Pretty Blue Dress

This fabric and pattern were a perfect pair! I have had my eye on the Hazel sundress pattern from Colette Patterns since it came out last spring and when I finally bought the pattern I waited quite awhile to find just the right fabric for it. I knew I didn’t want a fabric with a pattern that would compete with the unique bodice design, but I also didn’t want a flat solid colored fabric. This turquoise chambray was the perfect middle ground. It is woven with royal blue and turquoise threads, which gives the color a lot of depth and interest. It was very hard to capture this in a photograph so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

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I don’t often make a muslin when I sew. If I am concerned about the fit I will often just baste the pieces together and adjust from there. One time when I think it’s worth the time and effort of making a muslin is when the design has a very fitted bodice. So, since this pattern has unique bodice seams and is close-fitting, I decided that making a muslin of the bodice was a good idea. The decision led to some other good decisions in making this dress fit me.

First of all, the darts in the bodice give the dress a more retro silhouette, which might work better for someone who wears vintage style undergarments. I do not, so I needed to make changes that would get rid of the dart point. The easiest solution? Change the dart into gathers. (Instead of sewing the dart, sew two or three rows of basting stitches in the front bodice seam allowance. Pull up the stitches to form gathers where the dart would be centered. Sew the bodice front to the bodice sides as usual.) I think this design change worked well as a fitting solution and as a bonus the bodice gathers echo the gathered skirt. Win win!

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Design/Pattern: Colette Patterns Hazel

Materials: 100% cotton turquoise chambray, small bit of white cotton voile for bodice lining, thread, 22 inch invisible zipper (any zipper at least 14 inches long would be sufficient though)

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Techniques:

  • serged seam allowances on skirt and pockets
  • gathered bodice and skirt
  • quick-lined bodice
  • slip stitched hem and bodice lining

Alterations/Changes: As I described above, to fit the bodice, I changed the darts to gathers. I also decided to line the bodice for a cleaner finish. I used this method to create a quick bodice lining. One more thing about the bodice: the upper edge doesn’t gape. I’m pretty sure this is due to great pattern design rather than my sewing skills!

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This is a great summer dress! It’s made of cool, comfy cotton. It’s a unique design. And it can be dressed up or down. I am super pleased with this new addition to my summer wardrobe. I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who is looking for something a little different, yet still very wearable, to add to their closet.

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Gray Floral Laurel

I’ve talked about the Laurel pattern from Colette Patterns before, a couple of times, so I won’t go on and on talking about it. I am completely pleased with this dress, except that I didn’t finish it in time to wear for my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner and haven’t had anywhere to wear it yet. I got up early the morning we needed to leave for the wedding and sewed as quickly as I could, but it just didn’t happen. This fabric was pricey, so I didn’t want to risk making a mistake I couldn’t fix. Now that I am done with this project, I can say that was a wise decision.

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Let me talk a little bit about how this dress is different than my first Laurel and how I would do things differently for a third version. First of all, since the blouse doesn’t have a closure and the dress has a zipper, I decided to go down a size. The extra ease wasn’t necessary because I don’t have to pull it on over my head. I made the version with front patch pockets, and I really like how they look, but they aren’t really functional. Next time, if I wanted functional pockets I would add them to the side seams.

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Design/Pattern: Colette Patterns, Laurel, version 2

Materials: Amy Butler cotton sateen, Alchemy Studio Collection, zinc, Victoriana, 22″ invisible zipper, bias tape

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Techniques:

  • matched “stripes” along side seams, sleeves and pockets
  • stitched & serged seams
  • darts
  • set in sleeves
  • patch pockets
  • invisible zipper
  • hems & neckline finished with bias tape & hand stitching

Alterations/Changes: I didn’t make any alterations.

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Even though I haven’t had a chance to wear this dress yet, I’m sure I will use it frequently. It’s not too fancy to wear to work (I’m on summer break right now so I’m not working), but it’s also nice enough to wear for more special occasions. I hope I have a reason to wear it soon!

Sewing Plans: Laurel Shift Dress

I am quite a fan of the shift dress, so I was excited to see the newest addition to the Colette Patterns line. Laurel is a very classic shift that is billed as being blank canvas for interpretation and embellishment. Over the last couple weeks since the pattern came out I’ve been gathering inspiration and supplies from the Colette Patterns website, flickr group and Laurel Extras e-booklet, and from fabric stores in two states. I’ve finally got a plan for my Laurel pattern and I’m ready to cut into some fabric today. Here’s what I’m thinking.

