denim dress

a while back i got the idea in my head that i needed a denim dress. it seemed like a nice casual and potentially versatile garment to have in my wardrobe, so i picked up some denim at sewfisticated. these people always have a table of $2.99/yd denim remnants and i check out that table almost every time i visit. this one is probably around a 6.5 oz denim—lightweight, but still substantial.


i planned to revisit mccalls 5927, which i made last year in plaid. my intent with making that dress was to fit a bodice i could go back to as a TNT. upon re-trying on that dress the multiple fit issues were very apparent—shoulder seam needed to move out, the back neck needs darts or re-shaping, etc. i had a pretty long list of changes i didn’t feel like dealing with. instead i went back to the hawthorn bodice, which i had fit recently, and fit well. i redrafted bits to eliminate the front button closure, added a back seam for a zipper, and replaced the v-neck with a scooped neckline.


then i wanted to have some cap sleeves so it would easily fit under a cardigan or sweater. the sleeves proved quite an ordeal. i went back to the cap sleeve on the mccalls pattern and tried those, but they ended up a little too “strong shouldered” for my tastes. i mulled over it, then just fidgeted with them until i liked what i saw. so i cut off most of the cap with the pleating and just set it in with incidental gathers. obviously, it’s not perfect and there is either too much or too little ease in the cap, but it really doesn’t bother me. overall, the shape is very nice and i’m quite happy with it!

for the skirt, i pulled out NL 6776 (used perviously here and here) because it has a nice a-line shape and doesn’t take up a crap-ton of fabric. i pleated it to my heart’s content… which. took. forever. to get right. love pleats, but geeze they can be annoying. as you can see, i added a little swoop front pocket. inseam pockets are great, but i’m always annoyed about how the pocket bags flop about. i went back to the mccalls pattern as a guide and went from there.

since this is a denim dress, i took the opportunity to topstitch in white. i considered the more traditional gold, but i also like the look of white on denim. i even used white when stitching the zip down the back, and i did a pretty good job of keeping it straight! while i intended to wear a belt with this dress, the topstitching at the waist gives just enough definition that i don’t feel super inclined to bother with one.


i had anticipated finding loads of things in my closet to layer with this dress, but came up pretty much empty-handed. that’s the problem with an at-waist dress: all my sweaters hit at my high hip, which looks terrible! then i grabbed this cardigan i made a year and a half ago (jalie 2919, unblogged but much loved! p.s. i nixed the ridiculous stitched pleats for gathers at the shoulder). it’s very very long, so i frequently just tie it around my waist. it works okay, but now i think i need a few papercut coppelia  wraps in my closet to pair with this dress for the colder months.

i hope you followed my merry adventures through all those patterns to get to this dress… i thought it was apropos to publish a real frankenpattern mash up on halloween, so happy halloween all!

—lisa g.

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!


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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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]


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

—lisa g.