Hawthorn, the new shirtwaist dress, guys. This is going to be a long post--even longer than usual--because I know a lot of women are sewing this dress (or blouse; there's a blouse version, too) right now, or planning it in the near future, and hopefully I can be a bit of help to a few. For convenience, I've bolded the key words in each section I'm talking about...
Right. I guess the pattern's been out for like two weeks now, so I would not have to be that super fast a seamstress to have finished it already, but... actually I did finish it in a super fast amount of time. For those of you who don't know, I live in Portland, the same city where Colette Patterns is located. A few months ago, they were looking for local pattern testers, and I was lucky enough to get to be one. I sewed this up over the course of, eh, a little under a week at the end of April/beginning of May.
My other main misgiving was the sleeves. You can't tell here (and I'll explain it more later), but I actually sewed version 2, with the three-quarter-length sleeves and plackets. To me, that kind of sleeve placket just screams 'Western shirt,' and I was exposed to way more than enough of that growing up; it's not something I want to repeat. I also don't like three-quarter sleeves. I feel that on me, they look awkward, due to my height--like, 'oh, they were supposed to be full-length, but her arms are so frigging long they only come part way.' Eesh. I think that ultimately, they did come out cute, but I wound up cutting them off anyway. (And again, yeah, I'll explain later.)
Right. Now that I've gotten that out, let's talk about what I liked.
It's a shirtwaist dress, so that, of course, was an automatic plus. And--something I've noticed a lot about Colette patterns lately: they all seem really wearable, neither too formal nor too causal, perfect for wearing to work (or at least wearing to the places I work).
I really like the shape of the neckline/collar. (Heads up--the collar is cut in three different pieces, which I've never done before. It seems to work perfectly well, though, and I bet it'd be really useful if you were using, say, a fabric with stripes.) When the pattern was first released, a lot of people on the Colette blog mentioned liking the fact that the skirt was circle-shaped (actually it's a half-circle) rather than pleated or gathered or whatever at the waist, which most shirtwaist skirts do tend to be. I like that, too--this is my favorite skirt shape.
And, of course, even in the testing phase, the directions were incredible.
Let's go back to the sleeves for a minute. The other thing I thought when I saw them was, 'oh, god, sleeve plackets. I've never done those before. They look... maybe I should've said I was a beginner rather than a beginner/intermediate.' But the directions were so, so perfect. It was like fold here, iron here, sew here, et viola. Seriously, if you can read, you can do these. So if anybody really likes the longer sleeves and the placket detailing but doesn't feel their sewing skill is up to snuff (I think Sarai also said when the pattern was released that the plackets were the hardest part, or at least I somehow got that impression) I am telling you to go for it.
Plus, they're doing a Hawthorne sew-along over at Coletterie right now. I'm sure that a step-by-step of the sleeve plackets will be part of it.
Being stupid, the only picture I took of mine while they were still attached to the dress is horribly wrinkled--this was the most wrinkle-prone fabric I have ever encountered, ever--so much so that I can't bring myself to post it. But here is one flat.
Okay, now let's talk fit. As you may have noticed, the dress is slightly big on me. (I'm looking for a narrow white belt to wear it with in the future; I think that'll help.) I don't mind, and knew it would happen, because I'm slightly off the small end of the size chart. If I'd been making this solely for my own use, I probably would have sized it down, because I like things to be very fitted, but since it was a test pattern, I wanted to keep it as unaltered as possible. So it wouldn't look like an empire waist, I did add two inches in length to the bodice--and that still wasn't quite enough--but otherwise, I did just as directed. Straight out of the box, here's what I wound up with:
The green lines indicate where I moved the darts to point after I unpicked the original ones. When I measured, I found that I had to move the points outward more than an inch, as well as up slightly. The waist fit fine, though (or about as I expected). I left the bottoms in the same place so there wouldn't be any holes in the waistline, which means they're angled a bit oddly, and the middle pulls a tiny bit. So I probably wouldn't do that in the future--I'd move the bottoms of the darts out as well--but for now, it works well enough. I also wound up curving the upper parts of the darts quite a bit to take in the excess of fabric under the chest, which is often a problem for me. I'm tempted to try a small bust adjustment, but I don't really think it will help because, as I've lately come to realize, considering my overall measurements, I don't really have a small bust. But I'm certainly not in need of a full bust adjustment, either. I just need to tighten up those darts.
It is worth noting, however, that other than the customary lengthening, the back fit was spot-on, and that almost never happens. In fact, frequently I have more trouble getting the back of a garment to fit than the front. The unexpected bodice back fit is probably the thing I was excited about the most during construction. There are two little darts, each only a couple inches long and mostly hidden by the collar, on either side of the back neck. They make all the difference.
And the skirt. Well, not a lot to say here. It's a basic half-circle skirt. I cut it the same length as the pattern was originally, but instead of doing a 1 1/2" hem as the instructions indicated, I did a tiny machine-rolled hem to preserve length. I'm not unhappy with the length, but I think in future I'd probably add a couple inches. (But that's just me. I like my skirts a bit long. If you're not 5'11", or even if you are but don't mind slightly shorter skirts, it'll probably be just fine for you.)
And... I think that about covers it. As I mentioned earlier, there's currently a Hawthorn sew-along going on over at Coletterie.
Even if I don't manage to make a second version by the end of the month, I'm super excited to see what other people come up with. I've been checking the Colette Patterns flickr stream regularly. And, while I certainly won't claim to be an expert in any way, if you are sewing this up and would have a question or would like a second opinion from somebody who's been there, please feel free to ask me.
I'll leave you now with a couple grat photos that didn't fit anywhere else, because, well, I'm being helpful and you need to see. Yes, I'm going with that. That's right.
Fabric: Purple cotton from Knittn' Kitten $6.00 for 4 yards but I only used 3, so let's say $4.50
Pattern: Colette Hawthorn (1026)
Notions: 14 half-inch buttons (I have 7 left cos there was one extra in two bags of 10 for $1.20 each) also from Knittn' Kitten $1.68; 1 and say a half packages of hem tape $0.38; one hook and eye from stash; and I had to buy new thread, but whatevs, I never count thread.
Time to complete: I dunno in hours, but I made it in a week. Got the line drawing and measurements Tuesday night, bought supplies Wednesday, picked up the pattern Thursday afternoon, didn't do much Friday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, finished sewing it (mostly) the following Thursday night, except for the hem Friday morning before work, and the armhole finishing when I decide to.
Made before: No
Make again: Actually, I think I will.
Sewing soundtrack: the vast majority was Moi Caprice, say 75%; then maybe 20% Midlake (being more productive for a bit); and I started off with I guess the other 5% a mix of stuff, mostly YAST and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
First worn: Friday 5/3/13, to work and then to the Colette studio for them to look it over
Wear again: Yes. (And, what I wrote when I'd just finished sewing: "Even though it hella wrinkles and the sleeves don't properly fit, yes I will." Since then, I've worn it several times.)
Total cost: $6.56