Tag Archives: Colette patterns

Madrid tote for the sewist

Ok so the verdict on my laptop is not good. After a few hours of diagnosis over the kitchen table it had been referred to a specialist, with a corrupted hard disk partition. I am devastated, naturally, but know it will be in good hands. I am crossing my fingers, toes and eyes for a speedy recovery.
But in the meantime I am not able to blog about any of my makes that need a photo of me wearing them, (from my camera) nor the makes I’ve already photographed, but that’s not the end of the world. I have a few ideas about how to get around that and spread some sewing delights.
Like today’s. I made the Madrid tote from Colette Patterns’ online magazine, issue 1 last weekend.

I had some proper oilcloth ( not the cheap PVC that I was taken in by last time ) bought from a local shop – it’s Vintage Happy by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet and it is covered with, yes, vintage snippets from dressmaking catalogues. It’s a fascinating read! Garment descriptions, gorgeous line drawings of day dresses, the shape of a paper pattern as well as the lady drawn in her foundation garment glory. I have lots left too, so am thinking about making a set, maybe make up bag, travel set….
Anyway, onto the tote. Supplies. I bought some ready made handles which are made by Prym and seem to be available from a lot of online stockists. And if they sell bag handles the likelihood is that they will also sell the magnetic clasp too. And that’s all the hardware that I bought in. I bought from Jaycotts, but Minerva also sells all sorts of bagmaking stuff too. My lining was a stash find- Some left over gingham that was so off grain I am too embarrassed to show much of the off non pattern matched seams.

The Madrid is one of the patterns included with Seamwork if you pay the subscription, but all of the articles, as you probably already know, are freely available online, and in issue 1 there are articles to help you get your head around sewing bags- with extensive tips around bag hardware and sewing leather ( or similar ) for example. I found it really helpful as I have never sewn leather nor have I ever used hardware in bag making and it’s quite daunting, isn’t it? So with a reputation for demystifying techniques that could be perceived as complex, I knew I was in safe hands and not risking too much, by following Colette Patterns’ Madrid bag pattern and attempting a few firsts:
– using a magnetic clasp
– successfully sewing oilcloth
– using ready made bag handles

And there, look, magnetic clasp and bag handles

So as you’d expect the pattern consists of different sized rectangles, and you can use contrasting fabric for the top part and bottom. As I had such fab oilcloth I didn’t want to break up the design so went for the even easier approach and used the lining pattern to cut my outer bag pieces too. I also cut two interior pockets, knowing that a big tote is a cave of abandon when keys / phone / a pen/ purse are required to be found.

I cut the strap that comes over the top so that one of the fancy ladies in her day dress would be centred.


Isn’t she lovely ?

The patterns with Seamwork are also all put together with the premise that they are quick makes and relatively easy sews. I made mine using a couple of hours on a Sunday. It is straightforward. I was prepared to deploy countermeasures for sewing my oilcloth, should my foot stick, but surprisingly I had no problem on that front.


I was careful using pins, but did use pins ( minimally) along the stitching line.
The bag handles are sewn on by hand and this was easily the longest most time consuming step. The only word of caution I would offer on using the bag handles like this, is about where you attach them. They have a certain amount of bulk and you need to allow enough room for the top bag seam allowance as well as a little wriggle room to get your sewing machine foot through for top stitching. If you wanted a double line of topstitching just plan ahead with where you put your handles.

I did use my zip foot too, but with the layers of oilcloth and lining plus seam allowances, it did not like it that much.
So the bag ? A delight. I’ve used it for work on a non gym kit day and it fits all the usual crap without busting at the seams.


I got a few positive remarks ( everyone is used to seeing me with a beaten up old Berghaus rucksack!) and it also started a conversation about sewing, which has to be an excellent thing?

Here it is stuffed to the gunnels. So now I know my ay around Madrid, maybe there’ll be another ….. Has anyone else enjoyed Madrid-making or even exploring Valencia? (the extra clutch bag pattern in issue 1)

….and breathe…..

