Blue Hazel Kim 

By Hand London Kim Dress bodice with a Colette Patterns Hazel Dress skirt
Usually, I title my projects with the fabric name and pattern name. However, this most recent dress was made from an anonymous quilting cotton. I picked it up months ago at a huge warehouse-like quilting fabric store called “Happy Quilts”, in Pyeongtaek, a city nearby. It cost me just $4 a meter, so it was perfect to use in this dress, which is sort of a wearable muslin (after multiple unwearable muslins in plain white cotton). I don’t have a name for the fabric, so I’ll just go with “Blue”. So descriptive. I think the picture below of the bodice in progress most accurately shows the color/print. It seems to be Australian Aboriginal inspired.


For the pattern, I used the sweetheart variation of the bodice of By Hand London’s Kim dress, and the skirt from Colette Patterns’ Hazel dress. I used the Hazel skirt simply because I’d run out of tracing material, so I couldn’t trace off my size in the BHL Kim skirt. I wasn’t patient enough to wait for my tracing material in the mail (I have to order it from America, because I haven’t figured out how to get it in Korea… Ugh.). I’ve made four Hazel dresses before, so I know the skirt works for me, and since it’s just a simple gathered skirt, I knew it would work here.

By Hand London Kim Dress bodice with a Colette Patterns Hazel Dress skirt

Oops, wish someone had told me my zipper was a little undone… I should start doing the hook-and-eye thing, but they seem like such an effort to do up on my own!

I started the Kim dress months ago, but due to fitting problems, I put it aside for a while. I’m so glad I decided to re-tackle it– there are a few small problems still, but most shouldn’t be too hard to fix. I’m overall VERY happy with my finished result! With the close bodice fit and full bodice lining, this is the most technically advanced thing I’ve ever made. Plus, I’m totally obsessed with sweetheart necklines… I’ve definitely got more Kim dresses on my horizon.

As per the pattern instructions, I chose my base size according to my waist measurement (35″). This put me in a U.S. size 14. I then gathered my courage and tackled my first ever princess seam FBA. The bust measurement for my size is 42″, but my bust is 46″ so I needed to add 4″ total with a 2″ FBA.

However, when I slashed and spread by 2″ the pattern pieces looked super bizarre… So I convinced myself that a less dramatic 1″ fba would magically be fine. To my delight, in the single-layered rough muslin I made, it seemed ok! I then forged ahead and cut out a bodice in this blue fabric, and made it up, fully lined. Unsurprisingly, it was a total disaster… Puffy nips sitting high above my actual bust point, lower half of my boobs totally compressed. Not a great look. I had ignored the fact that a single layer of cotton is going to stretch more than the final lined bodice… Rookie mistake.

About two months later I gave it another go with a bigger fba. Here’s how I came to the result you see here:

  • I womanned up and did a 2″ FBA (total of 4″ added to bodice)
  • I sewed the neckline seam with a narrower seam allowance, 3/8 I think, because I’d read about other people finding the neckline rather low and doing this to compensate. Good call. Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m not one to lock up my bust in the cage of a modestly high neckline when I can avoid it… However, even for me, the neckline is a bit low! I’ll probably do a 1/4″ seam allowance next time.
  • I lengthened the side and center back pieces by 8 mm, because in my muslin they were coming up shorter than the side front. This was probably FBA-related.

As for the skirt, it’s just the size 16 from the Hazel pattern. Because I’m only 5’2.5 It’s been shortened– by 2″ maybe? I don’t remember.

