The International Anna Party

Hello Everybody! How are you? What do you think of the new digs? (I hope you like them cause it was quite a bit of work to change everything around. LOL)

This is my By Hand London Anna dress that I made for the International Anna dress Party happening today on Instagram.

I actually started this dress quite a while ago, but I never finished it for some reason. It sat on my dress form for forever. Which really isn't like me. It usually bothers me having an unfinished project lurking in the sewing room. Anyway, the #internationalannaparty was just the push I needed to get this bad boy finished.

The bodice of this dress is a straight size 12/16, and then instead of doing the panelled skirt that comes with the pattern, I decided to do a circle skirt. It took me awhile to get my head around the math part of making a circle skirt, but I finally got it. I have never been good at math. The bodice fits me pretty well, although my fitting brain is wondering if I could make it fit even better with a smaller size and an FBA. I seem to be all about the FBAs lately. I think the Anna dress is a really flattering sillohuette, and I think it looks really great on pretty much every shape. Just ask the Google, and you'll see what I mean. Anna was the second dress pattern I ever tried when I first started sewing, and it was so nice to sew so it will always have a special place in my heart.

I got this lovely daisy fabric at Walthamstow Market in London, seems appropriate, no? It's lovely, and drapey, and has a little bit of stretch to it too. I think it might be some sort of crepe, but I'm not 100% sure.

The circle skirt turned out really well, and all I want to do is twirl around it. I'm such a goof! The only bummer about a circle skirt is the hem. Holy crow that's a long hem. I took the easy way out and did a rolled hem with my serger. I'm happy with how it turned out. The black thread just fades into the background, so you can hardly even notice it anyway.

It wouldn't be a party around here without a pug or two, and it appears that they are enjoying have a look up my skirt. Silly pugs!

Did you guys join in on the Anna fun? 

Two for the Price of One: By Hand London Kim Dresses

Howdy peeps! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good; lots of lounging around at the lake and enjoying life, so I can't complain. We had a big rain storm out here on Saturday, super windy and sideways rain - it was a bit nuts but didn't last long. Thank you all for the responses and help with my Shingle dress in my last post. I felt a little self-conscious about such a body-hugging style, so it was nice to get some feedback. I am very much looking forward to making another version that fits better based on all your advice.

Anyway, onto the matter at hand. Way back in the very beginning of 2014, I started sewing clothes and I was delighted to find sewing blogs and Indie Pattern Designers (I had no idea either existed until Google and Pinterest introduced me to many). I noticed that there were a lot of By Hand London Anna dresses out there, and they all looked lovely. That pattern seemed to suit everybody who tried it. So I hopped onto By Hand London's website and I ordered it. It was the second dress I had ever made (a Colette Laurel was the first) and I was thrilled to discover it fit me really well right out of the envelope, and it quickly became my favourite pattern. It was fun and easy to make, there were no sleeves to set in, and it fit me and was quite flattering. So when those lovely ladies came out with the Kim Dress pattern and it started to pop up on blogs everywhere, I knew I had to have that one too.

IMG_6953This pattern has two different bodice variations: a plain scoop neck and a sweetheart neckline, along with two skirt variations: a gathered, flared skirt and a more fitted tulip skirt. For my first attempt at this pattern, I decided to go with the plain, round neckline and the gathered, flared skirt.

IMG_6960I hummed and hawed as usual, about what size to make. My measurements are really close to the size 12/16 size, but I know that these patterns are drafted for a B cup and I am typically a D cup. So really I should have chosen a size 8/12 and then did an FBA, but I chickened out because of the princess seams. There are a lot of great tutorials out there, so I don't really have an excuse, except that I was too nervous and too lazy.

IMG_6954But all that being said, the fit is pretty good. My only real complaint is that I keep feeling like the straps are going to slide off my shoulders, and they do when I move around a lot. I should have added little ribbons to the straps to attach to my bra ala Kelli. If you make this dress, I totally recommend doing that - it's a genius idea.

IMG_6956And speaking of bras, finding the right one to wear with this dress was a little tricky. Most of my bras are full coverage and I found that either the top of the cups would peek out at the front or the straps were too wide. I thought I was getting away with this little number, but here it is peeping out at the back. I guess I'll have to make one! ;)

IMG_6958I skipped the pin tucks on the skirt, and shortened it by a whopping five inches! What can I say? I'm short! I hemmed the skirt using bias tape. I love how it looks and that adds a little bit of colour to the inside of the skirt.