Hello lovelies!  I need to wish you Happy Christmas before it’s too late!

I hope you all have a most wonderful time doing what makes you happy.  I am hosting this year and we are going to use our outdoor pizza oven to cook some of the roast!  Even if it’s standing under a golf umbrella with wellies on…or wrapped up with scarves & gloves.  Of course we won’t eat outside, that would be foolish.

I have to confess that I took too much on this year & upon reflection all those hand made ideas that in themselves seemed relatively simple & straightforward, all add up.  It turns out that I have made something for everyone I give to this year.  And for some (ie my men boys) they got more than just the one handmade.  I have felt like I have been on a mission & gift-sewing bossed everything else (apart from work & the odd run).   I have some makes still to blog about but couldn’t get the time in before now, so will have a couple to show you after Christmas.  I should either have started earlier, or considered taking some time off before hand.  But, without giving anything away, the final two gifts were completed today …& now the house is all prepared for hosting & an evening of cooking/baking awaits me.  I have some Christmas Crooners to keep me company.  Marvellous!

In terms of sewing, I am mega excited to be sewing for me again.  Want to see what I’m going to be concentrating on this holiday?

image 1

This is my December and January project for the Minerva Blogging Network.   I am making a *big project*.  Yes, at last I am making a jacket.  The fabric I chose is this blankety grey flannel, it’s quite thick & felty, a true charcoal grey, with a faint mottled tweedy appearance.   This jacket is going to be an everyday jacket, one for going to work, or wearing with jeans at the weekend or on an evening.   But because I want there to be some secret fun & jollity to something otherwise sensible on the outside, I’ve chosen a polka dot lining, a satin. This is rather a statement – these polka dots are a couple of inches in diameter!

Also in my bundle of materials is calico for the underlining, some interfacing and also shoulder pads.

image 2

Looking for buttons I thought these would look good with the grey- my chosen jacket is double breasted & so the buttons are definitely a feature. Have you worked out what I am making yet? I have plumped for the Anise Jacket by Colette Patterns.

image 3

I have had this for a year or so now & it’s about time it got made! I shall be making the full length sleeved version, and am looking forward to rocking the welt pockets and I feel I should really make bound button holes as well. I feel as if I have a mountain ahead of me.  It’ll be worth it though, and do you know, I am really looking forward to it.   It fits with my sewing ethos for 2015….but you’ll have to wait to hear about that another time.

Have a most wonderful Christmas everyone, thanks for all of your support this year, it’s been a blast!

Negroni in green but not for the W.I.

Well this is a funny one.  Not really funny ha ha just funny due to what I have found out for writing up this make, my latest boy shirt, the Colette Patterns Negroni again.  I’d made this & have now given this as a birthday present last month to my youngest.   It came in a spell of quite a lot of gift making & was preceded by a trip to my local fabric store during which time I bought a few lengths of fabric (for kimonos, this shirt, a gift for my Mum, yet to blog about, more shirt fabric for a future gift & if memory serves me well, absolutely diddly squat for me!  That must be a first).  Choosing shirt fabric for my sons is something I like doing face to fabric so that I can get a feel for the fabric behaviour & true colour. I will buy online too, don’t get me wrong, but because I find shirt gift giving so satisfying, the buying of the fabric comes as one of the delight-giving steps.  (Well, is that a surprise, as confessed by a fabric-aholic?)

The Makower fabrics that are part of the W.I. Centenary Competition. 

So this fabric.  This is the funny part of my post.  When I bought it the lady in the shop told me that it is a Makower fabric, designed by the Women’s Institute as part of a competition celebrating the W.I.’s centenary – making a quilt/ wall hanging or a wearable item.  She had thought that the closing date was August perhaps, but when I looked this up, prior to setting off on this blog post, I found out that the closing date is 31st October.  So this is a live project then.  Except I am not a member of the W.I. & it’s all being done by snail mail, so discount this as a competition entry – it never was & it never will be!  But it was none the less funny to find this out.   Because I used two of the above fabrics.  The green starry 7486G and the grey 7092T.  It’s quilters’ cotton, but very soft & clearly at the price, lovely quality.  Out of all of the fabrics in the shop, it was the “best choice” for this particular son when I was considering his colouring & scale & type of the print.  I bought enough for a short sleeve version, and upon discussing with him, he requested long sleeves.  Doh!  I rushed back to the shop only to find it had all gone!  So short sleeves it had to be.


