Saturday, July 27, 2013

Blue polka dot Hawthorn.

I have wanted a blue polka dot dress for the longest time now, mostly for two reasons: Lucy Ricardo and my grandmother. I Love Lucy is my favorite show, and I've always admired the polka dot dress that she wore so often. And we have a photo of Nanny (my mom's mother), and she's wearing a satiny navy and white polka dot dress. Whenever she sees that picture, my mom always asks Nanny why she didn't hold on to that awesome dress. :)

So I finally have my blue polka dot dress...

I am much more excited about it than I appear to be. I was actually a bit grumpy about this photo shoot, to be honest. :) I was planning to get some wonderful photos outside amongst flowers or something. Then when I wore the dress to church last week, I forgot to get pictures while I was wearing it. I had planned all week to get some photos this afternoon, and wouldn't you know it was raining?? We only had one room that was easy to take them in, but it was still rather dark and dreary so forgive the bad lighting. And thanks to my mom for putting up with my grumbling and taking the photos. :)

Anyway, on to the dress. You probably remember me swooning here on the blog when Colette Patterns released the new Hawthorn pattern several weeks ago. I love shirt dresses, though I didn't own any (until now!). I decided to not only order the pattern but also to participate in the sew along, though I didn't exactly stay on the schedule. I had to fit in the sewing when I had even though I got a late start, I finished the dress in two days about a week apart from each other. :)

{In case you're wondering, my (crooked) brooch is Mary Poppins, and it's from this Etsy shop.}

I did make a muslin first. The fit was okay but not perfect, and there were a few things that needed adjusting to make it look less frumpy. :) Here are the alterations I made:

-Shortened the bodice by one inch so the waistline hit at my natural waist. (I had to do this with the swing dresses also, so apparently I'm short-waisted?) Because of that, the bust darts and buttonholes changed a bit, too. And I added an extra button at the bottom because I wasn't comfortable with the approx. 6 inch gap at the hem.

-Lengthened the skirt by two inches (because shortening the bodice obviously shortened the whole dress).

-The bodice was very loose, especially near the underarm. So I took in a bit at the side seams, adding about 1 inch to the seam allowance at the top and narrowing down to a 1/2 addition at the waist.

-My collar is a bit more narrow than it should be because I used a bigger seam allowance while stitching it. I didn't like that 1/4 inch seam allowance at all...if you're not extremely careful you'll have basting stitches and maybe even raw edges showing if your cutting and stitching isn't perfect. Mine wasn't. :) So I had to use a bigger seam allowance to hide all of that.

-I also didn't do the hem as the pattern called for, but that was more laziness than alteration. :) I folded over 1/2 inch, then 1/2 inch again and hemmed it on my machine instead of by hand.

I used cotton lawn from the Lisette spring line at Joann's. It was a breeze to work with after I switched out to a thinner fabric needle...a lot like just regular quilter's cotton except better suited for apparel. :)
I'm really proud of these sleeves. There's not a lot of easing in the pattern, so they fit very nicely at the seam. The band at the bottom turned out horribly on my muslin, and I nearly just hemmed the sleeves. It seemed like a lot of work for a not-so-nice result. But I tried it again with my real fabric and it fit in perfectly (though with my the polka dot print it looks a bit chaotic :). Also, I really like the length of them. Even in the summer, I feel more comfortable in longer short sleeves. Maybe because they help hide the farmer's tan on my arms...
The buttons are vintage ones that came from Nanny's button tin. She gave it to me when I started sewing several years ago (she used to sew but doesn't much anymore other than the occasional hemming project). I searched through dozens and dozens of these small white buttons that appear exactly the same until you get them in good light and notice that some are darker/more yellowish/thicker than others. :) Finally I found 14 of them that matched enough for nobody to be able to tell the difference.
{Buttonholes make me so paranoid, even though the machine virtually does all the work for you. There's something incredibly nerve-wracking about putting tons of stitches and then holes in something you've worked so hard on.}

I'm so pleased with how this dress turned out. It's so light and comfortable. It's fitted enough to be flattering but loose enough to be comfy. I love the little collar and the full skirt. It's probably my favorite dress I've made so far. :) And I will definitely be making more versions...I actually already have the fabric for the next one.

I sort of regret not adding pockets, though I think with this thin fabric pockets might be too much of a strain on the seams. I can always add them later if I want to, of course. I'm also planning on making a belt for this dress covered in the same fabric. I've bought the belting but I'm still looking for the right buckle, so unfortunately I couldn't have it ready in time for this post!

Just for fun, because this dress feels so 1950s to me, here's a vintaged up photo. :)

Thanks so much Colette Patterns for designing this lovely dress and hosting a sew along! :)

Until next time,


  1. LOVE your dress! So, so cute...and polka dots are always wonderful:)

  2. What a fabulous dress on you! I just love it. I do hope you make more - the style is just perfect on you!

  3. Beautiful!! So you, so classic. Lovely!

    PS. I dread buttonholes too!

  4. Ahhh! Somehow I missed this post when I commented last night... Your new dress is adorable! It looks like the changes you made worked out perfectly. :D


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