Tokugawa Anna

Today marks my first project completed with fabric from our Japan trip. Ladies and gents I give you the Tokugawa Anna.


The fabric is a navy and cream wave pattern, used by the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868). We first saw the pattern as wallpaper in a preserved former government building in Takayama. I loved the simple clean lines and the nod to sea waves, and so was pretty excited to find it in fabric form the next afternoon.

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The blogland concensus is that By Hand London’s Anna Dress pattern is a dream to sew, and I can only agree. It comes together really easily. The issues I had were all of my own making… Firstly, I decided not to do a FBA as my measurements were pretty close to the pattern and this is a less formfitting shape than, say, the princess seams of the Elisalex. However, when I held the bodice pattern pieces up against myself, I felt they were probably going to be too short (I am that attractive shape that is long of body, short of leg) so I added a hefty 6cm, following the instructions on the Anna sewalong. As I wasn’t making a muslin (I know, scandale) I tacked the bodice together first so I could check the fit. It was mostly great but I did need to lower the tip of the bust gathers by about 1cm. So now I am now curious as to whether, had I done a proper FBA, this fiddling (longer bodice, lower gathers) would have been necessary? I am almost tempted to retrace the bodice and see… almost.

When it came to the skirt, I had originally wanted to do a full-length number and bought 3.5m of the fabric with this in mind. However, what I had not considered is that to fit the skirt pieces on the fabric, you have to tessellate them top-to-tail, a no-go if you have a directional print (as I did). Upon realising this, I changed tack and folded the pattern pieces up to knee-length. Now, I don’t know what went wrong here, I thought I had carefully measured, but when I came to sew them all together the hem looked like this, at pretty much every seam:


W.T.F?? Note to self: Next time check the pattern for how/where to shorten the skirt, do not just assume you can measure and all will be fine. In the end it was ok, the hem  just took a lot measuring/checking than it should have done.

The last change I made was to put an exposed metal zip in the back, instead of an invisible one, following Keightly’s excellent instructions. My reasons for this were threefold: Firstly to disguise the fact that the pattern doesn’t reeeeally match across the back (oops), secondly because I love an exposed metal zip on a girly dress and thirdly because I am still waiting for my invisible zip foot to arrive and I was just toooooo impatient to finish this lovely dress.

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Siobhan xx

5 thoughts on “Tokugawa Anna

  1. I love this japanese pattern and the dress you made out of it! I was travelling in Japan this spring and bought some nice fabric. Still undecided what to sew with it…

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