Sunday, July 21, 2013

Oh Hawthorn, I Love Thee . . .

I am seriously in love.  As soon as I saw Collette Patterns' new shirtdress, the Hawthorn, I ordered it immediately.  I have never made a dress from Collette although I have admired them from afar.  But you know that nothing gets between me and the search for the perfect shirtdress pattern.

It's the collar, the darling collar on this dress that knocks me out.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to make it in white linen.  I've been wanting to make something this summer in white linen ever since I saw Peter's white linen trousers.  So while waiting for the pattern to arrive, I bought some white linen at Hancock's.  The fact that I have never sewn with linen was no impediment; I was obsessed with this project from the get-go.  I made a size 6 based on the finished garment measurements and never looked back - no muslin, no tracing - throwing all caution to the winds!  Here it is:

I don't normally wear my hair up, but I wanted to make sure you got a good view of the collar, the major reason I made this dress:

As you can see, linen tends to wrinkle:
The linen I chose is not an even-weave; it has stripes running through it, with little dots between the stripes:
Let me tell you that this type of weave does not lend itself to precise cutting, sewing, or pressing.  It probably would have been smarter to begin with an even-weave linen for my first linen project, but no, I had to have this.  Given the loose weave, the fabric had a tendency to stretch - which was great while putting in the sleeves, not so good for everything else.

One thing you may have noticed is that my Hawthorn does not have buttons from collar to hem; the buttons only go to the waist.  I cut both the front and back skirt pieces on the fold of the fabric so as to create a smooth front and back.  I put a 12 inch zipper on the left side to help get in and out of the dress, which is how Simplicity 1880 worked:
I again went with a centered slot zipper rather than the invisible.  I have tried to love invisible zippers, but I just can't cotton to 'em.

To hem the dress, the instructions direct you to turn up the hem 2 inches and slipstitch in place, and I thought, "Nope, not going to do that."  The skirt on this dress is a half circle skirt - turning it 2 inches requires major easing to get the hem to lay flat.  Plus, I liked those two inches.  And this uneven weave doesn't exactly press so accurately. So I picked up some extra wide single fold bias hem tape at Joanns to hem this baby, and all I can say, is "wow, why haven't I ever used this stuff before?"
It worked like a dream and was much faster.  I love it.  The hem tape is part cotton, part polyester, and gives the hem a little more body, which for this drapey fabric, is a plus.

My decision not to make the dress with buttons all the way to the hem stemmed from several factors, not the least of which was laziness.  By limiting the buttons to the bodice portion of the dress it reduced the number of buttons (and buttonholes from 13 to 5!) Plus, it eliminated any possibility of gaposis at the waist, which I hate, or any possible wardrobe malfunction.  Here's how to draft the skirt pieces if you want to do this:

For the back skirt, all you need to do is eliminate the 5/8 inch back center seam allowance and cut on the fold.  Here you can see I positioned the pattern 5/8 inch from the fold:
For the front skirt, you just need to determine where the center of the skirt pattern is and place that on the fold.  For this pattern, the skirt center front is where the buttons are to be located, which Collette so thoughtfully indicated on the pattern.  Just align the fold of your fabric where the buttons are supposed to go:
I hope you can see this.  Just one word of advice though:  cutting on the fold for the skirt pieces is only going to work if your fabric is a wider width of 52 inches or greater.  If you are working with 45 inch wide fabric, you are going to have to cut the skirt pieces separately, adding seam allowances, and then sew the back and front center seams to create your back and front skirt pieces, like Simplicity 1880.

When I first saw these photos, I thought maybe size 6 was a little large, but I realized that this drapey linen was not a fair test of fit.  I love this pattern so much, I have deemed it Liberty fabric worthy, and have made a Liberty lawn version which confirmed that size 6 was the correct size, and any looseness in the linen dress is due to the fabric, not the pattern size.  (Photos of the Liberty version are mysteriously locked in my camera - I can't get them to download, but will keep working on it.)

Collette is having a dress sew-along for the Hawthorn, and check out these wonderful versions from sewing bloggers who have already made this dress:

1.  Erica's cute blue sleeveless dress.

2.  Sanne's adorable polka dot blouse.

3.  The Lazy Seamstress' yummy rose dress.

4.  Katrina's unique heart version.

5.  Elizabeth's cool floral blouse.

6.  Z's test version - wow, is she tall and thin!

7.  Amazingtaracat's longer dress version - with swimmers on it.

8.  Melanie's blue bird seersucker dress.

9.  Kristin's pirate head dress.

10.  The Queen City Stitcher's red seersucker dress.

11. Daniela's dress with contrast collar and sleeves.

I can't overstate this:  I want this dress in every color and fabric imaginable.  I have another linen dress planned (sleeveless this time) and at least two blouse versions dancing in my head.  It might be the perfect shirtdress pattern, but I am taking a break to try out another vintage pattern soon.

Update:  I've posted on my Liberty version here!


gwensews said...

It appears you have found your perfect shirtwaist dress! Beautiful.

Vicki W said...

That's a really pretty collar and neckline. Glad you've been sewing!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is absolutely gorgeous! It's a fab pattern, isn't it. I have plans for at least two more, and having seen yours I may have to make a white one.