Being Nagged By The Hawthorn Dress

Hawthorn CollarThe prettiest collar ever?

Anyone remember the dress I had to throw away? I cut it out again. Correction. I cut it out again twice. Initially, from a heavy turquoise cotton – which I realised I loathed. Hospital scrubs, anyone? So I pulled out this African wax cotton gifted to me by Rosie of DIY Couture. Thank you, Rosie!

I’ve never worked with wax cotton before, despite the fact that several stalls sell it on Walthamstow market. I confess, some of it I find kind of ugly. But not this! Here’s what I never quite understood. When you wash wax cotton it really softens up, but still has a certain stiffness to it that makes it behave beautifully. I now bitterly regret the African wax cottons I considered and then dismissed at the fabric district of Paris.

This Hawthorn dress was such a fun make, playing with the colours pink and purple. I particularly love how my topstitching changes from pink to purple as the collar flips over.

Hawthorn topstitching detail

Hawthorn DressOoh, that skirt drape makes the print look really twisted. It isn’t. There was a lot of careful pattern matching. Well, until it came to cutting out the back bodice. Then, I placed my directional print the wrong way round. Meh, I could care less.

Pattern matching Collage

I made loads of changes to make this dress a just-about-success rather than a failure. I went down two whole sizes in the bodice and sleeves, and made a Full Bust Adjustment. I took an inch off the bodice depth. I widened out by millimetres at the waist to accommodate my thick middle. I tweaked and played, tweaked and played. Mostly, I played.

When this dress hung on my dress form, it really reminded me of the dresses I saw in the Horrockses dress exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum I attended a gazillion years ago with Tilly and the Buttons and Fehr Trade. That was my first ever sewing meet-up, back in 2010. What an age ago, that seems.

So this dress reminds me of friends, it reminds me not to give up, it reminds me to have fun. Alright, dress, enough already! Stop nagging me, jeez. I get the message. Sewing. It’s basically one massive metaphor for life, isn’t it?

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38 Responses to Being Nagged By The Hawthorn Dress

  1. Carolyn says:

    What a fantastic print! It gives this pattern a completely different look, and I just love how it came out. I’m glad you tackled your fear of wax cotton and worked out all the fitting issues. Definitely a success in my book!

  2. Caroline says:

    Lovely colours on you and the directional print works really well.
    I have had a nagging shirtdress talking to me today so I’m glad I’m not the only one – and I always thought it was in my head!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Nice job! You look so pretty.

  4. jenny says:

    Gorgeous pattern and fabric and you look lovely I it.

  5. Becky says:

    I think this is definitely a success! The difference in the direction of the print on the back is just a design feature, and I like it. Great dress.

  6. missceliespants says:

    Lovely! I adore certain wax prints. I think they can be so fun and inventive. But some… I have to walk away from. Your dress looks terrific.

  7. Nilla says:

    I love the colors! You look absolutely stunning 🙂

  8. I love these colours on you and I’m loving your up-do – very Elizabeth Taylor.

  9. redsilvia says:

    I do like that dress! The colors are great on you and your hair is adorable. I hope you have fun wearing it.

    P.S. No one in a million years would notice print direction.

  10. Chris says:

    Wow, this looks great! And your hair is spectacular, if I may say so.
    You’ve given me great encouragement to try wax fabric. I have a piece at home which is still very stiff, I might wash it a couple more times so see if it softens up a little more.

  11. Tanya says:

    The colours suit you beautifully. Gorgeous!

  12. I really love the fabric of your dress. Wax cloth is so colourful and bold. I wish that there were places that you could buy it up here. I think that you really need to see it in the flesh as some of the motifs can be massive. Strangely enough though, I was gifted some truly spectacular wax cloth by a friend who brought it back from Senegal a couple of months ago. Her kind gift is so vibrant, it washed beautifully and still has an amazing hand. It is earmarked for a shirtdress too. Best thing is that they come in huge lengths too. xx

  13. Beautiful dress. I am intrigued by the waxed cotton. I didn’t know it had such qualities. I have a waxed linen jacket but I have never washed it. I don’t dare/ Anyway, always interested in what you have made.

