Tag Archives: Colette Patterns

Christmas Shirts

A Shirt for my Sweetie

A Shirt for my Sweetie

The Muse of Creative Titles has deserted me, sorry. Well, really, there was pretty much zero creativity in this whole project. I made the two prime men in my life, my husband and my father, shirts for Christmas. It occurs to me that perhaps I should’ve made one for my brother, but, well, he’s in Australia. He gets heat for Christmas. Every year.

A shirt for my Father

A shirt for my Father

Since I was stressed for both time and mental energy, I followed the pattern, the Colette Negroni, to the point of slavishness. I made a size M for the hubs and a size L for my Dad. I was terrified that both would be too small, but both turned out pretty much perfect. I made zero pattern alterations (since I used the short-sleeve version. I hadn’t bought enough fabric for long sleeves for either version, because I am braindead; I would’ve lengthened the sleeves on both if I were doing long sleeves) and used fabric I had picked up ages ago, a grey and black linens with (probably unfortunately) a bit of stretch. And yes, plenty of that good ol’ linen wrinkliness. I had actually chosen the pattern and the fabric for my husband ages ago, as the short-sleeved version of the Negroni has the exact style details of a linen shirt my husband bought during our one and only (and very overwhelming) trip to New York, back in… well, we didn’t need passports to do it, let’s leave it at that. Which shirt he’s subsequently worn to death.

Collar closeup

Collar closeup. I did the little loop as per the pattern; I probably wouldn’t do it again. It doesn’t seem like it’d ever be functional.

Unfortunately, the odds of me getting actual modeled shots from either giftee are pretty much nil, so, you get stuck with boring hanger shots. Most of which are of the grey shirt for my Dad, since, well, photographing black.

Sleeve hem

Sleeve hem

I used an extra-long triple stitch for the topstitching.

Sleeve cap

Sleeve cap

I flat-felled the shoulder seams according to the pattern’s instructions. The first set turned out quite badly, the second set somewhat better. I’m not sure I’m completely in love with the method, but like I said, zero mental energy for researching creative techniques. It’s certainly adequate. (And I have a long history of attempting to flat-fell shirts and giving up in disgust and going with the serge-and-topstitch method.)

Front facing

Front facing

My Dad’s shirt had to feature one detail that my husband’s never do—a pocket. I didn’t do two out of fear of having to make them match, but I knew he’d want one to pop his glasses into. Which he did, within moments of putting on the shirt. So, win. I do like the method for finishing the top of the pocket, and the little triangles to secure the top corners. I should’ve used a template for the pocket, though, it was not as well-shaped as it should’ve been.

I made round-ended buttonholes, the kind a buttonholer puts in, using a setting on the Janome Memorycraft, just because I could. And, well, my buttonholer generally ends up being precisely not where I am most of the time. Like most of my sewing supplies these days, since they’re spread out across three different houses. /sigh.

And that, as they say, is that, and probably more detail than either shirt really deserves. I think they were both well-received, though. So I am satisfied. And I promise I’ll have something more fun to blog about soon! 🙂




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Clover (anti)climax


It occurs to me that putting “climax” in a post title may not be the wisest decision ever… oh, well.

You remember my red clovers? No? Maybe that’s because they’ve been languishing in dreaded UFO limbo since, oh, January. I don’t do UFOs, peeps. I don’t always like what I make, but I almost always finish it.

Having cleared (or partially cleared) my sewing room of some backlog clutter on Monday, I was feeling inclined to tackle other energy-blocking projects (I even vacuumed the basement carpet, dammit. Of course, then I spread out and cut a bunch more fabric, but that’s beside the point.) So last night after dinner I picked up my Clovers from their sad little heap and set to work.

My main blockage was the zipper. I had settled on a lapped zipper for the final application (why, I don’t know, since I suck at lapped zips), but when stitching it up (after LOTS of hand basting, something I almost never do) I realized that my ends weren’t lining up with the top of the waistband on one side, and I chucked it in a corner put it away in disgust.

