Believe it or not (but do, because it's true), I made this Anna dress in under three hours. Start to finish, cutting and sewing: one evening's work. Admittedly, that's a full on machine stitched hem, but you get my drift. The secret to my swiftness? Sprout Patterns.
Sprout Patterns is basically the sewist little sister of US custom fabric printing giant, Spoonflower, and they've taken the concept of custom printing to the next level. With Sprout, you choose the sewing pattern you want to make, select your size and then you choose your fabric from Spoonflower's vast library of designs (or upload your very own fabric design of course!), and hey presto - you get your pattern pieces printed directly onto your fabric and all that's left for you to do is cut and sew. It's that simple.
Psssst! The lovely team at Sprout HQ are offering you guys 20% off all By Hand London designs available on Sprout from today until Wednesday 16th March 2016. Simply enter the code BHLLOVE at checkout.
The not so simple part, however, was settling on one final fabric design from so many amazing possibilities! But actually, that was also part of the fun - once you've chosen your project - and there's loads of sewing patterns on offer from designers like Grainline, Colette, Named, and yours truly, with more being added all the time - you get to play with their 3D design selection page! A lot like Cher Horowitz's infamous computerised outfit selector, Sprout lets you rack up a bunch of potential fabric designs, compare how they'll look on a 3D, fully rotatable model of your chosen project, and play around with the pattern placement to get the best out of your print.
I managed to narrow it down to a final six before calling upon the people of Instagram to help me make my final decision...
I eventually settled on the handpainted polka dot print in a drapey poly crepe de chine, but that doesn't mean that I don't still have eyes for the other five runners up...
A couple of weeks later (transatlantic shipping not always being the speediest, but I was prepared for that) my package arrived and I got to work.
You guys, when I say it's literally as simple as cut and sew, it really is that - each pattern piece is clearly outlined and labelled, all notches marked. All you have to do is get cutting. No tracing, no tricky pattern placement. And thanks to their handy tip about pinning the labels to the pattern pieces as you cut (totally obvious thinking about it now, although it certainly hadn't occurred to me in the moment!), keeping track of Anna's multiple skirt panels was a breeze.
The only thing that stumped me for a moment was that the tops of the pleats and darts weren't marked on the fabric - for obvious reasons of not wanting to leave any visible markings on the finished garment. When you buy from Sprout, as well as getting your fabric, you also get the original PDF pattern and instructions, and a note reminding you to transfer markings like darts from the original pattern itself.
I, however, in a moment of inspired laziness, decided to take this opportunity to try out a bodice construction hack that I've wanted to do for a while - instead of sewing the double pleats at the bodice, I assembled them as unstitched double knife pleats, and I think that the soft, drapey-ness of the crepe allows this method of construction to work perfectly.
The rest of the sewing process went without a hitch and before I knew it, I had a brand new Anna Dress!
As well as the Anna Dress, you can also find the Victoria Blazer on our Sprout shop, with the Zeena Dress joining the crew by the end of this week, and the Sarah Shirt coming soon. Seeing as you obviously can't perform complex pattern alterations such as full bust adjustments directly onto the fabric, we decided that our more fitted patterns probably wouldn't work so well in cut & sew format, which is why you'll only find our more easy-going designs on Sprout.
Don't forget, you have until Wednesday 16th March 2016 to make use of your exclusive 20% discount on all BHL designs available on Sprout! Simply enter BHLLOVE at checkout.