Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that I’m not really a dress person. There are a few dresses that I love (shout out to anything French Navy’s Orla, and anything else Sarah ever designs!), but on the whole — not so much me. Part of this is due to my job: a dress isn’t always sensible when I’m running around a library, moving dusty books, or bending down to grab something off a shelf. But I’m also just not a suuuuper girly person, I guess? I mean, I love my makeup and my hair. But I feel much more comfortable in jeans and a blouse. “Maddie. Where is this going?” you ask. I’m telling you! What I’m trying to say is that the Anza dress from Itch to Stitch is different. It’s a dress I made for an important moment in my life, and that I’ll be reaching for again and again. Today we’re talking about my first Anza dress, in a gorgeous olive green rayon challis.
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My First Anza Dress
Cutting out the Anza Dress
I made a size 2 Anza with a C cup top. I’ve never made a dress that has cup sizing before, so this was a learning experience for me! I’m very lucky that I fit into straight sizing on the top very easily. It was a little confusing to me to figure out my size at first. I’m more than willing to wade through the numbers to ensure that more of my dressmaking friends see themselves in patterns, though! And really, it’s not that difficult — it’s just different if you’ve never done it before.
#Sewingtall frands, I added three inches to the Anza dress. As a reminder, I am 5′ 11″ (1.8m), and all my height is in my limbs. The waist hits me basically at my natural waist, so I did not need to lengthen the bodice or anything. The lengthened skirt hits at the middle of my knee. I was concerned this would be too long, but I actually really like this length. It helps that this is a very simple silhouette, so it doesn’t read as frumpy, just long and lean.
The fabric I used for this is an olive rayon challis from Fabric.com. Is this the highest quality rayon challis you’re ever gonna find? No. Is this a fabulous rayon challis for a sewist on a budget. Hell yes. No complaints from this girl beyond that it was slippy and kind of fray-prone. But it’s rayon challis, so what are you going to do? I bought it in the burgundy color (which reads a little browner than the photo) when I got the olive, and have since bought the black, cream, and royal blue. I recommend it!
Sewing the Anza Dress
I sewed this dress to wear to a job interview in June. It was my first second-round interview for an academic librarian position, and I had to give a mock informational session where I pretended to teach students how to research a specific topic. I wanted an outfit that looked professional, but that I felt comfortable moving around in. Plus, I always feel more confident in hand-made clothing, so I knew that was a necessity! I already had my eye on the Anza dress, so I figured this was the perfect time to try it out.
Almost right off the bat, I started eliminating things. The pattern calls for a pocket and pocket flap lining, which I didn’t cut. I think these pieces are such a nice element and really elevate the pattern. Still didn’t plan on using it for this dress, though! In the end, I also left off the pockets themselves. Like I said, rayon challis is slippy, and I honestly didn’t have the time to mess with placement. I may go back and add them. The dress looks kind of funny without them when I’m not wearing a cardigan. But I almost always wear something over a dress to work, so maybe they’re not necessary for this version!
This dress is a technically simple one to sew. There are nice facings on the front, bust darts, and cut-out pockets, which I’m really into right now. There’s elastic and a drawstring in the waist as well. I found the directions to be clear and the illustrations useful — there was only one spot where I was left unclear about what I needed to do. This is also a spot where I’ll be making some major changes next time: that waistband.
Some Changes for the Anza Dress
I’ve never put a drawstring waistband in a dress before, so maybe this is the way everyone does it. And it makes sense, just not the way the pieces are drafted. You catch the bottom of the folded band between the skirt and top, put the elastic between the band and the top, and then thread the drawstring through the band, coming out in the buttonholes you made before this whole thing. Simple enough. But I found that the band was WAY too thin as drafted. You hardly have any to catch in the seam, let alone finish it.
I would honestly double the size of the band next time and catch most of the excess in the seam and add some of it to the band itself. I had to redo that seam five or six times to catch everything, which left me really glad I didn’t waste time on those pockets. The buttonholes are juuuust big enough for the string to fit through, which you should keep in mind in the next paragraph.
The drawstring gets the top and bottom quarters folded into the center, and then folded together and seamed down the side. Basically, it’s double fold bias tape. My drawstring was suuuuuper thin, though, and I again didn’t feel like messing with it. I recut it and added half an inch to the width, and you could even go a little more if you made the buttonholes bigger (which requires making the waistband bigger). I think redrafting the waist and drawstring pieces are a small price to pay for a truly gorgeous dress!
Next time I make this dress, I’ll redraft those pieces right off the bat. I also want to double check the dart placement, as I think I messed it up while tracing (although I think they look alright, just a little high). Finally, I’ll cut those pocket linings and try the patterns properly! I love my Anza dress, and I can’t wait to have another.
Yardage needed: a bit more than the 2 1/8 yardage when I added some length
Time: approximately 5 hours
General modifications: Adjusting the width of the waistband and drawstring pattern pieces
#SewingTall modifications: Added 3″ to the skirt length