It’s not every day that black velvet plaid stretch fabric comes into your life. But when that moment does arrive, you find yourself compelled to sew up a dress that’s perfectly proper but feels a little bit saucy. That dress is my new black plaid velvet Anna dress.
The fabric is hard to photograph but under artificial light you can see the plaid design a little better. It is a stable knit but pretty cheap and sucks in passing debris like it’s a black hole.
The v-neck bodice is from the By Hand London Anna dress pattern, with the sleeve addition coming from their sewalong. Following my fit issues last time, I cut a UK size 6 at the shoulders tapering down from the underarms to a size 10 at the waist.
You can still see some bunching just above the waist but I quite like the general silhouette difference with a tighter skirt and a looser bodice, which makes me feel less like I poured myself into it.
The skirt pattern is a bit of improv: I cut round the skirt of a knit dress I like, which I did for my hot pink Tiger print skirt from last year. This time however, for reasons unknown to my conscious mind I didn’t add seam allowance. Hmmm. This is why the skirt is so tight, and in fact you can see little bits of bunching around my thighs. This is my biggest bugbear with the dress.
The pictures above hopefully give a little more detail of the bodice. I was catching up on the pattern episode of the Great British Sewing Bee as I looked over this dress. I think I rather let the side down when it comes to matching the skirt and bodice!
Once I tried it on, it quickly became apparent I needed to make two significant adjustments: take out the seams as much as possible on the skirt as it was too snug and find a way to take extra space out of the bodice.
I was surprised that even though the upper part of the bodice was now a UK 6 rather than a UK 10, it was still too big for me. The stretch factor doesn’t account for this since it’s so stable and the roominess was similar to my previous Anna. A comment from Senjiva mentioned that I could do with pinching out some of the length on the bodice and I think that is probably one of the key issues.
To tackle the roominess this time, I sewed a 2 inch seam on the shoulders/upper sleeve (rather than 5/8 inch). This dramatically improved the fit, made the sleeves less voluminous and raised the neckline so it wasn’t causing riots in the streets.
I finished off the sleeves and hem with a ballpoint twin-needle but left the neckline unfinished. The fabric won’t fray so I figured, why mess with it? It’s my favourite part of the dress because although it’s not low-cut, I feel it’s a flattering bit of decolletage.
The rest of the dress is sewed with a zig-zag stitch except for the pleats and darts which I used a triple stitch for, as is my custom.
Although far from perfect, the dress is quite fun and I think it demonstrates the Anna bodice can be re-purposed successfully in a stable knit. And I don’t like to take her name in vain but it feels a little Joan-esque.