Breaking the Rules with Anna

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What!? Making a woven pattern out of a knit?? How daring! Ok, not really. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But with the fabric I used it was kind of a gamble to see if this would work with the new Anna dress.

The Goal: Trying to stashbust meets wanting a quick and easy make. I had a bunch of knits in my stash that I had yet to use and most of the patterns I’ve been wanting to sew use knits. So I though, what’s keeping me from making a woven dress in a knit…?

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The Pattern: By Hand London’s newest dress pattern, Anna. I made the shorter boat neck version. I may have attempted the maxi version had I had more fabric. A couple tips – be sure to mark/notch/label your skirt pieces as you sew because they are easy to mix up. Also, if you cut the pattern tissue to sew the shorter length skirt, label each of the lower sections of the pieces so you know which one is which should you ever want to go back and make the maxi.

I cut a UK size 10 which is the size I would have chosen for a woven. Sometimes people pick a size smaller when using a knit for a woven pattern but I didn’t think it would matter much with this design.

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The Fabric: A really light weight sweater knit, black with white bits scatter in it, not really slubs, more like random pieces of yarn that weren’t dyed. I got it locally at Stitched Fabric Boutique.

The Changes: I’d seen a couple knit Annas out there on the interwebs so I knew it wasn’t crazy to try it. However my knit is not stable at all. It’s loose and soft and drapey and I needed to be careful with it.

First I stabilized my shoulder seams with stay tape. You can use clear elastic as well. On the waist band I added elastic. I re-did the elastic, like, three times because the elastic I had wasn’t very good quality, it would stretch but it didn’t tighten back up no matter how tight I tried to make the waist. Eventually I switched to swimwear elastic of all things because it was the only other elastic I had on hand but that stuff is strong! What makes the elastic work for this waist is making it tight enough so that when it stretches to fit you the fabric lays nice and flat, no gathering! If you make the elastic too loose the weight of the skirt will drag the bodice and make it sag.

The only other thing I did was fold the neckline back twice to make a narrow 1/2″ hem, straight stitch, rather than a facing.

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I had sewn the entire dress with a zig zag because I didn’t want to use my serger and cut the seams smaller. This worked great except on my sleeve hems. I folded them back twice and zig zagged but I think the thicker layers forced my sewing machine to stretch the fabric out as it moved under the presser foot resulting in wavy seams. Ugh!

To fix this I unpicked them (black thread on black knit, so hard!) and cut band cuffs out of my fabric remnants. This is a great solution because if you cut the cuffs smaller than your sleeve opening the cuffs will tighten the opening which counteracts any stretching that my machine causes resulting in nice flat sleeves. I didn’t bother top stitching my sleeve seam allowances. They lay flat enough for me.

Lastly I decided not to hem it, not yet anyway. I want to wear it and decide if I want it shorter. I think in my heart I wanted the maxi. This fabric is so soft and flowy, it would have looked amazing as a maxi but alas, not enough fabric.

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The Results: This particular dress has a unique look for me. The fabric is a little too sheer to wear alone so I’m wearing a slip under it. And I actually don’t mind wearing a slip. I have a couple basic ones and they work great for when I don’t want to line a dress (which, let’s face it, I’m lazy, I never want to line my dresses, lol).

The sleeve openings are a little long on the side so a slip helps keep people from seeing the side of my bra. I think I’ve read other people comment on this issue. Both the sleeve openings and extra wide neckline are easy peasy fixes if you want to do it.

In the end I was surprised how quick this dress came together even with my minor mishaps – about and 2hrs to sew (which I know because that’s how long it took to finish my audio book). With a woven fabric and no fitting it would take even less.

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This dress makes me feel casually sophisticated. I can imagine Elisalex of By Hand London wearing this dress and swishing the softly flared skirt around. The knit fabric hugs my hips but then floats out at the hem, very curvy. It’s pretty and feminine but classic and stylish at the same time, and because of the knit, it’s oh-so comfortable! Ya for a one-day win! Just what I needed, instant gratification, or as close as you can get when sewing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Sandรฉ Cross

    it looks so pretty on you! wish it could have been a maxi like you wanted, but, oh, darn, now you’ll just have to go buy more fabric so you can make a maxi version, too!!