OK onto the shirt now – that was rather a long story about the fabric, unusually for me.


The shirt.  I love sewing shirts for my boys.  Now that I know how well they are received and now that I have got their “custom” patterns that fit to their actual body sizes & arms lengths.  Maybe it’ll become a tradition  that they expect – birthdays and Christmases- a mum-made shirt.  This is a birthday gift, & in September I could just get away with it being short sleeves, particularly with the warm weather we’ve had.


After comparing two shirts & how their construction differed I freestyled this time – following the construction order from the Negroni shirt pattern,  but not necessarily the same techniques.  My biggest conscious diversion was opting to go for speed, using faux flat fell  seams – French seams top stitched down- side seams & all sleeve seams.  Despite my love of the finish with real flat fell seams, it just felt easier.


Each time I have made Negroni with flat fell seams, I’d always put one of the sleeves in the wrong way, & if you’ve followed this method for inserting Negroni sleeves, you will maybe remember that it’s quite a tricky bit-by-bit sewing operation & to have to do it three times instead of two, clearly preyed on my mind!


I used the contrast grey as the under collar & inside yoke, & had I been making a long sleeved version, it would have featured inside the cuffs as well.


What’s left to say?  Oh yes!  He likes it!  He doesn’t mind that it’s short sleeves afterall & has been given some styling advice about how to make it work with long sleeve t-shirts in the winter from his bro.  He saved its first wearing for a birthday curry out with his friends.  The first time I saw him actually modelling it was after it had been through the wash.  He doesn’t iron.  I was transfixed on the collar/ facing & trying to get it to behave & look just a little less mangled …..it’s harder to get away with a non-ironed shirt with this style of collar…!

Oh Lovely Liberty Lawn Laurel top

It was my shopping / inspiration trip with Jane that got me thinking about making a sleeveless Colette Patterns Laurel top out of one of my new Liberty Tana lawn pieces, bought with the lovely lady herself. I have been thinking of using a metre of Liberty lawn to make up a sleeveless button up blouse ( don’t worry, there will be one of those too), but when discussing patterns, like you do with other sewsters, a renewed vision for a Laurel visited me.

Laurel top
I wear my stripey 3/4 sleeved Laurel aplenty.  One of the reasons it works so well is that it is a classic colour and stripe for me, and I always feel it represents my style whenever I wear it.  Sewing the Laurel top is another fabulous experience- no closures, no facings and bias bound openings.  I’ve perfected my pattern so that darts are placed right for me, so to cut and sew is a simple exercise in all that is joyful about sewing.

Laurel top

Choosing  a Liberty print to make this I knew would create another classic piece for my wardrobe, and an occasion where the pattern needs to be clear, simple and classic to let the fabric do the talking.

Laurel top

I’ve made a sleeveless Laurel dress ( my elephants) and had used bias for the armholes and it worked successfully I felt, and therefore set to on an impulse one afternoon, slicing through my Liberty.  It came together as quickly as I had anticipated.  What’s more to say?

Laurel top

This little top is exactly what I had planned- the perfect classic tank top that can be worn tucked in or loosely with trousers or shorts.  I cannot wait to wear it with rolled up trousers, paddling in the sea.  Equally it has fared well being paired with a cardigan, tucked into my flora skirt, at work.  Oh and the other treasure about this ? You only need a metre of fabric.  Certainly worth an investment I’d say!

