Wifi Hawthorn Dress

hawthorn dress

“Look at the lovely Japanese fabric I bought!”

“Why is it covered in wifi symbols?”

“It’s not! This is a traditional Japanese pattern, it looks like waves.”

“Radio waves? From the wifi?”

“….”

Last year I made a muslin of the Colette Hawthorn dress from Swedish Tracing Paper and it was a complete disaster. It didn’t fit at all and I had no idea why, so my Hawthorn pattern was cast into the back of my pattern stash never to be seen again. However, a combination of finding the perfect fabric for it at the Knitting and Stitching Show, being more confident at pattern alteration and having a few days free over Easter to devote to it persuaded me to try again. Look how she turned out!

hawthorn dress

The Pattern: Colette Hawthorn Dress

Described by Colette as a ‘curve-hugging classic that combines gamine styling with a flattering and feminine fit’, the Hawthorn dress has been on my radar for quite a while. I’m a sucker for a shirt dress and the flat collar gives it a slight twist which I think elevates it above some of the other offerings. I have quite a few patterns with gathered skirts, so I thought a smooth quarter circle skirt would make a nice change.

hawthorn dress

Hawthorn dress

Pattern Alterations

Part of the reason my last muslin was so off last time is that I am wildly across sizes on the pattern. My overbust is size 8, but I’m size 14 at the waist and hips. So, I traced out a size 8 bodice front and back onto parcel paper. I then performed a 1 inch full bust adjustment (FBA), adding in a bust dart. I made the waist dart smaller than the FBA called for in order to increase the waist size, shortened both the front and the back bodice pieces and added in a little width to both bodice pieces at the side seam. I sewed this up into a swedish tracing paper muslin and was very pleased with the fit. The only issue I had was that the armholes were too high up under my arms, so I cut this about an inch lower on the muslin and transferred this change back to the pattern. I then measured around the new armhole with a measuring tape and compared this to the different sleeve sizes and decided size 12 fit it best. So I ended up with a heavily modified size 8 bodice, size 12 sleeves and size 14 skirt. If you’re wildly off the pattern sizes and you aren’t happy to do a lot of alterations I would approach the Hawthorn dress with caution! That said, the fit has come out beautifully, so it was definitely worth the extra effort and I’m very pleased.

Hawthorn dress

Hawthorn dress

Construction

I found the construction fairly simple, having done collars and sleeves before. I opted to take the short sleeve from the top version and add it to the version 2 dress so that it would be nice and cool in the summer. The muslin had tight sleeves, so I let out a bit of the seam allowance in the final sleeve, which probably wasn’t necessary and has left them a bit boxy but I think it looks fine. I also added in-seam pockets and chopped a few inches off the skirt before hemming. This isn’t a quick and dirty pattern by any means – including all the pattern alterations and cutting out the fabric this took me the best part of three days, but I really enjoyed every minute of it. The instructions were clear and helpful throughout.

hawthorn dress

hawthorn dress

The Fabric

The main fabric is a gorgeous Japanese ‘dobby weave’ cotton, which I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show from the Japan Crafts stall, which was overflowing with tempting prints. The fabric somehow manages to be soft to the touch with a gentle drape, but also has an almost rough texture.

For the pockets I used a very cute Japanese cotton kindly gifted by my parents’ Japanese lodger (ありがとう ございます!). Look!! I have cats in my pocket 😀 The fabric actually came with a label on it that read ‘Kawaii!!!’. Anyway, I digress.

The final fabric is a koi carp print from my stash to make the inside look a bit more jazzy.

hawthorn dress

Hawthorn dress

hawthorn dress

The Buttons

These buttons were also from the Knitting and Stitching Show, though I can’t remember the stall unfortunately. I think they’re absolutely gorgeous! So unusual. I actually bought them before the fabric and didn’t realise until I got home how lovely they looked together. Unfortunately this also meant that I didn’t really buy enough because I had no project in mind, which resulted in the buttons being further apart than they should have been on the dress.

