Colette Peony – weed or blossom?

Colette Peony - a summer frock

Colette Peony – a summer frock

Colette Peony – I haven’t quite decided whether it’s a weed or a blossom in my pattern stash. Should it stay or should it go? (This dress is also appearing over at Rhinestones and Telephones right now).

Colette Peony was my first indie patterns purchases when I started sewing again. I bought it direct from Colette, waited weeks for it to arrive – in the meantime I made my Frolicking Frock and my beloved Tardis Skirt, which have all been major wardrobe winners. If I had started with this pattern, I might have given up sewing before I even got started again.

I made this as this dress for Sew Colette 2.0 which is hosted by Sarah, Erin and Rochelle. I was not thrilled when Peony was voted as the October project – I was desperately wanting it to be Oolong – I even have the pattern – thank you Sew Squirrel! I didn’t intend to participate but when Sarah was tweeting about needing a guest blogger I thought ‘hey I’ve just made a smokin’ boned, lined and underlined Gertie wiggle dress – how hard can Peony be?‘ hmmmmm, HARD!

Peony is rated as an easy project. It’s not hard to sew together. However, it is difficult to fit. This pattern has clearly been designed for someone with a completely different build than me (and most people it seems) and modifying the pattern can be hard work for some of us. So here is a little story about my battle with the Peony…

MAKE A MUSLIN!!!!!

If you make this pattern, you absolutely must make at least a bodice muslin. I consider myself a base jumper in the sewing world and rarely muslin anything (a small benefit of being built like a coathanger I guess). I had seen enough of this pattern in blogworld to know that it might be a tough customer – it needed more than courage and a parachute to prevent a crash landing. I think the biggest issue is the position of the waist and bust darts. I re-drew and re-stitched the darts five times on my muslin. I drew lines all over it and eventually created something that kinda sorta fits.

FRONT BODICE SOLUTION

What did I do? After four unsuccessful dart moves, I looked at my made-by-me dresses that do fit well and looked at their bodice darts. My Passport dress and Simplicity 2444 have waist darts however instead of running at a 90 degree angle to the waistline, they start closer to the centre of the waistline and are slightly angled outwards from the waist and towards the side seams. I transferred this dart rotation to my muslin. I simply dropped the waist darts down a little and rotated them outwards a little. I also raised the bust seams a little. Hey presto – a much better fitting bodice.

DON’T FORGET THE BACK BODICE

In my excessive excitement I did not spend enough time fussing over the back. Once I sewed up the dress I found that the back is still too wide. Alas. If you are having this problem I did google this problem and found a very helpful post from Symon Sez referring to Madalynne’s post explaining the relationship between the back and front neckline width. Next time (if there is a next time) I’m going to modify the back piece using this theory.

Colette Peony: back view

Colette Peony: back view

MY SUMMER PEONY

Fabric

I think with any seasonal dress colour choice is important. I’ve never felt very summery in grey or black. Nor do I feel wintery and cosy in minty greens and vibrant blues (I must admit I am not a fan of the colder months – and we don’t even get a frost where I live).

It’s interesting but I’ve never worn yellow – ever. Thanks Kat for encouraging me to give this hue a try via Twitter – this fabric has been intended for a Cambie but there is always another Cambie somewhere… I confess there may be a little more left in my stash…

My fabric is a butter yellow cotton eyelet. Obviously Peony wasn’t giving me enough grief so I picked a fabric that required lining and underlining.

Lining and Underlining

Using the skills I picked up making the wiggle dress and reading Gertie’s book, I underlined the yellow eyelet with some white broadcloth from the stash. Underlining is quite easy. You do need patience! Rather than paraphrase someone else – why not check out Gertie’s blog and see how she underlined the Colette Crepe bodice. In a nutshell you baste the fabrics together around the edges and baste along the dart lines. This is a very imprecise description. I think pictures work better!

Colette Peony underlining the bodice

Colette Peony underlining the bodice

I guess some people may be wondering why I chose broadcloth to underline, rather than silk organza or cotton batiste? I was planning to omit the sleeves as I wanted a Summer Peony and thought if the bodice had more structure the neckline and armholes would sit better.

The bodice is underlined – so the two fabrics are treated as one. I lined the skirt – so the lining is attached at the waist and then hangs free.

Skirt Length

People complain about the Peony skirt gathers – but I love the skirt. It’s a gentle a-line and I think if you pick a a fabric with some drape, not too much, it hangs beautifully. I can see that a poplin, sateen, quilting cotton etc might not be so flattering. I added a full 2 inches to the skirt length. I think it compliments the wide boat neckline better than the shorter skirt. The extra weight might also help the gathers hang better I suspect.

