My festival Anna and wear your helmet! …

On Thursday, my boy was sixteen. Where did that time go? Oh my!

We went to London for the day to look at fabric bicycle shops. I forced myself to look away from the tube map that showed quite clearly we were travelling at high speed, away from the direction of Goldhawk Road, did a bit of deep breathing and managed to keep my mouth shut. Yes, I was stoic and I made all the right, enthusiastic noises whilst  fixie spotting (there are so many on the East London streets) and admiring carbon fibre wheels. It was a great day. Except my boy pointed out that NO ONE cool bothers to wear a helmet in London. Now, I love cycling and I love cyclists, but as we watched a hipster dart across traffic and almost collide with a white van, I pointed out that not wearing a helmet doesn’t mean you are cool it means you are a dick head. What’s a mother to do? Why the hell it’s legal to ride without one is beyond me.


I digress, sorry … As I am having a bit of bother with my Cambie (almost sorted btw), I decided to take a break and try out the lovely Anna Dress of By Hand London for my boy’s birthday outing. I bit the bullet and cut with confidence into an amazingly gorgeous vintage fabric (see above) that I’ve had in my stash for years and years, it takes my breath away, I love it so much! I’ve been tempted to use it a couple of times now but have always chickened out, then I decided that realistically I will never think I’m good enough to use it and hey, I could get knocked off my bike tomorrow so live for today and cut away!

I didn’t make a muslin (doh!), I checked my measurements and was quite confident that it would work.


It almost worked. I’ve decided I have a narrow back (really?), hence the gape across it. Not wanting to unpick my invisible zip (the fabric is quite delicate), I pinched some of the excess fabric from the neckline and created two new darts, altering the facing to match. Hmm, I think it looks ok, but I wish I’d re-read Karen’s post before I cut it out and too late I noticed Lizzy had the same problem, it’s not just me, phew!

Then I noticed the gape at the front, I’m a bit perplexed in all honesty because I seem to have this problem with every pattern (my London dress had similar issues) and I’m not sure what to do, perhaps the V neck would have worked better?

Anyway (what a rambling post), it’s lovely, I love it and the shape is so flattering, I can see why it’s so popular. I used French seams in the bodice but overlocked the skirt pieces before stitching together (all seven of them!) as this fabric frays for England. I love the pleated bodice and fitted waist, it’s so feminine. I wore mine with a belt on our day out but today I’m wearing it minus the belt and it’s just as shapely.


This is my first make from By Hand London and it probably took me about five hours with all my fiddling about with my baggy bits. It’s actually very straightforward to assemble (for normal people!) and I’m so happy that I used this precious fabric as it suits the style perfectly. I hemmed it the day of our trip up town, half an hour before the train left (phew) and consequently re-hemmed it this morning, only this time straight!




With my boys birthday over, I am thinking this is a good festival dress (it even says so on the packet!). I’m not sure why maxi dresses are recommended for festivals as I see nothing but muddy hems and awkward maneuvers in the very dodgy portaloos, but the shorter version is perfect! As we are off to Green Man very soon, this is definitely coming with me! I’m just hoping it won’t rain quite so much this year …



Right, where’s my boy, I need to permanently attach that helmet to his head and remind him that he may be sixteen but he’ll always be my baby!



Filed under makes, ranting

26 responses to “My festival Anna and wear your helmet! …

  1. First of all, you’re surely not old enough to have a 16-year-old son. Did you adopt him when you were ten?! Re London cycling: I cycle in London and wear a helmet. Crazy not to. I also have issues with dresses being baggy around the upper chest. It might be worth learning how to do a Full Bust Adjustment. ( You don’t necessarily need to have a huge chest in order to need an FBA. But I can be very hit and miss in my use of FBAs – I didn’t do it on the Anna dress and suspect I should. Also, look out for patterns that have princess seams on the bodice as these are much easier to adjust to your particular fitting issues. FINALLY – that is an awesome dress and I love your fabric choice! I’ve been to the Green Man festival – several years ago.

    • Thank you so much for that link Karen and I’ll try a princess seam next (Elisalex perhaps). I remember reading your post on the GM because I think I was there at the same time, head torches at the ready! My son got a camera for his birthday and offered his pictures of me for use on the blog. I had to say a firm no thanks as I look very capable of having a 16 year old in those, but lovely comments thank you!

