Sunday, 22 March 2015

Frankendress 'Annence'

Hello from me and my rather Autumnal dress for Spring, a frankenpattern of an Anna dress bodice with a Clemence skirt. This has been a long time in the works! Here's the evidence. Not one but three bodice muslins in my attempt to nail the fit on this dress (from someone who never usually bothers with muslins). I'm still not 100% sure I've got it spot-on, but kind of got to the point where any more tinkering felt like 'overworking' it. 


I actually got a little bit of help from By Hand London's Elisalex who gave me some modification suggestions- she was very helpful with what she could judge from some awful selfies I emailed over of my first and second Anna dress. She suggested a swayback alteration and to lengthen the bodice slightly, so I got to work! I already an an FBA modification on the pattern which she seemed to think looked good, so I left that as it was, apart from moving the bust darts down slightly on the side. I also decided to bring in the neckline at the shoulders by an inch and shorten the underbust pleats by about an inch. As you can see my muslin fabric was very different to my fashion fabric- the muslin is an old unused bedsheet with pretty high artificial fibre content- it's quite crisp. The fashion fabric is some printed rough silk from Simply fabrics I bought on one of my first fabric shopping trips over a year ago!  

So here's the final dress! It's not quite the vision of elegance I was imagining. For one, matching the pattern or at least getting some sort of a balance was a bit of a nightmare- turns out the floral sections are not totally symmetrical, so it looks a bit skew-wiff here and there. 

For another, I ended up cutting the skirt off-grain by accident, then doing some last-minute trimming to try and get it even, and making it a lot shorter than intended! This is cut from my Clemence Skirt pattern (which as you can see from my polka-dot version was intended to be below the knee!). 

The skirt just about looks OK, but I ended up using a special hemmer foot from my machine that I hadn't used before to give it a really narrow hem so I wouldn't lose any more length. The finished dress is a bit more top-heavy than I was really going for, and somehow the bodice is still a bit loose despite my many muslins! Perhaps because the rough silk is a lighter, looser weave? Or the weight of the gathered skirt pulls out the bodice a little more? 

Talking of gathering, I urge you not to look too closely at the waist seam. I ended up having to unpick the front section, regather and re-attach when, after inserting the zip and trying on, seeing that the front skirt patterns were totally unbalanced. I kind of thought all of the pattern would get lost in the gathers but this wasn't the case, and it looked like a total dog's breakfast! This fabric frayed like crazy too so I think I might have lost a bit more length at the top when I had to unpick my already trimmed and finished waist seam and reattach again, again, and again until I got the gathers to lie as smooth as I could (they just kept getting folded over on themselves!). There is still a little unevenness in how the checks are lying at the waist seam, but I couldn't bear to do it over by that point. 

The back skirt is slightly longer than the front because of all this, and the waistline isn't totally level, but this isn't that noticeable and my rotund rump lifts up the excess fabric at the back so the hem looks even-ish. 

So, what else? It's got the 3/4 sleeves added from the sewalong tutorial, but cut on the fold and attached at the original cap-sleeve line as my fabric wasn't wide enough to cut them as part of the bodice. And I wanted in-seam pockets just like I'd done in my original Clemence skirt, just because it's such a handy addition without making any impact on the style of the dress. 

I don't know whether this is a hit or a miss! I worked really hard on the fit but it still doesn't seem to be quite there. Which is a shame as I was hoping for it to be a tried and true pattern- ready to just cut straight out again but in the cap-sleeve slash neck version in my 'Sleeping Beauty' Liberty lawn.

 If I did make again I'd definitely go back to the original panelled skirt- I just didn't think it would work for the pattern on this fabric. But I'm not sure the print on this fabric was ever really right for the Anna pattern- as there are a few pleats and tucks which are totally lost here, and kind of break up the design. Oh well! It's got a bit of bohemian chic going on, if not quite the fitted vintage-inspired delight I was going for. 

Have you ever had a vision of a garment in your head that hasn't quite turned out the way you wanted it to when made up for real?

Until next time (when I'll be back to working on gifts!),

NorseOtter xxx 


  1. I think this looks really cute! It'll be nice for both spring and autumn in that print :)

  2. Thank you Laura! I've just got back from giving it a holiday debut in Krakow and it was perfect for changeable weather (and went very well with all the Easter folk art that was decorating the town!). I still need to take in the back a little and then I think I can declare it a winner!

  3. It's a really lovely dress - I definitely get a vintage/bohemian vibe from the shape and fabric, but the slightly shorter skirt makes it modern too. I love the way you styled it - those shoes are amazing!

    1. Thank you! After my initial misgivings about it this has actually ended up being one of my most worn me-made dresses, it's so comfortable and easy to style. I just saw they still have a bit of the same fabric in Simply Fabrics in Brixton, it's so lovely I was almost tempted to buy some more but am happy enough with this version now to leave it as a one-off.