Hawthorn dress

What Needs Changing?

This button spacing has led to the main issue with this dress – there’s some gaping at the bust where there should be a button! This weekend I sewed on a hook and eye which is pretty much invisible and just keeps the fabric closed; it looks much better and makes me feel more secure. The only other issues were some spots where the fabric pleated a little on the skirt and armholes, but I think I’m the only person who will notice, so I’m not too worried. Perhaps the skirt should have been a size down to fit the waist better?

hawthorn dress

The Verdict (In Which I Gush Unreservedly)

I am in love with this dress!! I have never managed to achieve such a perfect fit on a bodice before, so I am very chuffed. I owe a lot of this to the Craftsy course I took last summer, Sew the Perfect Fit, which I would highly recommend (affiliate link, but I genuinely think it’s great) – you can see my blog post about it here. In short, I’ll be wearing my Hawthorn dress a lot and I’ll be making a lot more of them! I can’t wait to try the three quarter length sleeves with the cuffs.

Happy Birthday, Summer Sun Bear!

summer sun bear

Wow, I made it! A whole year since I started this blogging malarkey!

summer sun bearI started Summer Sun Bear initially as a form of escapism – some personal issues last spring meant that I really needed an outlet and a distraction. Sewing is a lot cheaper than a therapist after all! I’ve loved completing projects and writing posts, but I’ve also discovered an amazing community of creatives online – always kind and encouraging with helpful advice. Being a part of such a lovely community helped me feel less isolated and alone, so thank you to you, dear reader!

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m really bad at finishing things. I have a tendency to get really excited about something and work on it obsessively for a little while and then get distracted by something newer and shinier and abandon it. I’m not proud of this – I try REALLY hard to finish stuff, but when I’ve lost the drive I just can’t keep it up. So I’m really proud that I’ve not only managed to finish so many sewing projects, but I’ve also managed to keep this blog going. I had a slump in the winter, which is my usual winter hibernation, but on the most part my posts have been getting better, my photos have been getting better and more of you have found my little sewing corner and come to say hello. If that’s not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is!

I’ve come a long way sewing-wise as well. I’ve tackled sleeves, collars, buttonholes, FBAs and many other pattern alterations. For most of my sewing career I had been sewing on a little Singer Featherweight, which I love, but it only does straight stitch and has a tendency to get birds nests, so the upgrade to my Pfaff last spring has opened many sewing doors.

To top the year off I thought I would pick five posts from the past year to share with you. I think they each represent an important step in my sewing journey and give you a taste of what I’m all about!

Spotty Mimi Blouse

mimi blouse

This blouse was a real achievement. I had never made a blouse or attached a collar, I don’t think I had even done any buttonholes with my buttonholer before (previous ones were shonkily hand stitched). I was also extremely lucky to have my mimi featured on Tilly’s blog, which was so flattering!

Circus Circle Skirt Pattern Tutorial

Circus Circle Skirt Pattern Tutorial

Glastonbury Circus Dress

This is the only pattern tutorial I’ve done so far (though I have others in mind for the future). This skirt is great for twirling in and I’d love to know if any of you have tried it out!

Red Roses Akita Blouse

akita blouse

This is the only Seamwork pattern I’ve made so far and it was super quick. I got a lot of amazing feedback on the photos for this blouse (thank you Ben!) – it was the first time I took any photos in public, which was totally cringe-worthy, but I’m getting better at controlling the embarrassment!

The Bodice Sloper Saga: Pattern Drafting

BodiceMuslin2.2

I drafted a bodice sloper! This was a massive step up in my sewing knowledge and the fitting knowledge I gained here has been shaping my sewing ever since (no pun intended, I wish I was that witty).

Coral Zig-Zag Moneta

moneta dress

This was a very early post and it shows – the photos are terrible! I may have tried to ‘warm’ the light by putting an orange Sainsbury’s bag over the flash… Errrr, yeah. Points for ingenuity maybe, but negative points for execution! However, this was the first time I had made anything from a knit fabric and I absolutely love it. I still wear this dress proudly. In fact, I really need to make another one of these. *hunts in stash hopefully for perfect fabric*.