Colette Peony: lengthening the skirt

Colette Peony: lengthening the skirt

The Sleeves – or not!

In an email discussion with Sarah I planned on writing a post about ‘summerising’ Peony – after seeing Lladybird’s rockin’ gingham summer Peony in February this idea has been sitting in the back of my mind.

I’ve always felt a little left-out of the sewalongs as everyone else always seems to be in a different season to me! So this was to be my southern hemisphere version of the Peony – if you are feeling miserable as the temperature descends on the other side of the world, I’m happy to channel summer over here on my blog for you! Free of charge!

I had planned to create armhole facings and write a post about them. While I was making up this pattern, I decided that as the shoulders are quite narrow that it would be better to use bias binding instead – otherwise the shoulder would become quite bulky with layers of fabric. I did add the neckline facing as the pattern directs but ripped it out. The underlining, shell fabric and facings make the neckline at the shoulders very bulky and unattractive. So I unpicked it and replaced it with binding that I cut from the un-eyeletted (yes of course that’s a word) fabric along the eyelet fabric’s edges.

My shoulders did get a touch sunburnt at the beach when we took photos – so I missed the sleeves! Leaving off the sleeves makes the dress much cooler and better for my climate – which features hot and humid summers! Not good weather for growing Peonies 🙂

I simply stitched bias binding to the outside of the armholes on the right side, turned the binding to the inside, concealing the raw edges and slip stitched it down to the underlining.

Piping

I decided to highlight the white underlining/lining that is peek-a-booing through the eyelet by adding a piped white waistband. I’ve never inserted piping before – and had always thought it was waaaay tooooo hard. Not true. Check out Colette’s online tutorial about how to add piping to your projects…

Colette Peony, inserting the waist piping

Colette Peony, inserting the waist piping, it’s so much easier than you think!

Colette Peony: with a piped waistband, back view

Colette Peony: with a piped waistband, back view

The Fit

Verdict – does my dress fit perfectly? No. Do I mind? Actually no. I love it with my belt to cinch in the waist – even if it does hide the lovely piping! I don’t really like close fitting summer frocks, they get sticky and clingy. I put this on this morning, took the kids and dog to the beach, splashed in the water, dug some holes, we took the blog photos – and I’ve worn it all day. It’s a lovely comfortable dress. No it’s not perfect… but neither am I…

Accessories

I always think about how I am going to wear my project as I sew it. What necklaces, shoes, earrings, hats will work with it. I find this really helps inspire the process and makes finishing it all the more fun.

Lladybird created a gorgeous crochet rose brooch for her Gingham Peony. Stitch & Witter paired her’s with a bow belt.

I’ve just paired mine with a belt from a bargan bin ($5 – I love it!), some wooden beads from a hippy shop which cost me a huge $2.50 and a straw hat which was a birthday gift from a friend. Accessories really finish any outfit – made-by-me or otherwise. Think about the people whose dress sense you admire – often it’s those little touches that really make them stand out in a crowd. Think beyond your dress, your can take a simple shape or fabric and make it sing with a well placed or chosen accessory.

This soft yellow it is easy to wear and I feel like a little dish of lemon sorbet! It’s a girly dressy summer dress.

I think yellow may appear in my wardrobe more regularly – thanks Kat!

Colette Peony, a piped wiastband

Colette Peony, a piped wiastband

The Images

There has been some hearty comment in blogland about how we put together our images, Catherine Daze and ::Paunnet::, wearing footwear we usually don’t, make-up and colour editing our images… So for the record, there photographs have just been cropped a little so I’m not so lost in the frame, no colour changes have been made, I’m not made-up, I did wash my hair that morning but I wash my hair every day – so this is me, untouched and barefoot on my beach – untouched.

I don’t tend to take a lot of photos with my mug (Aussie slang for face) in it. Like most people I’m not a huge fan of pictures of myself and… well I’m blogging about the clothes, I’m no oil painting, it’s all about the dress!

Why would you bother with photo editing when you are as handsome as this chap who was busy today giving tourists beach rides! Look at those lashes!

Camel rides on Lighthouse Beach

Camel rides on Lighthouse Beach

I know you love my little neighbours… so when we spotted this chap in a tree across the road one morning last week and we took a picture for you!

Koala, Australia

Koala – how do they sleep on such tiny branches with such bootilicous backsides?????

