26 September 2013
Anna dress - the bodice, take one...
By now everyone in the online sewing community has probably come across the fabulous By Hand London pattern company, but if you haven't, what are you waiting for - head on over to their site and check out their stylish patterns. I'm taking part in the Anna Dress Sewalong and can't wait to make up the others; I already have plans in my head for the Elisalex dress, Charlotte skirt and the Victoria blazer.
I have to confess, when I first saw Anna's popping up everywhere I thought "that dress looks great on all those people, but it's not really me". I was pretty certain I didn't want to make one myself. That all changed when I spotted (no pun intended, well, maybe a little bit...) an awesome yellow and pink polka dot fabric at Ike's: it couldn't help coming home with me. I picked up 3m (and Ike's is always veeeery generous with their cuts) thinking I would make some sort of summery shift dress. Then I remembered how much I dislike the shift dress shape on me. It's possibly all in my head, but my body shape definitely falls into the peary-hourglass type shape and I just don't feel comfortable without having any waist definition in my dresses. So I started thinking about a simple dress that is suitable for my beginner sewing skillz (that polka dotty fabric is quite sheer and chiffony in texture) and the Anna seemed to fit the bill. The more I tried looking for other dresses that were simple but had definition in the waist without too much else going on the more I couldn't get Anna out of my head. Then the sewalong was announced and boom I jumped on the Anna bandwagon.
Not known for my patience, I traced and cut out all the pattern pieces without paying too much attention to the finished measurements. I should know by now, having made 3 dresses, and having to alter ALL of them in the bodice, that I can't sew straight out of the box. I'm tall for standard pattern heights used and my boobage falls in the D/DD cup region so even though my bust/waist measurements seem to fit close enough to pattern sizes, I probably always need a FBA and to start from the next size down from what the pattern is telling me to get the right fit across the back, if that makes sense.
So the bodice for the Anna ended up looking like this...
and looks like this at the back, yikes! That bad boy is sitting really tight across my chest so that's the closest it was getting to closing at the back :(
I didn't stuff up my measurements (and carefully sewed with the correct seam allowance) - my bust measures 90cm (approx 35.5 inches - checked about 5 times measuring myself and getting my husband to measure) and I cut the UK size 12, which should accommodate a 36 bust. My waist is 67.5cm (approx 26.5 inches) and I graded down to the UK 10 which is a 27 waist, but aside from the cup size the issue here is the length - the waist on the bodice is sitting around 4 inches above my actual waist!
Just goes to show that the circumference measurements alone aren't always reliable! The post from the BHL gang on FBAs and lengthening the bodice went up over the weekend (right AFTER my failed first bodice attempt) so I really should've waited and stuck to the sewalong schedule, d'oh! Thankfully this fabric was only $4/m, and there was lots of it at Ike's, so I picked up some more and have started on bodice number 2. I followed the suggested FBA technique but didn't want a side dart so just measured the extra width that would've been there if I kept a dart and added that to the pleats. I'm not sure if I did it "correctly" or not but I think there should be enough room in there for the girls now. Then after the FBA, I added 1 inch ABOVE the pleats and 2 inches through a line cutting across the pleats - this was because those pleats were finishing too close to my boobs to sit nicely.
This is the first time I've done a 'proper' FBA - the other dresses I've sewn I've just made a size larger than my measurements and severely pinched in any waist darts and taken in the side seams until it fit me in the waist. Hopefully that is the last major alteration I have to do on my Anna. From now on I think a FBA might have to be a standard alteration for me!