Tag Archives: sew Colette

Sew Colette 2.0 – Peony Franken AKA Pastilleony

Happy Halloween!!!

Just a reminder this is your last day to enter my giveaway – I’m doing the draw tomorrow 🙂

October’s sewalong item is the Colette Peony dress. I wanted to participate but I was really bogged down with other projects so I did something a little different 😉

Back in May, as part of the Sew Colette sewalong, I made my first fitted dress; Pastille. I did a pretty good job, too, all things considered. I did my first FBA, my first horizontal pleats, and a not too bad job on one of my first zippers even 🙂

However, when all was said & done I had some serious back neck gape which meant I only wore it once. Since then I’ve also lost some weight, and the dress didn’t fit quite as well anyway, but I figured why waste a perfectly good skirt? Skirts are relatively easy to take in, plus I still had some of the same fabric so I figured I could make the Peony bodice, adjust the darts on the skirt to make the thing smaller, then just Franken the two together, right?

Well it turned out ok but it was a lot more work than I anticipated! lol. Aside from fitting woes described in my earlier post, I probably should have taken the skirt apart at the sides & resized it that way instead because I didn’t realize how much I needed to take in, and now I have giant bum darts lol. Also the back isn’t fitting as smoothly as I’d like, and the neck still stands out from my body a bit – *sigh* I’m still chasing that elusive great fit, I guess 🙂

I also got a tad confused making the belt because I hadn’t initially cut enough pieces, plus the instructions baffled me lol. Luckily some kind soul on the Colette forums had explained it for someone else who had a similar issue 🙂

So I’m pleased to have salvaged a dress that otherwise would have gone unworn, and without further ado, I present to you my first Frankenpattern – Pastilleony!!



Sew Colette 2.0 – Fitting the Peony Bodice

This is just a quick post to share a wonderful revelation I had!!

Ever since I started sewing (as an adult) just under a year ago, I’ve been questing for the perfect fit. I learned I DEFINITELY needed an FBA, and most often, a waist adjustment, but I’ve been struggling with this elusive fit problem: back neckline gaping.

I managed to reduce this problem a bit by taking 1″ off Center Back at the top, tapering down and then trueing the grain, darts, etc. But the problem was still there.

So when I made the muslin for the Peony bodice and the gaping was still there, I vowed “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” and I turned to a post I read not too long ago, by Madalynne, on the relationship between front and back neck width.

In it she states that the back neck width should be 1/2″ wider than the front (so 1/4″ on the pattern). I didn’t know if this would help but I decided to try just in case. Lo and behold, my back neck width was 1.25″ wider than the front! So I re drafted the back neckline to be 1/4″ wider than the front, keeping the height and shoulder seam width the same.

As I said, I had no idea what would happen but to my shock, IT FIXED THE PROBLEM!!! Picture me in a bodice muslin, staring stupidly into the bathroom mirror in disbelief, then suddenly it clicked in that this was real and I did a ridiculous dance of joy!!!

I’m so grateful to Madalynne for the wealth of information she shares so freely with sewists like me who aspire to her level of greatness 🙂 Thanks Maddie!! You’re AWESOME! 😀

Sew Colette: Licorice finished!

Colette Licorice Dress

Don’t mind my pasty legs lol but after an hour trying to shoot this thing inside, unsuccessfully, outside was the only way to go 😛 (here’s a closer up pic though, which shows the sleeves @ collar better)


This dress took me forever!! For a “wearable muslin” especially. In addition to my usual FBA, I shortened the sleeves and made them a bit narrower, which i like, cause otherwise there’s just too much bulk pointing to my chest, which doesn’t need emphasis lol.

I also shortened the hemline which turned out to be a bad idea. Too short now, by about an inch; although it might be ok with tights in the fall.

Then there was all that business with the lining, which I’ve already described so I’ll not go into that again 🙂

All in all I like this dress. The style is comfortable and pretty, and I’ll likely make it again 🙂

So… Sew Colette finally finished; albeit a month late lol. I learned A TON from sewing through the Colette Handbook. Fitting & altering patterns, underlining, lining, zippers, sleeves, making bias tape… I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m proficient at any of this stuff yet but I’m a lot less scared to tackle it now 🙂

I’ve also met a great deal of wonderful people through this, and I’m really looking forward to continuing the fun with Sew Colette 2.0!!

Already got my Hazel traced, pattern altered, and muslin cut!! See you all soon! 🙂

Sew Colette & Spring Palette Challenge: Taffy Complete!

I finally finished the Taffy!


Hard to tell but it’s very sheer blue chiffon with an off white bubble pattern.

I made quite a lot of my own changes.

