Anda Dress

I sewed up BurdaStyle’s #7969 Anda Dress last week. I was dubious because it’s so clearly a pattern of the “pillowcase with holes cut for the head and arms and elastic around the waist” category, but enough people on the Interwebs swear up and down that it’s really cute, honest, and I saw enough decent-looking pics of it that I thought maybe it would be okay despite the utterly horrific Burda promo photo.

And it was cheap. I have a hard-to-fit figure and trying to sew the sort of fitted dresses I  usually like to wear has only led me to tears and disaster; my dressmaking and pattern-drafting skills just aren’t up to it. I was tired of wasting money on adorable patterns and ending up with a hacked up pattern and unwearable muslin for my trouble. I was willing to take a risk on something that might be simple enough for me to finish.

Sure enough, sewed exactly according to pattern my muslin looked like … a pillowcase with holes cut for the head and arms and elastic around the waist. But I persevered, added a bust dart and fiddled with the fit of the shoulders, and got something wearable. For the actual dress I used some fabric I found at the Goodwill for two dollars. It had a sort of early-80s Blondie-disco vibe to it that I liked and thought would fit well with the cut of the Anda.

detail of silvery gray synthetic fabric with small, shimmery jacquard dots

I have to say, straight up, that this is *not* a figure-flattering pattern, no matter what anyone tells you. I’m plus-sized with an hourglass figure, and it makes me look dumpy; you’ll notice all those chicks who look like models in it are very slender. It really emphasizes broad shoulders, especially without alteration. Careful fabric selection is needed for it not to look very matronly.

But! Not every clothing selection needs to be about how figure-flattering something is. This is definitely an easy dress to sew, even adding darts (it would be a good first project for learning how to do bust darts). It doesn’t take much yardage and the simple cut makes it a good choice for fabrics that are really outstanding in texture or graphics; also, a simple cut frees you up to concentrate on excellent clean finishing. It’s easy to add different neckline treatments to (I’d like to make a voile version with a little open-necked collar) and there are a bunch of things you can do with the armholes/cap sleeves, including extend them for little gathered peasant sleeves or even long batwing sleeves if you’re really brave.

Detail of dress shoulder gathered with drawstrings hanging down

I gathered the shoulders of mine with elastic in a casing, then stitched in false drawstrings for that disco look.

It’s also comfy, especially for hot weather. As written in the pattern, the waist casing with drawstring or elastic causes riding up. I plan to remove the casing on mine and take a hint from Anna Maria Horner: gather in the waist by zigzagging three or four rows of soft, narrow elastic into the inside waistline of the dress. Definitely opt for flowy, drapy fabrics: a version done in stretch crushed velvet would be cute and I might do one for the holidays. Woven fabrics would benefit from cutting on the bias. The cut of the dress looks good with tall boots or simple sandals depending on what your fabric calls for. Worth sewing.

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