  2. I totally agree with Karen, you look far to young to have a 16 year old! You dress looks fab, I love the fabric, it was worth keeping for this. I bought Anna last week, but it’s a few makes down the sewing queue.

  3. so glad you were brave enough to cut into this fabric for this dress, it is perfect, and looks wonderful with your wellies!
    I hate to say I am a keen cyclist and I never wear a helmet in the city, I do when I am riding up and down mountains, but not on the road… I know there are advocates for and against, I think good road sense and defensive riding skills are just as important…

    • I must admit I think the wellies are a good look too, I’m sure I’ll live in them next week!
      My boy is very experienced and confident on his bike but it’s actually that that worries me, he thinks he’s untouchable as you do at that age. I agree that good road sense and defensive riding skills are just as important but some car drivers like some cyclists can be unpredictable and that’s what worries me. When we lived in London my husband came home from work with a massive graze to his face and half his helmet missing and that was just a pothole! We’ll agree to disagree on this one!

  4. The dress is lovely on you. I like the umbrella, belt, wellies combo.

  5. What a stunning frock! Lovely work::)

    I cycle and wear a helmet if I’m off-road or if the roads are wet or icy. There are strong arguments each way. I’m always horrified that helmets only protect up to an impact speed of about 12mph, and also by the studies showing that drivers give less space when passing helmeted cyclists.

  6. Echoing Karen’s comment, it is genuinely astounding that you have a teenage son. Like, for SERIOUS. What is in the water where you live, woman? Anyway – the dress looks great. I think the extra fabric in the back is very dependent on fabric – my first Anna fits fine across the back neckline but subsequent ones, less so. I suspect that, as Karen suggested, I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get an FBA down!

    • Thanks Roisin! I’m going to try the Anna in a different fabric too, so it will be interesting to see what happens. I’m stupidly still trying to avoid any pattern alteration!

  7. I know that motherly feeling. I had to go to a meeting at school because my TEN year old goes to school camp this year… I felt ancient – which my children reassured me I was LOL
    love the dress, great fabric. Some people have suggested doing a narrow shoulder adjustment… I’m not sure how that fixes the back gape… but it’s worth trying. I love & adore this pattern. I’m smitten.
    The though of me doing a FBA has me lying on the floor laughing…

  8. This is indeed a perfect festival dress! The fabric, the pattern and the wellies match like a boss! 😀

  9. Love it, so many maxis out there, nice to see ashshorter version. Perfect for festivals 🙂
    I really want one but its freezing here at the moment haha grr

  10. What a lovely dress – the fabric is perfect. Very brave of you to cut into it after so long. The dress looks so simple, but is so flattering. I hope you don’t need your wellies for the festival!

  11. i can’t believe you have a sixteen year old! Anyway, I absolutely love this. The fabric is perfect. I think we must be a similar shape as i have the same problems getting the fit right. I have variously found that using my high bust measurement and an FBA, doing a narrow shoulder adjustment (there’s a good tutorial on the Colette Hawthorn sewalong posts) or if I’m lazy just adjusting the pattern before i cut to take an inch or so out of the centre back and centre front seems to help. The fit does definitely depend on the fabric as well though – my first Anna was fine, the second a bit of a ‘mare. I’m actually trying to draft a bodice block at the moment from the Burdastyle tutorial to get a better idea of how my body varies from the standard shape. Hopefully it will give me a better idea of what adjustments to make.

    • I saw that Hawthorne tutorial and thought I should try. Taking the time to draft a block sounds good, you’ll save time in the long run too. I must make myself face my fears and try that! I love your wardrobe by the way!

  12. Whatever your secret is you should bottle it…you’d make a fortune! 😉
    This dress is divine. The fabric is spectacular. Watch out for Kate Moss…she’ll be after your dress for her next festival outing.

  13. The easiest way to teach a teenager about the perils of cycling is to teach them to drive. My 17 year old daughter is a much more cautious cyclist since she learnt to drive. In New Zealand no helmet results in an instant $50 fine for cyclists. My teens value their money too much nit to wear their helmets….even my bullet proof 14 year old son.

    I love the new dress btw. I agree about maxi dresses. I like the look of them but don’t find them very practical.

  14. I love this! The fabric you used is fab!

  15. Pingback: Vintage floppiness … | sylkotwist

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