An Altered Anna

I love the idea of pattern hacks – so many possibilities! I have had some brilliant ideas for pattern hacks and mash-ups in the past, but unfortunately not many of them have made it past the conceptual stage. Life tends to get in the way!

My creation for IPM’s ‘Hack It’ week is therefore a fairly straightforward one; By Hand London’s Anna bodice with a gathered skirt. I’ve made the Anna dress a few times before and really liked the fit, but the ‘mummy tummy’ I have gained after 2 kids (I’m sure the frequent consumption of cake and lack of exercise have nothing to do with it!) is causing the straight skirt not to sit so well over my mid-section lately. Solution? A full(ish) skirt!

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I had been wanting to experiment with fabric painting for a while, so the idea was formed to make a dirndl skirt with a border print. I used some mystery fabric from my stash – I’m fairly sure it came from an Op Shop (Charity store, for you non-Aussies!). I thought it might be a cotton poly blend but when I ironed a test scrap on high heat it tolerated it, so I think it’s mostly cotton. It has a nice drape but a solid feel about it. I cut the bodice then used the leftover fabric to cut one long strip, so I didn’t have to worry about side seams. I sewed up the hem and then used that as a guide to place a stencil and paint my border print onto the fabric.


I did the painting in two sessions; first I did all the motifs facing one direction, then let them dry while I washed the stencil, then turned the stencil over and filled in all the reversed motifs.



Then I assembled the bodice as usual before attaching the skirt. I did narrow hems on the neckline and sleeves and used a decorative stitch. I don’t like exposed seams so I bound the waist seam in some spotty bias binding.

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I used a centred zip (with my usual method of sewing the CB seam closed, sewing the zip in and then opening the seam) instead of an invisible zip. In hindsight I should have stabilised the fabric before putting the zip in as it’s a bit wavy, but I only thought of it afterwards and to be honest it doesn’t bother me enough for me to take it out and do it again.



The end result is a comfortable, floaty dress. In all honesty it’s a bit looser through the bodice than I was expecting; I think it’s because my last (and most worn) version of the Anna dress was made in a quilting cotton with underlining so it is relatively bulky. No matter, it’s going to make a lovely cool summer dress!


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I wore it to town (‘town’ being a 4.5 hour round trip!) the other day with a belt to pull the waist in a bit, boots, stockings (that need to be retired, by the looks of these photos!), a bolero, and a necklace that was given to me a few days earlier by a friend. In summer I will likely just wear it on its own with black sandals.

The details
The pattern: By Hand London Anna Dress
The Fabric: Op Shop Cotton
The Hack: swapped panelled skirt for gathered skirt
Bonus features: Painted border print, decorative stitch on neckline and sleeves
Notions: Thread, zip, bias tape
Would I recommend this pattern? Yes
Will I make this ‘hack’ again? Possibly, although I’ll probably make an Anna bodice with a circle skirt next.

And some outtakes. We got home from our day trip with just enough light left to snap a few photos, even though it was freezing and Little Miss was being very clingy!

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Seriously, between the kids and the cats it’s no wonder I’ve never got any time for sewing!



9 thoughts on “An Altered Anna

  1. Love the photos and the hack, perfect way to take the Anna to a new level. My cat loves to creep into my photos too…hilarious but so charming, eh?


  2. This looks great – love the idea of painting the hem part. Also the colour is great. I’m intrigued what part of Aus are you in? We recently returned to NZ having lived 2 years in Adelaide.


    • Thanks! I really like the colour as well. We live in the very centre of NSW, sort of between Wagga and Dubbo. We were actually in Adelaide last week! My brother lives there, but the 10 hour drive (each way) with a whiny toddler and a 4 year old asking the dreaded question (‘Are we there yet?’) repeatedly was enough to convince us it might be our last trip down there for a while! But I got some good fabric shopping in while I was there, and knitted in the car on the way, so it was a good trip!


  3. that worked great. The pussy stole is an intriguing re-interpretation on that classic 1940s statement the fox cape. I had a flashback to thrift shopping in the early 70s when so many of those fashion maven gals of the 40s were divesting the vixens from their wardrobes and I bought a $5 stole replete with the glass eyed fox head, pelt and tail….Some fashion statements are best left behind…!


    • Haha that sounds quite creepy! I keep joking to my husband that when one of our cats (one in particular – we have 4!) kicks the bucket I’m going to have her skinned or stuffed, her soft coat would make a lovely hat lining!


  4. I have photobombing cats too! Yay! Really lovely make. I’ve also been experimenting with painting on fabric (look out for my upcoming indie royalty post) and it’s super fun. I love those photos on your road trip. Do you live in the outback?


    • Thanks! So many possibilities with fabric painting, I’m looking forward to doing more of it in the future. We live in the very centre of NSW, so technically not really the ‘outback’ but close enough I guess!

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  5. I really enjoyed your post. I love the Anna bodice, and adding a gathered or circle skirt is a great idea. Also, fabric painting a border! Genius. Kids and cats are the best:)


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