So, last night, I pulled the zipper out, examined the waistband and determined that one side was actually too wide, fixed that, and then set about hand-basting everything back in. Peeps, this zip is inserted almost entirely by hand. Probably not a good idea for a load-bearing area, but anyway. It looks mostly nice (a first for me with a lapped zip) except at the very bottom. Aside from the fact that the side of the hip is not a really good place for a lapped zipper—the over-lap seems to want to gape out a bit. The entire thing would’ve been considerably less brain-breaking if I’d made it more like a typical fly, with the waistband not included in the zipper, but that would’ve required a bit of extension of the waistband pattern, which I hadn’t done. So I made it work. The top of the zip has a wide pants-hook, but I couldn’t find a bar for it so I made a thread bar. I don’t really expect that to hold up, but it’s functional for now.

And then I hemmed, and now they’re done.

And, well, I’m… meh.

The problem is, I’m not sure if there’s an actual problem, or if I just don’t like side-zip, no-pocket, non-jeans-style pants. For one thing, I obviously need different underwear with them. 😛


The side-seams are still a bit ripply. The waistband wants to sag down  in the front—it’s still a smidge higher than my “natural waistband groove”, despite me lowering it a good inch. I think this contributes to the wrinkling along the hip, not to mention the front-crotch wrinkles. I’d be tempted to take in the hips and thighs a bit more except it’s pretty much impossible to alter that side-zip. Well, without wanting to kill myself.


The calf is more snug than the thighs, which I think is also bothering me. Not a surprise—I have pretty muscular calves, and have run into this issue in storebought skinny pants. Although for some reason my feet and lower legs look tiny in these photos. Maybe it’s the wedges?

Probably I should add belt-loops and wear them with a belt and see if I like them better with the top held firmly in place. I interfaced the waistband with knit interfacing to retain a bit of the stretch, but if I want to wear them sans belt, I think that removing all stretch would’ve been a good idea. At the time I was paranoid about the whole thing being too small. Also it would mitigate the serious plumber’s crack that happens when I bend over.

Short or long?

Currently I’ve hemmed them full length (I added about 5″ to the pattern). I’m tempted to shorten them (though the picture doesn’t show the short look nearly as well as I hoped it would). I like the shorter look, but I feel like that would really limit their use in my wardrobe. I don’t usually go sock-free until the height of summer, and I don’t think the pedal-pusher look works with much but sandals, at least for me.

But am I going to wear them much anyway?


Why didn’t I just make this fabric into jeans? I really want red jeans…


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Red-Leaf Clover

Colette Clover pants. You can see from the wrinkles that the waistband at the side isn't pulled as high as it can go.

Or, possibly the worst-photographed post ever.

Did I mention my camera charger didn’t come home with me after the holidays? So yeah, the last few posts have been iPhone photos. Painful, I know. I’m working to get the back-up camera functional again (battery issues, but at least it uses standard AA batteries), but as of this moment you get iPhone photos.

So, after making little jeans for everyone short in the family (or at least that’s what it feels like…), I was in the mood for some new pants myself. And frankly, I’m a little bored of Jalie 2908, although I do have fabric for another pair for myself planned.

So I pulled out this red stretch (?twill? Sometimes it looks like twill, other times not.)

After much hemming and hawing, I cut out the size 2, which is my actual hip size, grading to a size 4 (which is not quite my actual waist size) at the waist. The long view finished inseam is listed at 27″, designed to fall just above the ankle. Dear readers, 27″ is a longish capri length on me.  Since it’s winter and my desire to make a pair of pants that would look funny with socks is at absolute zero, I decided to lengthen them to a more normal, scrunch-around-the-ankle, skinny length. I added 6″ (15 cm.) I had some misgivings about the rise, which some people have reported as a bit high (and we all know I’m a low-rise kind of girl), but figured I would keep it as-is for now, as that’s something which can be tweaked after the pattern’s cut. The crotch-length was a little disconcerting, as the horizontal leg of the back L seemed really long, but the horizontal leg of the front L was really short, so I hoped it would even out. It’s different from most of the other crotch-curves I’ve seen, so I was kind of curious to try.

Clover crotch-curves

And then I took a deep, deep breath, and I cut into my precious* red twill.

