Floral Linen Laurel

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The Laurel dress by Colette Patterns is one of those dresses that I could wear every day in different colours and fabrics. It’s very versatile. So far I have made four. FOUR! I think it suits me – it’s not too dressy, it’s comfortable, it’s customisable, work-appropriate, modern yet classic, yadda yadda yadda.

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This is a bright flowery linen. At least I think it’s linen – there may be some viscose in there as it’s slightly finer than linen. I picked it up on a sale table yonks ago and it sat in the bottom of my stash pile as I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It makes a lovely Laurel though. I’m surprised that I didn’t figure that out sooner.

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The Laurel dress is a real TNT pattern for me. Here’s one I made before. And another. All I changed this time was the shoulder width which I brought in 1cm on each side.

I’m not finished with the Laurel dress. No way!

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Three Sorbettos

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Things have been slow on the personal sewing front since having my second baby in the summer. Several factors are hampering my stitching  – lack of time, demanding baby, the usual…I’m sure many can relate to this! However, the main issue is breastfeeding and the very negative effect that it has on my daily wardrobe. I can’t wear my dresses unless I want to strip to feed – no thanks – and while I could be stylish in a nice top it is all too easy to reach for a comfy jumper in the sleepy haze of morning. Oh and it doesn’t help that it is currently freezing outside! Now this shouldn’t really stop me from forward planning – I do have some ideas in the pipeline for the Colette Peony and Moneta dresses, McCalls 6696 shirtdress (love it!) and a pencil dress in african wax cotton (I got loads from my lovely friend who works in Kenya) – but there is no point in trying any new patterns until I have stopped nursing and my body has bounced back to normal. I made that mistake two years ago when I fitted a Burda jacket – FBA and all – only for it to be too big in the bust when my body changed post-nursing.

Now…as sewing is highly addictive and one must continue to sew, the best way around this is to sew some repeat patterns.

Enter Sorbetto.

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I made this first one a couple of years ago out of an old French Connection tunic that was headed for the bin. It was intended as a muslin and and I had plans for others which never did materialise. Although a muslin it is very wearable. The fabric is a nice, soft chambray and despite the hideous painted plastic buttons (which I have bought replacements for) it is not a bad wee top. I think I cut a size 6 and did an FBA of around 1.5 inches however I can’t be entirely sure since I traced around the modified pattern pieces and didn’t write down the changes I made. I’m pretty sure I also dropped the bust dart by a couple of centimetres as I normally do with Colette patterns.

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The following two were made recently. The first is a beautifully soft viscose with a lovely drape and an infuriating unwillingness to stay crease-free. Ironing it is like painting the Forth Road bridge – by the time I have made it to the back the front has crinkled again. I’m sure I could spend my life standing at the ironing board trying to tame the thing and for this reason it may not get that much wear however lovely it looks. The second is a shiny polyester – much more practical from a washing and ironing perspective but probably not so good on a hot day! On this version I did a slight dipped hem at the back. It looks incredibly wonky in the photo but it is not in real life.

Both of these tops were stash sewing but I like the pattern so might invest in some summer appropriate fabrics. It might be January but I live in hope that the frost lifts eventually. And at least in the meantime I am sewing something – anything – for myself. There will be more to come…

Dotty Laurel

Another Laurel. I’m not sorry. I plan to make one in every colour, every print and with every customisation imaginable. Just because I can.

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I used a navy and white polkadot stretch cotton for this one. It’s pretty thick so it hangs well with about 3% spandex to give it a very subtle stretch. I think this, however, has slightly warped the grain because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the polkadots to line up on the seams. They were not running in a straight line. They may look straight but they are not. No, really. So print matching was not to be on this dress. It’s not noticeable anyway. The polkadots kind of dazzle the eye so that all you see is a big mass of moving white dots.

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I made no further alterations to the main body of the pattern after my red linen version so this one came together really quickly. All I did was lengthen the sleeves to 3/4 length and I used bias binding tape to finish them. I used the same bias binding on the neck line. It’s from a packet so not a true colour match but I didn’t have enough fabric to make my own. I think it looks fine though. The dress closes with an invisible zip and a hook and eye.

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This version has quite a retro look unlike my previous dress. That’s why I love this pattern – it’s a blank canvas that you can really make your own by using different fabrics and embellishments. I’d love to try it with some embroidery around the neckline. Maybe one with a collar; another with pockets; colourblocking; tartan…

I’m not done with this pattern. Nowhere near done.

Laurel in Red Linen

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I’ve always loved the simple shift. It’s easy to wear, comfortable, stylish, understated, cool, modern, retro…and the rest. But it’s surprisingly difficult to find them in the shops. I’ve wanted a dress exactly like this forever so when Colette Pattern’s Laurel dress hit the cyber-shelves, I jumped on it. Then I sat on it. For quite a while. I’m not even sure why – too busy? Lacking inspiration? The Laurel competition came and went and despite the many lovely versions floating around the internet I still couldn’t muster up any serious ideas for my Laurel. Recently though I hit upon a steal in Remnant Kings, Glasgow – 2 metres of this gorgeous red linen in the bargain bin for a mere £6! Of course, I had to have it, and it had to become a Laurel.

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I made version 3 with the gathered sleeves. After worrying that the double layer of linen would be too bulky for them I think they have turned out rather well.

I’ve made a couple of dresses from Colette Patterns before and they are usually a bit roomier around the bust than other companies so I didn’t do a FBA. I did, however, drop the bust darts by 1″. I cut a size 6 at the shoulders, grading out to an 8 at the tops of the side seams, and had originally cut a 10 at the hips as per my measurements, but when I tried the dress on it was far too big so I took it in to an 8 all the way down. There must be a lot of ease in the pattern because I measured myself as a 10 at the hips. It’s no matter though – I prefer it as it is now – I’ve still got plenty of room to move around and it doesn’t look like a tent on me.

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When I bought my supplies I was sure I had a red invisible zip at home but could only find a standard one when it came to zip insertion time. I knew that two big lines of thread running down the back of the dress would look horrid so I decided to try my first hand-picked zip using Sewaholic’s inserting a hand-picked zipper tutorial. I think it worked out fine for a first attempt. Next time I’ll sew slightly closer to the teeth as it pulls open just a tad but not enough to annoy me on this dress – it’s on the back; I don’t see it!

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I love love love this dress. I wear it to work as often as I can get away with it because it’s so comfortable. The pattern is perfect (I have made another 2 dresses since that I will blog soon) and the fabric is perfect as the linen skims the body without clinging. I love the colour too. Altogether this is the perfect shift dress. The one I have been dreaming about forever, hoping to find but never have. And I made it myself. With a £6 piece of fabric. This one was meant to be.