” label in the pattern, which many people have talked about when reviewing this pattern. But that’s a small detail and doesn’t take away from my Anna dress. Frances made up for it anyway by lending me her dagger belt.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon25I can’t leave out Frances.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon26Or her Goldhawk find.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon27It’s her purple corduroy that she plans on turning into a rug. But for now it’s a superhero cape.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon28Now let’s skip ahead to Paris where there is spanish ham and the métro and friends running across crosswalks.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon29We decided to visit the Alaia exhibition at Palais Galliera. When I saw the large empty staircase I ran up them excitedly.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon30You ought to know what happens next.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon31Wait for it…

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon32BAM! The Anna Dress flash again! I have to find another non creepy way of photographing dresses while wearing winter coats.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon33I did have the back neck gape issue with this dress, but with my hair down nobody can tell… Also I didn’t get around to adding a hook & eye, so once that is added in I think that will take care of the gape problem. If not there is always the back neckline adjustment from Ginger Makes to try.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon34It’s that serged lining again!

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon35I have no shame in wearing and photographing the same outfit multiple times.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon36The Anna dress is indeed as comfortable as it looks.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon37This is Lisa.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon38She doesn’t sew but she did help me take photos. I love her! We were working on our “nonchalant never smiling sexy model poses.”

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon40But neither of us could pull it off so we reverted back to silly faces.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon41We rejoined the others.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon42Remember Izaskun?

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon43I love her too!

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon44Now we’re still in France but I’ve left the big city to go to Quimper.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon45To visit Mélanie! Can you spot Anna?

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon46I will gladly admit that I wore the Anna over pants.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon47When the weather turns cold, fashion rules no longer exist for me.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon48It’s all about comfort and staying warm and being able to move around.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon49Brittany, or la Bretagne, is my type of seaside.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon50A bit of the ocean and a bit of the countryside – with no giant hotels or resorts in sight.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon51The Anna makes a quick appearance, but after a few photos I was ready to be back with my fleece and scarf.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon52The last step is to shake out all the excess sand from our shoes.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon53Back into the car to drive back into town. What’s this that I had thrown into the area beside the back window…? Why, another vintage pattern find when we were thrifting earlier. I can’t resist old envelope illustrations. Especially when they cost only 1€ per pattern!

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon54After that seaside walk we warmed up with hot chocolate, tea, and a local cake (gâteau breton).

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon55Little boats in little ports is another typical sight in Brittany.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon56Then the car needed an oil change. Anna stood by, but I’m sure if I wanted to I could’ve changed the oil while wearing Anna.

annabyhandlondonbycathyinlondon57Then the next time Anna was worn was in Texas under full sun with no clouds. In conclusion, I think Anna passes the “wearable garment?” test with flying colors: the ocean, cloudy days, rainy days, cold days, wet days, super hot days, sunny days, dry days, city days, countryside days, seaside days, museum days, ice cream days, oil change days, cake days, park days…

Pattern: By Hand London Anna Dress
Fabric: Organic Red Handloom Cotton from Ray Stitch // Red Cotton Lining from Sakhi Fabrics

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