Monday, October 7, 2013

Miss Anna Goes A Bit Batty


Good evening, my dear ghouls. That most wonderful holiday of the year looms on the calendar, filling my head with tricks and treats and fun size Kit Kat bars. It's Halloween, y'all! 

Or, it will be in twenty-two days, anyway. I'm one for early preparations. I would say it's a Girl Scout thing, but I was only a Brownie for one year, until I dropped out because they made us sleep outside, where the bugs lived. Despite a general distrust of things that crawl, I live for this holiday. It has all the makings of a good time: costumes, free candy, and things flavored with pumpkin. There is nothing about Halloween that is not awesome. 

As proof of my love, I've made my first Halloween dress.

That's right, my first. Novelty fabrics, I will own you!


So, what's novel about this fabric? It looks like an abstract black print on grey fabric. Boring! Just because it's black and grey doesn't mean it's Halloween-themed, Mary

Well, if you get a little bit closer...


Oh sweet baby squash blossoms, those are bats. Black bats, masquerading from afar as squiggles on a grey background!

Yes, my dear ones, I made a dress out of bat fabric. When I saw this Alexander Henry print, from their Ghastlies line, it had to be mine. Not only am I from Austin, the bat capital of America, but they are my favorite animal. How could you not love a flying mammal that hangs upside down and eats mosquitoes? They are wonderful, ergo they deserve a dress. 


Since this fabric is quilting cotton, a heavier weight without so much drape, it needed a pattern that could handle a stiffer material. Enter the Anna Dress, of course.

For this version of Anna, I decided to pair it once again with a gathered dirndl skirt. The close fitting skirt of the original pattern would have been a disaster with this fabric, but the structured bodice was ideal. Besides, doesn't it seem appropriate that a Halloween dress is made with a Frankenpattern?


As far as pattern changes go, the dirndl was the biggest change. The only other things I did were to add black piping to the neckline and sleeves, then sub a hand-picked zipper for the prescribed invisible zipper. That's a change y'all will be seeing a lot of, I'm afraid. The finish of a hand-picked zip is just as clean as an invisible zip, but puts a lot more control in the hands of the sewist. I do so love control. 

Since the Anna dress uses facings, and my fabric was a bit thick for a lining, putting the piping in was more of an adventure than it usually is. In order to make the neck facing turn properly with the added weight, I tacked it down at the shoulders and at the point of the V. For the sleeve piping, I turned the hem in 1/2 inch, the hand stitched the piping in, followed by black bias tape to cover the inside exposed edges. 

Oooh! Piping!


So, there we have it, another Anna. This pattern is always a dream to sew up, as well as wear. There are two others cut out on my sewing table right now and I can't promise they'll be the last. This bodice is both lovely and practical! A true winner. 

The details...

Things I Loved: 
  • The fabric! It's covered in bats, darling. 
  • The pattern is quickly becoming a real go-to for me. I heartily recommend giving it a whirl. 
Things I Changed:
  • Added black piping, to create interest on the somewhat busy print of the dress. 
  • Under-stitched the facings.
  • Added facings after the zipper, so that the finish was prettier. 
  • Stay-stitched the neckline. For the love of Cthulhu, please stay-stitch your neckline! 
  • Added in-seam pockets, because...pockets. 
  • Switched the invisible zipper to a hand-picked zipper. If you're curious about this technique, I recommend Tasia's tutorial
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Nothing. After three times, this pattern and I are pretty in sync. 
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • Turning faces can always be tricky, but under-stitching them goes a long way toward taming the wee little beasties. Secure them at the shoulder seam, by stitching in the ditch, and you're golden. 
Notions & Fabric: 
  • 3.5 yards of Alexander Henry's Ghastlie Bats - $30
Construction Time:
  • Five delightfully haunted hours


I would like to tell y'all that this dress will only be reserved for October, but that would be a lie! It's seasonally appropriate with a cozy orange cardigan, but the print is understated enough for other months. These bats will have longevity far past Halloween, I predict. If anyone dares give me the stink eye about them in springtime, well...

That's what real bats are for. 

Kidding. Of course. I'll tell them that I'm from Austin, a city that properly appreciates this noble species, and give them a few hard-hitting bat facts for their trouble. 

 The perfect dress for some twilight ghoul hunting! 


38 comments

  1. isn't halloween the best? i miss the "north american" halloween (i'm a canadian exiled in sweden), it feels so fake here, somehow. there is no tradition of halloween in sweden, but they're picking it up although it often feels like they don;t really get the point... and i miss pumpkin pie!!! although for the first time this year i see real pumpkins at the supermarket!

    anyways enough rambling... yay for another wonderful anna! the print is just great, clearly bats, but somehow very abstract? the piping is just the right detail, too.

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    1. Joelle, that would be such a difficult adjustment to make! The North American fall holidays are my absolute favorite - Halloween and American Thanksgiving - and, consequently, hold so many season associations. Autumn should mean pumpkin pie! It would be surreal to have so many things we consider traditional not even hit the radar in your new home. I'm so relieved that at least the great orange gourds are finally making it to you. ;)

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  2. Love the piping detail! I have the Anna dress on my cutting table for the first time but now I'm already considering the next one!

