I 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.
It 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.
Before 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.
We 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.
This 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.
Does 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.
I’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.
I 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.
I 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.
Back 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!
Then 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…