Thursday, 12 July 2012

My Hazel that could have been...

Colette’s Hazel - the land of opportunity of sewing patterns, full of promise and possibilities. This pattern is sweet, simple and fast to make. The perfect little summer number if you like. And there’s solid evidence to back this up, as glorious versions of Hazel are popping up left, right and centre: PaunnetGinger MakesLucky Lucille and The Garment Farmer.

Some bloggers loved this pattern so much, they made it more than once: Sew Country Chick (herehere), Pincushion Treats (herehere) and Colette's very own Sarai  (here & here).

But what about me? Putting my terrible track record aside, was I lucky enough to end up with a glorious dress that actually fits? Was I heck!

But even for me this is a first - my Hazel makes me look pregnant...FRONT AND BACK!!!


This is the face my mum says can turn milk sour. I'd have to agree with her...though I have good reason to be annoyed, no?


It’s all my fault of course. I only made a muslin for the bodice and then proceeded to stupidly ignore the niggling voice in my head telling me that the shape of the skirt looked too narrow for my shape. I told the voice to go away and that the skirt looked fine on everyone else...but of course not everyone else’s hips are about 3 times wider than their waist. Aaarrrggghhh! I didn’t bother finishing this Hazel, as I simply didn’t have enough fabric to fix the skirt. So to get the fit I want I’ll have to start again from scratch. But I think the skirt can be fixed relatively easily by making it wider/bigger and then either into an A-line shape, more gathered like a dirndl skirt or pleated.

Hazel is definitely a pattern worth persevering with though as it comes together easily and you can make it as simple or as embellished as you like. Despite my skirt fitting issues, I was surprised at how well the bodice fitted considering I don’t even have the straps in place. A word of warning about the amount of ease in the bodice - my ample bust measurement corresponds to a size 6/8 but to get this fit I had to cut out a size 2!?! And for once I didn’t even have to shorten the bodice pieces, which does probably mean most of you will probably need to lengthen them though.
Initially, this whole disappointing experience smacked of déjà vu and I wallowed in self-pity over the fact that I'm destined to never ever make a dress that truly fits and that I truly love and wear to death. You should have been there, it really was a sorry sight. After indulging myself for a little while, I got bored and managed to pull myself together long enough to establish three facts:

1.    I practically live in dresses.
2.    None of these dresses are me-made.
3.    Nothing will give me greater satisfaction than making dresses that fit.

And with those facts established, I began to think more calmly and clearly. What I need to do is work harder to achieve my goal. So far this year I’ve had loads of fun experimenting with jersey, making cute blouses and even a couple of lovely skirts. But I think most of it has been a diversion tactic to distract me from tackling what I fear most...dresses! So for the latter part of this year, I will mostly be concentrating on honing my dress-making skills and on quality over quantity. This is not to say that I won’t be making anything else or that I won’t be jumping onboard any exciting sewalongs, but without focussing on what I want to achieve how do I truly expect to achieve it?

My 'Hazel that could have been...' look!


The loose plan (I say ‘loose’ as I also have a bad track record of sticking to plans) is to strike while the iron is hot and ‘perfect’ my Hazel first. From there I hope to delve into my stash and work though my everyday patterns like Macaron, Rooibos, Ceylon, Darling Ranges, Simplicity 8138 and Simplicity 2591. Then I want to move onto a few breezier patterns like Lonsdale and Cambie as well as some vintage beauties I've had forever like Simplicity 5940, Simplicity 8483 and Simplicity 3411. Finally, I’d like to graduate by drafting some designs of my own that have been swimming around in my head for a while. Wish me luck!

What’s your sewing nemesis...or are you lucky enough not to have one?

45 comments:

  1. Such a bummer when shit goes haywire. Anyway you could salvage the bust with a different fabric for the skirt? Maybe something close to the blue in your stripe? Or just write it off as a muslin. I have the opposite problem as you. ALL I make is dresses. Like,a dress every week or so for the last 6 months. I HAVE A PROBLEM. I'm mastering fitting them (mostly grading from one size up top to another on the bottom). So you can and should and must get up on that dressmaking horse and ride it till your closets barfs pretty handmade dresses all over you. Love all your projects. Would love to see your Macaron and those Simplicitys are amazing (especially 8138 but I have a weakness for 60's shifts).