I had been stuck in a bit of a sewing/life rut for a few weeks- for a whole lot of reasons that don’t deserve precious sewing blogging space. Good news: I’m feeling like I’m getting back on my feet… I’ve got two Maria Denmark skirts to share… some treasures from my Tasmanian trip… a wonderful package from Pretty Grievances… a magazine that I won from The Perfect Nose’s blog. So I’m back 🙂 Thank you for your encouragement and comments…

Pattern: Colette Peony, size 0. Purchased form Colette Patterns (now I purchase all my indie patterns from Sew Squirrel – a much better option if you live in Australia!! Thank you Sarah!!)
Shell fabric: Butter yellow cotton eyelet from Spotlight, reduced form $32/m to $6 on the bargain table!
Bodice underlining: white broadcloth. Skirt lining: White bemsilk.

hmmmm and I really need to fix up that back hem…

COLETTE MACARON – have a little faith

Colette Macaron - beach shot

This is the dress I wasn’t going to make. Colette Macaron…

To be honest when I first discovered Colette, it was the dress that least appealed to me. Then I saw a few versions which I really liked… like this one, this one and this one. It’s a problem the sewing blog world – you end up trying things you never thought you would!

When I saw Cuckoo Chanel’s ‘muslin’ version, I tipped over from the ‘maybe’ make into the ‘going to’ make. It was totally unintentional to use a purple yoke as well – I couldn’t find the right tone of hot pink – how many tones of pink are there in the world??!!

Me, being typical me, had little or no faith that Macaron would work on me but I decided to participate in the Colette Sewalong 2.0 anyway. Colette Patterns looks va-va-voom on curvy girls and retro groovy types – but I don’t think I fall into either of these catagories. Alas. I cut a size 0 and then took a bit out of the sides and cut the back pieces slightly narrower as that seems to be my biggest problem with Colette.

Colette Macaron - morning 3

This is a very very bright fabric choice for me, a bit ‘toucan’. I choose this fabric because it is a light-weight cotton voile but dark enough not to be transparent – ie great for an unlined summer dress. And at $5 a metre, if Colette Macaron was the disaster I was sure it was gonna be, I wasn’t going to be heart-broken. Given that I had already decided it was going to be a disaster, I took little or no care with the finishing so it’s a ‘dog’s breakfast’ on the inside. I’m rather cross with myself for not being a little bit more positive about 1) my abilities and 2) how things can look on me, Yes, I know I should listen to all of you more often (note to self: those that read your blog are smarter than you who types it).

Colette Macaron - beach walking (back view)

Colette Macaron – beach walking (back view)

I decided to finish the neckline with contrast bias binding instead of facing, I stupidly did not cut enough seam allowance (or any…) away from the neckline. So I then discovered I could not get the stupid bodice over my head (I like to think it was because I have a big brain… LOL not). Minor problem…

Rochelle of Luck & Lucille was bemoaning her snug neckline (in addition to the Sewalong deadline) – which I sympathised with and behold – we had a Macaron extension! Hooray.

Colette Macaron - the back view and the keyhole opening

Colette Macaron – the back view and keyhole opening. Note to self: press clothes better before photos!!

As I was not convinced about impeding future sewing success with this project, I decided to throw caution to the wind and create a keyhole back opening – without any instructions whatsoever of course. I simply cut a teardrop shape and then stitched bias binding over the edges. It’s not perfect but it works. I can get the dress over my head – which seemed the more important issue.

The fit isn’t quite perfect across the back but overall I think the fit is pretty darn good! So I’m not going to wail and give myself a hard time.

The invisible zipper went in perfectly and is pretty much invisible – funny that… and I machined the hem. I usually hand stitch my hems but decided that a machine hem was fine as this is destined to be a casual frock.

I also ditched the pockets – yes yes I know we cannot live without pockets. However this fabric is so light that I felt it would puff out the pleats excessively and then it comes to a choice of puff over the stomach with pockets or streamlined without pockets – I am shallow enough to live without pockets.

Colette Macaron - side view

Colette Macaron – side view. This is the ‘bush’ directly behind my home. Koalas lurk in there!

What I love most about this dress is the sleeves. I think they are gorgeous, such a lovely shape and don’t look like shoulder awnings, a term so aptly coined by Pretty Grieviences, in fact I think they are the best thing about the pattern. I’m hoping I can translate them onto another dress pattern or two. I love how they are constructed (each sleeve has two pieces which are stitched together along the edge and then turned right sides out – no hemming required), the curved edge and the way they hug my arms without being tight.

Colette Macaron - adorable sleeves

Colette Macaron – adorable sleeves

I much prefer this skirt with its deeper pleats than the skirt of the Hazel… might be worth trying a Hazaron in the future. Although I’ll be adding a little more length next time – this is a little bit too short and frisky for me… 🙂 and perhaps lengthen the bodice as well.

