Tag Archives: Sew Colette

A Peppermint Pastille (MMM 5 Continued)

I don’t know if I would call the color of this dress mint, really, but an Icy Aqua Pastille doesn’t have that alliteration I so crave, so there we are, everyone okay with that? No? Well, suck it up, we’ve got a lot to cover, here, and I don’t have time for your tomfoolery. Now, you remember my pastille muslin, don’t you? I mean, I only showed it to the world a mere three months ago, how dare you not remember it like it was yesterday? Well, never mind that, it was a trifle snug in the bust, so I did a full bust adjustment and made it up in a stretch poplin. Let’s talk about woven fabrics with a touch of stretch, shall we? They are delightful. They will solve any number of fitting issues with ease (heh) and grace. They don’t strain, they don’t constrain, they curve around you and they do what they are told. In short, I loves em. And I must be so immodest to say that I think they love me.

I wore this to my cousin’s wedding on Saturday, at a church out in nowheresville, Cerdo Gordo, Puerto Rico. The wedding was lovely and adorable and perfectly suited to the bride and groom. Of course it started a full hour late. Like everything does in la Isla Del Encanto. So I had time to force my brother to take some shots of this here dress.

This time I didn’t bother with facings. I have very negative feelings about facings. So I lined the bodice and left the skirt unlined. The wrinkles in the skirt rather obscure the pleats, I’m sorry to sa, and if I could afford it, I would travel with a team of people waiting to iron me at all times. That would be just splendid.

I was probably one of the only people, other than my mother, who didn’t wear a set of three-inch or higher heels. I don’t really wear hells. Why? Because they make me fall down.

The back, she is rather wrinkled. Swayback adjustment in the future? I suppose I must do what I must.

Still, I’m pretty into this dress. I think the fit is nice, though of course sheaths aren’t particularly flattering to any stomach of any kind, and mine is no exception. Still, I like it, and wrinkles aside I think it’s adorable and I’m sure I will wear it to other Spring and Summer events.

The church was surrounded by palm trees, as most places are in Puerto Rico. But what was astonishing were the gorgeous orchids grafted onto the trunks of the trees. magnificent!

Amazing, aren’t they? I’ve never been able to grow orchids. They just stick them on a tree and call it a day.

By the way, the vintage item is the headband, which is really a scarf, from my grandmother, which looks something like this:

It’s a souvenir scarf! I love souvenir scarves. Adore them, in fact.

One final shot amongst the orchids.

So there it is, FINALLY, my Pastille dress. Only one more to go and I will have fulfilled the obligations of Sew Colette and sewed my way through the Colette Patterns Handbook!


Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Tutorial

The Don’t Trifle With Me Truffle

You know when I told you that I’ve been on a “not wild about what I’m making” kick of late? Well, this dress is a big part of that.

In many ways, I’m a fairly dutiful sewer. I follow instructions, I make muslins, I iron seams four times, I’m good that way. Of course, on the flip side I dry clean NOTHING and I rarely ever re-do anything because I hate re-doing things and I can usually live with the error. But as I’ve been trying to be more careful with my sewing this year, this dress, well, let’s just say I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

I spent TIME on this thing, people. I made french seams, I hand stitched the bodice lining to the waistband seam, I hand-picked a lapped zipper, I  tied off all 20 darts, I was CAREFUL. I made it out of vintage rayon from my grandfather’s attic and a real metal zipper, also vintage, found (with several fellows) in its original packaging. This dress was supposed to be special. It was supposed to be the ONE. We were going to go out to dinner and then go on vacation and the dress would be like, “I’ve never felt this way before” and I would be like “Me neither” and the music would swell and we would fall into each others arms and NEVER LET GO. Yeah. Well, THAT didn’t happen.

Look, it’s not terrible, but it’s just not great. And why isn’t it great? Because of the damn bodice.

So I made a full bust adjustment, as discussed, and went on my merry way, only to come out with a bodice that is both drapey and too large. Part of this might be the super drapey rayon, but even after taking it in a full 2 inches on the side seams, I still have a whole lot of drape going on. It’s not horrible, honestly, but it’s not what I wanted. I feel like Veruca Salt.

Still, I wore it to the final opening night of our season, (and my last opening night with the company!) and I did get some complements, thank you, nice people.

I really love the skirt section, I do. It’s just a shame about the bodice. I don’t know, it’s somehow rather dowdy, which is odd.

A little backview, so you can catch a peak at the lapped zipper.