In addition to sewing the neckline with a smaller seam allowance, there are a few things to fix for a better fit next time:

  • The bodice is definitely a touch too long at the front (which explains those creases you can maybe see on my belly), so I’ll shorten it a bit there.
  • The straps are possibly a touch too long/not angled correctly, because they were slipping off my shoulders a lot. I’ll probably trim the top of the back strap.
  • There is some puckering along the princess seam. I think the 5/8″ seam allowance is just too wide to smoothly ease the dramatic curve in the bodice side front caused by my FBA to the less curved center front. I’m going to trim off 3/8″ of the seam allowance on the princess seam line of both pattern pieces, measure to check it’ll still line up, and sew it with a 1/4″ seam allowance instead. I’ll see how that goes, but theoretically it should help.
  • Finally, while the dress fits perfectly at my waist and bust, there is some excess fabric in between. This is the most difficult problem to solve, and I’m debating whether it’s worth trying. Basically, the princess seam doesn’t seem to curve in enough under the bust– it’s too smooth a line from apex to waist. Maybe you can see what I mean in this picture of my pattern piece:


To get a closer fit I think I’d have to redraw it, and I’m worried how well I would do… I think I’d just as likely make it worse! So I’d have to try it out with another muslin. I’m not sure if that’s too much hassle for a rather minor issue.

 By Hand London Kim Dress bodice with a Colette Patterns Hazel Dress skirt

Anyways, all in all, I am totally enamored of my new Hazel/Kim lovechild, and the BHL Kim pattern in general. I've been really wanting something a bit ... sexier? ... than the dresses I've made so far, and the princess seams and sweetheart neckline have really given me the look I was going for. I now want to make everything with princess seams!  The out-and-about pictures I've posted here are from a recent day out in the city of Jeonju, South Korea, with a group of friends. The city has a lovely historic district, it made for a nice day!Anyways, I am totally enamored of my new Hazel/Kim lovechild, and the BHL Kim pattern in general. I wanted something a bit… sexier?… than the dresses I’ve made so far, and the princess seams and sweetheart neckline  give me the look I was going for. I now want to make everything with princess seams!

The pictures I’ve posted here are from a recent day out in the city of Jeonju, South Korea, with some friends. The city has a lovely historic district, it made for a nice day!

Jeonju, South Korea

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Moon Bunnies Hazel

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At the stream in Seoul

Another long overdue post! I’ve had so many visitors in the last few months (five since March), that my sewing time has taken a serious hit– since I finished this dress in early May, all I’ve made is one pair of pajama shorts. Hopefully after my visit to California at the end of this month, I’ll be able to get myself back into it– I still think about sewing (and stalk sewing blogs) as much as ever, so I should work harder to turn thought into action.

Yes, it’s another Colette Patterns Hazel. When I made this dress, I wanted something that wouldn’t give me headaches trying to figure out pattern adjustments, something that I could dive right into for a quick and satisfying result. So of course, Hazel. This is my fourth one! It really is such a perfect summer dress for me, with its comfortable and flattering fit-and-flare shape, pockets, and bare shoulders. Because I’ve made it before so many times, I’ll just refer you to my Manhattan Hazel, if you want more information on fitting (and you can see my third Hazel here).

To keep it brief, this dress was made up in size 16 (bodice and skirt– two of my versions used the size 18 skirt, but I’ve decided I like the less gathered, slimmer size 16 better), hemmed a bit shorter, and with 3 cm or so added on top to raise the neckline and cover my bra.

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As for the fabric, the main one is Cotton & Steel Mochi Moon Bunnies in Navy, from fabric.com. There’s still more available here .I fell for this print as soon as I saw it, and just knew I had to get it on my body ASAP.  There’s still some in stock, if you’re interested. It’s a quilting cotton, which really is perfect for this dress!  Yet another reason I love the Hazel dress– it makes a great canvas for quilting cotton prints.

For the contrast panels and pockets, I used plain black quilting cotton. I didn’t consider doing contrast panels until I was actually cutting out the main fabric, when I suddenly realised that I’d have to think about print placement. I was worried that it might look a bit weird if I didn’t match the print, and was in no way inclined to make the effort of figuring out how to make that work with the triangular bodice panels. So I opted for black contrast panels, and then just matched the print along the back seam (and tried but made a silly mistake and failed to match it along the side seams). In the end, I think I prefer it with the black anyways, and I’m very happy with this product of laziness design feature.

The photos were taken during a day out in Seoul with a friend. The ones above are along Cheonggyecheon stream. Below are some action shots– a cheeky afternoon mojito cocktail bag in the Daehangno neighbourhood, and cycling around Yeouido on a different day.