  14. yoshimi says:

    Beautiful dress! I love wax cotton too, it looks similar to quilting cotton, but definitely not! I love your writing too. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Nicola says:

    I love the colours on you and I agree that the collar is very pretty. I was glad to see you dismiss the tiny little flaw of a mis-matched print. It is as Leonard Cohen sings,” …forget your perfect offerings. There’s a crack in everything; that is how the light gets in.” I try to remember that every time I sew. Thank you for sharing your creative work with us. You inspire me.

  16. mari says:

    You look beautiful! and the dress was certainly worth the effort! :0) mari

  17. Jo says:

    I really like the mirrored effect of the back bodice. Declare it an awesome feature! The wax cotton definitely makes this one of the most fun Hawthorns I’ve seen around the blogosphere. I’m glad you persevered with the fitting. It has given me some hope! I’m on my third bodice muslin for my current dress and still scratching my head over shoulder/back fitting issues. I’ll get there though!

  18. Stacey says:

    I am in love with that material you used … well done!

  19. Miss J says:

    You’re lucky to have friends who give you such beautiful material and
    I’m sure that she’s pleased to see what you’ve done with it!

    Did you line this? Wax print is usually quite thick so I assume you didn’t?
    I’ve got some wax print that’s so gorgeous in my stash that I ogle it every so often, but iI’m scared to cut into it as its so fabulous! How silly is that?

  20. That suits you so much! I’m gonna say what we are all thinking – hotter than a pistol.

  21. Rachel says:

    Sewing IS a metaphor for life, As is knitting! You know… Going back to fix the mistakes (I thought about that metaphor a lot lately). But let’s talk about this amazing dress. I absolutely love it! It makes me look differently at the african wax prints I see on my local fabric market. there’s a Vlisco stand there, and I am now for the first time tempted to actually buy something there. Hehehe.

  22. UtaC says:

    Pretty. Love how the print flows.

  23. Najah says:

    Your print matching job is magical. It’s like the collar just blends right into the neckline.

  24. It is a fab collar isn’t it. Great make Karen. jo xx

  25. EmSewCrazy says:

    LOVE IT! The things you did with this print are amazing! Some wax prints are the best and some are the worst. This one is lovely!

  26. piakdy says:

    There’s something quite modern & designery about your dress. Maybe it’s the combination of the silhouette and the print. Or maybe it’s your styling in the full length photo above. Love it!

    I often wonder if we aren’t cheating ourselves of a better fit in choosing the lazy way out when selecting the pattern size – ie by choosing a bigger size to accommodate the girls rather than picking the right size for our frame and doing a FBA. I’ve certainly been tempted many times, especially when other bloggers get good looking result without all the alteration hassles. So far the masochist in me hasn’t allowed me the easy way out. But I continue to be tempted.

    In the case of this dress, I’d say your fitting alteration was definitely worth it. Enjoy the dress!

  27. Caroline says:

    It’s absolutely beautiful! I’m definitely going to have to buy this pattern!

  28. jay says:

    That is a really pretty African print. You can find lots of these in the Petticoat Lane area too.

  29. This dress is so beautiful!!!

  30. meggameuf says:

    Cool dress, cool hair do.

  31. newmodellame says:

    Beautiful dress, the whole thing is very pretty.

    Know how you feel on the hospital scubs thing, I made a Wiksten tank out of turquoise cotton. I mean an oversized top with a pocket on the front, what was i thinking! It screamed scrubs. I still wear it tucked in to a flared waisted skirt. I try to out ‘feminine’ the surgeon look of the thing if that makes sense.

  32. Nicole says:

    I adore this! The pattern of the fabric is perfect for this dress. I worked with some similar waxed fabric (one with greens and one with magenta) while making curtains for my church’s youth room. Since it was just curtains, I didn’t wash the fabric, but I did wonder how much it would soften. Hopefully one day I’ll get to use some of the fabric for my own beautiful dress!

  33. Kath Dee says:

    Very interested to read about working with waxed cotton – will have to think about giving it a try. I love how perfectly you have pattern matched the seams. Lovely work.

  34. Isabel says:

    Amazing dress, just wondered if you lined it?

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