So there we go, that’s been my year in sewing blog land. I’ve had a fantastic time doing it and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about it. I look forward to having you along for the next part of the ride :)

5 Sewing Shortcuts For The Lazy Sewist

sewing shortcuts

I wrote a draft post last summer about some bad sewing habits I use as shortcuts. Looking back at it now, I’m horrified by most of them (not finishing my seams?! What was I thinking?), but I thought I’d write about some sewing shortcuts I still employ that I think will make your life easier. There are many ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to sew and the hobby sewist can feel like they have to follow every rule in the book or the sewing gods will smite them down. Well, I want to give you an alternative. If sewing is your profession, or you enjoy doing everything perfectly then by all means follow the rules, but if you want to get the maximum fun out of your hobby without worrying about the rules then read on.

Hopefully I won’t be quite so horrified by them this time next year…

thread-colours

  1. Buy a select number of thread colours in bulk that will go with anything

There’s nothing worse than spending all night planning your next project and getting really excited about it, only to realise that you don’t have any matching thread. Honestly though, if your thread colour is a bit off, no-one is going to notice! My thread colours are navy, cream and red. I do basically all of my sewing in one of those colours. I don’t often sew with a pure black or white fabric and I find that black and white thread are too harsh against other colours. Navy and cream are a lot more mellow and look fine with most colours in my fabric stash except red. Take a look at your fabric stash and work out which colours will work for you to get maximum colour coverage.

  1. Save up your thread cutting and trimming

You have to be careful with this one, as the extra thread can get caught up and cause a nightmare of a bird’s nest, but if you carefully pull the excess thread to the back of the sewing machine and out of the way of the needle this can save a lot of time pulling the fabric out from under the foot and trimming individual threads. I especially employ this when I’m doing a series of buttonholes.

  1. Don’t make a muslin

Ok, hear me out with this one. I am totally on board with muslins, they help you understand your fitting needs and they mean you only ever make perfect stuff from your precious fabric stash. But you know what? I’m really impatient. Endless worries about it fitting absolutely perfectly only stop me from doing the bit I actually enjoy. Once I’ve made something I’ll analyse the fitting issues I’m having with it and refine in my next make, but I still get the fun of making/having a new garment to wear. That said, I do sometimes bother with a muslin, but I never want to feel like I HAVE to because that’s how it’s done. If you’re a sewist who likes to do everything by the book then by all means make a muslin every time, you’ll probably make a wonderfully tailored garment every time. But if you’re impatient and impulsive with your sewing like me, you might be better off without.

  1. Only change the bobbin thread when sewing basting/gathering stitches

Changing the bobbin is so much quicker than re-threading your whole machine. It means you can just cut the contrasting bobbin threads when removing the thread from your garment – it will be really obvious then which thread on the other side to pull. Be careful with this one, but I haven’t made a mistake with it yet (fingers crossed!).

  1. Don’t make a lining

You may have gathered by now that I’m quite lazy. I just want to wear that garment as soon as it comes out from under the machine foot, a cursory sweep of the iron and I’m good to go. However, sometimes you leave the lining out and then you put on your shiny new garment and it sticks to your tights like glue. We’ve all been through it. But there is a way to save these garments and it’s called an anti-static shift. Maybe I’m the last person in the world to have discovered this, but I thought slips were firmly for old ladies until Lisa at Sew Over It started going on about them on her vlog (which you should definitely binge-watch btw). So far I’ve only got a skirt slip (from Marks & Spencer), but I’m definitely in the market for a full length one because it will save me a lot of disappointing static issues in the future. And will stop me feeling guilty when I neglected to line something.

So there you go, those are mine, what are your sewing shortcuts? Do you think shortcuts are a bad habit, or a clever way to get the job done and keep yourself engaged?

 

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