The Harrison hourglass dress by Eira of The Pattern Line has been on my backlog for a few months. I spotted some sparkle stretch denim in April from my favourite deadstock store in Belgium (The Fabric Sales) and bought it for this dress. Even if I try to sew a lot of my stash, sometimes the perfect fabric comes along for a particular pattern and if I think I will follow through with making it, then I buy it. Happy with the decision in this case!
Also for this make, I wanted to try out the Mettler denim doc thread (PR product), which is meant to be good for seaming, topstitching and hemming on denim. More on that below.
My sewing backlog
Seeing as my backlog is constantly 20 things long, I surprised myself that I got to the Harrison hourglass dress last month. I always think, I’ll make garment X after I finish all my work, whether that’s making samples/advertising makes or editing instructions … and then never do. After a summer where I had a ton of work on both sewing and day jobs, I really wanted to do some leisure sewing. I’m absolutely delighted with how this one turned out! The colour, style, pattern/fabric combo, I love it all.
Finding supplies was a challenge: the below items are not typically stocked in small suburban stores, or apparently in a single Dutch shop online! Luckily, A. Boeken in Amsterdam had everything I wanted, and double luck that I wanted everything in black so that made life easier.
- Long 90cm 2-way zipper with teeth ⩽5mm.
- Narrow bias binding 9-12mm wide (because I didn’t feel like making 4.6m of it when the project was already going to be v. involved).
- 25mm grosgrain ribbon is used as a zipper shield which is a nice touch (although you could have used self-fabric if really needed).
Denim doc thread by Mettler
The denim doc thread is 70% polyester (core) and 30% cotton and is made for seaming, topstitching, and hemming denim. Mettler provided it to me to try out. So what do I think? Well, it was surprisingly good! It is thicker than the regular polyester general-purpose thread (Seralon) but is not as chunky as topstitching thread. A nice balance if you don’t fancy going to the effort of changing threads all the time between all-purpose and topstitch.
You can of course buy individual spools of thread but there are also different colour packs of 4. I looked at a few different colours for this fabric but dark purple is a hard ask to match. I settled on black since that was the colour I chose for my binding and zip.
Fit and sizing
It’s really worth reading the notes in the instructions carefully on sizing considerations for the Harrison hourglass dress. I didn’t fit neatly into the size chart at all and measured size 2 at the bust, 6 at the waist and 4 at the hip. I ended up going for size 2 all over, grading out to 6 at the waist for my toile and happily didn’t need to change anything. Feels like a bit of a waste when the toile turns out fine the first time round eh?! But I wasn’t about to embark on all that flat fell seaming without checking the fit first 😉
A note about the skirt, at first I thought the folds at the hipline created by the exaggerated tulip shape looked a bit strange and I instinctively started pinning the excess away thinking it was a fit problem. But I consulted with Eira on the design intent and the folds are deliberate in terms of shaping – so in the end I’m glad I left everything as is.
I sew mainly for the end result (i.e. the clothes), but I do like a good sewing experience too. You probably know I’m very into tidy finishes and I feel like the attention to this that Eira put into her Harrison hourglass dress pattern turned this from “just another pattern” where you overlock everything to something a bit more special. Having said that, it did take me a lot of time! Just in the bodice, I did 4 different types of seams:
- Flat fell seam on a dart and CB
- Topstitched bust darts
- French seamed shoulders
- Bias bound seam dolman sleeve/body
- … And then there’s an 8-piece skirt, each with flat felled seams.
So yes, I won’t lie, it was a LOT of work and I spent 4 sessions in total: 1/ full toile and cut pieces, 2/ bodice, 3/ skirt, 4/ zip. Result: super clean finishes on the inside! Except…
French seam / Flat fell inseam pockets
This was a real challenge to sew. Nothing to do with the instructions, and everything to do with manhandling seams with thick layers, the stretch in the denim, and the fact that I was totally over all the flat fell seaming in the skirt (joining 8 pieces!!!) I did the first pocket the wrong way out, fixed it, started the second pocket, couldn’t get a good finish and unpicked a few times. Eventually, I just gave up and overlocked that side seam and topstitched from the outside. Thereby spoiling the look of the insides with that one seam! D’oh. But anyway here’s the picture of the good side.
Verdict – Harrison hourglass dress
One word: adore! It is the perfect transitional season dress. I appreciate that it has sleeves (hello delicious croissant sleeves), has an interesting shape that makes me look like I have a waist, doesn’t stick to the body, the denim is sparkly and fun and holds the shape of the dress. Even if I couldn’t find a metal zip in the right length/width the plastic one actually doesn’t bother me at all.
I’ve worn this to a party and to work and it won’t look out of place dressed down with trainers for a weekend either. It would look amazing in a cotton twill as well if it is a solid colour so you can see all the seam lines, assuming you do all the topstitching.
Will I make it again? Well, I don’t tend to make multiples of things that are not “basics” (t shirts, turtlenecks etc). but never say never. It would also make a cool jacket don’t you think? A fine corduroy perhaps? One can dream….
Till next time