It is my intention for these, eventually, to be a sort of wearable muslin. Uncharacteristically for me, I basted them together just to check the fit—I’m planning on completely re-stitching everything once I have them fitting how I like.

I didn’t get any full-length pictures. The legs are pretty much fine—skinny, long enough. I may take in the outseams above the knees about .5 cm on each side—enough to bring me down, basically, to a size 0; I think this fabric has a bit more stretch than the pattern may have been planned for (I wish it had a stretch guide, or at least listed %stretch rather than %Lycra.  % Lycra is not very useful at all in predicting how much a fabric stretches, in my experience.) Alternatively, I may just like my pants tighter than was originally meant. Which is probable, too.

Anyway. The rise in the back is good, although it does that dip-down thing at the middle of the back. I would not want it any lower, that’s for sure.

Front view. You can just barely see that my belly-button is immediately above the waistband.

The rise in the front is a full 5cm (almost 2″) higher than I’d like. The pin in the front shows where I’d like the bottom of the waistband to fall in order to get the rise right.

The size of the waistband seems good as long as I don’t interface all stretch out of the waistband. (Though I suppose this will be different once I change the rise, anyway.) There is not much gaping at the CB, which is a common problem for me, so that’s good.

Unfortunately, the crappy zipper I threw in self-destructed within about 30 seconds of me putting the pants on, so I’m frantically pinching the one hip together in the pictures.

The front crotch seems a bit odd, I think because the curve is so shallow, but I’m hesitant to mess with it at this point. Maybe later. If any of you know what these wrinkles mean (left side of the photo, the right side is being pulled off by the issues with the zipper) please let me know! 😉

Anyway, I think I’ll be able to make some quite nice pants out of these, once I have them tweaked a bit. But some tweaking is definitely required.

And unpicking. And, y’know, reading the actual instructions.

*in the sense that I have been looking for a fabric like this for ages, not in the sense that it was expensive—it was definitely not.


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Some presents for myself…

New Pretties

I know, but if I don’t buy them, who will? (Osiris is not noted for his adherence to any Christmas list but the one inside his own head.)

So I splurged a bit in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Although not enough ahead of time to have anything arrive in time to stuff in my stocking…

Anyway, I am now the proud owner of:

The Colette Sewing Handbook, the Negroni men’s shirt pattern, and the Clover pants.


Vintage Patterns

McCall 6288, a kimono-sleeve blouse pattern from 1945, and “Progressive Farmer” 2953, a 1950s dress from a mail-order pattern company. Both of these were ordered on a whim from New Vintage Lady‘s etsy shop. Both are a size 12; unfortunately it’s the “old sizing” size 12, which is the one where I’m a 14 or 16. These are made for a 30″ bust. My ribcage (underbust) is 29″. Happy grading fun.

McCall 6288 could be the Colette Sencha’s grandmother. It’s a cute, simple blouse pattern with an optional keyhole cutout and tucks at the waist, buttoning up the back. It’s also designed to be tucked in, which is an iffy look for me. We’ll see how that goes. I have a feeling I’ll be dropping the waist tucks… that also strikes me as an iffy look for me. Nothing like pushing your comfort barrier ;). Sherry of Pattern Scissors Cloth recently posted about finding “your decade” style-wise. And let’s face it, pretty as it is, 50s isn’t mine.

The mail-order pattern is a dress, with a neat front yoke/sleeve thingy going on and a yoke below the waist that creates a nice dropped-waist line. There is a waist-seam, but seeing as I’m going to be grading to make any use out of these, I can try to eliminate it at the same time. Depends on what the darts are doing (and how much I need to reduce them), anyway.

Wasteful? Possibly. Whimsical? Definitely. The only thing I’m in any real danger of making up in the near future is the Clover pants, for which I already have some fabric picked out. There are plans for the Negroni, too, of course, but not until I’ve recovered from the Hubs’ Jacket. Which I finally have the pattern all done. Yup, that’s right, it’s not even cut out. (In my defense, the pattern work—I’m following Sherry’s RTW Tailoring sewalong posts from last spring—is fairly substantial, as was the fitting.). But I think I’ll try to jump on the Clovers first. I was going through my projects the other day and realized the only things I’ve made for myself all fall are knit tops. Quick, satisfying, practical, and useful? Absolutely. But it’s definitely time for something a little more… more. Y’know.

