The Colette Patterns Laurel Dress contest was genius, not only to create a buzz about the new pattern from Colette, but that it was this particular pattern: a simple shift dress. Take this simple shift dress & see what you can do with it…fabric variations, trimmings and clever design can create countless sources for others to get inspired. Me? I needed something to get my teeth into in April & that was really the only reason I really bought the pattern. As mentioned earlier, I am sure I have a few examples of the shift dress pattern in my collection of patterns, so didn’t really need another. Not that I feel that I am in with a chance of winning, this was most definitely something for me that the taking part was the prize. I have deliberately kept away from seeing what others have created so far, but I cannot totally avoid some peeks on blogs that have started emerging.
But back to talking about the Laurel Dress, yes it is a simple shift dress, however, when making it up just fits SO well. I find this with Colette Patterns: each time I make them (Ginger, Beignet, Violet) I make more than one. I think there is something of real “quality” and style about the drafting. So, this is yet another Colette pattern for which I have to admit that I have an addiction – fuelled initially by the contest. Once I started thinking about how I could interpret the Laurel Dress & make it my own, I couldn’t stop with one. Even making two was not enough. No, once the ideas started to visit me I made three in a matter of weeks, mainly snatches of weekend sewing too. And each time I try a completed version on, I LOVE the way it fits & how easy it is to wear & think I could cope with having a Laurel dress for every day of the week!! You see this dress is simple in design but also in making up. Once I’d made the top & got the fit how I liked, each dress came together in a few hours – you could make it even more quickly if you didn’t fuss with some of the detail I added. It takes a small amount of fabric too- the top even less. Every dress I made used fabric from my stash. Folks, I’ve gone Laurel crazy! Now are you comfy? Have you got your feet up and a cup of tea?
I wasn’t sure whether to put them all in one post – three dresses, three variations & three very different looks. I have camped it up for you folks….you’ll spot a new addition to my wardrobe & we’re not talking about the three dresses!! There will now follow quite a few photos with the odd bit of narrative. Not quite a photo story – sorry – missed opportunity – make one up in your head if you want. It’s hard to know which one to start with – it’s like someone asking you which child is your favorite. I shall therefore resort to chronological order.
Version One: The blue Laurel dress with a contrast yoke & some crochet trim.
It’s made from a printed cotton with a polka dot contrast yoke. Drafting the yoke was easy & I like how it has worked out. I used crochet trim like piping between the yoke & the main dress piece, as well as edging the sleeves with it. The buttons I’ve used are almost the same as the flowers in the dress print!
I used crochet trim like piping between the yoke & the main dress piece, as well as edging the sleeves with it.
The bias facings & underside of the Peter Pan collar are also polka dots wheeee!
Oh yes! Red loves it! It’s now hanging up ready for the temperatures to rise a tad.
Version Two: The Elephant ric rac Laurel dress
Now if anything could be described as a Scruffy Badger signature it is 1. Ric Rac and 2. Elephant fabric. This combines the two in one awesome dress! The fabric was sent to me by Sonja from Ginger Makes (at last, I’ve put it to a perfect use, thank you so much you sweetie!!!)
I have used some solid white as a contrast & the irony! We all say how much we detest facings, so Colette make a style that uses bias for facings & here I go & draft a facing to use on the outside! It catches the egg-yolk yellow ric rac at its edge…
I took the pocket pattern piece that came with the dress & lengthened it so that I could line my pocket piece & fold over the top. If you look very carefully you’ll see that the elephants are perfectly place in alignment with the dress fabric. That my dears is no accident. I used Mrs C’s genius methodology & have elephant scrawled tracing paper to prove it.
And here’s where it gets even more exciting….the new wardrobe addition. Both my friend & I are in love with it. It hasn’t got a name yet, but we’re working on it. (It seems to respond well to “Bouffy”)
Can you see how exciting it is to have such a perfect barnet to go with such a cute dress? I’m trying to show off my fluffy pink ring (also new) but was clearly to fidgety to get it in focus!
I did try to make sure the elephants kept to their rows….not quite perfect matching at the vertical on the centre back, but that would have been quite tricky. All of my dresses use lapped zippers (tutorial here), I haven’t got a local source at reasonable prices & anyway, lapped zippers are how I’ve always sewn a zip.
Version three: the Gingham un-sailor dress
This is the reason I’m posting my Laurels (hahaha - rather than resting on my laurels!) so near to tomorrow’s deadline. I have literally finished this one tonight. The light had gone by the time I took the photos, so they are all indoors. Ahem, sorry, back to the dress. The fabric was from Walthamstow the first time I went to a blogger meet up. It’s cotton & almost like a light flannel. I had in mind creating a version of Laurel with a sailor collar. Here it is ..
Da na! The collar is completely separate & has been taken from New Look 6808, as used by Zoe recently (thanks Zoe for reminding me I have this pattern!) Now my creative processes for this dress were continual. I knew I wanted a splash of red piping, maybe a couple of red buttons too. But I didn’t start by knowing the effects I was going to implement. How much piping I was going to use & where was whirring through my mind long after I’d started to sew it. I had in mind piping the outside of the collar, but clearly didn’t as I felt less is more.
Pockets? I didn’t have these in mind until I’d already sewn the front & back darts. Whilst I opted to make them on the bias to add a nice touch I stabilised by lining them with fabric on the straight grain – so much easier than a. sewing a straight seam with bias cut edges and b. pressing the pocket seam allowances to include a curve. The pocket flaps are those that came with the Laurel extras, perfect for a pop of red piping. I tried to use my overlocker’s piping foot to attach the piping because peeps it is *awesome* & gets right up close to the piping. However, not so good when going around curves, hence the not as perfect as I’d like finish!
There was clearly a need for piping somewhere in addition to the pocket flaps. I’d thought about the neckline, but at that stage was not sure how the sailor collar would look with it. I’d then thought of piping the sleeve hems, but with a cut-out. This idea came to me when I was on the phone to my Dad – thanks BG – you didn’t know it, but you somehow helped my design process, also shameless inspired by these leggings at Sweaty Betty. Getting the piping with tie effect was fiddly & involved hand-sewing in front of Sunday night TV. I also had to draft a facing for the sleeve hem & its cut-out.
So that’s the back…here is the gingham version in a number of guises ….
This will be how I wear it for real folks!
It’s just such a comfy dress to wear – I reckon perfect for a Sunday dinner – you can hide a lot in that shift shape…
I could belt it in if I wanted to, although that does mean that it gets ever shorter …
Showing the pocket flaps in action…
Good for a giggle, but it’s just *too* dressing up to be taken seriously! Oh well! There’s something of the dib dib dib about it too!
So as I said at the beginning I have really enjoyed the challenge this contest brought me at a time when I needed a focus for my sewing. I am not expecting to win, & [cough] feel I already have the prize: three new quirky dresses! Roll on summer so I can get wearing them!!
For those of you who made it this far- well done! I have to say you have staying power….talk about shaggy dog sewing! Now I’m going to add them to Flickr and admire all the other versions! What fun. Good luck to all you fellow contestants.