colette patterns | laurel

the laurel dress by colette patterns is one of those that took a while for me to fall in love with. i suppose, like many, my reaction was a bit meh initially. however i kept loving everyone’s versions of the pattern, and eventually i decided to buy it. i knew i had to do a proper muslin first because to be honest, i wasn’t sure if this shape would work for me. woof. my first try was not good. i graded from a 6 on top (with a SBA) to an 8 on bottom. it was all sorts of wrong and i tossed it in the corner for a time out.

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after a couple days of thinking, i decided to come down to a size 2 up top and grade out to a 6 for the waist/hip. i did a 3/8″ FSA, and removed some width at the top of the zip at CB instead of making a neck dark. ahhh! so much closer! i didn’t even bother with an SBA, and the top portion was basically perfect aside from the neck gape. i still had an issue with the hips area, so i shaved off the top of the hip curve (maybe i have low hips? actually that would explain a lot…) and called it good.

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since my fabric is mostly sheer, i underlined the front and back with muslin. my fabric has this really cool woven stripe, and the underlining makes the fabric design stand out something fierce. i sewed it up, and when i tried it on i was still left with some weird upper hip flanges. i ended up taking out the curve of the hip area, and marking nearly a straight line from the top of the curve to the lower notch.

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it’s weird. i struggled with fitting CP designs so much in the past—cutting, taping, butchering… as it turns out, a lot of my troubles could have been fixed by starting with a much smaller size.

[facepalm]

construction notes:

this is a pretty straightforward make. i certainly didn’t rush through the sewing here, and i only needed two days. many people have omitted the zip on this dress, and i don’t know what kind of contortionists those people are, but there is no way i could get this on and off without a zip! i went with an invisible zip, stabilized with tricot fusible from sunni’s shop. this stuff is the best, and makes inserting zips a breeze! it’s been a while since i did an invisible zip, and it went in perfectly the first time. i do STRONGLY suggest that you put the zip in before attaching the front of the dress to the back pieces. it is a thousand times easier that way.

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i did the bias binding at the neckline per the instructions, but the sleeves i simply turned a hem and topstitched. the sleeves are also supposed to be bias bound, but this fabric was already pretty prone to fraying due to the loose weave. i was good and stitched the hem by hand. since i had underlined the fabric, it was super easy to do this invisibly.

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fit-wise, the armholes are a tad snug, so that’s something to watch out for. also, it never occurred to me to check the width of the lower edge of the sleeve—also tighter than i would have liked. next time i’ll most likely go up a size for the sleeve and armhole. then, i do have a tiny bit of gaping at the neckline. i had taken out some room at the top of the zip, but i think i could adjust the angle of the shoulder seam to help it sit a little nicer. but all in all i am very happy with how the dress came out.

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and that’s about it folks! i suspect i’ll be returning to this pattern a few times since it’s so quick to make, and, let’s face it, shift dresses are everywhere these days!

—lisa g.

lane raglan v.2

i knew i’d be making the lane raglan by hey june again… i just can’t resist a raglan sleeve! so last time i made it sweatshirt style, and this time i went more spring/summer. shockingly enough, we are finally hitting 50F on a regular basis! the winter coats can be closeted for a few months. :)

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this is another knit fabric from joanns. i’ve come to the conclusion that i will buy a quality knit fabric anywhere i can find it. the thing i hate about online shopping is that often you have to buy in whole yard increments, which drives me nuts for tee shirt making. usually i need just more than a yard to account for shrinkage/hem bands/pattern matching/etc, so i end up with these odd bits leftover that are useless.

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anyways, i’ve never had an issue with joann’s knit fabrics, but this one was terribly off-grain in one section. it was so bad that i wasn’t sure i’d be able to use it for anything other than maybe a gathered skirt. however, with some fancy layouts, i managed to get the front and back cut mostly on-grain. i had to fudge a bit with the sleeves, but i think it all worked out fine!