Now, I must hunt down posts about the Clovers for those of us with a more rectangular shape…


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The Ceylon Blouse

The Ceylon Blouse

So, before committing to the entire Ceylon dress, I figured I would try and squeeze just the bodice out of various scraps I have lying around. The nice thing about this bodice is it’s in so many little pieces, almost any little scraps will do. I wound up using (some of) the rest of the swirly-print herringbone wool and a bit of black linen I picked up at the thrift store ages ago that was really too small for almost anything. Well, obviously not since I managed to line the entire blouse with it.

Now, I have a bit of a propensity for colour-blocking, and when you combine that with

Ceylon with suitcase. Why? Cuz.

the almost bolero-looking cut of of the Ceylon yoke, well, it was bound to happen. I opted to do the sleeves, yokes, and midriff pieces out of the wool, with the “blousy” pieces in between just out of the black linen. Since I didn’t particularly want the wool against my skin, I decided to line those segments with more of the linen. And, since something about Ceylon almost demands it, I opted to pipe, as well. It adds a nice touch of colour to an otherwise grey-and-black garment.

On the upside, this gave me lots of new techniques to try. Making my own piping (I used dark-red bias binding and some dense wool yarn, both from stash*), and using piping period  (I followed this lovely tutorial). I got to try the “burrito technique” of attaching a double-layered back yoke so the shoulder and bottom yoke seams are all nicely enclosed. Worked like a charm :). I also tried a technique for clean-finishing facings I just read about from Beth of Sunny Gal Studios. which was nifty and makes a super-nice finish; then this morning I get up and discover a recent post by Pam Erny for a very similar finish, but with less bulk at the seam (although hers leaves some of the interfacing showing on the visible side of the facing—which could be undesirable depending on how attractive your interfacing is.) Oh, yes, and a massive, massive amount of seam-grading.

My construction order was a bit haphazard and very different from that given in the pattern, but between the piping and the lining (everything but the mid-back and bust pieces) it’s possibly the most nicely-finished garment I’ve made yet. The piping was actually fun, and a wee bit more forgiving of minor variations in my stitching than I had feared it might be. I did end up hand-stitching the lining of the sleeves to the bodice and the upper seam of the midriff-pieces lining, making for absolutely  ever seam in the piece being enclosed.

I took a crapload of construction pics, but really I think the posts I linked to above cover most of the techniques, so I will just give you a gallery of them to browse through at your leisure. Feel free to ask questions, tell me I’m on crack, etc.

Ceylon Blouse

Buttons are funny things. As construction proceeded to the point where I could start to try on the shirt, I became convinced that it was way too small, that I had completely misled myself into selecting the size 0, abetted by the give of my flannel muslin fabric. The linen, by contrast, had no give at all, and I was sure the resulting blouse was going to be, if not outright ridiculous, at least far too constricting for comfort.

It wasn’t until I had the buttons attached and could try it on normally that I felt at all relieved. It is very snug, and more restrictive than I’d like for everyday, but for an “occasion” dress it’s fine. The sleeves are about as narrow as my arms could comfortably take, but don’t make my hands go numb or anything, and the shoulder width looks good. I’m very glad I tweaked the shape of the front yoke right beside the neck, and lowered the neckline 1/2″.

Ceylon blouse, back

I did manage to remove the wrinkling at the back midriff by flaring out the upper portion of the midriff a bit more (at both CB and side seams). Curving the bottom of the main back piece so it is shorter in the middle worked perfectly to reduce the excess blouseiness (doubtless I took off a bit too much, again, for my different fabric). As to those diagonal wrinkles, well, we’ll see. I think I begin to understand the fix Sherry was suggesting for them, but I’ll have to give it a go on another project.

