Thursday, May 8, 2014

FINISHED: Cotton Hemery (Hazel + Emery) Dress

The Hazel dress was the second Colette pattern I purchased - the first was Peony - and it was the first dress I made in earnest after we moved to GA in 2012. I made four versions of this dress in 2012:

1. purple chambray - size 14: too big, and very visible invisible zipper
2. aqua linen with muslim underlining - size 14 with 1" seam allowances: poor seam finishing led to fraying 
3. colorblocked cotton - strapless: too low cut, wouldn't stay up around bust
4. green swiss dot - size 10 + fba: poor fabric choice - way too sheer

I tinkered a great deal with the fit of the bodice, and tried several adjustments on the size 14 and the size 10. When the 14 seemed too large, I made a FBA on the size 10 and it ended up morphing into some kind of pseudo-princess seamed bodice.

After these four pseudo failures (I say pseudo because I had wearable garments, but not enjoyable garments), I wrote off the pattern altogether and said "to hell" with attempting to make the Hazel pattern work for me. What I once considered a tried-n-true pattern was marked off the sewing list.

But, two years and a few Pinterest pins later, I began yearning anew for the Hazel pattern. I'd also learned a few things about Colette patterns since then:
  • I wear a size 12 in the Laurel dress - interesting. 
  • Size 10 with fba in the Laurel dress was too snug.
  • Perhaps I should fba the size 12 Hazel bodice.
And this is where I found some success with the Hazel pattern. See, it's one thing to make a dress that is so-so and walk around all day knowing it's so-so, but it's quite another to wear something with confidence because you know it fits like a glove and has superior construction. So, I took size 12, made a 3/8" fba and made a muslin. I didn't like the length so I hacked it up and added some length so I'd show no cleavage. Presto!

The bodice fit perfectly! It's magical how these moments occur in our sewing lives. It's as if we have to make horrid sewing mistakes before the mysteries unlock themselves. I think this is a true testament to the need to keep fiddling with patterns until we have them just right. 

I swapped out the Hazel skirt for the Emery skirt, and the Hemery was born!

I found this fabric at JoAnn (gasp!) in the quilting section (double gasp!) and finally bought it when it became marked down, and I'm glad I did. If you pay attention, you know that Christine recommends quilting cottons for the Emery, and I personally believe the Hazel bodice needs some structure (see swiss cotton fail above). 

After I constructed the bodice, trimmed and notched the seams and pressed those suckers on my pressing ham, I stood there debating whether to serge or add a lining to the facing for some added strength. I had a perfect cotton voile in the perfect shade, so I finally decided it was worth it.

I then went rounds about whether to turn and stitch-in-the-ditch the lining, or just stitch to the skirt and serge them all, which is what I decided.

I serged the bottom edge and turned up 1 1/2" (1" less than recommended) and stitched the hem. I used a regular zipper in contrasting thread. For some reason it's been awhile since I've sewn zippers and I can't keep the construction order straight in my head. Sewing is a use-it-or-lose-it activity indeed. A bit wonky, but look at that waist seam matching!

I waited to install the straps until I had on a bra and my hubby so he could make sure they covered the straps. I interfaced both strap pieces (just to be sure) and used a 3/8" seam allowance rather than 5/8" to ease the turning. I used a triple stitch to stitch them down. The ends of the straps are serged.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with this dress. The fit of the bodice is near perfect - perfection is an odd thing to strive for given our imperfect bodies! The length is super-flattering - this skirt is just genius - flared a bit at the hem - love it! And the fabric, despite it's low brow origins (or something) I love as well.

I wore this on Wednesday to music rehearsals and really liked it. The bodice fits so well that I had no worries about it gaping open or anyone being able to look down it - a fear I had with the original length of the bodice. It was a tad snug to sing in and get a good breath, so I'll note that for future wearing. The straps perfectly cover my bra straps so I can wear this in the heat of summer without a cardigan.

Pattern: Colette Hazel bodice + Christine Haynes Emery Skirt
Size: Size 12 + 3/8" fba on bodice, size 12 skirt
Fabric: high quality quilting cotton, 2.5 yards of 45"
Needle: Organ 80/12
Thread: Gutermann Mara 100, seafoam for construction, black for hem and strap securing
Changes: 3/8" FBA, 1" length added to bodice, 1" seam allowances on bodice and facing, added bodice lining, serged seams, 3 rows of basting thread on skirt, serged and turned 1.5" hem, interfaced all 4 strap pieces, 3/8" seam allowance on straps, placement based on bra straps, regular 16" zipper with interfaced seam allowances. (Whew!)
Notions: needle, thread, roll tricot fusible for zipper, lightweight fusible for facings. 

Have you ever struggled with a pattern only to return to it later and solve your fitting issues? 

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