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Florascape Hazel

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Yet another Hazel Dress by Colette Patterns…. I’m not going to say too much about it, because this is the third I’ve made so far! Promise my next dress will be a different pattern!

I tried mixing it up a bit by altering it to have a sweetheart  neckline… it’s not very obvious in these pictures, but it’s there.

altering the center front bodice piece of the Hazel dress for a sweetheart neckline

altering the center front bodice piece of the Hazel dress for a sweetheart neckline

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Here’s some details:

Pattern: Hazel dress by Colette Patterns.

Fabric: Florascape in Moonstone by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics.

Size: 16

Modifications: shortened on the pattern by 2 or 3 inches, neckline raised by 3 cm (?), then altered to a sweetheart neckline.

Okay that’s enough. I’ll leave you with some other awkwardly posed pictures of the dress…

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With my lovely photographer :D

With my lovely photographer 😀

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Manhattan Hazel

So! My first post with actual clothes in it. It’s about time. I haven’t got detailed photos, unfortunately– I always feel so awkward being in photos alone, and generally try to avoid it. Next time, I will try to be more diligent. Maybe.

Here it is, a summery sundress which I’m quite happy with:

Colette Hazel Dress

The Pattern: Hazel Dress by Colette Patterns

The fabric: Quilting cotton–  Manhattan in Dusk, designed by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery Fabrics. I bought mine from Bobbie Lou’s Fabric Factory.

Hmmm… What is there to say about this dress? I wasn’t sure that such a busy print would work out for me, as much as I loved it. But it’s definitely grown on me, and I now really love this dress. I know that quilting cotton for clothing is a bit of a sewing faux pas, but I think it makes a really lovely summery sundress, as long as the bodice is quite fitted. Sure, it wrinkles like crazy, but It’s also the easiest possible fabric to sew with– perfect for a novice like me– and stands up well to the rough treatment I put my clothes through. I generally have a Survival Of The Fittest laundry policy– no special treatment, a regular wash cycle and minimal color sorting– so the weak and fussy are doomed to perish. Quilting cotton can make it through!

As for the pattern, this is my second Hazel dress. Granted, it’s only the third pattern I’ve sewn. The first, Colette’s Pastille dress, was a fitting nightmare. The second, Sewaholic’s Hollyburn skirt, is my skirt true love, and has been been made up in three different versions already with plans for a fourth. My first Hazel, also made up in a quilting cotton (pictured below), went really smoothly (once I got the fitting sorted…well enough…), and is now one of my most worn garments. So I knew I needed more!

Colette Patterns Hazel Dress

My first Colette Patterns Hazel dress

Here are some notes on the pattern:

Fitting:

–size 16, with all bodice pieces raised by 3 cm along the top edge so that the top of my bra where it meets the straps wouldn’t show. I’ve read other people making similar adjustments– I think the pattern either assumes a much perkier bust point, or is simply cut too low at that spot!

–In this second version, I also used the size 18 skirt for a more gathered result, and shortened the hem on the pattern by 2 inches.

–I also used bias tape all around the top, instead of facing. I’d recommend this– no worries about facing staying in it’s proper place!

–pockets were sewn with a narrower seam allowance, for more depth.

What I love: The flattering fit of the bodice, the wide bra-strap-hiding straps, the deep pockets.

Remaining issues: The waist is too long (designed for someone taller, no doubt– I’m just over 5’2″!), but I’m not sure how to alter that without messing up the triangle point. But it’s not a huge problem, I doubt I’ll bother trying to do anything about it. Also, it’s a size too big at the waist — thanks to some bustiness, I always fall into a different size on top than the rest of me! I really didn’t want to tackle a FBA on this unconventional bodice construction, and just went with the bigger size. I’m on the fence about whether to take the waist in on my next version. On the one hand, a smaller waist might be more flattering, but on the other the bigger waist leaves plenty of room for big-meal-expansion, and is super comfortable!

Well, that’s more information than anyone needs… so I’ll leave it here, with two more pics of the dress in action.

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