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i cut the same size as before, except that i shaped the sides and hemline differently. i left the bust area alone, then flared out a bit and added some length. the pattern allows for a hem band, so i added that length plus an inch or two in the front, and two or three in the back. i gave the hem a slight curve so it wouldn’t completely cut me off at the hip.

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i went with short sleeves with a 1.5″ wide hem band. i used to think that raglan tees look funny with short sleeves, but i’ve come to like them finished as i did here.

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in other news, i finally tried knitting! yeah, it’s april… but i’ll need a bit… okay A LOT of practice before i want to tackle the knitted things i really want to make. initially i started off doing just the knit stitch for each row (which gives you the bumpy rows) but after about three hours of that i was bored off my patootie.

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i turned to google to search out easy knitted scarf patterns and found this post. being able to switch between knitting and stockinette made things slightly more enjoyable, plus it created a fun pattern. so i’m not gonna say that i’m totally in love with knitting, but i am hoping to add it to my skill set. the hardest part was adjusting to the slow pace, even on something like this that knits up rather quickly—just a few evenings in front of the tv.

the whole world of knitting and following patterns and learning the language is still a bit of a mystery, but i’d like to make a spring weight infinity scarf. any pattern/yarn suggestions for a newbie?

—lisa g.

hemlock tee dress

i was at joann fabrics recently, checking out their knits. nowadays they have a decent selection of rayon jersey that is so very soft and has a nice drape. even though i’m turned off by the exorbitant price, they’re either on sale perpetually or i can use a coupon to soften the blow. i was looking for fabric to make a tunic-length hemlock tee (the super popular FREE hemlock tee pattern), and picked up this cute floral print. i couldn’t pass up this fabric because it has all my favorite things—floral print, navy, red, and green. after thinking about it for a bit, i decided the print would be better suited to a dress, and here it is!

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instead of just cutting and lengthening the hemlock pattern willy nilly, i went and traced out a proper hemlock tee dress pattern. go me! this loose but still cute silhouette should really be my go-to. the volume on top helps to balance my hips, or something. i don’t know, i just really like it on me. plus, in a knit i think it qualifies as secret pajamas, doncha think?

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HOW TO MAKE A HEMLOCK TEE DRESS

depending on how long you want the skirt, you will need 1 3/4 yd fabric (one and a half, if you’re particularly thrifty), and some 1/4″ elastic.

i’m a big fan of building in an elastic casing to the waist seam, so i did some fancy maths (stood in front of the mirror with a tape measure…) and made my best guess about how long to make the bodice. i wanted it to hit 1″ below my natural waist, and blouse slightly. cutting straight across for the bodice usually means that you end up with either some pulling at the bust, or excess volume at the sides. to avoid this, i curved the front waist line down by 1″. if you are especially busty, you may need more length. from the shoulder point at the neckline to the bottom of the bodice should be about 18″ in the front, 17″ in the back. this includes the extra SA for the elastic casing. (note: neither my pattern piece below nor the dress i’m wearing are this exact length. after making it once i determined that 18″ would be the perfect length for me.)

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i also wanted the bust to be more fitted, so i curved the side seam in by 1″ (removing 4″ total) and flared back out to the original side seam at the waist. while doing this, i raised the height of the underarm seam to reduce side boob flashing. i have spindly arms and frequently shorten armhole depth.

since i added in the extra bodice length for the bust, i simply cut a rectangle for the skirt portion. i didn’t want anything overly gathered, so i went with a width slightly more than 1 1/2 times my waist measure. for reference: my waist is 30″ on a bad day, so i needed at least 45″ in skirt width. i cut each skirt piece 24″ wide by 20″ long, which (minus 1″ for 1/4″ SA) gives me a finished skirt width of 47″. this ends up being a couple inches wider than the waist seam on the bodice, but i was able to stretch them to fit when i sewed top and bottom together.

construction is very simple:

  • sew one shoulder seam
  • attach neck binding
  • sew remaining shoulder seam
  • turn 3/4″ hem for the sleeves and topstitch
  • sew bodice side seams and tack SA to the back at the armhole
  • sew skirt side seams
  • attach bodice and skirt with a 3/4″ SA. finish raw edge
  • press SA up and topstitch 1/2″ from seam line, leaving an opening to insert elastic
  • insert elastic and adjust to fit. topstitch opening
  • hem skirt

i love this dress so much, that i already have fabric for another version. since it barely takes more time than a tee shirt, it’s a great one day project. if anyone gives this a shot let me know—i’d love to see it!

lisa g.

sewaholic cordova plans

i’m currently suffering from a terrible backlog of unblogged garments… this intolerable winter that will never end is really getting to me. i think there may be a slight warm up in the near future… my indoor pics always look so terrible, so hopefully if we have a warm day i can get a few things photographed!

anyways, if you’re with me on  instagram, you’ll know that i’ve been playing around with the sewaholic cordova lately. i love that pattern so much! i knew i would eventually make it as soon as i saw the design. yet… i’m only now getting on that. actually, i’m surprised that more cordova’s haven’t popped up. i’m going to take a gander that the lack of pockets are one of the main reasons. i mean, jackets need pockets. so, my cordova will have pockets.

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i’ve given the pockets a big long think. like a year’s worth of think (last year i was debating between making the cordova or the minoru—spoiler alert: i made the minoru) and finally inspiration struck as i was perusing style arc’s jacket patterns. check out the ziggi jacket. that pattern has zippered pockets just off the front princess seam. ah-ha! easy enough to add to the cordova! once i worked that detail out, inspiration was in full force.

i made up a muslin last week based on my measurements. seems as though this pattern runs on the boxy side, because i had to take it in about 3″ all around. i left the shoulder and hip alone, so the entire bust/waist was just too big. once i took those seams in i was super pleased with the fit!

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i want a two piece sleeve with exposed zipper sleeve vents, so i drafted one based on this resource. it came out… okay, but it still needs a ton of work. converting a one piece sleeve to a two piece sleeve is basically impossible. i don’t say that because it’s hard, but because they are just so different; the only thing they really have in common is the sleeve cap. the good news? the sleeve cap is the bulk of the drafting. so i’ll be trying again because i think i have a better idea of how to go about getting the sleeve i need.

while i was making all these changes, i decided the jacket would look super cute with turned back lapels. i lowered the stance and re-drew the front line to accommodate a nice wide lapel. i don’t mind the lack of collar (though it wouldn’t be all that hard to add, were you so inclined—just borrow one from a blazer pattern) but i think a lapel will help balance out the small bust/large hip thing happening with my figure. in fact, the collar-less look seems more popular now than it was when this pattern was released—perhaps sewaholic was just ahead of the times!

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onto my fabric… i have a heavy-weight brown cotton sateen (no stretch) that i picked up for cheap last summer. it was marked twill (from fashionfabricsclub.com) and i had planned to make some pants for hubby. however, upon receipt, it was decidedly not twill, and really too heavy for pants. since the fabric was inexpensive i initially thought i would make the jacket with out a muslin, but the more i thought about how useful a brown jacket would be, the more i thought i should do the job right the first time. to top it off, i remembered this ikat silk remnant i scored a while back ($6/yd) that is a bit shiny for every day wear, but would be perfect as a fun lining! all the pieces fell into place—design, fabric—so i plan to do this jacket justice. usually, i practice project monogamy (one sewing project at a time, please!) but for this, i’m allowing myself to work on smaller things in between so i don’t rush through. let’s face it: i don’t need this jacket right away since i’m still wearing my winter coat on a daily basis.

since the fabrics were already hanging around my sewing room (even the pattern was a christmas gift from my sister!), i get to splurge on fancy metal zips. and my zips are the only piece i haven’t yet figured out yet… contrast (red-ish/dk pink) or matching? if i only needed a front zip, per the pattern, contrast would be a no-brainer (yes!). but, since there will be five zippers, all that contrast might be overkill. at the moment i’m leaning toward matching for the front zips, and contrast for the sleeve vents. or would that be dumb? i have plenty of time to decide so—to my lovely readers who have made it to the end of my post—whaddaya think? all matching? all contrast? a mix of matching and contrast? do tell!