Obviously my usual FBA – yes even with a looser top; believe me, it’s necessary. It was a bit tricky on this one cause of the unusual dart but I managed to make it work 🙂

The most obvious change is that I opted not to use bias tape, as my fabric was SO lightweight and sheer, I felt it would take away from its delicacy. Also I didn’t want the sleeves to stick out too wide, as I don’t need any extra attention on my chest area lol. So I did a rolled hem on the neck, sleeve edge and hem. I think it looks lovely, and really suits the fabric.



Also I made self ties instead of bias tape ones, again because the fabric is so delicate, I wanted the ties to be more flowy.


This was my first bias garment and it was tough to cut because a) my work surface was too small and b) the fabric was so slippery, even with spray starch. Nevertheless I LOVE the look and feel of bias tops so I would do it again 🙂

I also sewed the first step of the french seam for the sleeve on the wrong side (even after checking it twice lol) It was this mistake that caused the long delay in me finishing it, due to my own shame and disgust lol. In the end, instead of seam ripping on my delicate fabric I just finished the sleeve seam with the serger.

Other than that the blouse sewed up fairly quickly and the fit is great – I’ll post pics of it being worn soon 🙂

Sew Colette: Truffle Dress Complete

Finally completed the March challenge of Sew Colette: The Truffle Dress!!


I learned a lot on this challenge as well: how to install a facing & attach it to a zipper mostly. I also experimented with using spray starch to stabilize my fabric; a VERY fray-prone, slippery dress weight rayon. I lined the bodice with cotton batiste and I really like the feel of it.


Overall I like the way the dress turned out… except that it’s a bit too tight lol. I can get it on but there’s NO WAY I’m wearing it to go out for dinner lol – I’d be afraid of a major wardrobe malfunction! lol. No worries though; I’m on a health & fitness plan and have been losing weight so I’ll bet I can wear it comfortably, soon 🙂

Gratuitous closeups, including kitty trying to hide under it lol:



Now onto April’s challenge: The Taffy Blouse!! 🙂

Yippee!!! Spring!!!

My very favourite season of all is Autumn but there’s nothing quite like the newness of Spring to kick up a girl’s heels and rejuvenate the spirit – the smell in the air here in the Lower Mainland is intoxicating; Japanese cherry blossoms, all manner of flowers, shrubs and flowering trees – enough to delight the senses from dawn til dusk and beyond 🙂 We are SOOO blessed!!

It’s also the time where for many of us we start dreaming of lighter clothing and outdoor activities – the weather is so mild here on the coast, we don’t get THAT cold of a winter, but it sure is nice when one can put away the jacket and wear a hoodie instead, and when you start noticing you need a pedicure for those open toed shoes you’re dying to have a chance to wear again 🙂

All that being said, I’ve been on the prowl for a 50’s style sundress; the kind with wide straps, a straight across bodice and angled pockets, and LO!! Sarai from Colette patterns must have heeded my spirit’s call because what does she reveal in all its glory…..


the absolutely perfect sundress: retro 50's chic meets modern bombshell - STUNNING!!


Colette Patterns has also released two other lovelies: another sundress – Hazel – with clever V-front seaming, perfect for stripes or border fabrics (I’m thinking of this in bordered eyelet at a later date) and Iris, the most perfect shorts I’ve seen in a long time: not too long, not too short, and with clean lines and shape, making them both elegant and summery – not at all frumpy like a lot of shorts look on me (i’ve ordered them, we’ll see if they look as elegant on my not-quite-as-willowy figure LOL)

I should be wrapping up my Truffle dress this week, and will be making some headway on the Taffy blouse this weekend so I’m almost caught up on my Sew Colette projects… this means by the time my new patterns reach me I might actually be able to sew them!! YIPPEEE FOR SPRING!!!! 😀

Comeback Weekend!

After a really long hiatus of general malaise and being very unproductive, I’m finally back to myself!

I’m SOOOOO behind on the Truffle dress for the Sew Colette, as I’d only cut out the bodice for my muslin. It’s due today so that means I have to do two projects in April to catch up lol. So today I did the fitting. I anticipated a 3/4″ fba (1.5″ total) so I worked that in right away, and was bang on – yay!

I also had the same back neckline gaping issue as with the Pastille (a full 2″!!) so I had my dear man pin off the excess then at the suggestion of my mum, trimmed off 1″ at the top center back tapering to 0 at the waist on each side, then redrawing the grainline parallel. Worked great!