Is this my favourite dress ever? No. However I do like the shape (with a longer hem), it’s a lovely shift dress and I could imagine this in a sober black and grey for work. Given I’ve made the Crepe and Peony (unblogged) and the Hazel, I would rate this the best Colette pattern I have sewn so far.

Great instructions, easy to sew, nicely drafted and cutest sleeves ever.

Banjo - at speed!

Banjo (my whippet) – at speed! He’s quite kangaroo-like in this picture!!

NOT ENOUGH JUNK IN MY TRUNK – SEWAHOLIC THURLOWS

Sewaholic Thurlows - full view. Sorry black is very hard to photograph at night!

Sewaholic Thurlows – full view. Sorry black is very hard to photograph at night!

‘Not enough junk in my trunk’ as the Black Eyed Peas and Fergie so succinctly put it.

Or the post that could otherwise be known as ‘Does My Bum Look Flat in This?”

I’ve knocked out Sewaholic Thurlows No.2. While the execution of the pattern is pretty good (my welts are only minorly woeful) and the pattern is absolutely fabulous, I just think I need some more junk in my trunk for them to look smokin’. I think my butt looks flat. Perhaps that’s a good look – I’m not sure. I was very disappointed with myself last night but after a good night’s sleep and some photographs I think I’m being a little hard on myself.

Sewaholic Thurlows - side view

Sewaholic Thurlows – side view

The fit is excellent around my upper hips and waist. I like the long wide legs. But I just don’t have enough ‘junk in my trunk’ to fill out the upper legs – I found a cure though – strike a pose and the junk appears to be in my trunk. So perhaps I just need a little more attitude – or self-confidence.

Sewaholic Thurlows - strike a pose

Sewaholic Thurlows – strike a pose

I have figured out welt pockets which makes me mighty pleased with myself.

This time I put a strip of interfacing behind the welt pocket area and there were no temper tantrums on my behalf during constructions. I did two test runs before I attacked the actual trousers – as there is no going back once you cut that great big hole in the junk trunk zone!

Welt pocket practice

Welt pocket practice – using contrasting thread

I was kind to myself during welt pocket practice and stitched white on black so I could better see and understand what was going on.

I also marked two sewing lines on the welt strips before I started sewing. I found my finish was much more even – not perfect but better. I would like to practice these some more as once you get the hang they are kinda cool!

Welt Pocket practice - marking the stitching lines

Welt Pocket practice – marking the stitching lines

This fabric is really quite nice. A black damask which is 35% cotton – it’s very hard to buy fabric for trousers where I live. I guess that’s what you get for living in a coastal resort/retirement hotspot. The flash photography makes it look frightful – those sparkly bits are just weird and not there in ‘real life’. I have made a mental note not to let anyone photograph my junk trunk in these pants with a flash in future. For some reason I think I can manage that.

I did not add belt loops as I’ve always purchased trousers that don’t need a belt. I like flat front trousers (no pleats please) with long wide legs to create a long lean line (I dream of actually being tall – I just have to live with visual tricks!) – these pants tick that box so no belt for Sew Busy Lizzy’s Thurlows.

I was having a pitiful-me-session about my pants and ELH (Ever Lovin’ Husband) pointed out they look like ‘bought pants’. “What” I cry “My bum looks this flat in pants?”Well yes, it’s cute but that’s how pants look on you.” Shock and horror from me. I guess I’ve never let anyone do a close up photograph of my junk trunk before. Never again! (Unless it’s relevant to the blog of course).

Calico Stretch has commented on my first Thurlow post and provided me with some great fitting online resources to go and check out. It’s an ongoing challenge. But now I think I have a go-to pattern for wide-legged pants and shorts.

In the meantime I’m retreating to dresses, skirts and tops.

SEWAHOLIC THURLOW CONCLUSION: Ignore all my self-critical blather. This is a great pants pattern – give Thurlow a go! I’ve learnt a lot – made welt pockets, sewn a fly and made ‘grown-up’ pants for the first time ever. They sit beautifully, not too high or too low. There are FOUR pockets – which should keep any stitcher happy!

IN OTHER SEWING NEWS: I knocked up a muslin the other night after I put the girls to bed. It’s a Colette Macaron – part of the Colette Sewalong 2.0. Because I have had numerous fitting issues with Colette (clearly they don’t design for celery sticks like me), I resolved to only do the bodice as that’s my main area of difficultly and also only use scraps from previous projects. So here is my Macaron muslin.