liberty of something or other scout tee

it’s not all winter sewing around these parts. in fact several weeks ago i brought home a fabric haul to start my spring sewing. most of it was for my daughter (which i already sewed up and hope to get photographed some day…) but i picked up a couple things for myself. the first of which is this cute floral lawn/voile. it was marked on the roll as liberty of london fabric, however i’m pretty sure it is not. it’s a nice quality fabric, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t have that swoon-worthy feel i would have expected from liberty. not that i would know, since i’ve never felt any before. soon though, soon… yesterday i splurged and ordered some of the real deal. ya know, for research. and hopefully a cute spring/easter dress.

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this fabric was $13/yd, so even though it’s on the higher end of my price-per-yard comfort zone, i only needed a small amount to make a scout tee. i’ve searched high and low for this print online, but alas i’ve come up blank. but, liberty or not (probably not), i love the print!

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i’ve already made the scout tee a couple times (as most likely you have also), and it’s such a fast and easy pattern. seriously. i heart it so much. i previously altered the fit with a SBA, widened the hip, and dropped the back hemline. i think i still need to make a couple adjustments though. the back pulls slightly and the front gapes a little. i didn’t notice it so much on my silk scout, but when i throw a cardigan over this one, the fit issue becomes more obvious. i think next time i’m going to add width to CB, and remove the same amount from CF, then re-draw the neckline as necessary. there may be a better way of handling this, but whatever. i still love this tee!

—lisa g.

what i am wearing to stave off the cold

guys, i don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s been a flipping long and cold winter here in the northeast US. this is the winter that will not for the love of all that is holy end! since winter is refusing to leave, i made two tops to help keep me toasty warm—a raglan sweatshirt and a cowl neck renfrew.

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for the renfrew, i used a knit blend of some sort (poly/rayon i believe). this is a super cozy top that i’ve been wearing frequently. i love the colors, and it’s super soft and snuggly. what more could i ask for? i made the size 8, which is a roomy fit. since waistlines tend to expand in the winter months i decided to err on the side of roomy…

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the only change i made was to cut the cowl neck as one piece that gets folded in half. i just don’t see the need to have two separate pieces. also, i lengthened the sleeves by making an extra wide cuff, and lengthened the body to omit the hem band. i like the hem band finish, just not for everything.

for the sweatshirt, i used the lane raglan tee put out recently by hey june of crafterhours. i’ve been wanting a raglan pattern, and this one fit the bill. i used one of those cotton interlock knits that have nice stretch, but not so much recovery. i haven’t found that type of fabric terribly useful for most projectes, but for this sweatshirt, it was perfect. the fabric actually came from a box of “too large to throw out” scraps that Gail from Today’s Agenda sent me last summer. i had less than 3/4 yd, which was just enough to eek out this pattern, thanks to the 1/4″ SA’s. then i used contrast ribbing for the neckline and sleeve/hem bands, and even added the little triangle patch for good measure. this i also have been wearing non-stop due to the afore mentioned cold weather.

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miracle of miracles… today is a “warm” (mid-40s F) day! outdoor pics!! no color editing!!!

i happen to really love navy and black together, but i wasn’t so sure if it would look okay paired in the same top. i went for it anyways, and i’m glad i did! i love the monochrome look with this outfit (my skirt, natch, is a moss mini), and the black ribbing sets it off nicely.

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i wanted this sweatshirt to be a little oversized, so i didn’t pay a ton of attention to the fit. when i make it up in a regular jersey, i’ll have to compare it to my renfrew, since this type of fabric is terrible for gauging size. here i cut the small, and the size chart only gives the waist finished measurement. the small has a 33.5″ finished measurement size, and to be honest i was a little thrown for a loop when deciding which one to choose (my actual waist measure is 29″-ish). but like i said, for this sweatshirt i really just wanted a slouchy comfy top!

