Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Andover Anna

I am still coming off a high from last weekend's wedding festivities on Nantucket!  I really wanted this dress to be extra special since the weekend was also as a mini boarding school reunion.  Lirra, the bride and fellow "Eaton Cottage Girl," married Dave, a friend and classmate from our neighboring dorm.   (Yes, New England boarding schools are as incestuous as you always suspected!)  I was so happy to spend a weekend with my besties giggling, catching up and celebrating one of our own.

Before I get into the dress details, I'd like to share a special knitting project from the wedding weekend: the "Eaton Garter."  I knit the Eaton Garter back in 2011 with the idea that all 6 of the "Eaton Cottage Girls" would wear it on our respective wedding days.  Meryl wore it first (Florida, 2011), followed by Mari (Hawaii, 2013), me (North Carolina, 2014), and now Lirra (Nantucket, 2015).  Aneesa and Molly are the only two left!  I'm pretty sentimental about this little piece and the beautiful friendships it represents.

Now, on to the dress!

Pattern:  By Hand London's Anna Dress, which I had previously made as a wearable muslin for Lirra's bridal shower.

Fabric:  I picked up the silk crepe de chine and blue re-embroidered lace on a shopping trip to Metro with Carol of Make it Anywear.


To prepare the silk for cutting, I first checked that it was on grain using this Threads tutorial.  I knew that I needed to stabilize the fabric before cutting and sewing.  I considered trying the gelatin method, until Sharon--my purist instructor-- encouraged me to just sew the silk to medical paper with large basting stitches.

Slowly sewing the silk to the medical paper

I used up an ENTIRE spool of green silk thread + some for the basting.

I made a few tweaks to the pattern pieces.  Since any skirt seams would disappear in the busy lace, I modified the skirt into 4 panels as opposed to the original seven.  As with the wearable muslin, I converted the back into a deep-v.


In preparation for cutting the silk, I was sure to leave huge margins on the paper pattern pieces so that the silk would be sandwiched entirely between 2 sheets of medical paper. Thus, I actually cut the paper pattern pieces out as I cut the silk.  If you look closely in the photo below you can see a skirt pattern piece traced onto the medical paper.

Cutting the silk in a medical paper sandwich! 

Once cut, I immediately stay-stitched all the silk pieces.  After cutting the lace, I stitched the lace and silk underlining together as one.  This was pretty slow going, as I wasn't too comfortable working with that slippery silk!

The actual construction was relatively quick and painless.  I saved time by not doing french seams, but did take the extra time to hand baste most seams before I stitched them by machine. Somehow, every pattern piece matched up as it was intended to!  (No small miracle for me!)

To sew the skirt seams, I folded the medical paper back and pinned it.  The medical paper provided extra structure to keep the silk from slipping.

Just before attaching the bodice to the skirt, I had a eureka moment and decided to convert the pleats into darts. I think the darts looks much nicer and more streamlined with the lace!

Pleats on the left and darts on the right.
I have no regrets with this dress and just one "Note to File" for the future: I wish I had splurged on higher quality fabric. I thought the lace looked nice in the finished dress but I was a little disappointed that the scalloped selvedge was too cheap looking to use as an accent along the neckline and back.  Next time I have a lace project, I intend to go to Fabrics Garden.  Fabrics Garden has a nice selection of mid-priced laces ($30-$40/yard).  As for the silk crepe de chine, it was a real pain to work with and I suspect that its low quality ($5/yard) had something to do with it.

Please excuse my sunburned back--was having too much fun in the sun!  

Posing outside our rental home with Nantucket's favorite flower:  the hydrangea.  

I am relieved to have this special project behind me, but also looking forward to tweaking the fit for one final Anna.  Third time's the charm, right?


  1. Vraiment une robe magnifique, Claire et qui vous va comme un gant.Félicitations!

    1. Merci Denise! J'ai pris beaucoup de plaisir a la faire!

  2. Absolutely stunning! You did a terrific job!

    1. Thanks Carol! You can't see it in the photos, but I wore your beautiful earrings! Thank you!