  • Thewallinna

    I think you make the right fabric choice! The dress is absolutely lovely and it looks like a great wardrobe staple!

  • I love how this turned out with a slinky knit, nice work! You could wear this anywhere- the beach, work, funerals… I mean, soooo versatile! One day projects are the best.

  • Kelly

    Oh yeah, cute LBD! I think it looks great on you, I wouldn’t have thought to make this pattern in a knit. Nice ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Scruffybadgertime

    I saw this and thought ‘LBD’ too! It’s so classy! Your knit tips are really useful too, and you sure have got me tempted. I love the fabric, it’s drape and its texture. Fantasy Anna dress!!

  • stevie

    I agree with everyone, great fabric choice. This is the second Anna i’ve seen in a knit and I think i’m converted! x

  • This is such a cute little black dress. The knit drapes and flows so beautifully!

  • Very chic looking. And while I would usually find that length awkward, it’s working on you with this dress.

  • lisa g

    i would not have thought to do this up in a knit, but i love it! and i really like the length it’s at now–makes it ever so versatile!

  • Love sewing instant gratification! Too bad I haven’t touched my Anna in over a week. Yours looks great. Way to go knits!

    PS – I love that you listen to audio books while you sew. I listen to podcasts a lot but should try audio books.

  • I love that style of dress. Dress up or dress down, both are great! I haven’t been to Stitched, yet, but I hear they are the place to get great knits in town. You are totally convincing me to to bump it up my to-do list.

  • sallieforrer

    Wow! This works so well in a knit!! I just love how elegant it looks, but I know it’s probably also dead comfy in that soft sweater knit. Total win!!

  • I never would have thought about making this in a knit! It looks great!

  • Gail

    “Casually sophisticated” is the perfect description. I love this on you!

  • I love what you have done! A knit Anna is a great idea, I really need to jump on this Anna bandwagon!

  • Ooooh, Anna in a knit!! I’ve not seen one yet, this looks SO comfortable, I love it.

  • Amy

    Aww, you look so so pretty! Very sophisticated dress. I love your hair (rollers or iron? I’m trying to get the secret to cool waves in the back).

  • ZoSews

    Win-win – comfortable and stylish, nice one!

  • ohhh this looks amazing! Love the knit!

  • This dress works great in a knit! With each new Anna, I feel more certain that I’m going to have to give in to this pattern. I like the length on you as well, it works!

  • Alessa Farbenfreude

    Oh wow, you look very elegant in your new dress!

  • Thanks Amy, it’s one of those curling wands, you know, a curling iron without the clamp, or as I like to call it, the “third degree burn stick”.

  • Roseana Auten

    I never had a chance to compliment you on this . . .

  • Carly

    Did you keep the zipper in the back, or did you not need it for the knit?

  • no zip, it was stretchy enough to fit over my head. i guess it would just depend on the weight and stretchiness of whatever knit you use.

  • thanks! i kept seeing more and more versions, too, which got me motivated.

  • aww, thanks Roseana

  • Erin

    Wow what a gorgeous dress you look amazing and definitely very stylish!

  • Carly

    Thanks. I think I’m going to try it without too.

  • Ahh, this turned out fantastic!!

  • Amanda Adams

    This is sassy, Dixie! Love it!

  • Alright this is hands down the best version of this I’ve seen yet. It looks classy and sophisticated. Good on ya for using a knit instead of a woven.

  • Anna X

    This looks absolutely lovely! I remember that Marie from A Stitching Odyssey remarked that the Anna can be a ‘hugger’ around the midsection so I think that a knit like yours, with a beautiful drape can slide right over those areas. : )

  • Nicola

    I’ve just come across your post as I was looking for Anna’s made up in knit fabrics – yours looks lovely by the way! I’ve made Anna’s in wovens but as I’m new to knits I wanted as much information as possible! I’ll be using a standard sewing machine with a stretch stitch but wasn’t sure how to sew the darts – did you use a straight or zigzag stitch? The fabric I’m thinking of will be quite lightweight I think. Thanks, Nicola

  • Hey! If it’s really light weight and stretchy I’d probably use a zig zag or your machines stretch stitch. I’d worry that the straight stitch would snap.
    Good luck with your Anna!