Tag Archives: Colette

Plaid Colette Laurel dress

I’ve been admiring plaid dresses for a while now with the desire to make one myself, so after the success of my first Laurel dress I dived straight into another with this cotton and viscose blend from Minerva Crafts. I think the fabric has a great combination of weight and drape for this style of dress so I’ll definitely keep an eye out for other cotton and viscose blends in the future.

Plaid Laurel dress front

I have to admit I can be a bit of a perfectionist which I did have to be conscious of at times. Part of the enjoyment for me of making this dress was working through the plaid matching and placement, but I also tried to make sure I didn’t get too obsessed with it and there were a couple of occasions where I stepped away from the dress for a day to two to check if the mismatch I was seeing was really worth unpicking and redoing!

Plaid Laurel neck binding
The neck binding did get unpicked and redone.

Cutting out took a lot longer than usual due to getting the plaid placement and symmetry right. But I’m pretty pleased with how it all turned out and think it was worth the extra effort. I found the plaid layout diagrams in this post by Really Handmade very useful.

Plaid Laurel dress back

With my first Laurel I used the bias binding as a facing but with this one I wanted it to be a feature so sewed it on as binding as per the instructions. For the back neck, I didn’t want to break up the plaid with a dart so I gathered the neck into the bias binding instead. I had expected the gathering to be visible, but actually with a bit of steam the fabric pretty much eased itself in giving a smoother neckline than I’d expected.

Plaid Laurel back detail

The other change I made was to make the pockets a little bigger so that they were the width of two inner squares. I also like the bigger pockets for practical reasons so will likely stick with this size for future Laurels. As I had plenty of fabric I cut out a couple of pocket plaid placement options to try out against the actual dress – one centred on an open square (my final preference) and the other centred on an intersection. So again, this was not a speedy sew!

The binding and hem are all sewn by hand, which I quite enjoyed and think it was worth it for the look of the uninterrupted fabric design.

Plaid Laurel dress front

The dress has a had good amount of wear already and is very comfortable. It works well with both under and over layers in the winter or on its own now that spring is finally here. All in all I’m very happy with my first plaid dress and doubt it will be my last!

Have you sewn with plaid? Do you enjoy taking time over matching or prefer a quicker sew?

Viscose Colette Laurel

Can you believe I’ve been sewing for around two years and this is the first dress I’ve made?!

Colette Laurel front

There have been a couple of false starts in the past (with patterns from Simplicity and McCalls) where the scale of fitting issues I was facing made me take a break for my own sanity, but I never got back to them. This time however, I used the Colette Laurel which allowed me a little head start as from my previous Colette makes I had an idea of some of the adjustments I’d need to make (lengthening and small bust adjustment). Sure enough, the toile was nearly passable for wearing so I went straight to “proper” fabric with my second round of adjustments. I used a metre and a half of this navy blue viscose from Minerva Crafts so at £6 it wouldn’t be breaking the bank if it didn’t turn out great.

I have to say I’m very happy with the result! I think this is a great easy to wear style, suitable for both work and an evening out. I don’t wear dresses very much (in part due to difficultly finding ready to wear ones that fit my tall frame), but when I do I tend to feel very put together.

Colette Laurel

I did end up making quite a few changes to the pattern:

  • Lengthened both in the body and the skirt
  • Small bust adjustment
  • Broadened the shoulders
  • Added darts at the back neckline
  • Shortened the sleeves
  • Straightened the curve around the hips
  • Increased the depth of the back waist darts
  • Curved the centre back seam in at the waist

But it didn’t feel too onerous as some of them were done while sewing up – deepening the waist darts and adding the back neck darts. Since this fabric is more drapey than the old cotton bedding I used for the toile, the neck darts were especially needed to stop the dress sagging into a hunchback shape.

Also worth mentioning, these are my first set in sleeves! I took my time and hand basted the sleeves before sewing, which was totally worth it as there is not a pucker in sight.

Colette Laurel pocket

Now that I’ve successfully made a dress, with set in sleeves to boot, I feel ready to tackle a host of different pattern styles. But first up will be another Laurel – I want to maximise sewing enjoyment knowing that the fit will be wearable and there’s a plaid fabric that I’ve had my eye on for this style of dress for a little while…

Hacked Sorbetto top with gathers

I felt I needed a bit of a break from the Colette Sorbetto top pattern after my first couple of attempts, but since then I have seen a few takes on it that have inspired me again.  In particular, this version where the bust darts are rotated to neck pleats.

Sobetto top with gathers front view

Instead of pleats, my initial idea was to move the darts to the neckline and then create a gathered neckline.  However, on further reflection, I thought that may not be the best idea for my first go at gathering as without something stable to sew the gathers to I could easily imagine ending up with a rather wonky neckline.  So instead I decided to create front yokes and then rotate the dart towards them.  I also removed the pleat, as felt the gathers were enough for design detail.

