Tag Archives: colette

Field Study Hawthorn

I finally finished my Hawthorn for the sew-along! Between major fitting problems, family visiting, and irresistible beach weather, I just didn’t get much sewing done this month! I had three versions of the Hawthorn planned, including one made with the fabric I dyed (I was going to knit some lace details out of linen yarn for that one), but I only managed to finish this one.

Hawthorn Blouse and Skirt

I made two muslins, and this top is actually my third muslin, which is pretty much wearable, but far from perfect. I had to lengthen the top of the bodice by 3/4″ because the bust points were too high and the armscyes  were right up in my armpits! I had no idea how to do it properly, but I found  this tutorial, and just guessed my way through lengthening the collar to match the new bodice. This modification was actually not as hard as I thought it would be!

The other major problem was the bust. This pattern is drafted for a C or D cup (which I am definitely not!), so I knew I had to do an SBA (small bust adjustment). The problem is, my measurements match the size chart exactly, so I didn’t really have any width to pinch out as suggested in the Colette tutorial for an SBA. Plus, their tutorial also suggested to shorten the back to match the amount shortened in the front from the SBA, but the back was already too short on me, and the front was too long. I was totally lost.

I then questioned whether or not it was really necessary, but I figured all the extra length at the front must be there to accommodate a larger chest, which I don’t have, so I started pinning and basting, seam ripping, then pinning and basting all over again until I eventually gave up and decided it would have to be good enough. Basically, I ended up moving some of the width of the front darts to the side seams, so the overall measurements would stay the same, and then I chopped off some of the center front.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of those lines going from the bust to the side seams. Does anyone know how to fix that?

Hawthorn Blouse

Even worse from the front! I just found this post on the side effects of bust adjustments from Shona Stitches that perfectly captures the frustration I went through. There are even some links there for alternative ways to do bust adjustments that I will definitely try for my next version.

Hawthorn Blouse

I’m actually pretty happy with the fit at the back. I added another inch to the lower back to get the waistline to sit at my natural waist. Although, it looks kind of long in the photo and I’m not sure why!

Hawthorn Blouse

I used 100% cotton voile from Hart’s Fabrics and shell buttons for the blouse.

Hawthorn Blouse

For the skirt, I drafted a waistband (aka rectangle), and some belt loops (aka smaller rectangles). A real confidence-booster after the top!

Hawthorn Blouse and Skirt

I lined the waistband with some soft 100% organic cotton polka dot fabric from Eden Fabrics. The main fabric for the skirt is Parenthetical Flight Field Study Linen by Anna Maria Horner (55% linen, 45% cotton). I didn’t have enough fabric to do any print matching, but it wouldn’t have worked with the pleated pockets anyway. The small buttons are tagua nut, and the large ones are wood.

Hawthorn Skirt

I drafted patch pockets with a pleat and a button tab to top it off.  They don’t really stand out as much as I’d like. Maybe I should have used contrast stitching or piping or something.

Hawthorn Skirt

Overall, I still love the Hawthorn pattern, but I think I need to learn a lot more about fitting before I tackle my second version. But there will definitely be a second version, and probably a third!

P.S. You can check out other Hawthorns from the sew along and vote for your favourites here. I’m so thrilled to be included in the parade!


Adventures in dyeing – plus Hawthorn sew-along!

I’ve had some plain organic cotton in my stash for about half my life. I tried sewing as a teenager and planned to make an entire wardrobe out of organic cotton. Back then, you could pretty much only get organic cotton undyed (not that it’s that much better now), and I had big plans for dying it all myself with natural dyes. Unfortunately, reality got in the way. I found out that natural dyes are actually more toxic because of the heavy metal mordants, and sewing patterns were so frustrating because of all the extra ease, so I soon gave up on sewing altogether. But I just couldn’t part with my two bins of plain organic cotton, thinking, one day, one day!

Undyed Organic Cotton

Indie pattern companies have solved one half of the problem (thank you to all of the amazing designers out there!), so I decided to give dyeing another try so I could finally use up this fabric. I ordered some Fiber Reactive Procion dyes from Dharma Trading Co. (such a hippie store – I love it). The basic idea with these dyes is that they react to the fibers at a molecular level when the dye bath is made alkaline enough.

I started with a piece of color-grown green cotton. I meant to take a picture of this before I dyed it, but I forgot. It’s not so much a green as a light muddy greenish brown – not the nicest colour, in my opinion, but I prefer blues over earthy tones, so I’m biased. You can see a piece of color-grown brown in the picture above.

Anyway, I started the dyeing process in the washing machine, as they recommend for the most even results. I poured everything in and most of the water was below the basket so my piece of fabric was not fully submerged (I used 1 lb of fabric, 3 gallons of water). It wasn’t possible to pull it out at that point, so I decided to forge on. I set the washing machine to agitate, but after two minutes, it started draining! I tried to salvage it and reset, but the washing machine just kept on draining!

I didn’t know what to do at that point, so I tried to find a bucket to transfer the cloth and add more of everything else. The only bucket big enough had been sitting outside for ages and was beyond nasty! So my boyfriend ran out to buy a bucket while I stirred the fabric in what was left of the dye bath.

I started the process again in the new bucket, but I wasn’t sure how much dye to add since there was still some left in the fabric. I guessed 3/4 of the original amount. So I stirred the fabric for a solid hour (so boring!) but at least it was a nice day, so I could just sit on the back porch instead of in the basement watching the washing machine. I wish I had pictures of the process, but it was just so chaotic!