Take Two Shirts

I’ve been catching up with my 2013 Christmas makes (*shock*)!  Yes, I’m rubbish & yes, after all this time I have got my act together & made up the shirts that I had promised my sons for Christmas.  I’d chosen the fabric & given them a bundle for Christmas – & then took their measurements to try this time to get a shirt that was the right size.  Previous versions have been guess work & whilst the sewing has been sound, the sizing hasn’t!  Whilst one son was drowned, the other was never able to wear his sleeves unrolled since I discovered when measuring him that his arms needed an extra 3″!  It’s obvious that sewing for men is going to have the same issues with not fitting the standard sizing as women do, but shame it took me a few fails to find out!

So, only 4 months later, I spent a couple of weekends in a row making men’s shirts.  Floral men’s shirts.*I have not presented them yet to know if they are a success* !!

Mens Floral Shirts

I used the Colette Patterns Negroni shirt for my first make (since I had already cut it to the desired size on previous use- & the measurements appeared to be right for this particular son) & Simplicity 7030 for the following shirt (the larger one – which also seemed to be right sizing for the other son, but with an added 3″ to the sleeves).

And so I sewed.  I’ve said before how I actually love making shirts – for various reasons – but the sense of satisfaction is immense:

-Fabrics for shirt making are usually well behaved, crisp enough to press nicely, delivering nice results;

-The technicalities for making shirts are involved – but not that tricky.

-Precision.  Getting the technicalities to work & look good requires precise sewing- a chance to show yourself what you can do – & when the fabric does what you tell it to, there is only you & the sewing machine to hit it right.

-One of the first steps is siting the chest pocket(s) & there is nothing so motivating as eyeballing your neat, pressed & edge stitched pocket…

It was good making the Negroni first, as we all know how Colette Patterns’ instructions & methods are considered to be the gold standard of sewing.   With the first shirt, then, I deployed various skills & methods that I could compare/ contrast & opt to deploy for the second shirt.  I thought rather than just show off the pictures of the two shirts, which could be quite boring to you, I would show the two side by side & describe what I did the same & what differently.  You see, with all that Archer love out there at the moment, maybe you’re thinking of sewing a man’s shirt next?

In no particular order….

The pockets.

Shirt pockets


OK, the pockets as I just said are one of the first steps, & it appears that I am starting at the beginning, but don’t expect the logic to continue …

So, Negroni has pocket options (I think?) – but I went for the chevron shape with pocket flap x2.  The Simplicity pattern has one simple rectangular pocket, no button.  It doesn’t take a genius to spot that the Simplicity pocket is an easier make!  Negroni requires neat pressing to ensure the shape is symmetrical.  There’s more pivoting (pocket & flap) & of course the flaps need to be sited neatly too – so more potential to go wrong, but it won’t!  And a bit of early buttonhole action needed.  Nothing to stop you making a rectangular pocket for Negroni though.  And if you are worried – use a busy fabric like me 😉

Collars & facings.

Shirt collars and facings

The styling is different for both of these shirts, so two completely different approaches.  Negroni has a flat “convertible collar” which is like a Hawaiian shirt – no collar stand – with a separate front facing (this would allow you to easily make a contrast collar if you wanted).  It’s a simple collar to sew, but clearly a style choice – some men might not like this casual look.  I hope my son does !  The Simplicity pattern uses the traditional collar stand so in theory you could wear a tie with it.  More pieces, but no separate front facing & the front includes a self facing that gives a smart finish to the inside of the centre front- all sewn up – no flappy facing.  The collar itself has been drafted so that there is no heaving with easing – I’ve made shirts recently for me that almost appeared as if the collar stand was not made for the neck opening it was supposed to be sewn to.  Not so with this – it is sewn on without the need for pre-stitching clipping.  Phew.  For both collar points I used this method for a nice crisp finish.  Love it.  I also tend to sew the collar stand facing on as the last step so that I can get a good alignment between the curved collar stand front & the shirt’s centre fronts.  (Ie make collar up, clip, turn, press, edge stitch where wanted.  Sew interfaced collar stand to shirt neck edge.  Attach collar to interfaced collar stand.  Then sew collar stand facing to interfaced collar stand with collar sandwiched in between.)

Yokes and machine finishing.