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  2. Ugh, I know how it feels to finish something and think "this is not flattering on my body." I honestly don't think your Hazel looks that bad, though! The bodice fit is ACE - super super flattering. Maybe you could yank the skirt off & attach another. I bet you could even find a contrast-y fabric that would look neat as the skirt. If you did a lightweight denim, it would look like 2 pieces :)

    At any rate, I started out a Hazel but it's currently living wadded up in the corner of my sewing room, where I threw it in disgust after I realized it also wasn't flattering on me at all. The bodice is cute, but those kinds of straps look ugly on me, and I hate gathered skirts. I may swap it out for an A-Line & turn the straps into a halter. Maybe. I kind of hate the whole pattern right now, though, haha!

    I think my sewing nemesis is the really simple/quick projects. I forever want to turn them into something majorly complicated, and most of the time it ends up biting me in the butt haha.

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  3. Oh dear. It's really not that bad and the bodice fits you like a glove! I quite like the strapless look. Maybe you could try merging the bodice with a simple A-line skirt? Or a longer one for a maxi dress? And none of that 'I've never made a dress that fits' missy...your mad men dress is a stunner!!!

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  4. You should cut the dress into a peplum-esque shirt! I don't know what the situation on the back is like, or if there's any kind of closure there yet, but if you still need to add one I personally think a button-up back would look super adorable!

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  5. I think you're almost there Marie - don't stop now because it's going to be so pretty!
    How does it look if you remove some length from the CF and CB waist? That should bring the skirt hang into place and solve the puffiness. Good luck!

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  6. Oh Marie, I feel your pain! Sleeves are my nemesis.... And a properly fitted tailored jacket. I think your 'perfect' hazel will suit you perfectly - you've got the perfect figure for gorgeous frocks. Perservere! It'll be so worth it!

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  7. The fabric you chose is darling. I'm sorry the skirt part didn't work out. But now the second time you make it will fit nicely and come together faster! The bodice looks great! And that could be a pill to get right.

    Your dress pattern list is pretty close to mine (Macaron, Rooibos, another Darling, and a Cambie). Looking forward to seeing how they come along.

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  8. Lladybirds idea is great! Rip of the skirt and go for some light weight denim! Cute casual summer dress :)
    You have an awesome "stink face" as it's called in our house!

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  9. It doesn't look too bad! You'll get the perfect fit one day. The bodice looks like an amazing fit.

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  10. Oh No!! Its such a cute dress! I'm so sorry about the phantom baby bump! Have no fear - you will make a dress that fits you like a dream and then you will make a bajillion more of them and then you will have a closet full of dream dresses!

    I agree with the other comments about ripping off the offending skirt and attaching an a-line or circle skirt in a contrasting color - because really the bodice is just SO flattering on you!!

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  11. Gosh, I'm sorry. The skirt is a really strange shape-- it kind of puffs out at the waist, and then narrows... weird. I'm not sold on gathered skirts myself, at least not ones without a waistband. But the bodice really is adorable on you! You gotta try to salvage this! A solid skirt would be so cute, and you could even match the straps to the skirt to pull things together!

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  12. The bodice is beautiful. And that's usually the hardest part to fit so you are very close to perfection now. Good luck with the next version!

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  13. Aw, that's frustrating! I like the Hazel in theory, but I do think it's not the most flattering look! The angular straps, the gathered straight skirt... I like Lauren's idea above about changing the straps and skirt to make something more fun!

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  14. Go sister! I love your kick ass attitude... OWN THE HAZEL! That bodice looks smashing on you so you simply must finish it. I believe in you! :) x

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  15. Something that I found with the hazel is that if you leave the waist a little loose, the skirt's gathers don't pouf up all weird, making it look you have a bun in the oven. So I would suggest either putting more ease into the waist or maybe adding a waistband and that might help keep the gathers in check.

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  16. I did my Hazel in a beautiful Kaffe Fassett shot cotton striped. I don't mind that it makes me look heavier but that it makes me look heavier in a really bad way, like big bum, huge breasts, and a gigantic stomach. From the side, I look so incredibly matronly. From the front is nice but I would have to turn to the side sometimes. I don't think I'll make another and I'm glad I only bought the PDF version.

    But....yours doesn't look bad at all. however, if it doesn't feel good to you on, it just doesn't matter what anyone else thinks! Give it away.

