Sarai’s Tips for Hazel

June 5, 2012

This week in Sew Colette 2.0 we are working on our muslins for the Hazel dress. If you follow Erin and Sarah’s blogs as well as mine, this post is going to be terribly redundant. Sorry, but we all wanted to share Sarai’s awesome tips for getting started with the Hazel! Take it away, Sarai!


Despite the fancy-looking seams and all the ways you can play with prints, the Hazel is actually a very quick and easy dress to sew. That’s really the beauty of it; it looks far more complicated than it is.

Still, we thought a few quick tips would help get you going and make things even simpler or get your creative juices going.

  1. Have fun with fabric: This dress works really well with many prints. Think about ways you can use stripes, florals and border prints to maximum effect with the design lines. Hold up swatches and try to visualize what the scale and colors will look like, along with the direction of the prints.
  2. Line sheer fabrics: If your fabric is semi sheer, you may opt to line the dress. If you’re unfamiliar with lining, we suggest the excellent book Easy Guide for Sewing Linings by Connie Long. I’ll also be sharing my tips for working with eyelet for this pattern!
  3. Adjust the straps: When it comes time to sew the straps, they might not fit “out of the box,” so to speak. Our bodies are all a little different, so the straps are meant to be adjusted to the right length for you. Before you sew the straps in, test out the length. Pin the straps in the back, then pin them in the front to fit you just right.
  4. Fix gaping: When doing your muslin, look for any gaping at the top of the dress. WIth the straight-across cut, this is an important area to fit. If you have any gaping above the bust, take the neckline in a little at the center front side seam.
  5. Keep the grainline: If you make any adjustments on the front bodice, make sure that the side piece is still on the true bias. You always want that grainline to be pretty much parallel to the diagonal seam in front.
  6. Wear your muslin: Always make a muslin before cutting into your final fabric. Wear the muslin for about an hour to see how it fits you. Notice where wrinkles occur on the bodice. Is the height of the back bodice too high or too low? Is there gaping at the center front? Does the waistline hit at the right spot? The more questions you ask and answer about the muslin will help you create a perfectly fitted dress.
  7. Prevent seam stretching: Since the seams forming the V are on the bias, they will stretch very easily. The best way to prevent this is to staystitch the diagonal edges right after you cut your pieces out, being careful not to stretch them while stitching. Try to handle these pieces as little as possible when you’re not actually sewing with them.
  8. Use 3 rows for gathers: When sewing the gathers on the skirt, make sure to sew three rows of basing. The more rows of basting you have, the cleaner and more professional looking the gathers will be. To see this in action, check out these side by side comparisons on our blog: http://www.coletterie.com/tutorials-tips-tricks/colette-sewing-handbook-gathering-stitches
  9. Match the waistline on the zipper: After you’ve sewn one side of the invisible zipper, make sure the waistline will match on either side. Zip up the zipper and pin the unsewn half together, matching at the waistline. You may also want to use a fabric pencil or marker to draw the spot on the zipper tape.
  10. Have fun with the hem: Play with the way you hem the dress. While the pattern calls for a simple turned over hem, think about blind stitching or even adding extra fabric for a deep hem. To make it a little extra special, add some lace tape or contrast bias binding to the inside of the hem.


Thank you, Sarai! I think it’s important to think of the bigger picture and plan ahead while sewing. Hopefully this post got you lovely Sew-Alongers thinking of your finished Hazel!

In order to help you plan your project, Sarah, Erin, and I will be bringing you tutorials with 3 different methods on how to create mini mood boards! Look for those links later this week. I’ll also be sharing a confusion-free pictorial on how I install invisible zippers, AND tips for some “extra credit” additions to spruce up your Hazel! Is there anything specific you’d like to learn or cover in this sew-along? Please speak up! 

Check out Sarah’s recent post for a video refresher on how to take your measurements. Also this week, Erin shares some fantastic tips on getting started with your muslin!

-The Hazel Schedule-
Monday, June 4th: The Muslin
Monday, June 11th: Fit Techniques
Monday, June 18th: Fabulous Fabrics
Monday, June 25th: Sewing Hazel
Monday, July 9th: Hazel Parade