A Red Etro Silk Anna Dress from By Hand London

Firstly a reminder about the Collegien giveaway.

If all goes to plan, I’ll be posting the Collegien giveaway on Friday, just two more sleeps! So don’t forget to check back for all the details this weekend!

My Second By Hand London Anna Dress

This dress seemed to take forever to finish for no other reason than because I dithered over unnecessary details!

By Hand London Anna Dress

By Hand London Anna Dress

The pattern is perfectly straightforward, it was also the second time that I’ve made this dress and I was following By Hand London‘s Anna dress sew-along so there was no excuse for this not being a super quick make.

So what took you so long, I hear you cry?!


Well I’m blaming my fabric choice! I used a silk twill by Italian designer Etro, bought from Anita Pavani and a nude-coloured viscose from my stash, to line it.

The silk twill feels fantastic and is so lush to wear and was relatively well-behaved and easy to sew but the viscose was much more slippery and challenging. It wasn’t the material though that caused so much strife, it was the design on it.


The red Etro silk twill has this interesting stripe pattern but with stripes you always have the challenge of matching the stripes up at the seams. So for this dress, to avoid not being able to precisely match up the stripes where they meet at the vertical seams of the skirt’s seven panels, I decided to cut the back four skirt pattern pieces in one direction of the fabric and the front three in the other direction. I then arranged the skirt pieces alternately to deliberately mis-match the stripes so it would be obvious that they weren’t supposed to match up.

The deliberately mis-matched stripes of the skirt panels

The deliberately mis-matched stripes of the skirt panels

I also thought that horizontal stripes across the top of the dress would be beneficial because they would give the illusion of broadening my smaller upper frame but I thought it would be better to break up the stripes on the skirt of the dress to avoid this widening effect on my lower body.

Also a quick mooch around Etro‘s website confirmed that Etro mixes and matches their prints as well, in fact, it’s their signature look, so I was confident that design-wise, I was on the right track.

Etro dress courtesy of Net-a-porter.com

Etro dress courtesy of Net-a-porter.com

When I began assembling the skirt though, I started to second guess myself and was certain I’d butchered a perfectly good stripe pattern and ruined the look of the dress.

Disgruntled and frustrated, I set the dress aside while I considered my options, which were limited! I didn’t have enough fabric left to cut the skirt out again and Anita Pavani had sold out so it wasn’t possible to buy more.


What to do, what to do? I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure! Finally I decided to persevere with plan A and now that it’s finished, I couldn’t be happier! I’m so glad I stuck with it! What do you think? Did I mess it up?

Back view of Anna dress

Back view of Anna dress

Lessons I learnt from this experience

– Listen to your gut and don’t second guess yourself! When a decision is made based on sound reasoning, stick with it!

– Always baste seams first and try to avoid unpicking stitches in silk too much because it will eventually stretch the fabric.

– Use sharp pins and as fine needles as you can find when working with silk. Also sharp scissors for cutting out or a rotary cutter are essential.

– Check the garment’s finished measurements on the pattern info before choosing your dress size!

I was reminded when I made this dress again, just how nipped in it is at the waist. My winter body definitely isn’t as comfortable in this as summer me was!

Fitted bodice

Fitted bodice

When you’re making dresses, you’re often advised to choose your pattern size based on your bust measurement and usually this works well for me. There is usually enough ease in the bodice and I don’t have to alter anything but for this dress the bodice has very little ease and so I would recommend checking the finished garment measurements on the pattern information before selecting your size.

Construction details

I used French seams throughout, with an invisible zipper in the back and a hook and eye and finished with a rolled hem using my sewing machine’s narrow hem foot. P1280128Have you made anything that you made unnecessarily difficult for yourself? Do you like experimenting with patterns?  I would love to hear about your pattern hits or misses.



16 thoughts on “A Red Etro Silk Anna Dress from By Hand London

    • Thank you so very much! I also love the fabric but I have to get over being so intimidated by nice fabrics and start sewing more with them instead of hoarding them away!!

    • Thank you so much sewbusylizzy and you really made me laugh with this! I need a good giggle at the end of week! And I’ll take ‘FRIGGING AWESOME’ over profound any day!

  1. Wow, this is amazing – I love the way you have mismatched the stripes. It really makes the design stand out. I was not very taken with the pattern when it first came out, but this is really making me think again!

    • Thank you so much Tasmin. You should give the pattern a go, the dress is a very simple shape but the skirt panels give you something to play with creatively!

  2. I agree with Tamsin… your take on this pattern – especially handling the striped fabric the way you did – totally SELLS the pattern…you really knocked it out of the park with this dress…it is GORGEOUS! Way to go – I want to make it now!!!

    • Thank you so much Ann! What a lovely comment! I really love this pattern, you should give it a try. I’m already thinking up some new versions for this summer!

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