Moving the dart

Final front pattern pieces

Before adapting the pattern for the gathers, I made similar adjustments as for my London version (since after wearing the two Sorbettos a bit I realised that the first attempt was actually not such a bad fit).  With the London version I had thought that I’d lowered the armscye too much as the arm hole had a lot of gaping, but after making up this one I’ve realised that the extra length works, but that the base of the armscye is too wide, which was why I was getting all the gaping.  So I took the side seams in by 2.6 cm at each arm – took a bit of time as I’d used French seams, but felt the top was unwearable prior to this so it was definitely worth it.

I also trimmed the front of the armsyce a bit, would have liked to trim a little bit more but couldn’t without needing to redo all the gathering and I didn’t think it was that bad.

I made bias tape using the continuous loop method and hand stitched this down for a neat front finish.  The fabric pattern is probably busy enough that the stitching wouldn’t have been very noticeable, but I actually found the hand stitching quite relaxing and am happy to have done it.

Gathers and bias trim detail

I think the smallish pattern of this fabric makes for good bias tape that would look nice as a trim on a solid coloured top.  (Or maybe I’m just trying to talk myself into buying more fabric…)

The fabric is viscose from Goldhawk Road that has a lovely drape.  Finally feel like I’m starting to make some good fabric choices.  I loved the look and feel of this fabric so much that I had to stop myself going back and buying lots more as they had a few different prints.  I will of course be buying more of this fabric, but am trying to restrict myself to using the fabrics I already have or only buying new fabric for a particular project that I intend to sew straight away so that I don’t end up with an overwhelming stash.

Sorbetto with gathers back view

Looking at the back photos, I wonder if I ought to widen the hem a bit next time.

Sorbetto with gathers front

I’m really happy with this top, it is a very welcome addition to my summer wardrobe.

I would like to make this again, but might try adding a bit more gathering.  Also, I think it could look a bit better with a lower neck line and then longer yoke pieces/lower down gathering.

Have you ever had inspiration from other sewers that makes you go back to a pattern that you were struggling with?

A-line skirt: The Purple Ginger

For my next skirt I thought I’d go a-line – clean and smoothly fitted around the waist but more room for movement than a pencil skirt, and hence much more likely to get worn.  The Colette Ginger skirt gets pretty good reviews and I thought the instructions for their Sorbetto top were excellent, so this looked to be the clear choice.  I also liked the fact that it uses clever shaping instead of darts.

Purple Ginger skirt front view

“The purple ginger” reminds me of a fun weekend in Paris a few years ago with some friends as they took to calling me “purple carrot” (I have no idea why), maybe it is just my weird brain that makes that connection, but it makes me smile 🙂

Ginger skirt with pockets front view

Anyway, the main downside of the pattern was no pockets, but that’s one of the big joys of learning to sew – I can adapt the pattern to suit me!  I was particularly inspired by this version with side slant pockets (I also really like her use of piping and was tempted to add that too, but decided to leave that for another version).

Ginger skirt with pockets side view

I used the pocket pattern pieces from the first trouser pattern of Dressmaking: The complete step-by-step guide as a starting point.  Those slant pockets were straight but a lot of similar pockets I’d seen on skirts were curved, so on my toile I made one side pocket straight and the other gently curved to see which I preferred.  The curved version was definitely better as it sat flat against the body while the straight pocket stuck out and distorted the skirt shape.  For a fun hidden detail I used some of my London fabric for the pocket lining.

Ginger skirt pocket pieces

This skirt is designed to have a pretty high waist, but that really isn’t my style so I went up a size so that the skirt would sit lower.  However this meant that the straight waistband left a lot of gaping around the waist so I adjusted the waistband to be curved as per the explanation given by Mrs C in the comments of this Scruffy Badger post.  I quickly learnt the importance of keeping the fold line and edges at right angles though when I opened up the first front waistband piece:

First attempt at curving the waistband

Other adjustments I made to the pattern were:

  • Removed the curve near the top along the skirt centre front seam
  • Shortened the skirt centre front seam by 1.5cm at the top
  • Lengthened the skirt centre back seam by 0.5cm at the top of the skirt piece
  • Removed the curve near the top along the skirt centre back seam

I found it amazing how much of a difference just a small adjustment can make – initially I was getting some very unsightly diagonal lines from the centre back out towards the side hem, but lengthening the centre back seam by just 0.5cm sorted this out.

Ginger skirt with pockets front view

The fabric is a cotton drill from Goldhawk Road.  It is fairly thick and sturdy so not entirely sure it was the best choice for this skirt as the waistband stays upright and thus gapes at the front when I sit down.  I love the colour though.

I wanted this to be a skirt for all seasons, so as I was making it up I tried it on with tights – as soon as I started to walk I could feel it doing that annoying climbing up the legs thing, so the skirt had to be lined.  The lining is acetate from Goldhawk Road that I already had as it was originally intended for a cord skirt (that I won’t make before the autumn), but I liked how the colour worked with the purple shell.  It was a nightmare to sew!  I now know what people mean when they talk about fabric slipping all over the place.  I hand basted every seam before taking it to the machine which seems to have worked, well enough for a lining anyway.

