hey! i made a dress!

in case you haven’t noticed, i’ve been on a  kid-sewing, pant-sewing, shirt-sewing bender lately. i decided to take a small diversion and actually sew up a dress. for me. it’s been practically forever (almost five months!) since i made myself a new dress, so it’s about time!

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as ya’ll know, colette patterns released the hawthorn recently (and they have a little contest happening…) and i decided to have a go at it. now i’ve never been an over the top fan of the flat collar (i.e. no stand). peter pan collars… meh. not that i begrudge them, they just don’t flutter my heart like 99.999% of the sewing bloggers out there. but i really like the shape of this dress, and the squared off collar makes it unique and i dig it. however the notched neckline, for some reason i’m just not feeling. no doubt by now ya’ll are either making obscene gestures at your computer screens, shouting at me (i can’t hear you!), or abandoning my blog altogether. i know. basically i’m a horrible person for not loving these details. i don’t know what’s wrong with me!

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i kept the collar as drafted, though i did make attempts to draft a different collar with a stand. it could be done, but it was going to require much more work than i was willing to put in at the time. but that’s okay, i’m happy with it as is. i did straighten out the neckline though. i haven’t done a colette pattern for a while because they are drafting for a much different body type than my own, so i have to really be willing to put in some quality muslin time. basically i have to take their patterns and turn them into a rectangle because i have no shape from the waist up. wah-wah. so, serious SBA, forward shoulder adjustment, pinching out some room above the bust, taking in some width on the back, and on and on… i was expecting this, so that’s nothing against the pattern, it’s just what i have to do to wear their designs.

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the fabric i choose is a stretch linen. i underestimated the amount of stretch this fabric has, so even though i fit my muslin closer than i normally would, it’s still a little roomy. i could have taken in the sides a little more, but ultimately i’m okay with a dress that i can wear all day and not feel constrained in. the dart tips were a little problematic and wouldn’t press well (probably because of the lycra content) so i just have to live with that. i think i should have done a little more SBA-ing to compensate for the stretch factor and that would have helped them lay nicer. oh well, live and learn!

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my only beef with the pattern is all the shoulder seams piled on top of each other. the collar pieces at the shoulder as does the facing. so between the top and under collar layers, the bodice, and the facing, you end up with 8 layers sitting at the shoulder. if i make this pattern again (really wanting a fall plaid version!) i’ll have to reconfigure that somehow. also, the neckline and facing has only a 1/4″ SA. now, i’m all about varying SA’s, but with a thicker fabric, it’s impossible to grade those layers. it may require more stitching to keep everything in place, but that’s just something to watch out for.

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i did a little extra topstitching around the button area for stability and to keep the facing in place, and at the waist. i serged all my insides and finished the armholes and hem with pink bias tape, and even though i’ve been sewing all my buttons on by machine lately, it just felt right to actually attach these by hand. it’s easier to properly shank them that way.

IMG_1088by the way, a bias tape finish on the hem is the easiest way to handle a rounded hem. instead of needing to ease the extra fabric in, the bias tape accommodates all that for you! you could hand stitch it in place or, since there was topstitching all over the dress, machine stitch as i did.

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overall i’m super happy with how my dress came out! the fitting was fairly easy, but that’s just because i’m more in-tune with the alterations i require. it’s pretty satisfying to be able to take a pattern drafted for a shape so unlike my own and still be able to make it work for me. [pats self on back]

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so what about you… have you gone for the hawthorn?

—lisa g.

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32 thoughts on “hey! i made a dress!

  1. dandeliondrift says:

    Beautiful! I have shied away from Colette patterns because I have not been gifted with a lot up top, so I know it will be a lot of pattern adjusting for me. Your dress turned out beautiful…it makes me want to give Colette a try!

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! after doing a few CP’s last year i got the hang of what alterations i need, however it still took two bodice muslins to verify that! fortunately the dress itself is a quick sew.

  2. Kelly says:

    A dress! I didn’t realize until now that I have never seen you make a dress! It looks great, as usual you put thought into the details and finishing and I like that 🙂 I am shaped like a rectangle and therefore have the same issues with Colette patterns…it’s a shame because they are so pretty! The Hawthorne hasn’t really tempted me- I keep thinking about a shirt dress in one of my Japanese pattern books, but I want a collar with a stand too and I was thinking I may be able to use the pattern pieces from the Archer pattern. Add it to the list…

    • lisa g says:

      yeah, i totally plan on making an archer shirtdress at some point. i’m with you on preferring a collar stand, but i’m glad i gave this one a try! i think all the “boring” sewing i’ve done lately has refined my technical skills for topstitching and controlling fabric and such. i bought the new sewaholic dress the minute it was available, so hopefully i’ll get at least one more dress made this summer!