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I have two Laurels planned in two quite different, yet quite similar fabrics. As Sarai, the owner of Colette patterns has said, this pattern is a great showcase for a special fabric. This first fabric I bought is this cotton sateen designed by Amy Butler for her Alchemy Studio Collection while I was visiting my sister. This fabric feels as smooth as silk and has a subtle sheen. It’s a lighter weight than many other cotton sateen fabrics I’ve bought in the past, but it is still substantial enough not to require a lining or underlining, I think. This fabric was a splurge, so I don’t want to cut into it until I know that Laurel is a good fit and match for me and for this gorgeous fabric. I’m planning to make Laurel version 1 (dress length without pockets) or version 2 (dress length with pockets) from this fabric if all goes as planned.

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I bought a second fabric so that I could make a practice version or wearable muslin. (I’m not a big fan of sewing things I can’t use, like a plain white muslin garment, so if I need to sew a practice version of a pattern I’d rather use a fabric I still like but that I wouldn’t be devastated if I ruined.) I got a real bargain for such a nice fabric, so I know I won’t feel like the money was wasted if my practice version isn’t wearable, but I still want it to turn out well. It is a striped linen fabric that is a nice medium-light weight. What I haven’t decided yet is whether I want the stripes to run horizontally or vertically. At this moment, I’m leaning towards horizontally because I think it would look neat to use the selvedge (that white stripe is part of selvedge) as the bottom edge, which would also save me the step of hemming. I’m planning to make the shirt version of Laurel, version 4, from this fabric.

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When I put these two fabrics in the washer together to pre-wash them, I was struck by how similar and how different they are from each other. Both fabrics have a gray background with a striped design in shades of pink, purple, blue and green. Yet, even though they share a color scheme and pattern, they are very different in “personality”. The cotton sateen is smooth, shiny and very feminine with a floral design making up the stripes. The linen has a slubbed textured, and is relaxed and natural looking. I plan on wearing the sateen dress to the rehearsal dinner for my sister’s wedding and the linen top with shorts or jeans for a casual day around town. If this pattern works well in both of these fabrics, I predict that this pattern becomes a tried-and-true favorite of mine.

Bi-color Cloth Napkins

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My sister is getting married in May, so I threw her a shower. I had a great time planning all aspects of the shower, but it wouldn’t have been complete without something I had sewn. I chose a set of cloth napkins as the inspiration for her gift and made this pretty set.

I chose Kona cotton in four colors and used a project from the Purl Bee as my guide. It was a very simple, but gratifying project that I put a lot of love into. Best wishes for my big sister and her fiancé!

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Minimalist Kimono Wrap

I have been in need of a summer bathrobe for quite some time. In the winter I use a big, fluffy white robe that goes down to my ankles, but that just doesn’t do in the heat. I opted for a short, kimono-style wrap to do the trick instead. It’s so comfortable that I have been wearing as lounge wear as well.

When I was deciding what style and pattern to use for my robe, I knew I wanted a quick project with few seams and very little fabric waste. I came up with a simple measure-and-cut pattern that wastes only a few fabric trimmings. It’s a very minimalist style and I think it would be just as wonderful made in terry cloth or flannel as it is in the cotton sweater knit I chose. If you’re interested in me making a tutorial for this design, please say so in the comments. If there is enough interest, I’ll be happy to share my process.

Design/Pattern: my own minimalist kimono wrap

Materials: 2 yards of cotton sweater knit, thread, bias binding

Techniques:

  • serged seams
  • bias bound edges

Alterations/Changes: I made the pattern to my own specifications, so I didn’t need any alterations. However, I would love a longer version in flannel for the fall.

This robe does just what it needs to and was easy to make too. I’ve been wrapping up in it in the evenings as I watch the Olympics, so in the spirit of the Olympic games, I’m giving this robe a gold medal.

Red & White Medallions Dress

Summer break is here, which means a few things. First, I’ll have more time to sew and post projects and thoughts here. Second, it’s hot out. And third, it’s time for some new summer dresses! This one was a breeze to make up and to wear to a little shindig that kicked off the start of summer break.

There is very little shaping with this dress design. There are a few gathers at the neckline, but other than that it’s very straight and simple until you get to the flounce at the bottom. This shape is somewhat new for me. I tend to make dresses with some sort of shaping at the waist. However, I love this new dress and plan on making other dresses with a similar silhouette.

Design/Pattern: Simplicity 1879, view A (minus the sleeves and back yoke pieces)

Materials:

  • red & white medallion printed cotton voile from JoAnn’s, part of the Lissette line
  • white cotton voile for lining
  • white double fold bias tape
  • matching thread

Techniques:

  • French seams
  • finished upper edges & made shoulder straps with double fold bias tape
  • machine rolled narrow hem

Alterations/Changes:

  • omit sleeves and back yoke from Simplicity 1879 pattern, view A
  • add a lining, for opacity

This is a grade A dress, I think. It fits nicely, is comfortable and is a unique new style for me. At first, I was afraid I had made it a size too small, but I think it was just the extreme heat we’re having that makes all clothing feel too tight. I’m sure I’ll wear it often throughout the summer. In my opinion, it’s perfect for everyday wear or for a fun summer date.