Colette Macaron muslin bodice

Colette Macaron muslin bodice – front view

It’s too big in the back and a took 25mm seams instead of 15mm seams at the sides. I think I need to take some out of the centre back panel if I decided to make this.

I also used some bias binding to finish the neckline as that’s my plan if I end up making a ‘real’ version of this one. This is too big in the back and I think you need to think hard about the contrast and shell fabric as this muslin sits a bit odd due to the different fabric weights. Me no like. Yes, it’s cute but the slight tension between the two bothers me no end. I would not wear this, it feels slapdash dodgy homemade.

Colette Macaron Muslin bodice - back view

Colette Macaron Muslin bodice – back view – too big

I’m not a huge fan of the white top version of this pattern on me so I have other plans if I do proceed with this one. I have a tendency to going grungy with Colette – which I think does not always sit comfortably alongside all the lovely Colette stitchers finished projects which favour prettiness, pastels and florals. So I’m not sure about this Colette 2.0 Sewalong project. I think I’ll turn into the slightly obnoxious Australian in-law that no-one really wants over for dinner… ‘oh dear did you see what’s she’s wearing…tsk tsk’

Besides this is my colour combo for the shortly to be produced Sewaholic denim a-line with red polka dots. Denim is drying on a rack!!! Watch this space (and send some warm weather to speed up the process).

And even if you are nice enough to say that this muslin in lookin’ cool, I’m not going to add the skirt. The blue is denim and the skirt would be waaay to stiff for this pattern. I would look like Davros.

Colette Macaron muslin bodice with my Vogue 1247

Colette Macaron muslin bodice with my Vogue 1247

YET MORE SEWING NEWS: I’ve clearly been rather productive of late and also knocked out a quick little skirt for Daughter No.1. She adores it – she was even careful not to leave it at a friend’s house after a play day. Trust me that degree of care for her belongings never happens. Photos later this week.

BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE! I’ve started cutting out a Sewaholic Minoru.

LITTLE BITS OF SEWING NEWS

Amazing I survived being away from my precious Bernina & Betsy for a six days.

Naturally as soon as I got home I unpacked the car, had a shower and went straight to the sewing room. I thought my degree of self-control was admirable. What was I in such a rush for? This…

Simplicity 1880 shirt dress - the collar!

Simplicity 1880 shirt dress – the collar!

Shirtdress-Sewalong-ButtonThis is the progress on my Simplicity 1880 shirt dress sewalong. I’ve never attached a collar – ever. While it did not go as smoothly as I hoped, it turned out OK in the end. The un-faced upper collar appeared to have magically stretched since I cut it out – I wish I had stay stitched it! You live and learn. There was a little bit of puckering, a little bit of unpicking, a little bit of grimacing… and I was beginning to despair that I had destroyed it.

Then a little voice popped into my head… no not from the heavens above… it was my mother! “Just give it a little press with the iron that sometimes fixes things up”.

So rather than throwing the bodice across the sewing room. I threw it at the ironing board and that little voice turned out to be dead right – for not the first time in my life!

Sunni’s instructions were excellent and if it was not for the slightly wonky upper collar I think it would have turned out perfectly. Now I’m desperately waiting for the next step. Yes I could race along and finish it myself but so far I have learnt lots of new things and I’m determined to exercise some degree of self-control…

I will take some more up close photos on another night. I’m little tired today after driving for 5-6 hours.

What else do I have to show for my holidays? I stitched some embellishments this dress bodice – not sure if it’s too much?? Little random beads to highlight the centre of the flowers and some trim on the sleeves – I’m still finishing this off. With no machine I needed to keep myself busy.

Simplicity 1880 shirt dress - embellishing!

Simplicity 1880 shirt dress – embellishing!

And I picked up this vintage pattern delight on Etsy – my first ever purchase from Etsy. Doesn’t it remind you of Sewaholic Cambie? I’m picturing the second one in navy/white polka dot with white cotton lace trim… I love the gingham and ricrac (but definitely not the ‘outdoor’ gigantic pockets – hello hips!)

Vintage pattern score Cambie style - Simplicity 3875

Vintage pattern score Cambie style – Simplicity 3875

And I scored these fabrics. Finally picked up a cheap jersey to try out Sewaholic Renfrew, blue butter suede for a skirt (not sure which one yet – there are three possibilities!), a cute ‘squashed’ polka dot cotton sateen for a ‘work’ Simplicity 2444 and a mosaic voile for a Burda blouse. I don’t consider this ‘stash building’ but rather ‘enrichment’.