The bust doesn’t sit particularly nicely, partly because there isn’t enough ease and partly because of the fairly crisp fabric. I would venture to say it fits about as well as in most of the other versions I’ve seen of it, though, which I suppose is good enough. There’s still some gaping on the left side top, which I suspect is the result of my left breast being smaller. It’s not such a big difference that I usually notice, but this style seems to emphasize it. Fortunately I was mostly able to compensate for it by clever positioning of my buttons—the topmost is considerably to the left of the rest of the row but you can’t see that when it’s closed.

And one more time...

So all in all, it was a great learning experience—lots of new techniques and construction to think through. Next version I make I will have to do some serious considering about sizing and my fabric and where I want to wear it—if it’s a crisp, firm fabric and I want to wear the dress every day, I should go up to the size 2 (possibly with SBA, probably with shortening in the upper torso). If it’s a soft fabric with some give, or a stretch woven, I could probably make the 0 again.

I do feel like I should apologize to Sarai, Colette’s designer, though. Everyone raves about her instructions, and they are lovely—I just haven’t ever followed them yet.

More photos in the Flickr Gallery

Whew! That was a lot of sewing for one weekend! And I still have to finish tracing off my pattern for the men’s shirt sewalong…

* Yes, despite the fact that my knitting education was highly truncated and I have never so much as learned to cast on, I have a yarn stash. I have even, as I think I once confessed to Sigrid though I can’t find the comment now, been known to buy souvenir yarn while travelling. In my defense, it’s not a large yarn stash, and some of it has proven useful in dance costuming over the years… but, er, yeah.


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To SBA or not to SBA

All y’all* are a bunch of enablers, you know.

So against my better judgment (and to my hubby’s dismay) I spent the latter part of yesterday evening whipping up a very quick muslin of the Colette Ceylon pattern rather than snuggling on the couch with him watching the last of Mrs. Doubtfire.

Altered bodice pattern pieces

The nice thing about the Ceylon  bodice is that the pieces are all itty-bitty, so you can squeeze them out of pretty small scraps. I really didn’t think I’d get anything else out of the last few bits of that blue flannel duvet, but I got it all, quite handily. Well, not the sleeves, yet.

Oh, dear. I’m going to have to show you fitting pictures again. Darn it.

Yes, I know this one really provides no fitting information at all. Be patient.

Now, I started slow, with just the midriff-band pieces. I initially traced them in a size 2, grading up to a size 4 at the waist. (According to the Colette size charts, my waist is a size 6 while the rest of my measurements suggest a size 0. However, even with the astounding amount of waist-innish-ness on these pieces, going from a 0 to a 6 would’ve given me a convex, rather than concave waistline. 2 to 4 seemed like a reasonable compromise). I also added a CB seam and did a pre-emptive swayback alteration. The resulting piece turned out just right in the lower back, a little loose above the waist, and a bit big across the front. So I gleefully graded the front down by 1/4″, and the back similarly above the waist. I guess that means my front waist piece grades from size 0 at the top and bottom to size 2 at the waist, while the back goes 0-4-2 top-waist-bottom. Plus whatever distortion the swayback throws in there.

It’s well-known that Colette drafts for a generous C cup, while I am more in the “small

Ceylon muslin 1, front view

end of B but loudly refusing to consider myself an A” territory. Obviously an SBA was going to be in order. Previous experience suggests that some shortening in the upper bodice would be appropriate, as well.

So I started with a horizontal tuck around the bust and mid-back pieces of the bodice, taking out about 2cm of height. This may have been a bit much in the front, but anyway. I played around with a second, angled vertical tuck in the front bust piece, pinned the pieces on my duct-tape double and decided to give it a whirl.

Ceylon, muslin 1, side view

On aesthetic rather than fitting grounds, I also messed with the curve of the front yoke (which seems to stick out a little high on the smaller sizes at least). I cut the upper pieces a size 0 before alteration, by the way.

As you can see, the SBA was a bit, ah, enthusiastic. It still fits, but there’s a certain blousiness to the back that seems to be missing from the front, and I’m pretty sure when buttoned it would end up gapey. Assuming ambition does not desert me, I’ll try a version tonight with the vertical tuck removed, and see where that leaves me.

