Thursday, January 18, 2024

Falling For A Henley

Henley line drawing
I’ve never been quite sure if I like a Henley neckline.  They look like this line drawing that I grabbed from the pattern, in case you don’t know what I’m talking about.  I’ve seen them with and without buttons and sometimes, the buttons even go up higher than the buttonholes which has always puzzled me.  I’ve seen the placket this width but also wider.  The biggest reason I’m never sure if I like a Henley is because it usually looks very casual, to the point of just rolled out of bed and grabbed some long underwear to throw on before I do chores.  Is it old timey?  That’s not usually a reason for me to avoid a piece of clothing.  I don’t really know what has turned me off to them in the past.

Fast forward to the beginning of the month when Rivet Patterns was looking for testers for a Henley.  But not just any old Henley.  The Hawthorn Henley could be a top or a dress, has a bunch of sleeve lengths and it’s designed so that you could have buttons or no buttons on the placket.  The no button option piqued my interest because I thought I could class it up a little and change my mind about henleys.

And by class it up, I mean make it look like more than just a shirt to do chores.  My clothing tends to be work wear or looked like I climbed out of the gutter.  There’s no weekend casual for me.  It’s “nice” or “WHAT have you been doing?”.  There’s no in between,  For me, a typical Henley isn’t really work wear and I don’t need extra clothing for mowing the grass and getting dirty. 

I had just the fabric in mind for this classy idea.

But first, as with every pattern, I needed to do a muslin, which is a test drive.  It’s best not to just wing it with a new pattern and use your favorite fabric, especially if it’s a pattern test.  Pattern testing can sometimes have many versions before the final is working for everyone, so sometimes, you have to make it a few times to get it just right.  

Even with designers I’ve used before, I always do a muslin to make sure a new pattern fits the way I expect because things don’t always sit on the body the way we imagine.  Especially with my vivid imagination that forgets I’m not tall and my torso is smaller than clothing thinks it should be.

Test fabric
My muslin was done in this stellar fabric that I got in a mystery box.  It’s some kind of double brushed poly and I knew I’d never wear this in public.  Not even for “WHAT have you been doing” activities.  But it was perfect to test a pattern and I had enough to make the top twice which was fantastic.  

When testing, I don’t like to change fabrics if I have to make a second or third version because then I’m not sure if the changes in fit are due to a different fabric or because I made a change to the pattern pieces.

In this case, I went down a size at the top and graded to the larger size after the waist.  You may wonder where that Henley placket is.  I did it for the first one, to make sure I knew how to do it and that I could follow the instructions.  When Rachelle gave me tips for my second attempt, she wisely said not to bother with the Henley placket and just to do the regular neckline to save time.  

There are instructions and a pattern piece for just a regular neckline like this!  This pattern really covers it all!

Long sleeved top
This fabric is a crinkle rayon and my original thought was to make this a dress with the regular placket length and no buttons, and long sleeves with the nice flow but no cuffs.  Just elastic.  This ended up being the last one that I made and  it is too sheer to work as a dress so I made a top.

While I normally have to shorten patterns up to 3 inches at the shorten/lengthen lines in the torso, for this pattern, the waist actually hit my own waist,  The length turned out to be below that for me, so I just shortened at the hemline.  It turned out to be about 2.5 inches and seeing it now, I could have gone the extra half inch and I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Short sleeved top
My first version was this pointelle that I received in a mystery box.  I love the color even though periwinkle isn’t really my thing.  I had a top like this a long time ago and loved how  the color looked on me, so I was drawn to it.  It was probably just about 1 yard, so I had to go with short sleeves. I also didn’t want to use buttons because the pointelle makes it feel a little classy.  

Classy or not, this fabric was a bear.  It didn’t quite drape the way I wanted and the holes end up being big enough that I think I need to wear something under it, which wasn’t at all what I had planned.  I love the color but, I’m really not sure I’m going to wear it.

My final version that I ended up falling in love with is one of the “grannies” fabrics from The Fabric Snob *affiliate link*.  It’s an organic cotton waffle knit that’s incredibly stretchy.  It actually has terrible recovery and shows every little finger mark as you touch it to straighten it out, but I love how this came together.  It’s very cozy with a tank top underneath for warmth in this frigid weather.  

I wanted a tunic, but we had an interesting chat in the pattern testing group that lead me to think tunic isn’t really what I mean.  I want something I can wear with leggings but most tunics end up being just a little shorter than I want.  In truth, the ideal length is something that I could wear with bare legs but might raise some eyebrows at the shortness.  I’d mostly wear it with leggings but could go bare if I wanted.  

That led to doing view B, the mini dress version, with the sleeves from view A with cuffs and a hood.  I did the placket in a very light but extremely lovely fabric that I had used for a sunshirt and added buttons (with actual buttholes that really aren’t even necessary) and decided to give the hood the same fabric as a binding.  

And then, I drove this bus completely off the road and bound the hem!

None of this binding nonsense was suggested in the tutorials but sometimes ideas take over and lead to something I end up loving.  We won’t talk about what happens when ideas take over that lead to something else.

As I wore this in the cold weather, I kept thinking that with this fabric in particular, this could be a GREAT beach cover up!  It’s absorbent and soft and cozy so you could totally end up wearing this on a cool beach afternoon!

On their own, each of the patterns is fabulous, but you might as well get the bundle because you will undoubtedly want to use something from one view on the other!  The placket isn’t hard, it just involves several steps.  It’s magic when it comes together. 

If you just like the fit, save time and effort  by going with a regular neckband and no placket.  

You could spend days deciding which sleeve style and length to do.  Better yet, make one in every sleeve style!

The tutorials from Rivet Patterns are so well done.  They are thorough.  They have excellent drawings and videos if you need the actual step by step help.  They have great links to fitting advice and tips.  I sew a lot and would say I’m advanced in my skills and I always learn something with one of their patterns.  

It’s almost like the designers actually WANT you to be a successful sewist 🙃

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