Fabric Acquisitions - July 2012

Fabric Acquisitions – July 2012

And I traced the patterns out for Sewaholic Thurlow and Colette Macaron (not putting sleeves on this one). All the sewing and tracing was done at night after the kids went to bed. So nice to have some peace and quiet after busy days in the city, shops and park!

Oh and Miss 9 and I created a ‘sock monkey’ one afternoon! Meet Louie…

Louie the sock monkey

Louie the sock monkey – created by Miss 9 and me!

DO you think the beads and trim are too much on the Shirt Dress??

HAZEL’S NAUGHTY LITTLE SISTER

Meet the nighttime version of Hazel aka PURPLE HAZE’L. Or as I also fondly call her – Hazel’s Naughty Little Sister…

Hazel's Naughty Little Sister - Purple Haze'l

Colette Hazel’s Naughty Little Sister – Purple Haze’l (or Not Smoke On The Water as ELH declared)

So what do you do when all the pattern companies are releasing lovely summer dresses and winter is descending in the southern hemisphere? You just grunge them up, slap on some boots, a cap and coat – and rock on. Who says you can’t wear pretty sundresses in the middle of winter? Just wear them with attitude!

I decided to tackle Hazel once more and participate in the Colette Sewalong 2.0 organised by Lucky Lucille, Sarah and Erin. I was most jealous about the first Sewalong but the canoe-across-the-oceans speed delivery from Amazon meant I could not join in. So here I am! I’m a bit early for the Hazel sewalong but it’s better early than late! And Macaroon looks to be the next sewalong choice, based on the voting so far, which is not my cup of tea, so I want to start my next project while they tackle that one.

I almost did not make this dress but I am so glad I didn’t give up (even when that seemed to be the sensible option). It’s not perfect but it’s grungy fun. This is not cake clothing, it’s just very naughty self-saucing winter pudding.

I freaked out at first when I got home and realised it was a one-directional stripe pattern.

My step-by-step approach to dealing with this.

  1. I picked which set of stripes I wanted to feature in the centre of the dress. I picked the set of smaller stripes.
  2. I decided to run the stripes across the bodice front rather than down. I did this because I did not like how the stripes would not mirror each other out from the centre of the bodice. I also ran the narrower stripes at the edge of the side bodice pieces so they angled down towards my waist. I was trying to achieve an hourglass effect. Not sure if this worked…
  3. I decided to cut the front skirt piece in half and then cut all skirt pieces on the bias for a chevron effect. I thought Wow that will look great – I should have thought, crikey that will make life tough. It was all going swell until I cut the back pieces so they matched at the backs but not the sides. DOH! I had enough fabric to cut these pieces out again and then cut the straps from the oopsie back pieces.
  4. I thought the bodice and skirt looked messy together so I cut strips from the wide black stripe to create a visual break between the bodice and skirt. I just measured the bodice bottom and the two joined back panels and added seams allowances. I then joined the black strips and then joined them to the bodice, matching the side seams. I then attached the skirt to the black strip.
  5. The skirt is slightly narrower than the pattern. I had some oopsies getting the side stripes to match up and trimmed some off the edges. I think it works better as more gathering would ruin the chevron effect – after all that hard work I wasn’t going to let that happen!
  6. I ran the stripes up and over my shoulders to lengthen my frame.
  7. I moved the straps in at the back and the front. I also changed the angle they are inserted into the bodice – otherwise they sort of slide off my shoulders.
  8. I decided to run the stripes straight across my back. Yes, I could have chevron’ed them as well but you need to stop somewhere. I’m not a complete sucker for punishment.
  9. Sob. No pockets. Did not want to ruin the side seams – or make them even harder to match!
  10. A much shorter zip – for the same reasons as no pockets. I pull the dress over my head rather than step into it. On the upside my zipper insertion is perfect – first time ever – and right the first time I sewed it in. Hooray!!

Now just a friendly warning, several shots follow where I look rather sickeningly pleased with myself. Yes, it’s revolting but I just could not help myself.

Purple Haze'l - pleased with myself - Colette Hazel pattern with a bas cut skirt

Purple Haze’l – pleased with myself – Colette Hazel pattern with a bias cut skirt

Purple Haze'l - side seams - Colette Hazel pattern with a bias cut skirt

Purple Haze’l – check out those side seams people!!

Colette Hazel - back view - bias cut skirt

Colette Hazel – back view – bias cut skirt. The stripes are a tiny bit skew-iff towards the hem – my cure is to tell people to just stop looking at my butt. Just focus on my lovely invisible zipper – I finally figured out how to get these in neatly.

