I have been following Colette Patterns since 2010, when they were still a new company on the sewing scene. They were the first indie sewing pattern company that I had ever seen and I was entranced. Their designs, their instructions, and just their freshness rang loud and clear in the confusing sea of the bigger pattern companies with their poor directions, diagrams, and styling. Colette was the first company to create a sample that was love at first sight. I wanted it bad, even though I didn’t look like their fit model. I am not a natural C-cup, and I am the smallest range on their scale in the bust and waist, but with larger hips (let’s hear it for my fellow pear-shaped girls!). But I knew that with a little bit of work, I could make the pattern perfect for me.
We are all shaped differently, which is a good thing. With so much variety, pattern companies can’t possibly create one pattern that will fit every body shape with no adjustments. What this means in your sewing is that most likely you will have to change a pattern or blend between sizes, no matter who the company is that drafts it. There are those people out there that magically fit a pattern right out of the envelope, but I think that is pretty rare. The best part about sewing is getting to know your own body and how to shape the things you love to it, so you can get a custom fit that ready-to-wear clothing can’t provide. Does that mean you can make everything work for you? Yes and no. There are limitations. We can work magic on a lot of patterns, but sometimes there are styles and shapes that, no matter how much we love them, just don’t work for either our body or our lifestyle. Learning that takes experience and practice.
This was a very long-winded way to introduce my newest make, the Laurel dress from Colette. How classic is a basic shift dress? Very! Because of its classic shape, this pattern has become a tried and true pattern for me. For this version I chose to work with the new Art Gallery Denim Collection in the print called Casted Loops.
When I first heard AGF was releasing denim I was so excited.
I had dreams of AGF jeans. When I finally got my hands on it, it was not what I originally expected. The hand is softer and more fluid. I personally don’t think you could make a proper pair of jeans from this. At least not traditional jeans. However this fabric has great range beyond traditional jeans. Bags, shirts, dresses, quilts…you name it and it can most likely be done.
To prepare my fabric to become a Laurel dress, I pre-washed it on delicate and tumbled dry. There was not much, if any, shrinkage. The one thing I will say is that you might need to work a little harder to get the fabric to lay on grain for cutting, depending on which pattern/finish you choose. If I had thought about it, I would have pulled it from the dryer while still slightly damp and pressed it into shape, aligning the straight grain. In spite of that little bit of extra prep-work, I love the fabric and it was a dream to sew on.
As I mentioned above, I did have to make a few pattern adjustments and made a muslin of the dress in order to fine tune the fit. Since I sewed up this dress when it was first released, I knew I needed to go down a size from my original. I traced a size 0 for the dress and did a small bust adjustment of just a half inch. I also noticed there was a lot of ease in the waist and the lower half of the dress, a bit more than I wanted. I ended up removing about an inch from the side seams from waist to hem. I also added two inches to the length, as my first Laurel was a bit on the short side. Now that I have worn the dress multiple times, as in any sewing journey, I’ve found what I love and what I want to tweak for my next version (which already has fabric earmarked!).
All Photos by Ashley Shea Photography
If you haven’t made the leap into dressmaking yet, this pattern is a great one to begin with. It will teach you how to set a sleeve, work with bias binding and master foundational garment-making skills. Because the front and back are full pieces, it’s also ideal for really large scale prints (for all you print-lovers out there!). Too intimidated to try it on your own? Check our schedule. This is one of our beginning garment classes! We’d love to help you make your fashion dreams a reality.