don’t be so dramatic


anna_dress_sewstylist.pic12That 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.

By Hand London Anna dress @
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.

By Hand London Anna dress @ Sewstylist.wordpress.comWith 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.

By Hand London Anna dress @

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.

By Hand London Ann dress @ SewStylist.wordpress.comI 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.


27 thoughts on “don’t be so dramatic

  1. Beautiful color on you. I find the cultivation of opposites to be helpful. If a lace-trimmed tunic looks too girly on me, I try pairing it with scuba leggings (F21 thinks these are a Thing.) and vaguely mod ankle boots. What does the Dramatic Dress look like with a patterned cropped moto jacket and Dr. Martens?

  2. Love these moody photos and the dress, obviously, is stupendous. I was actually wearing one mine last night in NYC with the girls, and it’s true; it’s not very subtle stalking the streets with your dress flaring around your legs, thigh on display, but I guess I don’t mind a little street drama, haha.

    • I’ve seen some great photos of that NYC trip, looks like an awesome time was (is being?) had by all! Next stop: San Francisco?! This dress really is fun to wear, despite (or is it because of) it’s attention grabbing ways.

  3. I’ve seen so many floral, or patterned fabric versions of this dress, I think it is much, much more elegant in a solid. Especially the Navy rayon twill… I made one in an orange and red check, which almost looks solid from a distance, but its too bright. You have inspired me to make another in a darker solid. I think the feeling of this dress against your legs just about counteracts the drama of it….. Brava!

    • Thank you! Yes, it’s a totally different dress in print fabric. I noticed that all my favorites were made up in print. I prefer sewing solids, but think I’m going to try a print next time out. I do love how the dark solid emphasizes the great design details, and you’re right, it’s more elegant this way.

  4. I used to put a towel on my head to simulate long hair too! I’ve always had short hair. Great dress! It’s looks fabulous on you and I love it with the jacket too!

  5. This is so elegant – you would look regal if it weren’t for that cool edginess you have. I can’t wait to make this dress but I’m waiting for the right fabric to fall into my hands. I’ll know it when I feel it!

    • Thank you, Kelly! I know that feeling, when you’re on the look out for…something… That joy when you finally stumble upon it is the best. Good hunting!

  6. Gorgeous, gorgeous! I love the pictures of your dress in motion. Nicely done with the fitting. I found Susan Khalje’s voice had the same effect on me. I listened to the Thread Cult episodes she’s featured on and then sought out some of her free videos as I was doing an embroidery project. I was addicted!

  7. I just adore this fabric, it’s so perfect for this pattern!! I’m totally convinced that everyone looks stunning in this dress. Just gorgeous, and thanks so much for the link lady 🙂

    • Thanks, Amy! I fell in love with the color, and am pretty happy with how it turned out. Looking at your tea length + print as inspiration for my next round.

  8. SO GORGEOUS! So swooshy and moody and awesome! I get the dramatic problem, though, and I suspect you can pin it squarely on the length + slit (maybe accentuated by the classic fabric)—although I wear some full-length-skirt dresses, I wear my knee-length ones a lot more, as they feel less serious (especially in the summer).

    That being said, I really hope you push through the “awkwardness,” maybe tone it down with a jean-jacket or something, and just wear it. It’s lovely!

    • Wow, thanks! I’m with you in preferring a knee-length skirt/dress. But all these kind comments have certainly inspired me to get this girl out of the closet more often. 🙂

  9. So elegant! And, I love your writing style – I was right there with you singing to Belinda Carlisle, flicking towel on head and all. ‘Heaven is a place on earth’… Beautiful Anna, perfect in every way.

  10. Stunning! I totally agree that the drama of the dress demands attention. The only reason I haven’t made an Anna is because I know I have nowhere to wear it. It’s so gorgeous, though!

  11. Seriously, Susan Khalje is so soothing! I totally agree! I watch/listen to her class over and over again just for the effect it has on me.

    I wish you would make this dress a part of your daily wardrobe. It looks fantastic on you!

  12. HELLO DRAMATIC LADY! okay, first, when i read this a few days back i thought you should wear this everywhere. grocery shopping. laundry. the white house.

    two, shoot me an email at oonaballoona (of the gmail sort) so’s i can getcha your elisalex… 🙂

  13. WHOA! I don’t know how I missed this, but you look fabulous! I can see why you command a lot of attention in this dress- I bet everyone stops dead in their tracks with their jaws on the sidewalk when they see you coming in this! Absolutely lovely work!

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