Shirt yokes

Shirts have lined yokes.  Luckily I had made the Negroni first which has such an awesome method that doesn’t involve any hand sewing – I think it’s the “burrito” method.  Anyway, I deployed it for the Simplicity shirt, even though instructions were to hand sew.  In fact I did not hand sew anything – I stitched in the ditch at every opportunity for both shirts, when in the old days I would have hand sewn collar stand facings & yokes, even cuff facings.

Cuffs & plakets.

Cuffs plackets and laps

Negroni uses a placket for finishing the cuff opening, & Simplicity a continuous lap.  What I love about the Negroni pattern is that even the order for the folding & pressing is numbered to facilitate a neat crisp “arrow head” shape.  There is more potential to go wrong with a placket, but it’s worth a shot as it does produce a nice result.  Not that it is easy to see in such busy fabric!  The continuous lap is the easier option, but neat never the less.  The cuffs are also more intricate with the Colette patterns shirt – each cuff is in two pieces & has curved edges.  This makes it easier to use a contrast cuff facing if you wanted, as well as being a generally nice detail.  The Simplicity shirt has mammoth cuff pieces in comparison- easier to sew!

Flat felled seams or not flat felled seams?

Another reason to be glad for making the Negroni first was the practice in flat felling.  This took me ages as I haven’t done it that many times before & of course, I made mistakes in how I placed my sleeves-to-shirt   – right sides/ wrong sides together?  I can’t remember where I went wrong, but it involved unpicking.  Whilst the sleeves are put in flat, the flat felled sleeve head seam is a fiddle, & the second stage of the seam (ie the folded over finish) is sewn bit by bit to accommodate the curve.  There is most opportunity for a less polished finish here – curves – trying to get uniform seam folding-under – with uniform edge stitching.  So I am glad that it is the most inaccessible & least visible seam when worn!  The side & sleeve seams are sewn in one operation.  In comparison to the sleeve head, it was a breeze.  And it is possible to get all the way into the inner most depths of each sleeve & machine in one fell swoop, even if your logic tells you otherwise.

Flat felled seams

I had contemplated flat felling the Simplicity shirt, but instead did mock flat felled seams – French seams that are then pressed & edge stitched down.  Much simpler (especially if, like me, you use your overlocker to make the first seam so that it is a uniform width with no loose ends.)  There seems to be a balance for me with this mock approach though.  The balance for edge stitching distance & amount of “seam” sewn.  What do I mean?  Well, I like to edge stitch up close to the edge – say 0.5mm -1mm from the edge, but here I am a good 2mm from the edge.  But had I sewn 1mm from the edge, there is much more potential for puckering on the right side of the shirt seam.  And I think the problem lies in the “depth” of my French seam – had I sewn them narrower I would have been able to get the finish that to me looked even more of a mock flat fell.  But I am not losing sleep over it.  It’s still a neat finish.

I think that’s it.  A comparison of two shirts.  Are you tempted to make shirts for the man/ men in your life?

7030 Simplicity

Use Simplicity 7030 & you could even make waistcoat (vest), bow tie & braces (suspenders)!!!  Now that would be dapper!


Not such a plain black skirt: Colette Meringue skirt with extras

I’ve not had a plain black skirt for years & have managed along quite happily without feeling the need.  But then you’ll see soon that I’ve made another shirt which got me thinking differently.   And when you see the shirt (later this week, I promise) you’ll understand.

meringue skirt

A little black skirt can be soooo versatile, can’t it?  Easy to pair up with a blouse or sweater of most colours (& I know that Susannah & Trinny would tell you otherwise & not to wear colour with black, but I happen to like wearing all sorts of colours with black myself…blues, reds, cream – is that a colour?) So, an urge was born.


The idea of a black skirt grew, & I knew that I had a suitable piece of fabric residing in my stash bought from the Birmingham Rag Market a while ago.  This fabric was originally bought for some Clovers as it has some stretch in it, but it has the most gorgeous drape, even if I have no idea what its composition is.  The important thing is that it feels nice & not too polyester – ridden.

meringueWould you like to know what the grey dots are on the wall to my right?  Well….they are the result of us being *really bad* at darts!