    • lisa g says:

      thank you! i like the bias tape because it gives the hem a tiny bit of structure without all the stiffness of horsehair braid. it’s also good for making itty bitty hems if you don’t have enough length for a regular hem (you only need 1/4″ of length) or for reducing bulk on heavier fabrics. useful stuff!

  3. sewbusylizzy says:

    Crikey! I read all those adjustments and felt exhausted. I’m impressed!
    Totally worth it though, it looks really sweet. I love the fabric & the buttons are just perfect.

  4. dokucug says:

    So pretty! I’m really happy to see that you’ve made this so I’ll have your notes to refer to 🙂 I did buy the pattern, but realistically, it will be at least fall before I get to it. But once I do, I know I’ll be changing some things too based on your experience!

  5. velosewer says:

    The fact that you are skilled to make the right adjustments to this dress and use finishing techniques made this pattern work for you. That’s so great.
    Your idea of a plaid version will be lots of fun to make and wear too.

  6. Shar says:

    I love the fabric you used on this – and it looks great on you! I ‘cheated’ on my collar and traced the three pieces as one so I only have three layers. My dress is in a busy print so I didn’t think the additional seams would work well. I just hemmed mine today and only have the hook and eye (I’m thinking though of sewing in a snap or two instead). I think this would look great in a plaid and I’d love to see an Archer dress if you get around to making one.

  7. crab&bee says:

    All of your fit work really paid off! Your Hawthorne looks great. I think the back of the dress looks very elegant, especially with a bun. Being of the rectangular persuasion myself, I know I would need to make similar adjustments if I ever wanted to make a Colette pattern.

  8. Susan says:

    Your Hawthorn is beautiful! And I don’t think you’re alone on not liking some of the details of this collar/neckline area — I’ve spoken with several people who feel the same way. I kind of like it though, especially with your mods. And I think your dress turned out adorable — and yes, fall plaid version! Especially since you already have the alterations done! Do you think you’ll make the peplum top version?

    • lisa g says:

      thank you much! i do really love this dress, and the collar-style has grown on me a lot! i have been wanting a peplum top, so i may give this one a shot. i’ve seen a few really cute versions!

  9. Andrea B says:

    How cutie patootie. That fabric is really lovely. I always love your detail shots because you stitch and finish everything so neatly. Great job on the fitting. It’s rare that I do one muslin, let alone two, so I commend your commitment.

  10. Zoe says:

    I really like your version 🙂
    I always have to do major FBAs so perhaps I should try Collette patterns. I have $0 & no time so it will have to wait until after exams.

  11. aleah says:

    No need to pat yourself on the back – I’ll do it for you! (Insert virtual back pat here.) Well done with all the adjustments! I have just totally given up on Colette because I’m so not the shape they draft for, and I’m much too lazy to deal with that much fitting. Still, it’s good to know it can be done!

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! they are definitely a fitting challenge for me, but if they always draft from the same block, it should always be roughly the same alterations. if i really get it down i may be able to do them without a muslin! haha okay maybe not… 😉

  12. poppykettle says:

    Gah! It would appear that Bloglovin and WP have conspired together to eat my comment. Anyhoo – LOVE this. In fact, that shade/tone/texture/? of red is one of my favourites – I’ve seen it in linen and a wool blend before and each time I’ve regretting not purchasing some. It’s beautiful! And rather elegant, yet practical – all at the same time. I don’t think I’ve yet seen the hawthorn pattern as I’ve spent nary a moment on the interwebs recently, but I rather like the flat, squarish collar. As always – the inside neatness of your makes makes me smile 🙂 Yay for a new dress!

    • lisa g says:

      thank you! i spotted the red and immediately knew it was perfect for this dress! you should definitely try the hawthorn, it would look great on you. not that you don’t already have a long list of patterns to sew!

  13. Elise says:

    Love this dress! That fabric is a,axing. I’m not always a fan off the pp collar either but I think it has its time and place and this is definitely it!

  14. jessann24335 says:

    It’s been years and years since I’ve sewn a dress (and back then I only made two that were never completely finished and wearable.) Anyway, today I plan to finish the April Rhodes Staple Dress. I came across your Instagram feed and then your blog and you are inspiring me to keep sewing dresses and get to that point where I can make adjustments for my body type. You are making beautiful things!
    I’m off to add you to my blog roll now! Happy Saturday!

    • lisa g says:

      yay for getting back into dress sewing! fitting can be a real challenge, but it’s worth it to eventually (mostly…) sew things that fit. it’s all a bit of trial and error and i learn something new all the time. happy sewing! 🙂

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