That was something my mom used to say when I was just a wee SewStylist. And while I took much of her wisdom and advice to heart, on the subject of clothes I did then and always will have a mind of my own. Which is to say: This dress, it certainly is dramatic.
There are so many gorgeous BHL Anna creations swirling around the online sewing universe, it’s hard to remember when my scale tipped from “Wow, that’s really cute…” to “Oh my gosh! I have to have that dress!” Amy’s perfectly fitted vintage floral Anna certainly made me swoon. As did SallieOh’s gorgeously hand dyed Anna. But really, it was probably one of Rosin’s lovely creations that ultimately pushed me over the edge. Ms. Dolly Clackett must have turned out no less than a dozen incredible versions—like this one, or this one, and THIS ONE—demonstrating not only her awesome creativity, but also the flexibility of this pattern.
With visions of many Dolly-esq dresses dancing in my head, I decided to focus on getting the fit of the bodice as close to perfect as possible. And I think (with the helpful hands of my trusty housemate!) I did pretty good. (Uhm, full disclosure, I may not be wearing a bra in these pics, which may have effected the fit at the bust. So, there’s that.)
For my muslin, I used a process very similar to the one Susan Khalje explains in her Craftsy class, The Couture Dress. (I’m full of asides today, so here’s another. That Craftsy class is the greatest. Honestly, sometimes I just watch it for the nerd out pleasure of it. And for the calming effect of Susan’s lovely voice. Nope, not kidding.) Anyway, about the muslin. Basically, you trace your pattern seamlines (not cutting lines) onto muslin, then cut out your pieces with nice big seam allowances so you can make any necessary adjustments. Then, and this is really the part I love, you just use that perfectly fitted muslin as your pattern. People have warned me off this technique, saying you have to worry about the muslin stretching out of shape, etc., etc. But if it’s good enough for Susan Khalje, you know it’s good enough for me.
I had previously made a very messed up version of this dress, from which I learned what fabric not to use (some mystery synthetic) and that I’d need to apply The Ginger technique for removing back of neckline gaping. That adjustment worked like a charm, and I’m pretty happy with the sway back adjustments I made too! There’s still a little extra fabric back there, but it gets taken up when I sit down. All the seams and darts on this dress make it really accessible, as far as fitting goes. I especially liked that the bodice and skirt were separate, making it really easy to get a good fit at both waist and hips.
I call this the suffering-for-my-art look because I was out on the sidewalk at something like 5:30am taking pictures of myself in an evening dress. And there were dudes, and they were drunk, and they maybe had one full set of teeth between the two of them. And that right there is the problem I have with this dress. Not that it attracts the drunken attention of early morning/late night wanderers per se, but that it really does demand attention. Heather has written about all the wear her Anna’s get all summer long, but try as I might, this is just not the sort of dress I’m comfortable slipping into just any old time for a cruise about town. Why is that? Something about the lovely, yet revealing, nature of the rayon twill I made it up in. And that slit. And the length. I mean, of course I love this dress. It’s swooshy and lovely and so fun to get all dressed up in, even if I have nowhere to go. It takes me back to a time when I used to dance in the living room to Belinda Carlisle, wearing a towel on my head to simulate the long hair I didn’t have. It was all very dramatic.