You can REALLY see how drapey and loose the bodice is here.

Still, it’s a pretty good jumping dress.

See? Good drape for jumping. Not good drape for standing still. The solution? ABJ. Always be jumping.

Ha, just kidding, I hate GlennGarry Glenn Ross. Shut up, David Mamet. Just shut up.

So that’s a sewing kerfluffle from me. It’s not terrible, perfectly wearable, just rather disappointing. I had wanted to wear this to an upcoming wedding but THAT’S not happening, so I will just have to go ahead and make something else.

What about you guys? Any recent frustrations or triumphs?


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing, Vintage

The Muslin Diaries: Volume 4, The Taffy Blouse (or Pantone Shmantone)

I know you haven’t seen my final Pastille or Truffle dresses, but rest assured, they exist, and I do like the way they turned out, one far more than the other, but you will see all that in the future. I’m wearing the Pastille to my cousin’s wedding in May, so you will see that one bathed in the light of the Caribbean, and the Truffle is coming out for our premiere (my last one with the company!) in a scant week. So just sit tight, guys, it’s happening, in completely the reverse order, but hey, life is funny sometimes.

So this month over here at Sew Colette is the Taffy blouse. I have some thoughts and feelings about the Taffy blouse. And they are not glowing, though it pains me to say it. Let’s focus on the good first, shall we? This really is a great blouse to use to learn about seam finishing, specifically french seams. It’s a great project for a beginner, especially as an introduction to light floaty slippery fabrics. I would still consider myself a beginner (or maybe somewhere between beginner and intermediate?), after all, I’ve only been sewing for two years, and while I sew all the time, there is still a lot I’ve never done. And it’s nice to make something cut on the bias, I mean, it’s a bitch in terms of fabric efficiency (you never see bias cut stuff in 1940’s fashion, it’s the cut of excess, not rationing), but it’s a fun thing to do and a good skill to have, reading the grainline of a fabric. So all that’s to the good.

The bad? Well, I honestly just don’t think it’s that great of a shape for my body. I mean, it’s OKAY, it’s just nothing special. Enough chit-chat, let’s look to the evidence:

I think the look on my face says it all.It’s not bad, really, I’m not going to throw it away or start crying, but I just don’t think it’s GREAT. It’s funny, the recommended fabrics are light and floaty, but my favorite version is actually verypurpleperson’s gorgeous charmuse confection, a slightly thicker fabric seems to weigh down the silly sleeves (they ARE rather silly) and make them seem elegant, rather than fluffy.

A little back view for you.

So. Fluffy. Spoiler alert, I did not actually make the bias tape you are supposed to use to finish the neckline and the sleeves. By the time I got there, I just thought, screw it, I’m not in love with this, and I just edgestitched the sleeve hem and neckline and called it a design choice. WHO IS GOING TO CHALLENGE ME?

I laugh with glee over my evil anti-bias tape plans. How I laugh.

Yeah. So, I don’t think I will be making this thing again in a for-real for-real fabric. I just don’t think it’s flattering enough on me to necessitate a second version. It’s comfortable and I’m sure I will wear this, especially in Puerto Rico, but it’s just not my favorite thing ever. I’m sorry, guys, but I feel like I gave it a college try and feel comfortable saying I’ve done my Sew Colette duty for the month. Right?

Oh, and orange is not really my color. THANKS, Pantone colors, for being a JERK.

I always feel grumpy when I make something I don’t feel like is a real winner. Do you get that way? Oh, well, onwards and upwards.


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Sewing

The Muslin Diaries: Volume 3: The Colette Truffle Dress

I promise you that I actually did finish my Pastille for-real-for-real version, I just haven’t had the time/appropriate weather/setting to photograph it yet, but rest assured, it’s done, it’s lovely, and I want to wear it all the time. I just can’t, which is very depressing.  But it shall eventually get a dedicated post and, as is my custom, a fun name, so just be cool and wait for that happy day, I know I shall.

In other news, I recently completed my truffle muslin! And worked on my Mad Men Challenge Dress! And found fabric for my 4th pair of clovers, which shall be a part of my One Week One Pattern Challenge! Wooooo! Yeah, it’s been busy in my tiny apartment. And it’s going to GET even busier if I want to finish all these projects in time for their respective deadlines. So much for sewing slowly and thoughtfully, at least, in the month of March. Someone slap me if I take on another challenge in April, okay? Thanks.