IMG_6972This fabric is a lightweight cotton from my local Fabricland, which I got on sale. Yay! I thought it was pretty cute with the lighthouses and I totally had this pattern in mind when I bought it. The bodice of this dress is lined which is how you finish the neckline and armholes and it gives a super neat finish on the inside. It does require a bit of hand sewing, but I quickly discovered that it is totally worth it. I am really proud of how lovely the insides of this dress look, so proud that I even took a photo.

IMG_7010For my second version, I went with the same skirt, but the sweetheart neckline.

IMG_6973This time I decided to shorten the straps to see if that would make a difference and keep them on my shoulders.

IMG_6977I just cut a 1/2" off the pattern pieces, so that removes an inch total. I think it helped, but I still think if I had done a proper FBA, the straps would be a little closer to my neck and that would resolve the problem.

IMG_6979Oops there's my bra strap again!

I totally screwed up the lining/finishing on this bodice, so the zip doesn't look nearly as nice as it should. After you finish the armholes and neckline, you are supposed to only attach the outer fabric to the skirt leaving the lining free, then you insert your zip, and hand sew the lining down. This gives a really nice finish, but I made the mistake of attached the lining and the outer fabric all in one go and I didn't realize what I had done, until I had serged everything. D'OH! Needless to say, no picture of the insides of this one. It's fine, just not nearly as pretty as my first one.

IMG_6981The fabric for this dress came out of the clearance section at this super cool store in Salmon Arm. It's got all kinds of quilting fabric, yarn, sewing notions, and scrapbooking stuff. It's really big and super fun to browse around. If you ever find yourself in Salmon Arm, I would recommend that you stop in. The lining is a pale yellow Art Gallery cotton I had in my stash.

IMG_6975I think this dress is the perfect combo of sweet and sexy. For my shape, I love the fit and flare style, but I am interested in trying the tulip skirt version too. I just have to find the right fabric.

So my love affair with By Hand London dresses continues! I'm actually really kicking myself that I didn't buy Flora before they discontinued the paper patterns. I can still buy it as a pdf, but I really loved their packaging. Oh well, live and learn - this lesson only feeds my compulsive pattern addiction.

Have you tried any By Hand London patterns? Which is your favourite?

Oh, I almost forgot, one more thing: did you hear about the International Anna Dress party happening on Instagram? It's being hosted by my pal Elle (along with two of her friends) and it's a great excuse to sew an Anna if you haven't already and to join in the fun. Plus there's a chance to win prizes. Anyway, if you are interested head over to Elle's blog for all the details.

Hope you all are have a lovely week!

Holiday Party Anna

IMG_5814 John's work Christmas party was on Saturday, so naturally I wanted to make myself a new dress. Of course being the procrastinator that I am, I hummed and hawed until late Thursday night. I knew right away which fabric from my stash I wanted to use, but I couldn't decide on a pattern.  I finally settled on By Hand London's Anna, as I have made it a few times before (all unblogged), and I knew that I would have minimal fitting issues as it fit so well right out of the envelope the other times I have made it. Plus I saw the fabulous version that Gillian made for her sister and that pushed me over the edge.


This gorgeous fabric is a border print that I bought at Tissus St. Hubert back in March when we were in Montreal. It's a beautiful border print and I knew that eventually I would work up the nerve to cut into it.  I have no idea what it's made of. It feels like cotton on the right side and some kind of silk or rayon on the wrong side. What ever it is, it was delicious to work with and to wear.


Instead of the pattern's gored skirt I went with a simple gathered skirt. I have seen this combo many times (as I'm sure you have too) so I knew it would work perfectly to showcase this amazing border print. Basically, I cut the fabric to the length of skirt I wanted (21" - cause I'm short) and then I just gathered the width of the fabric (which was about 58") and left a seam at the back to match the bodice. This way I didn't have to mess with any pattern matching or anything like that. I am super happy with how it turned out - just the right amount of gathers and the fancy embroidery looks awesome (if I do say so myself).


Isn't that fabric gorgeous? Anna is such a quick and satisfying make. I had this baby finished by late Friday night. The only problem that I ran into, was I only had a red invisible zip. After conferring with John I decided to go ahead and insert it even thought it didn't match. I figured that it's invisible anyway, and the red pull looked kind of cool with the purple.  How was I to know that this would be my undoing?!

After inserting the zipper, I tried on the dress to figure out the hem and the zipper broke. Well it split really. After much wrangling, I got the dress off and I could see where some of the stitching got a little too close to the teeth, so I unpicked it and was able to re-route the zipper and all was well. Or at least I thought.


