Last week we launched our brand spanking new beauty of a pattern, the Hannah wrap dress, and we couldn't be more bowled over by your response! We knew this pattern had been long anticipated since Elisalex posted a picture of her first Hannah-in-the-works back in May, and despite not being able to get it released during the summer, we know that this is a pattern that will work beautifully across all seasons that you will want to sew again and again! And besides, it's always summer somewhere...
Hannah is the quintessential easy breezy wrap dress that can be as daytime casual or nighttime glamour as you want! With a sexy scoop wrap neckline, gently gathered skirt and three unique sleeve options, you can have all the fun in the world coming up with your own drastically different variations. Best of all, this dress pattern has no zipper or lining so she can be whipped up in a matter of hours!
She comes in sizes UK 6-24 (US 2-20), and is drafted to a dressmaker's B cup. That means that the full bust measurement is 2" larger than the high bust measurement. Please see below for our body and finished measurements chart:
For this beginner friendly pattern, which can be sewn up in just a few short hours, we have decided against the traditional sewalong format. We felt that in running a regular sewalong for Hannah, with individual posts for all the fitting and sewing instructions, we would essentially just be repeating what we've already written and rewritten so many times during previous sewalongs. Instead, we will be using this one bumper post to link to the many posts we already have that are relevant to the fitting and sewing of your Hannah wrap dress. We will also be writing a bonus fitting post that we haven't covered in the past which will help to fix any front neckline gaping (relevant to any woven darted wrap dress, not just Hannah!), so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that one.
Before we move onto the technical stuff, we want to shout out a huge thanks to our beautiful model and muse Hannah Silvani! Hannah is none other than one half of the dynamic duo behind The New Craft House. We've come to know and love Hannah & Rosie through teaching at their amazing East London sewing studio, and we are forever in awe and admiration of their commitment to all things sustainable sewing. As well as running a huge range of sewing workshops, they also now sell a mouth-watering and ever-growing range of deadstock designer fabrics. Make sure you check them out and give them a follow @newcrafthouse if you don't already!
And not forgetting the rest of the dream team! Thanks to our wonderful photographer Elodie Nizon, hair & makeup artist Poppy France, fashion illustrator (and bag maker!) Anna Walker, graphic designer Eleanor Nichols and not forgetting our awesome crew of pattern testers - who we'll be rounding up and showing off very soon! We couldn't do this without you guys!
Team BHL xx
Choosing Fabric for your Hannah Dress
The great news is that Hannah will work with a huge variety of woven fabrics, meaning that this is the perfect first time dress project when made from a stable, beginner friendly fabric like cotton or linen, but equally a meaty make for the more experienced sewist when made from a more challenging fabric like viscose challis or silk.
For our samples, we used a gorgeously soft stripe linen from New Craft House, a blush pink linen from Sister Mintaka (for the tunic top version) and a floaty viscose challis by Atelier Brunette from Fabric Godmother. All these fabrics were very kindly gifted to us for the photoshoot.
As well as our "official" samples, we've also made a number of Hannah dresses for ourselves here at BHL HQ from fabrics line silk noil, cotton seersucker, viscose twill, check linen and a brushed viscose that felt like flannel but draped like viscose. So really, the world of wovens is your oyster! You could play up the volume and make the bishop sleeved variation in a stiff taffeta, or achieve a very different effect with a sheer and romantic chiffon. The more casual vibe of the short sleeve variation seems to call for fabrics that you'd be happy living in; cottons and linens aplenty, flannel and seersucker galore!
We’re all about nailing the fit of our Hannah Dresses! Just as shop bought clothes have been drafted and produced to a "standard" chart of proportions, so too are sewing patterns. Very few people will fit a pattern perfectly right out of the box, so we find it helpful to think of sewing patterns as a jumping off point for limitless possibilities - not only in terms of the design, but crucially in terms of the fit.
The first step in sewing a garment that fits well and feels great, is taking accurate body measurements - sounds obvious, we know, but believe it or not it's where a lot of sewists trip up. Check out our blog post all about how to measure yourself accurately here.
Once you’ve taken your measurements and made up a toile (essentially just a practice run of the bodice made from calico or some other cheap woven fabric to check the fit before you cut into your lovely fashion fabric) if you need to make any bust or dart adjustments you can find plenty of information here!
Full & small bust adjustments for a darted bodice, plus how to move a bust dart (raising or lowering the apex):
Lengthening or shortening the bodice:
Full bicep alteration (for the short sleeve of Variation 1):
Broad back / tight back neckline:
For a more comprehensive guide to fitting and altering bodices, our Bodice Fitting Companion eBook is an absolute must have! Packed with indispensable information, explanations, tips and tutorials, if you find that you often have to make adjustments to your bodice patterns, or you can't quite figure out what or why your bodices aren't fitting you quite right, then the Bodice Fitting Companion is for you!
Sewing your Hannah Dress
The Hannah dress is a lovely simple beginner friendly make. It uses basic construction techniques for a beautifully elegant and easy wearing finish.
We have all the resources you may need, to sew along and finish your Hannah dress in no time.
Darts, shoulder seams and seam finishes
To get you started, we've covered the basic starting steps such as sewing your darts, shoulder seams and discussing different options to neaten your seams in this post we wrote during the Eloise sewalong.
How to make rouleaus
One of the trickier aspects of sewing Hannah that might be new to you if this is one your first dressmaking endeavours is the rouleaus that we use to fasten the dress. They're basically just long strips of fabric that have been sewn right sides together and turned out the right side. You can find our more in depth rouleau tutorial here.
Bias faced neckline
We infinitely prefer a bias faced neckline to a regular facing as it results in a neater finish, no risk of the facing peeping out to the front, AND the bias tape helps to keep the wrap neckline from gaping. We used bias facing for our Eloise dress as well, and you can see that in action in the Eloise sewalong here.
Setting in your sleeve
Setting in a sleeve can be fiddly, and something that beginner sewists tend to put off or avoid altogether! However, with a little practice, sleeves are immensely satisfying, and an excellent lesson in easing fullness - a technique which comes up time and again when sewing slightly more complex garments featuring princess seams, collars and curved seams. See how to set in sleeves here.
Gathering the skirt
In case you hadn't noticed from our patterns, we LOVE a good gathered skirt, and over the years have come to develop a deep appreciation for the process of gathering - really slowing down, using our fingertips to distribute the gathers manually, and seeing them stitched in all their softly feminine glory, to us is just irresistible. They do take practice however, and there are many different techniques to try before you settle on the one that works for you. Check out our posts 3 ways to gather, and the express technique.
Another step that can be done in many different ways, how you finish the hem on your Hannah skirt is entirely up to you. Will you take the time to sew it by hand for a flawlessly invisible finish? Will you go for a straight up double turn, or will you go all out and play around with the fancy stitches on your machine to make a feature out of your hem? So many possibilities... This post we wrote during for the Charlie dress sewalong shows you how to do a basic double turn hem, plus links to some of our other hemming posts, which will give you a solid foundation from which to build and learn from.