Ginger skirt with lining

For the invisible zip, I referred to Sunni‘s Craftsy zipper class and Lauren‘s Invisible zipper tutorial along with the pattern instructions and am pretty happy with how this turned out both on the outside and inside.  The zip isn’t completely invisible at the waistband join, but I think this is due to the fabric being so thick.  I’ve since noticed that a lot of more experienced bloggers don’t use invisible zips with thicker fabrics, so I’ll remember to use a regular zip with such fabrics in the future.

Ginger skirt back view

This skirt actually took quite a long time to make with all the pattern adjustments and figuring out how to work with the slippery lining, but I’m very happy with how it has turned out.  Despite loving the colour and the finish, sadly I don’t think this is going to become a frequently worn skirt as it just feels a bit too stiff (hopefully it will feel so bad in colder weather), but I’d definitely use the Ginger skirt pattern again with a different fabric.  I’d like to try out the bias cut version too in order to create the chevron effect, especially after seeing Caroline’s lovely version.

Fit and fabric lessons with a couple of Sorbettos

The Colette Sorbetto definitely seems to be a winner among bloggers, there are loads of great versions out there, a couple of my favourites are by Handmade Jane and A Stitching Odyssey for the fabric/bias binding colour combinations.  A simple but stylish tank top, that is also free – I had to try it!

Colette Sorbetto front

I made a toile in calico first to check the fit and decided to make a few changes to the pattern:

  • Shorten the darts by 2cm
  • Lengthen armholes by 2cm
  • Lower the waistline a further 2.5cm
  • Lengthen at hip by 3.5 cm (although I ended up cutting the same amount from the hem once made up so all I achieved here was to narrow the hem 🙁 )
  • Grade down a size above waist

Quite a few changes, so I wanted to test them out before cutting into any nice fabric, but the calico was far too stiff for this kind of top.  Luckily I had enough of the London print cotton left to make this and if it went well then I’d get a fun wearable top.  I used store brought white bias binding for the neck and armholes.

Colette Sorbetto binding detail

As soon as I cut out the pieces I realised I should have paid attention to the pattern placement if I wanted a top to wear out – nearly had rather unfortunate placement of a couple of London eyes.  A good lesson to learn!

After lengthening the top, it was now far too tight around the hips so I did a bit of a makeshift job of creating side slits, not the easiest thing to do as I’d used French seams for the first time (love how neat the inside is!), but it just about worked.

Colette Sorbetto side split

Colette Sorbetto french seams and side split

The top looks ok, but the fit still wasn’t right – now it felt a bit too loose around the arms and shoulders, as well as being far too tight at the bottom.  I thought the fabric was still too stiff for the style of top, which was disappointing as I had another a couple of other printed cottons in mind for this, but they were either similar weight or heavier so clearly wouldn’t work.

Colette Sorbetto back

So I headed off to Goldhawk Road and brought a check shirting cotton since that was one of the recommended fabric choices (as if getting the fit right wasn’t enough I also wanted to take on the challenges of pattern matching and making my own bias tape!).  My round two pattern adjustments were:

  • Shorten armholes by 1.5cm (so 0.5 cm longer than original pattern)
  • Lengthen the waist by an additional 1cm (to compensate for shortening at the armholes)
  • Returned waist to hem to the original angle and then lengthened by 1cm at hem
  • Raise bust dart by 2cm

The fit was definitely better, but on wearing I think it is now a little too tight around the bust.

Colette Sorbetto front

I am quite happy with the horizontal pattern matching, but didn’t think about vertical matching.  I don’t think it looks too bad, but definitely something to think about when cutting fabric in future.

Colette Sorbetto side and back

For the bias binding, I used the continuous loop method explained in Coletterie.  I’d brought a bias tape maker, but didn’t find it at all helpful, so ended up just folding and pressing by hand.  I’m really happy with the bias binding on both tops, definitely worth taking your time over.

Colette Sorbetto binding detail

I wore this top to Rachel’s NYlon meet up (with my Miette) so that I’d have a handmade outfit, but not sure I’ll get a lot more wear out of this as the fabric is still too crisp for my liking on this style of top.  Funnily, I’ve been wearing the London print Sorbetto as a PJ top and after a few washes the fabric has softened up and I now quite like the looser fit!

So it seems I need to adjust the pattern again and try a softer/drapier fabric to get a Sorbetto I’m really happy with, but I’m going to take a break from this pattern first.

Lots of firsts and useful learning though:

  • Making a pleat
  • Sewing darts
  • French seams
  • Applying bias binding
  • Making bias binding
  • Fit adjustments (think I might be verging on over fitting though!)
  • Matching stripes