The Anna Affair

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

I stumbled across this fabric 2-3 years ago at an old stone and mortar mill beside the Barwon River. A beautiful old bluestone building full of vintage fabrics, antique quilts and the lovely Jen. Sadly the physical space is not longer, after being bought out by foreign investors. Luckily Jen still runs A Piece of Cloth online and has set up a wonderful home studio which I’ve had the honour of visiting.

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

The bodice is hand block printed cotton from the 1930’s and the skirt is a sheer Edwardian from 1900’s, both in immaculate condition. When I purchased them, I had no idea what form they would take, my only thought at the time was that I couldn’t leave them behind.

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

They sat nestled together in my stash for a considerable period, coming out occasionally for a special viewing and then returned to fold.

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

One day in December 2013 I was feeling overwhelmed and sad, so I reached for my favourite fabrics again and on this occasion I decided that in order to shift my mood I needed to create something special. So many times I’d tried to match each piece with other pieces but they never seemed to coordinate with anything other than each other.

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

I was able to piece the Anna bodice with a few inches of scraps to spare. Stitched and hung on the wall with the Edwardian fabric pinned as the skirt, I stood and admired the potential outcome.

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

I tried to use as much hand work as possible in order to preserve the delicate fabric and to honour its age and history.

The skirt is simply three gently gathered rectangles leaving no waste. All seams were french seamed, with satin bias on the neckline and waist seam. And my first hand picked zip! I followed Tasia’s tutorial here. I remember it was 47 degrees in the middle of a 6 day heat wave when the zip was picked, no air-conditioning but much satisfaction when it was completed.

Vintage Anna Dress - Russian Tea Leaf Reading

Vintage Anna Dress – Russian Tea Leaf Reading

This dress is a firm favourite, not only for its age and beauty but also because creation its enabled me to channel my sorrow on a miserable day and make something that is both pleasing to my eye and suitable for frolicking in the forest. Vintage Anna Dress

It’s also a reminder to me that whilst I can’t control how I’m perceived by people, I can create pieces that are unique to me and make me happy to be who I am. I like for my clothing to have meaning and memory.

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

I also feel like a faerie when I wear this dress. All I need is some gossamer wings…

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

Curtsey.

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

Vintage Anna Dress

Pips xxx

Photos by Tash and Bruce. Fabric purchased from A Piece of Cloth. Shoes from Camper. Tights from Wolford. Flower pins from Gardens of Whimsey.

(Note that the photos in the forest are from a year ago when photos were taken for a project that has yet to come to fruition and my hair was wild and auburn. Additional photos taken at a family lunch two weeks ago.)

Berlin Anna

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress

Friendship  is a wonderful thing.

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress

Someone once told me that if you can count five really good friends then you are doing exceeding well. This day I can count four. The number sometimes fluctuates but the baseline remains the same. Today it looks to be going up!  Making friends as an adult seems so much more difficult than when we were younger. Add into the mix some long standing health issues* and a good dose of quirkiness, I often find myself isolated from the general population and excluded because I just don’t fit in. I know, sad face, but it’s true.

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress – Wind Swept Style

In the past year since creating this space, I have encountered many like minded sprites, some might even say bosom buddies. I have been delighted to discover blogs and instagram accounts that inspire me, had conversations with seamstresses and seamsters across the world about all things stitchy and participated in some international gift giving that have delighted me both in the giving and the receiving.

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress

In February I joined in the Secret Valentine Exchange and was given Ute as my Valentine. She organised the project along with Sanaei, and there was much international love posted across the seas. At the time I recall asking Bruce if had any objection to my making a valentines gift for a woman I’d never met in Germany to celebrate the love of craftiness and if he felt a little weird about it. He replied that as long as he didn’t have to pay for it, there was no concerns. Love for all!

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress

Through this, I have made firm friends with Elle and Ute (we created a lovely little international triangle, Ute made a Secret Valentines gift for Elle).

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress

Ute was kind enough to send me some fabric that she saw at the market that she felt was autumnal me. It is a beautiful Japanese lawn in the most perfect colours. There was squeals and shouts of delight upon its arrival.

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress

I’d not so long ago decided to abandon the Anna pattern, considering I now have nine in my wardrobe and there are other dress patterns waiting to be explored. However as soon as I opened the parcel, it was decided. There is plenty time for retirement in future years.

Berlin Anna Dress

Berlin Anna Dress

Straightforward construction and sizing, self made bias binding for the neck line and french seamed throughout. I could make this dress in my nocturnal slumber.

International friendship. Pen pals. Bosom buddies. Happiness. Wonderful. Joy.

Berlin Anna Dress - Partial Curtsy

Berlin Anna Dress – Partial Curtsy

Curtsey.

Pips xxx

Photos by Bruce. Flower crown from Gardens Of Whimsey. Shoes from Duck Feet. Tights by Wolford. Scenery by Portarlington. Cardigan by Parjie (Audrey in Unst).

* The antibiotics are still kicking my ME/CFS. Underlying bacterial infection, inflammation of the immune system that can’t be seen. Who knows? At this stage it doesn’t matter. I’m improving every day. Welcome me back to life.