My little black skirt though was not going to be *just a pencil skirt*.  If I was to make a plain black skirt, the design of the skirt had to give back a bit of detail.  It was either going to be a Charlotte (but not enough fabric for the ruffle) or the delightful Meringue skirt in the Colette Patterns Handbook.  I have lived in my pinstriped meringue & love it.

meringue skirt

I decided that I should make it again, in plain black, with polka dot lining & a waistband again (I like waistbands, although the Meringue pattern is drafted with a faced waistline).  I learnt a lot about how to line my first Meringue skirt  through trial & error,lining the full skirt right down to the scalloped hem (read about it here) & acknowledged that this is not the best way to line the Meringue skirt.     This time I would keep the lining free from the hem & use the pattern facing.

meringue skirt

OK, the plan was hatched.  Just one more detail occurred to me: velvet ric rac.  Oh yes!  Another way to bring some pizazz into a plain black skirt.  I would add velvet ric rac to the waist seam as if it was piping: an echo of the scallops below but in smaller form.

meringue skirtCheck out the almost polka dot button! Scoop!

So it all went without a hitch.  I followed Lladybird’s invisible zipper method which has an added safety measure of marking stitching end points both sides of your zip to get balance (genius).  Now that worked even better for me, & it will be a sure new technique added to my sewing armory now.  Thank you Lauren 🙂

meringue skirt

How it’s possible to make a plain black skirt, not plain.

meringue (2)Happiness is ….turquoise shoes.  I’m telling you, it was confirmation that the Spring is coming getting these babies on!

A peacock Ginger skirt

At last, the light is better & I can take better pictures.  It’s almost as if weather conspired against Me Made May to scupper all thoughts of summer dresses & sunny photo opps.  Oh well.  Anyway, this is just a quick one – both blog post, & make!

I’d mentioned in my last post that I had a bit of a sewing fever (when I actually managed to find time to sew that is), but my sewing fever was fuelled by a need to fill some wardrobe gaps left by my summer clothes not fitting anymore.  Enter Colette Patterns Ginger skirt.  Now anyone who’s sewn this skirt knows it’s a quick make, especially unlined.

With a high sewing temperature I struck, easing my fevered brow by thoughts of a new skirt that would actually fit me & would mean no gaping waistbands as I sit down, no chance of someone taller than me (& let’s face it, there are plenty of people taller than me – the majority of adults & teens over the age of 14 I’d suggest) being able to see my knickers just by looking down the front of my skirt as I stood there.

I’d bought some deeelish peacock feathered cotton in Birmingham at the Fancy Silk store last year.  I’d only bought a metre and a half, & hadn’t any designs on it except having designs on it to be taken home with me.  I love peacock colours, just love them.  This fabric came in different backgrounds & I opted for the turquoise one….

Colette Ginger skirtSo, as I said, I was in a sewing fever & quickly cut out the Colette Ginger pieces, identifying which would be the correct size for me now.  It’s been a while since I’ve sewn this skirt & I’d forgotten that it is not *just* an A line skirt.  This skirt has no darts but is shaped with a slight curve from hip to waist.  Its hem is also shaped so that it has the wisp of a bell effect.  Now I could have cut it so that the front was all one piece, but then, as I said, the centre front seam curves slightly over your belly area, thus making it not a straight line to hug the folded fabric.  I cut it in two pieces & made the seam.

Colette Ginger skirtSorry for the creases, it has been sat around in when these pics were taken.  Anyway,  not sure if you can see there, I undertook absolutely no pattern matching.  I thought about how the rows of feathers lined up when I cut, but that was it.  I retro thought how to compensate for a clumsy and dodgy centre front seam, right obviously through all those glorious feathers.  Edge stitching!  Ta na!  It made it a little more casual, but deliberately so.  It meant that I also needed to edge stitch the waistband once that was all attached & sewn down, to match.