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    1. Thank you, Marianne! The piping is probably my favorite part of this dress. I've absolutely loved the Anna dress, so I can't wait to see your first one!

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  3. Very cool dress Mary! The bats look great and the piping fits like a glove! I also agree you should wear it no matter what time of the year it is, because, well... it's so cool! :)

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    1. Thanks, Mariana! So glad you agree with me...this dress definitely won't be reserved for October!

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  4. Haha this is awesome. Especially works with the piping! :-)

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    1. Thanks! So glad you like the piping. It's one of my favorite embellishments, hands down.

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  5. This is great! You're making me so very tempted to buy the Anna. But I'm meant to be on a self imposed ban from buying patterns! Oh well, Christmas is coming soon ;)

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    1. Ha! Janey, I'm so sorry to be a temptation! Anna is definitely worthy of an entry on your Christmas list. It's just the pattern for some late winter sewing. ;)

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  6. That is one beautiful dress. I love the pipping. I never thought about adding piping to this dress, but you have totally inspired me.

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    1. Thank you, Dibs! You know, I almost chickened out and didn't add the piping at all. That v-neck was rather daunting, but this fabric really seemed to need a bit of detail added. In the end, I think the Anna dress works really well with the slight rounded-v that piping necessitates. I would love to see more piped Annas out there, because it works so well!

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  7. I love the fabric you've chosen, and that dress looks fabulous on you.

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  8. Holy epic spook frock, Batman! This is all kinds of rad and a total novelty print in disguise!

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    1. Ha! Thanks, Amanda! That is *exactly* the reaction I was hoping for. Stealth novelty prints FTW.

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  9. une bien jolie robe avec de beaux d├ętails.

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  10. Oh I love it! Especially with the orange cardigan! I've been eyeballing the Halloween fabrics too but I won't have time to make something for myself. Next year! Halloween is my favorite!!!

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    1. Thanks, Sylvie! You know, I thought it would be too themed with the orange cardigan, but I love it too. Halloween is the best! I'm already looking forward to your next year Halloween make!

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  11. OOOOO! This is spooktacularly wonderful!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks, Lauren!!! Spooktacular is my new favorite descriptor for this dress!

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  12. Wow .... Your bat dress rocks! I'm late to the party with the Anna pattern but am tackling an FBA on the paper pieces at he moment ... Hoping to hit the sewing machine with it by the weekend. Now I am wondering if the print I have chosen was too safe as I love a novelty print myself. Looking forward to seeing your new Annas as they appear.

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    1. Thanks so much, T! Not going to lie, my first Anna was pretty safe - made up in a black background polka dot that had been sitting in my stash, unloved, for ages. I fully believe in saving those dishy novelty prints for later versions, when any pattern kinks have been worked out. I can't wait to see your first Anna! It's such a lovely dress and I'm guessing yours will be, as usual, fabulous.

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  13. Love the bat print with the piping! You're right - it pairs perfectly with the Anna pattern and that oh-so-fabulous cardigan. Well done!!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Meg! The Anna was made to be piped, I'm now convinced.

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  14. Love it! The piping looks great. I just got a copy of the Anna dress pattern, so I'm looking forward to trying it after seeing so many lovely versions on the internet!

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    1. Thank you, Tabatha! You are going to love the Anna pattern, I'm positive. Personally, I can't wait to see your version. I am totally swooning over your latest Simplicity 2444

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  15. Ahhh, I love the fabric AND the piping. I'm a big fan of fabric that looks "normal" from a distance but crazy up close - that way I can get away with wearing it to work and not getting odd looks.

    I've just made up my third Anna and haven't yet changed up the skirt - if I have enough fabric I'll be trying a fuller skirt next. I have also added the facing last every time - I'm not sure why you wouldn't utilise that to neaten up the top of the zip.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm totally with you on novelty fabric that is deceptively normal. Your seagull Anna falls into that category for me - "Oh, those are little wisps! Wait...no, those are really cool birds!" I loved it.

      Also, I'm so relieved not to be the only one giving the side eye to BHL's facing installation. It's so much cleaner, to change up their order.

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  16. Love love LOVE. Bats are my favourite animals too!!

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    1. Thanks, Roisin, especially since you were my gathered-skirt-Anna inspiration! Also, I already knew this, but you have excellent taste - both in fabric and favored animals. ;)

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  17. This is so great! Fab fabric, and it looks great on you.

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    1. Thank you, Lauren! I'm totally gaga over this fabric. It's one of my favorites I've used so far!

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  18. OMG IT'S AN AUSTIN BATS DRESS! I love it so much. The piping is an excellent touch. OK. That does it. I've seen gorgeous versions of Anna out there, but it's yours that have convinced to to give her a shot. :)

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    1. Thanks, Susan!! Isn't this fabric awesome? I'm so happy that there's another Austinite around to appreciate it. Also, please give Anna a shot, she's fabulous.

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  19. I am SO glad to see more posts :) I had been missing your articles!
    I love this dress! It screams fall and the print is so cool!

    It also looks awesome on you!
    I really need to go and visit that pattern brand. I have been very little adventurous lately!

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    1. Thank you, Laurwyn! I'm so glad you like it! Also, this pattern is definitely worth the adventure. It's my new favorite!

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