I like the new shape of the front yoke pieces. I still think the neckline (those gaping, angled pieces of the bodice) needs to come down 1/2″ or so. Some of the gapeyness doubtless comes from carelessly stretching on the bias, but I will have to watch for that in the final construction. Having adequate bust space should help with it, too, I would think.

I’m torn on the horizontal tuck. The front length seems good to perhaps a wee bit

Ceylon muslin 1, back view, slack.

short, the back length still looks a little long. And there are still a few wrinkles in the back midriff piece that I’m not sure what to do about. I’m reluctant to increase the swayback alteration, as it’s already at Sherry’s recommended maximum before you should start looking for other fitting causes (like, oh, a short upper body). Would shortening the upper back pull the midriff pieces higher and let them fit my waist a bit better?

There is a lot of blousiness at the back, some of which is necessary, but it seems a bit excessive. Again, I’m wondering if there isn’t too much length in this section; the width seems good, as it goes comfortably taut when I move my arms forward.

So that’s where I am. I think tonight I’ll re-cut my front bust pieces and mess with the length of the back piece. But now, I must get back to work on the wondrous intricacies of phylogenetic analysis…

*Lest I besmirch the reputation of my fellow Canucks, I would like to point out that I learnt that lovely bit of English in Texas a couple of years ago. We don’t really talk like that up here, eh.


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The north wind doth blow…

And we shall have snow. Apparently by tomorrow morning.

pause for a lengthy insertion of expletives.

Okies, moving on. Or, not really moving. The kids-in-school thing is definitely turning into a stranglehold. Tyo had homework, dictee (spelling in French… yes, my children are receiving their education in French), and a bunch of forms for me to fill out. Between that, running to the grocery store, and making supper, somehow the evening flew and I barely got anything resembling sewing done at all. Here is my progress:

What will be the interlining of my coat

I traced around the pattern pieces with marker because I was too lazy to pin them down. The plan is to cut them out (minus seam allowances) and butt the eges together and stitch with a 3-step zig-zag, possibly reinforced with twill tape. We’ll see how this goes.

But, in happier news, I opened my mail this morning and look what came!

Ceylon and Lady Grey!

Colette patterns! Are those not the cutest little pattern booklets you’ve ever seen? (ok I’m sure they’re old news to everyone else in blogland, deal) You open them up and there’s the instructions in a little booklet on the left, and a pocket with  the folded tissue on the right.

Inside: instructions (in booklet form) on the left, pattern on the right

I got to admit, for a $20 pattern I may prefer the Jalie way of printing it on real paper, but these are adorable anyway, and more compact.

Now Gertie’s officially starting the Lady Grey sewalong tomorrow (cutting muslins) and somehow I’m thinking I’m not going to make it. Especially since I don’t have my original winter coat done. Which I need, and soon, if it’s going to start freakin’ snowing on us.

Speaking of coats, I decided to photograph today’s ensemble with mine, since otherwise it’s an incredibly boring repeat (Lydia and Jalie jeans, OMFG). This is not a self-stitched piece, it’s thrifted, ages ago (but if I started counting thrifted and hand-me-down items for the challenge, well, that’s almost everything in my wardrobe except some of my jeans). I’m liking the cozy thrown over one shoulder under the coat… it works like a big red scarf, and keeps my belly warm since the coat itself doesn’t have any closure. It’s a lovely coat, though, as long as you’re wearing it for purely fashion-related purposes. Which I’m not.

Self-Stitched September, day 15

Speaking of which, it’s officially halfway through September. Crap. Well, I got SOME of what I needed to get done accomplished. Anyway, I have done it “all” Self-Stitched. Barring, y’know, socks and undies and sweaters and coats. But pretty much all self-stitched. Hurray! Thanks for the encouragement, you guys, because I would not have had the guts to step it up if you hadn’t.

And, y’know, it’s not so much that I’m bored of wearing the clothes, so much as I’m bored of recording the same ones over and over. Yet on some level I’ve bought in to a must-photograph-to-document-my-participation kind of mentality. Kinda weird. Anyway, what do you think? Continue with the daily outfit or let it slide? At least it gives me something to blog about on the days like today when I got almost nothing done. On the other hand, it’s pretty boring. Which is worse, no post or boring post? 😉


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