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Anna Dress Sewalong #5: Assembling the skirt

We're nearing the end of another wonderful sewalong folks, and they only seem to keep on getting better! We've been dragging this one out a bit with only one post per week; we really wanted to make sure everyone had ample time to get involved and up to speed - that, and we just might have been working round the clock getting ready to send off a new pattern to the printers...

Anyway... Today, kids, we will be:

  • Assembling the skirt panels
  • Flawlessly hand stitching the thigh high split
  • Joining the skirt to the bodice at the waistline

*To be taken to all the posts in the Anna Dress Sewalong, please click here*

Assembling the skirt - variations 2 & 3 - no thigh high split!

This part is wonderfully straightforward and even pretty mindless and meditative, as long as you know which panel is going where. Before you even begin, make 100 billion % sure that you have snipped all notches from the skirt pattern pieces. To help you even more, you could mark the wrong sides of your skirt panels with their relevant pattern letters or descriptions (eg. mark the skirt centre front as CF, skirt side front as SF etc).

Begin by laying out your skirt centre front piece, wrong side facing you, on a large flat surface - your cutting table or a clean floor is ideal. Now take your two skirt side front pieces and lay them out, also with the wrong side facing you, on either side of the centre front, matching the notches at the side seams.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Pinch the side seams together, so the right sides of the fabric are together, and pin all the way down each seam. Stitch into place from the waistline down, press open and finish the excess seam allowance. If you are French seaming your Anna Dress, remember to apply the same French seam technique outlined in the last post to the skirt panels.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand LondonAnna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Lay out your skirt again, wrong side facing you, and now pin the skirt side back pieces into place, on either side of the skirt side front, in the same way. Stitch, press and finish.

Lastly, repeat this same process with the skirt centre back pieces. Do not close the centre back seam yet - that's where the zipper's got to go!

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Assembling the skirt - with the thigh high split!

When we designed this pattern, we genuinely didn't think that many of you would go for the thigh high split... Oh, but how wrong we were! We clearly underestimated how racy you lot really are and we salute all of you and your sexy leg flashes thus far!

Having said that, it's no quick n easy feat to give that thigh high spilt the flawless finish it so deserves... But we think you'll all agree, it is most definitely worth it.

First of all, you'll need to decide where you want your split - up the left leg or the right? Or both maybe...? Or how about up the side seams for a truly 90s rave vibe?! As a guide, we have placed a notch to mark where we like our split between the centre front and side front skirt panels. But it's totally up to you.

How to:

With right sides together, pin and stitch skirt panels, with the usual 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance, from the waistline down, stopping at the point your split will start. Press this seam open, and continue to press in each raw edge along each side of the split.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Now carefully fold in and finger press that raw edged excess seam allowance, pinning into place as you go.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Take your handsewing needle and some thread matching the colour of your fabric as closely as possible. Blindstitch each length (gonna need some serious patience for this...).

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Now join all remaining skirt panels as outlined above, and give it a good press.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Joining the skirt to the bodice

Lay out your skirt, right side facing you. Now place your bodice, right side facing down, over the skirt so the raw waistline edges meet. Pin into place, matching the open centre back, side seams, back bodice darts matching the skirt side back seams and the skirt side front seams matching the innermost bodice pleats, easing in the fullness as you go.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Carefully stitch into place, press the seam open and finish.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

Don't forget, if you're French seaming, this technique can also be applied to the waistline.

Anna Dress Sewalong - Assembling the skirt - By Hand London

You should, by now, have something very much resembling a dress! All that's left for next week is inserting the zipper, hemming and a couple of finishing touches. Until then, have a wonderful weekend!

Comments on this post (11)

  • Jan 24, 2016

    hi i’m finding that the skirt is way too long for me just looking at the pattern. I would i shorten the skirt on the pattern so it fits petite little old me I’m about 5’2

    — thandeka

  • May 14, 2015

    Thank you. I will let you know how it goes!

    — Rebecca

  • May 11, 2015

    Hi Rebecca, sounds like you’re planning a seriously dreamy dress! If I were you, I’d actually line the skirt even if you do go for the split – just include the split in the lining too (and slip stitch the split of the shell to the split of the lining by hand) and you’ve got yourself one beautifully billowy dress!

    Let me know how you get on!


    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • May 10, 2015

    Hi Elisalex, I am about to embark on this lovely dress with a very sheer silk cotton, and planning to line with bemberg rayon. At this point, I am going to underline the bodice but can’t decide about the skirt. If I go without the split, it’s simple, I will just attach the lining at the waist, but if I go the split, would you still recommend attaching at the waist???

    — Rebecca

  • Oct 13, 2014

    Hi Alison, yep – just assemble the bodice as normal, shoulder and side seams, even the skirt, then just sew the lining to the shell at the neckline right sides together. Hope this helps!

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Oct 09, 2014

    Re inserting a full lining – do I sew the bodice lining side seam first before joining shell to lining at neckline – am new to all this so more instructions re adding a full lining would be helpful if possible?

    — Alison

  • Jul 09, 2014

    Hi Rachael, sorry you’re having trouble – but I’m not sure which bit you’re stuck on… Drop me a line at and I’ll do my best to help!

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Jul 08, 2014

    So, if you’ve already joined the side seems of your top, including the lining, it’s essentially too late to take the advice above?

    Really wish I’d known that before. I followed the previous sew along section and it didn’t say that anywhere.

    Looks like I’ve got a night of winging it ahead…..

    — Rachael

  • Mar 07, 2014

    For some reason I had joined French seamed the side seams, but I’ve gotten round it now and nearly have my finished dress! Exciting times.

    — Jacquie

  • Mar 07, 2014

    Hi Jacquie – if you’re making a full lining simply join the bodice lining and skirt lining at the waistline just as you do for the main fabric (shell) and then join the shell to the lining together at the neckline and then you turn the lining to the inside. Voila! Hope this helps/makes sense! x

    — Elisalex - By Hand London

  • Mar 07, 2014

    Hello. I’m really to new to all of this dress making world, but loving it! If i’m lining my dress how do i sew in the skirt lining? i thought i would attach thelining and main dress on their own, but as i’ve sewn in my bodice side seams i’m not sure what to do….

    — jacquie

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