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given that the cold weather tends to overstay it’s welcome in this part of the universe, i should really make a handful more of each of these. maybe in spring colors so i can pretend it’s not still cold? yeah, that sounds good.

—lisa g.

jalie 2908 | finale… for now

i finished my first real live regulation jeans and i have to say, i’m pretty proud of myself! not long ago, even after having a great deal of success with pants, i had put jeans in the “not to bother with” category. and really it wasn’t due to any lack of skill set, but more due to the inconvenience of getting it done right. i’m looking at you topstitching thread!!! the constant back and forth, threading and re-threading my machine, then switching pressor feet all the time… ugh. not gonna lie folks—it’s a hassle.

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HOWEVER, it’s totally doable. if you’re even thinking about making jeans, just know that you probably won’t crank them out in a day. so let’s get down to the nitty gritty here…

first off, this pattern (jalie 2908) gets pretty high marks from me. it is an excellent starting point that got me to wearable by version two. i’m taking a bit of my own advice and wearing them and washing them to see how they break in before i really know how they’ll fit. at this point, they’re more snug than i was going for, but denim is kinda that way. it seems as though this denim has less stretch than the corduroy of my first version, so that’s a little frustrating. just goes to show that a muslin can only show so much.

over-exposed to show detail…

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i detailed my alterations in my last post, but i thought i would re-cap here:

reduced/flattened the front crotch curve to remove the “flap.” it does seem counterintuitive to add fabric in order to reduce what appears to be extra fabric. i’ve seen various theories on this. some people remove or wedge out front crotch depth, but i could tell that the pants weren’t sitting as close to the body as my regular RTW pants. this led me to believe that the “flap” was really pull lines, not excess fabric. there are a few factors contributing to this, including full or prominent thighs, tilted pelvis, etc. really it’s all about figuring out your individual crotch curve. easier said than done, i grant you.

moved hip shaping to the back outer seam. i noticed that my outer seam was skewing to the back, so i removed 3/4″ from the outer seam on the front pieces, and added it to the outer seam on the back pieces (back and yoke).

added to back rise. i wedged open at CB to give me a little extra rise for le bootay.

added fabric to back along the lower crotch curve. this gets rid of uni-butt and lets the fabric uh… hug both cheeks instead of gliding over them as one. sorry… tmi…

shaped the yoke. in my previous version i had to take width out of the CB and side seams (i chose size based on my hip measure—a full two sizes larger than my waist). to spread out the reduction, i made three slash and overlaps to remove the excess. this made for a very curvy yoke, but what can i say. i have-a some junk in mah trunk.

curved waistband. the jalie pattern has a straight bias cut waistband. while i discovered that i didn’t need much curve on the waistband, which i attribute to a nice fitting yoke, i still needed some curve. i determined how much by sewing on a straight piece of fabric and making a few small darts. i removed the muslined waistband and used it to make a new pattern piece.

tapered leg from knee down. while i may have over-tapered, i’m pretty close to ideal. i think if i add just the tiniest bit of width back in i’ll be golden.

and, as much as i should do another version of this pattern, i’m also interested in trying the named jamie jeans. truthfully, i wasn’t all that interested in that pattern when it first came out—i’m something of a purist when it comes to jeans—but they do have a sleek dressy edge to them that i’m really digging. not to mention that you don’t have to topstitch that curved pocket edge. that curve trips me up every. single. time.

and now for the photo dump…

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final thoughts… like i said, i’ve been wearing these for several days and am giving them a chance to get broken in a bit before i even think of making another pair. i imagine they’ll soften up soon, it always takes so long for a new pair of jeans to feel comfortable. i think the most telling thing is that my husband hasn’t noticed my new jeans! he’s usually pretty observant and complimentary about the things i have made, so i think it’s funny that he hasn’t noticed. i have to think it’s because he can’t tell that they’re any different from my RTW jeans, right?

—lisa g.