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  17. I think it looks really beautiful! It reminds me of Christina Hendricks - you should try it with a belt maybe?

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  18. Marie, I love the dress, and you can salvage it! Make the bodice a bit more empire style, i.e., shorten it, as noted above. The other's Hazels hung from above their waists. And, loosen the bodice a bit. I think that will correct the hang of it. You have the figure most of us wish for - hour-glass. Google that figure type to see options for the best look for you. I agree that the A line skirt, not gathered, could work wonderfully! So own that small waist of yours, and emphasize it! You have a lovely figure, don't bad mouth it!!!

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  19. I am struggling to make a proper dress muslin myself, so you have my sympathy. I obviously doesn't feel comfortable, but it doesn't look tight in the pictures. Have you considered keeping the bodice and using a mix of a solid colour and your print for the skirt? You could capitalise on those triangular shapes from the bodice.

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  20. Such a bummer! The bodice looks fab though, so if you can work it into something else then it wouldn't be a total loss.

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  21. No but the fabric is so cute! Maybe you'll take some of these comments' advice and salvage it, but either way I admire your spirit! You'll conquer dresses! My motto in life is if you keep trying, eventually you will get there. I plan to conquer dresses too!

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  22. I agree with ginger makes, I would still save this beautiful bodice with a contrasting skirt... Still great progress , keep going x

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  23. Oh, what a shame, and that fabric is so cute! I see what you mean from the first photo (side view) but that isn't so visible from the others. If you have more fabric or a contrast fabric, you could insert godets into the side seams perhaps? I understand the tendency to ignore the niggling voice in my head too!

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  24. Marie you are a fighter, I can tell, so this is just the first step...a second muslin. The bodice is perfecto, and reality suits you. I agree with the others, find some contrast fabric to redraft a new skirt. It's something I've been thinking of...2 fabric dresses. And for what its worth I also don't think it looks that bad.
    My nemesis? Clovers!

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  25. Have you tried wearing a wide belt on top? To control the top edge of the gathers? Otherwise I like the idea of using a contrasting fabric to sew a different skirt shape onto that gorgeous bodice - someone suggested lightweight denim - ooh yeah!
    Or you could go all 1970's and slice it off about eight inches below the waist, and add a gathered flounce of a contrast fabric at that level, and use the salvaged piece to make a final patchworked flounce below the middle one? Am I making any sense? Like what i would call a "gypsy skirt"? Or is that just too hippy-ish?!

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  26. I agree with the commenter above who said to cut it off below the waist and turn it into a peplum top.
    Don't be discouraged. Why not try copying a dress you already own whose proportions flatter you?
    My nemesis is sleeves. Hate 'em.

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  27. I'm with those who say it's a great fit on the bodice, so why not keep that part and make a skirt from another material. That could definitely look really cute.

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  28. Ah hon, I really feel for you. Don't give up though, the bodice looks wonderful! Can you get a couple of metres of red fabric and make a dirndl or full circle skirt to attach the this lovely bodice? You SHALL go to the ball!

    Zoe xxx

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  29. oh what a shame - I feel the pain. But, as everyone else has said, the bodice looks fab. I think the skirt style is more suited to a slightly more narrow-hipped figure - I have a feeling it would look the same on me, which is why I've not bought this pattern (dispite all the lovely versions out there!). But a different style skirt with this bodice, and you will have an amazingly perfect make. Can't wait to see what you decide! x

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  30. my nemesis is burda patterns - i can never get the size right! if i choose from measurements, i end up taking about 4" out so i am clearly doing something wrong!

    i love the fit of the bodice and some great ideas for changing the skirt. i was going to suggest a contrasting fabric for the skirt too.

    i'm about to start on a hazel but this post is really timely as I probably wouldn't have done a muslin for the skirt as it's not that fitted but i think i will now!

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  31. The fit on the bodice is amazing, and it looks great as a strapless bodice too. I think bodices are harder to fit than skirts, so you're more than half way there! :)

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  32. Aww, I'm with you on the curse of the hiplicious! But take heart: the bodice looks amaaazing on you! As someone above suggested, could you take some length out of the CF and CB to banish the baby-bump-shaped sag? And perhaps putting a few small pleats in the skirt instead of the gathers would help make it more flattering (a bit like a lot of late 50s/early 60s skirts and dresses: http://ny-image0.etsy.com/il_430xN.42169584.jpg ).

