Aloha and good evening! Before we properly kick off the Anna Dress Sewalong, we really wanted to take a moment to go a little more in depth with our discussion of fabrics and notions than we have in previous sewalongs. Being such a simple make with modestly elegant lines, the Anna Dress is the blank canvas to pull out all the stops when it comes to your choice of fabric.
Those of you who have made Anna before will know what we mean when we say that this dress is a dream to sew up, and works beautifully with a huge variety of fabrics. It might have been easier perhaps to write a post on what fabric not to use. It probably would have read something like this: ''maybe don't use stretch satin, but actually, on second thoughts, make it maxi with a plunging V-neck and you've got yourself a pretty spectacular Prom dress right there''. Seriously guys, we've seen the Anna Dress made up in cottons, silks, wools, rayon, jersey, you name it, we've seen it, and it's been fabulous. So this is us, officially giving you leave to go nuts in the fabric shop.
To put things into context, for our three sewalong Anna's we have:
- Variation 1 - maxi, slash neck, thigh high split - emerald green silk charmeuse - for Victoria
- Variation 2 - maxi, V-neck, no split - multicolour dotty silk cotton voile, fully lined in white cotton voile - for Charlotte
- Variation 3 - midi, slash neck, 3/4 sleeves (bonus tutorial!) - goldfish orange -home dyed- silk noil* - for Elisalex
Things to bear in mind when fabric shopping:
Sheer fabrics will probably need to be fully lined (unless you're brave enough for pants on parade - a look we clearly advocate!). Make sure you go for a super light fabric as similar as possible in weight and colour to your main fabric, and needless to say, you'll need as much meterage of your lining as your shell. If you are daring enough to bare all and go full on, unlined sheer, you might want to rethink the neckline facings. Using bias binding instead will make for a much neater finish. Also be sure to stock up on invisible nylon thread for all your invisible handstitching needs, as explained by Oonaballoona...
Silky fabrics and jerseys will need their appropriate machine needles in order to be sewn perfectly and painlessly. For silks (and indeed other silky or very lightweight fabrics such as voile or rayon) go for a super fine, super sharp needle, and for knits opt for ball point needles. If in doubt, ask your haberdasher for advice!
Woolly fabrics such as tweed, herringbone, flannel, wool crepe, voltaire and serge, although super cosy and Autumnal, can feel pretty scratchy worn against bare skin, and even worse - ride up tights! Wools will massively benefit from a full lining in a lightweight slippery fabric.
Super stretchy knit fabrics don't need a zipper! Just remember to remove the seam allowance from the centre back and cut that back piece on the fold. And check out this post over at Dixie DIY.
Don't be afraid to colour block! The very first Anna toile we ever made had a pink bodice and fluo orange skirt (she even had two splits back then, one up each thigh...), and she looked pretty damn rad. In fact, so damn rad that we're definitely going to have to recreate that first Anna at some point...
That's all for tonight folks, just a little bit of fabric porn and food for thought to get the creative juices flowing. Things get real serious on Friday... We'll be tracing, altering, FBAing, 3/4 length sleeving and cutting all over the shop. Until then, over and out.
*Silk noil... a recent, and incredibly pleasant discovery on our part. Silk noil is a raw silk with a low sheen, dry texture similar to wool voltaire. Beautiful drape and a dream to cut and sew (unlike most silks). We found a great big roll of off-white silk noil in Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road (London, UK) for under a fiver a metre! One packet of Dylon later and hey presto, goldfish orange silk noil. Highly recommend. Cats love it too.