Completed :: By Hand London | Anna dress for Gita

My daughter, Gita, in her Anna dress
My beautiful daughter, Gita, in her Anna dress

I really did hope to get this post out on Sunday, but it’s been a little extra busy round at my house. I also don’t know how inspired my blogging content is right now. I’m pretty exhausted, and my brain is a little fried. I’m counting on my lovely photos of my daughter to save the day, and I do want to show her and her new Anna dress off to you, so it’ll be what it is, and that’s as best as I can manage for now.

In my last post, I’d shared all my sewing plans for my cousin’s daughter’s upcoming wedding, yes? Yeah, well, on Monday 13th October, Moshe and I rocked up to see the thoracic surgeon, who booked my darling in for surgery on Thursday 16th. His annual scans following his kidney cancer four years ago showed up some irregular spots in his lungs, and everyone whose opinion mattered decided they should come out. Unfortunately, so did the lower right lobe of his lung, and he spent the next almost two weeks in the hospital, before coming home to recover. It’s been quite a hairy time, as you can imagine, and with mixed emotions, we heard that pathology confirmed what we all feared – those spots were metastasized cancer that had travelled from his kidney up into his lungs, probably been there all this time, and only now had grown large enough to show up.

Preparing an Ayerveda lunch
Preparing an Ayerveda lunch

I knew immediately that the lovely polka dot pink fabric I was going to sew into a lovely dress for myself would not get touched, and I thought about how on earth I would manage to make the dress for Gita I’d promised her to wear to the wedding. I was spending every day at the hospital for those 12 or so days, all day every day. Moshe was not in good shape, and he wanted me there to keep reassuring him that everything was as it should be. I’d come home, take care of housey things like the dishes, the rubbish bins, the laundry, and then pack orders for my dear Stitch 56 customers, before crawling into bed and falling immediately asleep.

She loves preparing food for people
She loves preparing food for people

A couple of days before Moshe came home, so one week to go till the wedding, Gita gave me a “Get out of Jail” card. She said she didn’t want me to be stressed out about the dress, with everything that was going on, and that she’d be perfectly happy to go buy one, which definitely gave me some relief, and stopped the panic that had set in about it. But I was determined to keep my promise, if it was at all possible, and I actually looked forward to the distraction that sewing the dress would be. So, we declared Thursday night the deadline. If I wasn’t far enough into the dress by then, we’d call it off, and she’d go shopping.

Pinning and cutting
Pinning and cutting

By Wednesday night, I hadn’t even started. Moshe had been discharged from the hospital on the Tuesday morning, and I can’t quite get my head around why people kept saying to me it would be much easier for me having him at home. I mean, it was definitely better for him. He was adamant that he was absolutely NOT going to go to rehab, and he couldn’t wait to sit on his own couch at home, with his own telly and his recorded shows (mostly footy of course), and although I was definitely thrilled to have him home, life did get a tad busier really quickly. Suddenly, I was cooking three meals a day, instead of driving to my favourite shop, Melbourne Street Organics, to pick up a Chia pudding for my breakfast, and a couple of their salads with extra tuna or chicken for my lunch and dinner. And then there was the recording and dispensing of meds, endless cups of tea, answering phone calls, and managing visits by our close family and friends, as well as getting work done, etc etc etc. Definitely no time to sew!

So when Thursday came around, the “do or die” day, I was determined that I wasn’t going to be beaten. Gita would have her dress. So I pinned and cut out the pattern pieces, and went to bed.

All pattern pieces cut and marked, ready to sew
All pattern pieces cut and marked, ready to sew

Friday morning, I got up early, as always, and cooked breakfast. I decided to do a self-faced bodice, rather than using the pattern’s facings. I thought the light rayon fabric I was using would sit better around the neckline that way, avoiding the bother of constantly managing the facings that would flap invariably around. I read up Katie’s post and sent Gita out for more fabric. I’d originally bought 3 1/2 metres of the 60″ rayon, and needed another 75cm for the extra bodice pieces. I think the bodice sits so very nicely now, I’m so glad I did that!

So, I’m sewing away, finished the bodice, and rather pleased with the absolutely beautiful french seams on the skirt pieces as I sewed each one in place. And then I had a thought. I do hate it when this happens, because it’s surely an omen from the devil – I thought, “how lovely, look at me, cruising along, getting this dress sewn, I’ll definitely get it done in time at this rate! And no mistakes! How awesome!” Smiled to myself, and hit the machine foot. And then it dawned on me. I’D FORGOTTEN TO LEAVE THE BACK SEAM OPEN FOR THE ZIPPER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I panicked. And then, I thought of Lizzy, who’d sewn several beautiful Anna dresses already. So, I waited till it was a decent hour, and sent a quick early morning text to SewBusyLizzy to confirm that I could put the zipper into the side seam, and after a confidence-boosting reply – thanks so, so much Lizzy, you’re a life-saver!!! – I carried on.

Here's a close-up of the zipper in its new location - the side seam
Here’s a close-up of the zipper in its new location – the side seam

The rest of the make was fairly uneventful. Well, apart from having to rip out my first try at putting in the invisible zipper. I was following along my Craftsy class with Sunni Standing to install the zipper, but somehow got it all twisted when I tried to sew in the second side. Out came my seam ripper, and out came the zipper. My second go worked perfectly, and all that was left to do was the hem. I wanted desperately to try out my new hem marker, but because the dress was full-length, the marker didn’t reach down low enough. Ah well. I got Gita up on my kitchen table, and pinned the hem up. I had to cut 7 1/2 inches off the length, and by the time I’d hand sewn and pressed the last bit of the hem, it was about 12:30am. But phew! It was done. I’d kept my promise. So, so, so gratifying! And I’m happy to say that when I stood back and looked at it, I was really pleased. I love how it turned out. Gita had waited for me to finish, so she could take it home and look at herself in her own mirror at home, with the shoes and jewellery she’d bought to go with her new dress.

How stunning does my daughter look in her dress! I watched her sashay about the house, and dance around in the garden, with a lightness of foot, feeling lovely and feminine, and with that classic kind of beautiful. I still think these photos, as gorgeous as they are, don’t do her justice. Do you have that happen to you too? Someone you know who’s just stunning, and you can never seem to capture it fully with your camera? Sometimes I can, but I’m not sure that I quite got it this time. Can you see it? I hope so. (I think I’m just way too tired now, editing this post, and I should stop and publish and go to bed!)

Anna for Gita - roses 2
showing a little leg

Here are a few dozen more photos – no, just kidding. Just a few, so you can see how lovely she looks.

Anna for Gita - back view 1

Anna for Gita - back view 2


Photo bombed by Java
Photo bombed by Java

Anna for Gita - roses 1

I’d hoped to add in here a photo of her at the wedding, but haven’t been able to get a hold of one just yet. OK, I’m outa here. ‘Night all.






Pattern: Anna Dress | By Hand London
Size: 14/18 for bodice, tapered to 12/16 on hips
Fabric: Rayon from Darn Cheap Fabrics
Cost: 4.25m at $9.99 p/m = $42.45 (plus an invisible zipper, but I can’t remember how much that cost)
Pattern modifications: fully self-lined bodice instead of using facings provided; lowered v-neck by 1 1/8″; moved zipper from back to right side.

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