Onto the muslin:

My lovely mother, who took this, was like, oh my god Leah your hair is HUGE. And she is, as always, completely right. What are you gonna do, right? I have large hair.

Now that I look at this photo, DAMN is this wearable muslin wrinkly. That’s what happens when you stick a dress in your purse and eat a delightful meal of Indian food before you take photos.

Well, what can you do? Life goes on.

I cut out a size 8 of this pattern, after my previous experiences had led me to believe that might be a good idea, and what do you know, it fits very nicely EXCEPT it’s a little snug in the bust. Sigh.

This is what I look like when I try to make my hair smaller AND I’m annoyed that my bust is on the larger side.

There is something weird happening with my waist in these photos and I think that’s because of the black tights. In real life I would not wear black tights with this dress.

The tights are very evident in photos like this. Also evident? The water stain on the upper back. STRUGGLE.

Still, it’s a nice fit.

I used a vintage striped shirting for the muslin, as well as white vintage shirting for the lining, all courtesy of my grandfather’s attic.

So for the future when I make my final version in a drapey navy rayon (also from my grandfather’s attic, a land of countless treasures) I will make a full bust adjustment (which I really should just accept is something I should do always but I haven’t because I’m living in a fantasy world) and I may actually re-draft the armholes to be more concealing of that little area between the dress and my arms. I don’t know a name for that, but I’m not a fan.

That being said, I think this pattern is truly adorable. I’m so into the drape I can’t even tell you, and it’s a lovely detail that ups the ante on the design and makes a simple dress something really special. And now I have a perfectly wearable muslin that I really ought to iron. So well done on that front, Colette Patterns.

What are you working on? Any challenges? New projects? Big plans? And what is that area between the arm and the bust CALLED? Anyone know? I like to know the names of my enemies.


Filed under Colette Patterns, Sewing

La Falda del Mercado

So here it is, finally, my Meringue. I know, I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath, desperate for a glimpse at my final version. Or I suppose I should say my first final version, because despite my initial mild reaction to this pattern, I do believe it may have stolen my heart. As long as I eliminate the scallops. And add a waistband. And do all kinds of other stuff to it. Like you do. But still, the shape of the skirt, the simplicity of the design, the placement of the darts, I’m into it! Which is fairly indicative of my character, really, I’m slow to fall in love, but once I do, no skirt is safe.

So here it is, in all it’s bright and gently garish splendor:

Boom, baby!  When I saw this fabric I thought, that is just perfect for Puerto Rico, and lo and behold, it totally is. I even found a house amongst the brightly colored buildings in San Juan (our own house is a brilliant aquamarine, just to give you an idea) that this thing literally matches. Check it out:

Right? Chartreuse, meet Chartreuse. You kids have fun

I wore this skirt to the open air market in Viejo San Juan.

The market has been there since 1847, at least, and was once, I assume, probably the bustling epicenter of commerce in this tiny colonial town. Now that tradition has been revived, and I’m so excited about that.

I’m going to stand on a soapbox for about five seconds and decry the sugar (read rum) industry that supplanted natural sustainable agriculture and the tourist industry, which, while generating income for the Caribbean, has placed a strong emphasis on the importation of goods and almost no emphasis on the quality of life of the actual people who live in these “island paradises”. But I think that’s changing in Puerto Rico, and hopefully in the rest of the Caribbean, and this market, with its organic and local produce and goods, hopefully heralds the return of a sustainable island culture.

Okay, off the soapbox. Sorry. Pretty pictures!

I made this up in a size 8, which fit me much better then my muslin in size 6.

Don’t you agree? I added a waistband, using Sarai’s lovely tutorial, and I used the same zipper insertion technique from the Clover pants.I used a cream-colored invisible zipper I got in a bundle of about 100 9″ invisible zippers for 3 dollars.

The fabric comes from the hoarder stash.  I think its really upolostery weight fabric. Can you imagine having a chair made up in this? Amazing.

I stitched the hem by hand:

I think I  match the brilliant colors of the market quite well:

Local Coffee

Want to see a bunch of machetes getting swung around? Come to the Caribbean and make all your dreams come true.

Puerto Rican Hipsters!

And my Mama matches too, don’t you think?

And I couldn’t help but adore this sign:

So if you are in San Juan any time soon on a Saturday, do check out El Mercado Argicultura.

Of course, you may not look as awesome as I do in this skirt. That’s okay. No one’s perfect.

Glamour Shot!


