Stashbusting 2017: The Many Firsts Anna



Funnily enough this is actually my second Anna, but there were quite a number of new experiences! We’ll get to those firsts in a moment, I just want to say:

Oh gosh, this make was not a walk in the park!

When the 2017 Indie Pattern Month categories were announced I knew what fabric and two potential patterns I wanted to use. After some debate I decided upon the Anna, versus the Orla.

Per my first Anna, I knew that everything worked well (as far as I know) from my first adjustments, save the back neckline gape. So I set out to remove the offending gape-age. I cut out the bodice pieces (save the facings) in turquoise broadcloth, basted in a zipper, measured, and guessed how much to pinch out. I kept pinching out amounts, pinned it, put on the bodice, and gauged whether I needed to remove more. I finally determined that I needed to remove 2″ (two 1″ darts). I stitched down the darts in the lining fabric and used Sonja’s tutorial to draft out the excess.

Instead of being a careful seamstress by making another muslin bodice I cut into my fashion fabric (after dithering when I realized I didn’t have enough fabric to make the maxi dress I’d had my heart set on) and got to work.

I did one test to see how the machine would handle the light and slippery fabric. As the 2″ test did not ripple or jam, I set to the dress pieces with gusto… and was alarmed when I stitched past the point of the dart and Emma jammed and tightened the thread. I took the other dart more carefully, with the same result. After a few moments hesitation I cut a strip of broadcloth and tried to stabilize one of the pleats. Emma handled it well so I cut more strips and thus stabilized the pleats, side seams, shoulder seams, and the top of the skirt piece.

Next I stitched the lining and fashion fabric sleeve hems together, which necessitated some finagling to assure that I could turn the bodice right side out and not have a twisted mess. For that matter I also did a variation on the burrito method (which, no doubt someone else has already done) in order to stitch down the neckline and keep the stitches under the lining. Due to the fabric’s fraying nature (and possible stretching) I scooped out a some of the neckline, which I’d already been planning.


By this point I was worried about losing more of my bodice because the bottom kept fraying. So, I opened my fray check for the first time, and dabbed it where I thought it was most needed.

I took my time hand gathering the skirt due to the fraying. When attaching the skirt to the bodice I stitched down the gathers twice (to hide the stitch line holding the stabilization strip to the skirt piece). One great thing was that as I’d cut a simple rectangle for the skirt, I’d done a grainline trick (2a) in order to make the most of my limited fabric by not cutting uneven lines.

I waffled on whether to stabilize the zipper, per Carolyn. But I went with my original plan, which was to trust that the zipper would suffice. It didn’t fail me!

I stitched the back skirt seam without broadcloth, which made me nervous but I took my time and cut enough extra thread (no backstitching!) so that I could smooth out the ruched ripples.

I took time to cut and stitch together 4″- 6″ strips of broadcloth for bias tape and enclosed the skirt’s raw edges using a Hong King finish. And had a fit because the fabric frayed through the bias tape.

Memory (or blind frustration) likely fails me at this point but I think that I stewed for a bit, then hit on using fusible interfacing to keep the raw edges from fraying down to the seams.

I handstitched the lining to the dress and at this point and probably threw up my mental hands and did what I needed (within a reasonably experienced sewist’s knowledge) to attach and close up the the bodice lining.

Somewhere in all of this I realized that I’d made the simple error of forgetting to note the different weights in my shell fabric and lining fabric. At this point I think that I decided that this was not going to be good enough for Indie Pattern Month and put it away for a time. Later on in the same year, perhaps the same month, I tested topstitching the armholes and neck holes via hand stitching. When that worked reasonably well I took it to the machine and topstitched in order to retain some of the sharp(er) lines of the bodice.

In March/April 2018 I picked up the dress from the UFO pile and brainstormed how to finish it as I’d machine stitched the zipper too low, this leaving an annoying gap in the back neckline. After debates about buttons and constructing a little fabric strip, I  remembered a post about thread chains. The idea of them seemed a little flimsy but a possibility so I decided to give it a go. The idea of making them was also so intimidating but when I tried, it was so simple and fun! I went a little overboard.


And here’s a list of sundry thoughts and afterthoughts:

– Would stitch witchery have done the same as the broadcloth strips?

– Would starch have helped with the fraying and to keep the machine from eating the fabric?

– Lined only the bodice for half slip possibilities

– Started with less than 2 yards of 45″ fabric

– Didn’t match up the bottom of the bodice seams, matched the sleeves

PatternsBy Hand London Anna

Fabric: polyester sari and turquoise poly cotton broadcloth Joann Fabrics

Notions: thread, 22″ black invisible zipper, interfacing(?)

Alterations: For simplicity, here’s a numbered/ (bullet point) list:

– Graded from bust (size 2) to waist (size 4)

– Lined the bodice

– Drafted out 2″ of excess out of the back neckline

– Extended the pleats 1″ upwards

– 1/2″ side seams seam allowance

– Stabilized the pleats, side seams, shoulder seams, and the top of the skirt piece with broadcloth

– Gathered rectangle skirt


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