On a side note, I just gotta figure a way to fix the Pastille now, preferably without removing & re-installing the zipper. I was thinking of enlarging & lengthening the back neckline darts, which just means I’d have to remove/reinstall the back neck facing (no biggie) Any thoughts? 🙂

For the Truffle remaining pattern pieces, I also made waist adjustments at skirt and drape pieces to match the front bodice, moving darts & notches to match as well (yay me lol). Tomorrow I’ll cut and begin sewing 🙂

I also made the executive decision to wad my blue chiffon blouse after laughing about the ridiculous fit with my mum. It was unsalvageable I came to admit, so on to greener pastures!!

On a brighter note, the Meringue is definitely salvageable so I painstakingly ripped the bottom facing off, redrew a gently curved hemline, & cut off the scallops, making it a much more flattering length for me. Just gotta hem it now! 🙂

I also finished another project I’ll post pics for this week! 🙂

Sew Colette: Pastille Dress Final

After a cat stealth attack on my pattern, four bodice muslins (with two sets of adjustments each, so eight in total!!!), some self realization, a lot of hair pulling – or more accurately – thread ripping… a few curse words, a ton of frustration and moments where I thought I’d never get it right…. I finally managed to fit my very first sheath dress, and I tell you this: it was all worth it, every little bit.

This dress cost me a month of my time, at an average of about 4-6 hrs a week, and about $35 in supplies (not including the book). It’s the most time, but definitely not the most money, I’ve ever spent on one garment. Despite the fact the fit is not perfect (I had to come to terms with that or it’d never have gotten done) I felt good in it, cause it’s likely one of the best fitting garments I’ve ever worn. I could never buy a dress that fit me this well…. ever.

I had come to terms with the possibility that the dress may not be wearable, due to my inexperience, because final piece aside, I learned a TON from this project. I learned:

  • my body shape (thank you, croquis)
  • that a full bust adjustment is a MUST for me, and that I’ve been buying pattern sizes at least four sizes too big as a result, and that is why nothing I make ever fits LOL
  • how to do an FBA, and other pattern adjustments on paper
  • never to install another facing ever again without understitching

These are the final adjustments I made on my pattern (there were many previous ones but these are the ones that stuck):

  • 1/2″ FBA on the pattern piece so 1″ total (it would be 3/4″ or 1.5″ for the Big 4, but Colette drafts for a C, so it’s less)
  • took 1″ off front at shoulder seam and 3/4″ off back
  • lengthened bust darts on bodice
  • graded between two sizes for the skirt
  • shortened skirt by 2″ (I’m 5’9″ but for some reason, Colette patterns run long on me)

It is by no means perfect. I have some wrinkles in the back and my armhole facings are awaiting a revamp but for a first go at fitting, it works, and it felt pretty good to actually wear something I made, out on a lovely date with my man 🙂



Pastille help & name this fabric!

So I’ve got as far as sewing up the bodice for my Pastille but I’ve got a problem: my armhole facings just will NOT stay inside! Argh. I am trying to figure out why and what I can do to fix it… any suggestions? Here’s a pic:


On another note, I spotted this fabric at my local store and nabbed it cause it looks and feels EXACTLY like silk charmeuse, but it was marked as ‘mixed fibers’ so it’s a mystery. I thought maybe it was a rayon blend cause rayon can sometimes feel quite silky, but I washed it and it didn’t seem to shrink, so… any ideas? lol


isn’t it gorgeous?? I am thinking a simple bias cut top and maybe a slip… I could live with a whole outfit made of this stuff! lol

The Creative Doldrums

[NB: I love that word “doldrums” – it reminds me of a book I read when I was a kid, The Phantom Tollboth]

Normally, I find inspiration everywhere – in doing research for design projects, in reading other people’s blogs and seeing what they’re creating; in fashion, in advertising and in every aspect of regular life. Often I have dreams about projects i’m working on, even working out problems I’ve come across – it’s very helpful when you wake up with that TA-DA!! fresh in your mind!! LOL.

But recently I’ve been plagued with the designer’s nemesis: chronic tension headaches which turn into migraines, for me. Weekends are my mecca: the only time I really get uninterrupted to really work out problems and gain ground on any projects I’m working on, and I spent half of the last one in bed, totally non-functional, with a massive migraine.

Needless to say, this has put a great damper on my creativity, and my drive and motivation has taken a plummet this week. It doesn’t help that Pastille is kicking my butt!! Ok it’s not the pattern’s fault, let’s face it – blame it on my inexperience, but I thought fitting a basic sheath dress would be a lot more linear and logical. As it turns out, it’s a wild wild ride, friends. LOL. I’m only hoping and praying that the things I’ve learned I can pass on to the next project and maybe it won’t be such a nightmare LOL.

The bright side is that I’m visiting the chiropractor today, for the first time in years, and hoping they’ll be able to fix broken little me LOL. In the meantime, my better half kicked my butt into gear last night and made me work on Pastille for an hour. Evil man. What would I do without him? 🙂