Saturday evening before the party, I put the dress on and the zipper split again. Ugh!! I was so bummed, and kicking myself for not buying a new zipper earlier in the day. But anyway, I didn't. I unpicked some stitching again, cut the end in half, re-routed the zipper pull, and sewed a new stop.  Which luckily worked, and I was able to wear the dress after all.  I did however do the zip up halfway turn the dress around to check the teeth and then twisted it back around for John to do up the rest of the way. So I think that's why the dress looks a bit skewed on my body in these photos. Unfortunately, I didn't realize quite how awful the zipper looked until I started writing this blog post. I swear everything matched up when I sewed it! Oh well! The party had dim lighting. ;)


John snapped these photos of me just before we left for the party, and in looking at them now, I can see that the dress really looks off kilter on my body. I promise that that is not how it looks in real life, it's just that I had spun the dress around on my body to fix the zipper up, and then turned it back around in a hurry so it was a bit twisted for these photos. I really wanted to make sure we got some photos of it before we left, as I knew we wouldn't really feel like doing it when we got home.  Anyway, it all worked out, and despite my fear of the zipper bursting (I brought a back-up sweater), the dress was fine all night and the zipper held. John assured me that it didn't look this rough at the party, and I got lots of compliments, so all is well.

I am so happy that I was able to make my dress. Sewing is the best! It felt so awesome to be wearing something that I made with my own two hands, that fit me really well, and that I knew no one else could ever have. In the past, I have sometimes worried about arriving in the same dress as someone else - not that that would be the end of the world, but I like to be unique.

Are you sewing a party dress this season? Do you have lots of events to attend?

I hope you all are keeping well and managing not to get too stressed! I'm having lots of fun making some gifts, and stressing about others, but I know it will all work out, it always does!

Fabric Shopping in London: Raystitch

Okay this is my final post about fabric shopping in London I promise (well at least for this trip anyway). I had heard about Raystich a few times through various blogs (here, here, and here to mention a few), and also when Janet told me in the comments that I needed to go there. I am so glad that I did because it's basically one of the coolest shops I have ever been to. I love everything about it. Even John commented on how cool it was. (Also, they have a fantastic website, and they seem to ship worldwide.) IMG_7710

Raystitch is located in Islington, kind of near the Camden area, I think. We took the tube there (the Northern line to Angel station), and then the bus about three stops. You could probably walk from the tube station, but it was pouring rain so we took the bus.

This shop has pretty much anything and everything you could wish for in a sewing shop. I have this totally unrealistic dream of opening my own fabric store/haberdashery and Raystitch is pretty much exactly how I would want it to be. It is absolutely stunning!






Totally gorgeous right? Then you go downstairs where they have a nice class area, with a little kitchen and really nice bathrooms. There is even have a back garden!! I could totally live in this shop LOL.





This charming little shop is filled to the brim with exquisite fabrics (tons of amazing apparel fabrics), patterns, books, zippers, buttons, knitting needles, crochet hooks, fabric dyes, tons of notions and pretty much anything you could ever need to sew, knit, crochet, or quilt a stunning project. There is fabric everywhere, but everything is super organized and beautifully displayed, so it doesn't seem overwhelming and it's easy to pick things out. I really loved that they had actual garment samples of patterns they sell. There were also lots of quilting notions and some gorgeous quilting fabrics. The staff was extremely sweet and very helpful too. I could have spent pretty much the whole day there. If I lived nearby, you'd probably find me hanging out everyday and taking all the classes they offer. I so, so, so wish there was something like this in Calgary. I can only imagine the community you could build around it.

By the time we got to Raystitch, I had pretty much blown through my fabric budget, but I wanted to pick up some patterns. Specifically a couple of By Hand London patterns, and some Merchant Mills patterns to save on the shipping. I ended up coming out with a bit more than planned, but I am super happy with my picks. John also picked me out two fabrics that I couldn't leave without too.


I'm not entirely convinced that I'm going to actually make the Holly Jumpsuit, but I've seen a number of cute dress hacks and I love the wide leg pant, so it was an impulse buy.



I also may have picked up a couple more unplanned things:


I have been lusting after this coat pattern since seeing in on Sunni's blog (and then she made her Mom and sister coats too!), but I noticed that it is rated Advanced so I'm a little nervous about it now. But how cool does it look?


So, there you go, now have enough fabric and patterns to keep me going for months on end. Who am I kidding, you can never have too much fabric, am I right?

Anyway, if you ever go to London, I would definitely recommend a visit to this shop. I absolutely loved it! Totally worth checking out!