a tale of two bodices – Ditching & Rethinking the plan for my Anna Maxi Dress from By Hand London

Anna Dress Pattern print

Rethinking the dress

I realized a couple weeks ago (while I was asking and answering “why am I sick of all my clothing?”) that I really didn’t want to make an Anna Maxi Dress from By Hand London.

I mean I did/do. And at the same time, I really don’t.

It is true that I want to make a couple maxi dresses as part of my summer wardrobe infusion.

And it is also true that I don’t really/often “do dresses.”

I was initially attracted to the Anna Maxi Dress because there aren’t a whole lot of independent maxi dress patterns, and also it seems to look good on everyone who’s made it.

But I kind of overlooked the fact that I highly doubt I’d enjoy wearing the top half of that dress.

On me – I don’t like dresses hitting at my natural waist, or high necklines.

Luckily I figured this out before I cut the bodice.

But since I figured out that I want to ditch the bodice – I’ve been mulling over what to replace it with, and haven’t quite managed to settle on something.

The Bodice – what do i think I want?

After mulling it over in my head for a couple weeks, and not settling on something, I turned to the magical visual search engine that is pinterest, and tried to come up with some criteria for what I wanted the new bodice to be. I pulled my inspiration together in a “Style | figuring out what dresses I’d actually wear” board.

And based on what I’m taking away from that board, my criteria are turning out to be…

: V neck or lower scoop neck
: flared skirt (check!)
: raise or lower the waist (aka doesn’t sit on my natural waist)
: sleeveless
: thin spaghetti straps or wide-verging on kimono sleeves

And here, I think, is my dilemma.

I can envision this dress with two, quite different, bodices.

The Two Bodices

I can see this dress with a dropped waist, a V neck, and kimono sleeves – built super simply with 4 rectangles (two for the front, two for the back), a center front seam, a center back seam, and two side seams.


I can see this dress with an empire waist, a scoop neck, and spaghetti straps – based on a super simple camisole.

So the question becomes, which direction do I want to go in?

cut skirt pieces

The Skirt

I cut the skirt based on the Anna Dress pattern, and sewed it together with 1/2 an inch seam allowance (rather than the 5/8th seam allowance called for in the pattern – which gave me a little more skirt to play around with).

So I know I have enough length and width in the skirt to raise the waistline.

I also know that I don’t have a whole lot of fabric left over to build the bodice out of.

The pattern for the Anna Dress calls for 3.8 yards (3.5 meters) of 60″ wide fabric, and I have 3 yards – so the original pattern would have been a pretty tight squeeze (which I knew going in).

On top of that, I added length to the skirt (just in case I wanted to raise the waistline), and so I’m left with even less fabric for the bodice than I would have had if I had actually cut the skirt as written in the pattern.

Back to the contemplating bodice

So I have two directions I could go in for the bodice.

I think I’d like (and wear) either direction.

I have limited quantities of this fabric to work with. And I definitely don’t want to use a different fabric for the bodice.

If fabric weren’t an issue…

If fabric weren’t an issue I think I’d go with the dropped waist, V neck, kimono sleeve version of this dress. Because I think it would add a nice bit of variety to my wardrobe – and I think this print is subdued enough that the maxi skirt plus full bodice wouldn’t be overwhelming.


Since fabric is an issue, and I do have another bodice option that I like, that I will go with my second bodice option – the empire waist, scoop neck & spaghetti straps.

At least that’s what I’m currently thinking.

sewing machine

And of course the lining…

In addition to mulling over the bodice, I’ve also been mulling over what I want to do for the lining.

I’m leaning towards a lighter blue cotton (definitely not a white), but haven’t run into the perfect thing – so I think it’s time to go hunting for it.

Now that I know what I want to do for the bodice. And I also know that I need to go hunting for the lining, I can keep trundling forward with this project. (And also with my whole summer wardrobe infusion plan).

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