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Sewing, Vintage

The Muslin Diaries: Volume 1: The Colette Meringue Skirt

First of all, I must apologize for the quality of these photos. It is surprisingly difficult to take your own photo in a mirror with a large camera. Don’t even get me started about the back view, I can’t even deal with it. But I made a muslin for the Colette Patterns Sewing Handbook Meringue skirt, and as part of Sew Colette I vowed I would post it, and post it I shall. And my feelings about it can be summed up in one word. Meh.

Yeah. Socks on my feet, dirty laundry in the background, bad lighting, shaky camera work. You like that? Yeah you do. God, HOW am I still single? Such a constant mystery.

I cut a size six, which is my usual in Colette patterns. Well, I say usual, but as I’ve only made one bottom from Colette, the tight-fitting clover, I have no real idea. (And can I just say that I really need a clothing line made for ladies with junk in the trunk. Can we please start assuming an ass, pattern companies? Assume there is an ass. Assume an ass goes in there. Thanks. )

And I used Sarai’s tutorial to make a waistband, which I believe I made too wide, so that’s something for next time. I love a wide waistband, but I don’t think it works in this skirt. It came out a bit wonky, which I’m going to chalk up to seamstress error.

While I would love to think those flecks are sparkles of magic that follow me always, I know that they are really light hitting the mirror. Sigh. A girl can dream.

So, on my rather voluptuous form, this skirt, which I feel like is supposed to be an A-line, is more of a Tulip. Which is okay, but I think I would prefer a bit more ease in the hips and rear.

Speaking of:

There are these odd wrinkles right at the top of the skirt. What….is that? I don’t know what that means! Is it too tight? Do I need a swayback adjustment? Is it just weird (yes, it is)? Any advice?

The scallops are a bit wrinkled in this photo, but they actually turned out quite well, because I ignored all advice from the book, sorry, Sarai, and used this tutorial from Patterns Scissors Cloth, which worked beautifully. No funny flat bits, just nice round scallops. Thank you, Sherry!

I think I might just go up a size. It would be nice to have a bit more ease in the hips, and I don’t mind a loose shape because I think that’s the intention of the skirt. But this is a perfectly wearable muslin and something I will probably get some use out of, so that’s good.

So here is the big question. I’m going to make this again, because I do like it and it’s cute and simple and because I signed up for this challenge, damn it, so I’m not going to quit on the first pattern! And I’m going to do it in this fabric:

But I simply must posit a controversial query. Do I actually want a scalloped hem?

I know. Jump back. That’s the whole cute design element of the skirt. It’s the POINT of the skirt, really. But…I just don’t know. Will I feel silly in scallops? Are scallops really all that wearable? Can I in fact, rock a scallop, or will it be a huge struggle? Discuss. How do you feel about scallops? Cute element or little-girl silly? And any ideas about that wrinkling in the back?


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Sewing

It is on in a manner that might remind you of Donkey Kong

I don’t know about you people out there, but personally, I like a good challenge. For example, right now I’m in the midst of knitting my first sweater. Is it a simple topdown stockinette stitch creation appropriate for someone who has been knitting for just over three months? Ha. That’s funny. No, it’s a cabled cardigan with blocking and seaming and all kinds of things I’ve never heard of before (and you can find out more about it here). Because that’s my personality, you see. You gotta learn to run before you can walk.

So when I found out about a couple of brilliant ladies who are sewing through Colette Pattern’s Sewing Book, I was like, bring it on. I want to sew every pattern in the book, so I might as well do it with a group of talented and lovely seamstresses, led by Miss Crayola Creepy and Rhinestones and Telephones. So in sum, this winter/early spring, I will be participating in Sew Colette. And we begin with the Meringue! I should really make my muslin, given that they were “due” today. Oh, well, that’s what the weekends are for, right? So I promise to display a Muslin by Saturday. That’s the plan, Stan.

The goal is to take it month by month, and make one garment, in the order Sarai and God intended, at a time. I will be posting my fabric choices later, and I’m happy to announce that they all come from my newly inflated stash. You see, circumstances have conspired to dump bags and bags of free vintage and thrifted fabric upon me, and I must simply live with the consequences. Poor me. Cue the violins, please.

That’s actually all I’ve got for right now. You can check out the flickr pool (even though I really don’t know how to use flickr, it just seems weird) here. And to sign off, gratuitous cat photo. Like you do.

With a handmade toy. Duh.


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Fabric, Inspiration, Sewing