Colette Ginger skirt

I also failed again to find an invisible zip in my stash, therefore sewed a lapped zipper.  Now, I didn’t think this through properly, but did manage to recover my mistake.  Lapped zippers require extra length in the back waistband to pop behind the lapped edge.  Somehow I eeked out enough with what I’d cut, sewing thin seams & taking a bit extra in at the waist.  It’s fine.  Not worth a pic.

Colette Ginger skirtAh, but this was!  The clematis attacked!  So jealous was it of my peacock’s vibrant colours taking the attention away from its glory …

Colette Ginger skirt

So this is the skirt at the end of the day.  I am so happy not to be wearing a grey cardigan!  It’s been great to get my legs out too.  It was work appropriate- score!  And I fashioned my necklace in its honour…

Locket with peacock featherThis is a silver / glass locket.  You can fill it with what you want & over the years it’s had glitter inside, strands of vivid silk threads (sounds more effective than it actually was) & for the last 10 years or so, a pressed daisy.  To bring it more into keeping with my current needs I recovered a single peacock feather earring (the other had long been lost on a night out, in days when my hair was longer & such danglies were more in keeping with my rats tails of a hairstyle).  Quickly trimming off the excess I’d refashioned my locket into a glowing eye of colour.  I think it’ll get lots more wear now! As will this skirt.  Oh, it feels good to be in turquoise again, it means *those* shoes come out to play! 🙂

Colette Patterns Laurel Dress: my shrubbery develops

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.

Blue Laurel 1

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!

Blue Laurel 2

I used crochet trim like piping between the yoke & the main dress piece, as well as edging the sleeves with it.

Blue Laurel 3

The bias facings & underside of the Peter Pan collar are also polka dots  wheeee!

Blue Laurel

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

Elephant Laurel dressNow 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!!!)

Elephant Laurel neckI 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…

Elephant Laurel pocketI 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”)

LaurelCan 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!

Laurel back 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

Gingham Laurel 1This 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 ..

Sailor Laurel 1Da 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.

Gingham Laurel 2Pockets?  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!

Gingham Laurel 3There 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.

Gingham Laurel 4So that’s the back…here is the gingham version in a number of guises ….

Gingham Laurel-001

This will be how I wear it for real folks!

Gingham Laurel backIt’s just such a comfy dress to wear – I reckon perfect for a Sunday dinner – you can hide a lot in that shift shape…

Gingham LaurelI could belt it in if I wanted to, although that does mean that it gets ever shorter …

Sailor Laurel-001Showing the pocket flaps in action…

Sailor Laurel

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.

My Colette Laurel top

I’m just going to plunge in & reveal my affection for Colette Patterns’ newest addition to the awesome collection: Laurel

I know it’s a shift dress & I undoubtedly have plenty of shift dress patterns.  But.  Look on the website there are some rather nice mods to this simple style.  For some reason (might it have anything to do with the competition? 😉  ) I opted to give it a go.

Laurel 1

I compared the pattern pieces with my tried & tested New Look 6000 which is my “block” now & from experience I know that Colette patterns are usually too big in the back for me & usually bust darts are too high.  How fantastic to have a pattern “block” I tell you!  It makes fitting & anticipating what might need to be done so much easier …

I thought I’d make the top.  But you can see that as I’ve already started with the pics.  By the way, excuse the “slicked ” hair look – I’d just come back from a run, showered etc & the hair is still damp.  It is not a look I take out onto the streets, honest.

Ahem.  Back to the top.  Laurel.  It is such a quick make , even when there are all these stripes to match.  The fabric came from Mandors in Edinburgh & is a buttery glazed cotton.  Such a delight to sew with, but I didn’t want to make any mistakes (who ever actually wants to make mistakes :-s ?) as it seems to be a fabric with memory & I worried it would show any holes left by misadventurous stitching.