Colette Hazel - front view - bias cut skirt

Colette Hazel – I chopped off my head to get rid of the smug self-satisfied look for you 🙂

Apart from the Simplicity 1880 sewalong I mentioned last post (and I’m thinking of throwing caution to the wind and making a red one with white piping, crazy girl), I also want to make Cambie in a very pretty rose print. It’s inspired by an Australian vineyard. Long story. I will tell you one day soon. That’s what I love about sewing, every project is a story in itself. No wonder we blog!

I am also dying to make Oolong. And I think the peacock fabric some of you admired in the last post would work beautifully. I’m not as curvy as the Colette model but I think it might work on me. I love flowy bias cut dresses. Sew Squirrel are trying to get it in. If you live in Australia this is THE SITE to get your Sewaholic and Colette Patterns. Postage is free at the moment and the patterns are a great price. I am devoted to them already. This is where I got my Cambie and Renfrew patterns from. Thank you Sew Squirrel!

THE ONLY WAY IS UP

Had that sinking feeling when you look at the fabric you purchased for a project and thought ‘Ooops‘?

Never one to shy from a challenge, I decided to not only slightly modify a pattern but to do it with a stripe fabric for the Colette Sewalong 2.0 – Hazel. Yes I’m having yet another crack at Hazel.

crikey stripes everywhere!

Nothing like a challenge!

OK not so bad, except when the stripes run in one direction and are all different widths. Not so good.

I almost ditched this project, however the time I spend in the sewing room after putting my girls to bed saved it. I spent a lot of time looking at the pattern and the fabric, moving pieces around before I started.

All sorts of things have gone wrong, I’ve cut out some pieces twice, jiggled and wriggled the pieces, had more than a few moments when I thought “I’m an idiot, I can’t do this” but I’ve hung in there and the stripes are lining up. Hooray.

I cut all the pieces out on the ironing board as they were all small and/or narrow. I wanted to achieve a cheveron effect at the seams so I was very precise about the position of the patterns pieces on the fabric before cutting. Once I had a pattern piece down exactly where I wanted it on my fabric, I wanted to anchor it securely before cutting. Standard pinning did not give me the result I was after and pattern weights were also not secure enough.

Solution? I pushed the pins directly down, through the pattern piece, the fabric and the ironing board itself. As my ironing board has a cover, a thick felt layer and then a metal grid, the pins went through easily (errr, except for when I hit the metal grid bits, minor detail).

Cutting out on the ironing board

Pinned down!

I pinned a little in from the edge so my scissors could easily slide along the edge. I have a rotary cutter and mat, however I found this method much easier for little pieces. (excuse the dodgey iPhone photos – the only thing at hand at night – but I think you get the idea. All you can see is a pin head, no pin shaft.).

I also found the height of the ironing board and the ease of moving around it very helpful.

Unlike many sewing projects, I have cut out the pieces as I have gone along. I knew I had enough fabric so I took my time. I cut out the bodice and pieced it together. Then cut and pieced the skirt. I spent quite a while deciding what to do with the stripes on the straps. I cut the facings from the scraps towards the end.

It’s been fun. In fact it reminds me of making a patchwork quilt, putting time and consideration into each step. Thinking about the placement of each piece and how the fabric works in context of the larger project. Sometimes it is nice to know your destination, other times choosing a different path is just as rewarding.

Still more work to go on this stripey challenge, I have to shift the straps a little, do some understitching and then the hem.

Patience is a virtue…

Stripey bodice

More stripes!

PORT PARIS DRESS

TOWN GREEN, PORT MACQUARIE 2444

TOWN GREEN, PORT MACQUARIE 2444. This is our gorgeous Town Green located smack bang at the end of our main street. Yes it really is that beautiful.

I can’t help myself. I don’t want to post the following pictures but I feel I must.ELH (ever-lovin husband) is out at ‘boys’ night’.

I finish The Dress.

What to do? Bribe the small children to take photos of course. And not good ones at that!

Warning: Contained in this post are some extremely dodgy pictures of Simplicity 2444 aka PORT PARIS DRESS.

Why the name you might ask? Well the PORT part is inspired by my home town. I live in Port Macquarie, Australia and our postcode is 2444 – and this dress is made from the Simplicity 2444 pattern.Australians have a tendency to shorten everything. That’s why we say G’day instead of Good Day. So locals refer to Port Macquarie as ‘Port’. Of course there are lots of Port ‘somethings’ in Australia – but this is ‘our Port’.

We have gorgeous beaches, a beautiful river right in town and stacks of koalas – which I must tell you are very noisy when they are out cruising for a girlfriend, let’s say they advertise very vocally and wake up the neighbourhood in the middle of the night. We see koalas all the time. Yes really. All the time. We are lucky enough to get them in our front yard regularly. It’s funny I never stop being delighted when I see them. They are so cute! I came home one day to find this chap sitting in the middle of my driveway. He decided a tree was a better option when we pulled up.