    And if that fails, then go for it with a cute dirndl or A-line skirt in chambray - lovely and summery and the colour will look great with the bodice. It would be such a shame to lose your great work on the bodice.

    I also like the peplum blouse idea.

    Good luck with it :)

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  33. How annoying! It's awful when a pattern you love doesn't work out because it's not for your style or body type. The good thing is that sewing helps us learn what fits best. I'm sure your next try will be better. Don't give up. I made a Japanese top this weekend and look awful in it. Thanks for the sizing tip... I'll be making crepe by Colette soon.

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  34. Oh, I had the same issue with Hazel. I thought it was just me! I agree with a previous commenter that if the waist has more ease, it won't puff out so much. Your bodice fits beautifully and it seems like it could be salvaged--- perhaps a skirt with a different shape to it. Hang in there! :-)

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  35. Ooh you really have my sympathy with this one, although I think the bodice looks fantastic! Don't give up! I think the ideas for an A line or contrasting skirt are great. I made my hazel last week. Unfortunately the first time I did up the zip, it broke..grr! And yes, I have the strange phantom baby bump with the skirt too, but I'm determined not to let hazel get the better of me, thanks for posting this :-)

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  36. Aww, too bad as this is such a cute print! Maybe you can fix the bodice with a half-circle skirt in a contrast fabric, and so save at least part of it? The bodice looks really well fitted, too!

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  37. Omg Marie, I love that expression. How about removing the skirt and taking in the fullness with darts and turning it into a straight skirt ?The bodice looks fabulous and makes your waist lookso tiny. Don't give up on it!

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  38. it's so close to being made to fit you properly.... keep at it, there were loads of terrific ideas above. you can do it!! my nemesis is pants! i've made several pair of shorts and a pair of pajama pants but no real jeans or pants. i'm kinda terrified of them and i've been holding denim to make my own for ages. eventually i'll conjure up the courage to dive in!

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  39. I feel your pain as I've been there one too many times. The bodice looks perfect on you! I love Lladybird's idea of taking the bodice and paring it with a lightweight denimn. That would look super cute with the print. My nemesis is sleeves and I'm not too fond of zippers yet.

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  40. I was about to suggest but others have beat me to it - salvage the bodice and add a skirt maybe in a block colour. The bodice looks great and it'd be a shame to not use it for something else. I've see a few contrast dresses in Anthropologie contrasting a print with a block colour and they look great. Don't be too disheartened, you're nearly there!

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  41. I already commented on this, lol, but this time I wanted to let you know I gave you a blog award :) Well.. I kinda gave you two so take your pick I guess? lol!
    Congrats you winner :)

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  42. Hi! First,I'm a relatively new reader and I really like your blog.
    As of your dress, i think the fabric is beautiful and the bodice has a really pretty fit.
    Maybe you could slavage the dress by keeping the bodice and attaching a pencil skirt to it? it does not take a lot of fabric, so maybe you could cut it out of the fabric of this skirt. I'm very hourglass mself and I find that a pencil skirts flatters me more because it does not add poof at the belly. I make mine using this tutorial from house of marmelade http://marmaladekiss.blogspot.fr/2011/03/high-waisted-pencil-skirt-pattern.html
    I hope this help, beccause the bodice really suits you well and I LOVE your fabric choice.
    Have a nice ay!
    Cynthia

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  43. I was surprised by the fit of the bodice as well, I cut a size 4 and didn't need any alterations. I'm also busty and always need to shorten the bodice part.
    I don't know if it helps, but you're not the only one with a big difference between bodice and hips. I had to go up 3 sizes for the hazel skirt panels and that's normal for me. Damn you, big ass.
    Since the fit of the bodice is so good and the fabric so cute, I would consider savaging this dress and making a contrasting skirt as someone else commented (a circle skirt would be so cute!).
    And your determination to get better is admirable, I can't wait to see your progresses! :D

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  44. The bodice looks great on you! I think you can salvage it, maybe swap out the skirt for something else?

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  45. Ahhh. I've been looking through various bloggers' hazel posts before I intend to make one and it makes me sad to read this as you're so hard on yourself. But now I'm thinking about all the awesome badass things you've made! Past Marie needs to high five Future Marie!

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