Laurel 3Side seams look pretty awesome to me!  The back has a centre back seam, but joy of joys, this top has a big enough neckline for not requiring any zips or buttons (unless of course your hair is too huge to fit)

Laurel 2

Look – there is a seam down the centre back – honest!  So it has bust darts & rear vertical darts for a touch of shaping.  Whilst I am wearing it out-tucked it might appear a bit more tube-like than my usual fitted styles, but it’s a casual top & tell you what it looks adorable with my new red Chardon skirt, tucked in.  Sorry no pics, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Laurel 4

As you’re used to if you have sewn Colette before the instructions are just right, but then remember this is a simple make.  And peeps, no facings, yes, did you hear me there are no facings, just plain old bias binding!   (Or handmade self bias binding which is what I used & boy it looks cute with those diagonal stripes! oops – again I’m teasing as I haven’t taken any photos of that either!) My version, sleeve length, top length etc is just about out of the packet as designed, except (& you can see this a bit on the rear picture above) I did not gather the sleeves but made a few tiny pleats as this fabric is so lovely I didn’t want to create any puncture marks through extra gathering stitches.  (Oh & remember I made adjustments to fit, as expected – narrowing the back & lowering the bust dart)

Laurel 5

I am won over by this pattern, seriously.  There is a lot of scope for individualising it (who me?!) & if the dress is anywhere near as lovely to make as the top….(hint hint, it is! )  I will come back & show you my next Laurel soon …..

A deadline looms….

I’m feeling the pressure peeps, I have a list of gifts to make & I should be sewing like now.

But you know the expression “More haste, less speed”.  Well, I need to breathe deeply & thought a quick blog post the best way to do this.  So not much talking here, a few pics, & I will explain the barrage of unuttered  curses that went through my mind just now….& reveal this week’s most pressing sewing deadline.

Can I show you my scalloped blouseColette Violet?

Here is the Boden blouse that triggered the thought of a scalloped centre front (Oh Roo, you have such fantastic knowledge of what’s out there!)


So last time there was the potential disaster of da da da (cue dramatic music) yellow wax edges to the scallops.  the The good news?  I used tons of Vanish to work at the aforementioned yellow traces of dressmaker’s tracing paper before slamming it in the washing machine & it worked!  Yip yip ay yay!

Revealing the back first – I do so love the gathered yoke.  I wear it with a cotton camisole underneath but dear Barbarella is rather an exhibitionist it has to be said.  See that black top hanging on the radiator?   That’s another gift that I shall write about some time (as there were more discoveries with making this!) It’s another Vogue 1247  made with Rag Market viscose.

But onto the front view & the scallops…

See what I mean about the facings showing?  I really hadn’t thought that through.  Mrs C gives some advice on sheer fabrics, facings & seam allowances in the comments to this post here.  I shall revisit them when venturing into using some of the chiffon I have in my stash.

….So why does the idiom, “More haste, less speed” become relevant?  Well after thinking that I had ruined this blouse with yellow waxed tracing paper markings & managing to save it, I rushed to give this lil’ blouse an iron for the photo shoot & gah ….I hate even writing it so annoying is this….the iron was too hot & melted (yes melted) the left front collar.  It has a crispy holeyness about it.  I have never done that before.  It doesn’t show in the above picture, but believe me it is there ….& why?

Well., as I said at the start I am feeling the pressure.  I have only a couple of sewing hours this week to make up a gift for a special little girl & have made a good start …

However will I really manage to find the time?  Recently there has been a squeeze on sewing time due to lovely visitors (in the guise of my grown up boys).  Funnily enough whenever they stay not only do I feel the urge to cook more & clearly need to spend time with them, but their laptops completely screw up my internet access – hence less blogging & blog commenting becomes problematic.   And it also puts the dampeners a little on outfit pics, well those in which I make more of an effort, & believe me I have some planned….but as you know I prefer to have my privacy when letting loose the inner Badger ….

So writing this in some way has not helped my sewing stress.  Although I am now poised to sew, I have burnt my new blouse so badly that I will at some time have to replace the collar, & my much needed beauty sleep draws closer.  Just how much might I have sewn had I not written this?   Oh well,

“After all tomorrow is another day” to quote my heroine.

I think I just might call it a day & go to bed & read!