Koala

Koala in the front yard. ‘Common as muck’ in Port but v.cute!

And I had it in my head that Simplicity 2444 was going to be my Port Macquarie dress. I wasn’t too sure about the pattern but could not helped buying it as it matched my postcode. Weird but true. I just could not figure out what fabric might work as ‘Port Macquarie’. Koalas are a bit twee as a wardrobe wear choice when you actually are Australian.

Then I was walking through Spotlight and a fabric caught my eye. I immediately thought of Simplicity 2444. It’s from the furnishing section and I suspect it’s cotton ‘duck’. It’s 100% cotton, thick and heavy (it’s going to be a nightmare to dry) but I like the impact it has on the skirt pleats. It would look great with a petticoat but I think it sits nicely all by itself.

My youngest daughter Giselle dreams of growing up, living in Paris and being called Gigi. Her bedroom is dedicated to the Eiffel Tower. Some people think its odd for a little girl but I think it’s marvellous – what an aspiration way to think at 7. So this dress is her bit of PARIS in PORT.

I’m not totally selfish. I’ve got her some fabric in a red colourway which I am going to make into a dress for her.

Sorry about the picture Gigi was in charge of the snapping procedures. I wanted her to take a few pictures with a jacket and a different belt option but this was as much as she could bear to do… and the only one in focus!

SIMPLICITY 2444

PORT PARIS DRESS – from one postcode to another…

I could not convince them to take any detail shots so I had to take the dress off and photograph it flat. Hopefully I will get a chance to take some more inspiring pictures this weekend!

Simplicity 2444 - bodice detail

Simplicity 2444 – bodice detail. Photographed flat as the kids are not master ‘snappers’…. yet….

Simplicity 2444 - bodice detail

Simplicity 2444 – bodice detail. The bodice darts were almost perfectly positioned (sheer luck)Personally I think any woman who has a little bit shaved off her hip is going to be eternally grateful!

Simplicity 2444 - Sleeve detail

Simplicity 2444 – Sleeve detail. Gigi loves the sleeves the most as they both say ‘Paris’ and feature three veyr glam and retro-dressed ladies!

I ummmed and ahhed about what size to cut. Measured the paper pattern etc which was great advice from Joanne on Stitch & Witter when she posted her gorgeous version of 2444. I decided to cut the 8 as my fabric was so heavy. I would love to make this again – but would make a 6 as I like my clothes to be quite fitted and this is a little loose and big around the shoulders. Tilly was wondering on this post whether this pattern would work in a heavier fabric and I think it does IMHO. It sits beautifully. ELH thinks it looks great (yes he is biased – I consider that a character strength not a flaw). I’m sure Tilly is going to whip up something sensational as she always does – can’t wait to see it when she does.

I actually thinking of making it all over again in the same fabric but spending more time on the interior finish and maybe even lining it as I think this dress is worth the trouble.

I’ve never been a big fan of full skirts on me. At all. It might be time to convert. I think this works because of the slightly wider neckline which helps balance out the fullness of the skirt, the fabulous generous skirt pleats (not gathers) and the four waist darts at the front. It’s just lovely. IMHO.

The main change I made to the pattern was to cut to front skirt piece on the fold. As the print was quite large I thought the seam would be too obvious and distract from the dress. So I cut it on the fold and simply make the middle pleats a tiny bit larger so they meet in the middle. I love it (and I have a little bee in my bonnet about seams up the front of skirts – I don’t know why, I just do!).

I was going to make a belt but I woke up the other day and decided a wide ribbon might be cute instead. I love ribbon belt/sashes, I have several work dresses that I wear with a grosgrain ribbon tied around my waist. I like the simplicity and softness of them, especially when they are black – a bit more grown-up than girlish. I also don’t have to worry about whether I’m going to have to make another stupid hole in a stupid belt to accommodate my stick insect waistline. Yes I could make belts but belt making options are thin on the ground in regional Australia. You do get sick of mail-ordering every other thing and learn to ‘make do’.

I’ve got to find some time to pick a decent WordPress blog theme that works in more browsers…

Oh and I’m going to join in the Sew Colette 2.0 and make up a respectable Hazel – and hopefully then a second decent Hazel which will be a little offbeat but it keeps popping into my head so I just get it out! I just want to make sure I get the fit right before I go to a load of trouble to make the offbeat one. I missed Sew Colette 1.o due to the Colette book arriving via canoe from USA.