Here is the final product:

Dyed Organic Cotton

Dyed Organic Cotton Dyed Organic Cotton

I’m amazed it actually turned out smooth and not blotchy, considering all that went wrong! The only thing I don’t like are the “lint-ball” type things all over the fabric. I can’t remember if the fabric was like that before, or if all the agitation caused it, but it makes the fabric look old, which I guess it is! I used Peacock Blue, but I have no idea how much 😮

I do plan to try this again sometime since it wasn’t so bad once the washing machine was out of the equation. I will at least dye the fabric I already have so that I can actually use it!

Hawthorn Dress Sewalong

I could not be more excited about the Hawthorn sew-along! As soon as this pattern came out, I fell in love with it. It’s so “me”. Fitted bodice, flared skirt, and buttons (I’m one of those crazy people who actually prefer buttons to zippers)! There’s another contest for this pattern, but I’m not even going to think about that this time because I really want to take my time, follow the sew-along posts, and get this pattern right so I can make many more in the future. For my first version, I’m just going to follow the pattern exactly for version 3 (the sleeveless dress below) using the fabric I just dyed. I can’t wait!

My Raindrop Laurel is a finalist for Readers’ Choice!

I can’t believe it! My Raindrop Laurel is one of 20 finalists for the Readers’ Choice category of the Colette Patterns Laurel Contest! Voting starts today and is open until Friday. You can choose and rank your 5 favourites. Check out all 20 of the amazing entries and vote here. Thank you in advance if you choose to vote for me!

A Pair of Laurels (just in time!)

I had every intention of finishing my Laurels with plenty of time to spare before the end of the contest, but here we are on deadline day, and I just finished them both yesterday. Oh well, it looks like I’m not the only one – there are a ton of pictures being posted last-minute to the flickr pool! I remember seeing a quote posted on some advertising sign many years ago that said something to the effect of “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done”. So true!

When the contest was first announced, I was so excited to be able to take part in a sewing related event, but I wasn’t too crazy about the silhouette. I normally go for more fit and flare type styles, so I decided to take in the waist for more shaping and add a bit to the length so I feel more comfortable. I’m happy with the result, and I think it still pushes me outside of my comfort zone.

The Practice Laurel

I made my first Laurel out of some undyed organic cotton (maybe muslin? I’m not sure) that I’ve had for years. I played around with the fit for ages trying to get it right. After a while, I realized I could just add front darts from another dress that fit, so I added darts from the Cambie (post coming soon – I finished this one before the Laurels, but I haven’t had time to post about it because of the contest). I lined up the waistline and the center front and it worked perfectly! I experimented with drafting facings, but in the end decided to just line the whole thing with cotton voile since I didn’t want any stitching lines to show on my final version.

Organic Cotton Laurel

Pattern: Laurel by Colette
Fabric: Undyed Organic Cotton (maybe muslin? not sure) and Organic Cotton Voile lining in white from Organic Cotton Plus
Size: 0
Modifications: Added front darts, took in back darts by 0.5″ each, took in side seams by 0.5 “, chopped 0.5″ off around armholes, added 0.75″ in bodice length above bust, added 1.5″ in length at waist, added 1” to skirt length

I added a tab belt to add some interest around the waist and I left all of the darts open below the waist.

Laurel Tab Belt

Tab belt with shell buttons

side pockets with decorative stitching

side pockets with decorative stitching

laurel back view

It was all looking good until I decided to add some decorative top stitching to my practice version. It stretched out the keyhole at the back so now it looks kind of wonky.

Then I decided to add some keyhole cutouts to the skirt. I thought it would look neat to have the sheer white voile in the cutouts to show a little bit of texture and add interest to the plain colour. I stitched around the edges to hold the layers together and keep them from fraying, and used tissue paper on the bottom to stabilize everything while stitching, but it ended up looking really messy. I just couldn’t go around the curves smoothly. Maybe it’s something that just takes practice.

wonky decorative details

wonky decorative details

I still like the idea, but I think next time I’ll do the top stitching and cutouts all by hand with white embroidery floss for extra impact. And maybe it would look better with two colours that contrast more.

Laurel 2:

When the contest was first announced, and I saw that there was a category for self-designed fabrics, I thought that was perfect. I’d been meaning to design some fabric and have it printed on spoonflower (I even had their $1 colour sampler swatch already), so this was the perfect opportunity! There wasn’t enough time to order a proof and still enter the contest, so I had to guess on the darkest colour. I was aiming for a deep sapphire or navy, but it came out purple. I think it still works, but I will definitely be investing in a full colour sampler for future spoonflower projects – and there will definitely be more!

I decided to do an ombre design since the straight lines of this pattern allow for a large pattern repeat. So I did an ombre ikat design that reminds me of raindrops. You can find the design on spoonflower here. I had it printed on their Organic Cotton Sateen.

Ombre Ikat Raindrop fabric

Ombre Ikat Raindrop fabric

Laurel Ombre Ikat

Laurel Ombre Ikat
Fabric: My own design printed on spoonflower’s Organic Cotton Sateen, and Organic Cotton Voile lining in white from Organic Cotton Plus
Pattern/Size/Modifications: Same as practice Laurel, but I took out the side seams and back darts slightly since the first one was a bit tight.

The keyhole turned out better on this version without the top stitching.

back keyhole detail

back keyhole detail

Practical side pockets

Practical side pockets

tab belt

tab belt

I think I’ll redo the tab belt. It’s a bit too small so it’s pulling the dress a bit at the waist. Plus I think it would look better a bit wider and with better top stitching 🙂

hand-stitched hem

hand-stitched hem

Ombre Ikat Laurel

The full-length pictures don’t really show the pattern very well – the close-up shots are much more accurate. But, in the end, I’m happy with this one!