Tag Archives: colette

Gingham Iris Shorts

Gingham Iris Shorts

I love these shorts! Another pair of Colette Iris shorts done, just in time for hot summer weather. They are made from Lecien’s yarn-dyed gingham check, which I underlined with a soft white cotton for more body.

A change I made to the pattern this time around was to increase the hem depth. The 5/8″ hem on the first pair just seemed skimpy compared to the other RTW shorts I have. The final hem depth here is 1″ and I’m pleased with that.


Iris Shorts: A First Step Towards Sewing Trousers

Iris Shorts

Check it out! Shorts!

I tried on 20 pairs of pants at a thrift store the other day. Well, some of them I only tried on with one leg up to my knee before rejecting, so this wasn’t as time-intensive as you might suspect. Thrift store shopping itself is an endeavor not to be taken lightly. It’s like a treasure hunt, so of course you know going in to it that you’re going to have to sift through a lot of duds to find that special item. But pants, ai yi yi!

Iris Shorts Side

Hmm. Sorry about the t-shirt shots. Not much of an effort there, huh?

Iris Shorts BackI usually bring a tape measure with me to measure the waist of the pants I’m going to try on, as sizes seem to be so arbitrary, but I’d forgotten it and had to resort to holding up items and hoping I was in the right size range. As it turns out, I’m not sure the tape measure would’ve been that much help. The difference in rises was so different from one pair of pants to the other that it would’ve been hard to read a waist measurement on most of them. The ‘waist’ could really be anywhere from high hip to low hip and most likely not anywhere near your actual waist at all. Then there were funny fabric contents, odd leg shapes, and pockets and embellishments in the most peculiar places. It would have been demeaning if I hadn’t had a sense of humor about it. The whole experience was comical.

Iris Shorts Facing

I used some quilting cotton I had on hand for the facing and pocket lining.

I have had no desire to sew pants for myself in the past, but I’m considering taking the plunge after trying on so many pairs and thinking the only way to a good fit is to make them myself. I am bummed I missed out on Steph’s pants block service that she used to offer. I was in the middle of losing weight when I discovered her business, and by the time I reached goal she had moved on to other ventures. I’m excited about Cake patterns, and hope there’s a pants pattern coming up the pike so we can learn from her pants fitting knowledge!

I bought Kenneth King’s Jeanius course through Craftsy, but now my favorite jeans that I thought I would copy are way too big. I want to trace a pair of well-fitting jeans that don’t have stretch in them so I can reproduce them in corduroy and other fabrics without stretch. I’ll have to dig through some more thrift store piles to find a pair of non-stretch denims. It seems like everything has stretch in it today. Wow, I sound like a cranky old lady: In my day… he he. I’ll keep you posted on that project.

Anyway, since I’m on a Colette roll, I thought I’d try the Iris shorts as a way of dipping my toe into the pants-making waters. It’s a cute and simple pattern. I made the first pair in a solid navy cotton twill. They are comfortable and flattering, even on someone who’s not 20 years old anymore. When I look at these photos, I see wrinkles that might mean something to someone with more pants-fitting expertise, but overall I’m pretty happy with the fit for a first attempt. It’s closer than anything I found in the store, that’s for sure!

I traced from my wider waist size to smaller hip size when tracing off the pattern. I ended up pinching out an inch at the waist and tapering it down to nothing to get a nice fit in the front.

Changes I made:

  • Extended the pocket pieces up to the waistband so they don’t flap around loosely but are anchored at the top.
  • Made the pocket openings 1″ wider.
  • Lengthened the back darts 1/2″
  • Lengthened the legs the tiniest bit: 1/2″

I’m working on a second pair in gingham with the buttons on the pockets. This has definitely boosted my confidence that sewing a pair of trousers that fit could be possible.

Laurel, Laurel

Laurel Blouse and Laurel Jumper

Laurel blouse and a Laurel Jumper

I finished sewing four more Laurels this month. It was a fun personal challenge to plan a few variations that would fit into my wardrobe. My favorite is this little black blouse. LaurelBlouseTweeds DressI took an old dress that I no longer wore but had always felt great in and picked it apart. I was able to squeeze the front, back and binding out of the skirt portion, and cut out new sleeves from the old sleeve section. I got rid of the center back seam and made the blouse longer because I had the extra length to work with, and I really love it. The fabric is a very drapey crinkle rayon, and the blouse looks nice tied and tucked in, or on its own over a narrow pair of pants. I followed the directions in the “Extras” booklet from the Colette website, but modified the keyhole to be much narrower and shorter. The fabric was so slippery and tricky though, it stretched a bit during construction and looks to be about the size the original pattern intended. I’m glad I modified it as much as I did, or the blouse might have been a peep show disaster!

I made the plaid jumper to go with it from the same pattern, modifying the dress neckline and narrowing the silhouette. I added single welt pockets to the front using guidance from Claire Shaeffer’s The Complete Book of Sewing Shortcuts, which is one of those sewing books on my shelves I find myself referring to over and over. I lined the jumper with bemberg rayon, and used this very cool technique from Pattern Scissors Cloth to line up the plaid when sewing the side seams. I am stoked that the invisible zipper in the back is really invisible. I’m quite pleased with this one and, like the blouse, see it getting a lot of use.

Laurel BlueTunicGreen Check LaurelMy muslin to work out the neckline and fit for the jumper was this blue wool tunic, and I ended up liking it so much I decided to finish it off for an arty layering piece. I played with the hemline to find a length I liked over trousers. I drafted the patch pockets to be wider than the pattern and found an old silk necktie at the local thrift shop to cut into bias strips and edge the pockets with. I had enough bias to go around the neckline as well, but held off because I thought it started to look too apron-y. I think it was the right decision and just the right amount of detail. I also lined this jumper with bemberg rayon to slip over layers easily.

And lastly, but actually the next Laurel I finished after my initial flannel attempt, is this green check version. I extended the center front to allow for the addition of pintucks. I am planning a longer tunic version out of linen based on the same variation.

Phew! Now I’m Laurel’d out for a bit, but have several more variations percolating in my brain and will no doubt be inspired by the Colette Flickr group for a while to come.

Corduroy Beignet

Colette Beignet skirt

Beignet side view

Windy day for a photo shoot

I’ve been excited to make this skirt for a while. It’s another lovely pattern from Colette, and I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it. I had to draft out some of the curviness to fit my frame. I started by tracing a size 6 at the waist tapering to a 4 at the hips, but ended up having to add more to the waist in the front and sides. I traced an 8 at the waist for all seams except the back and side back seams, which stayed at a 6. The muslin fit really well in that area.

I used an old sad curtain to make a muslin, and while I was walking around in it, my husband confided in me that it really didn’t look good at all. I think he thought he was being helpful in that spouse way, like telling someone you love that they have spinach stuck in their teeth because you don’t want them to suffer embarrassment out in the world. I reassured him that the faded curtain iteration was only the practice piece. Silly guy.

I used this tutorial for turning small loops right side out to turn the long tie belt. However magical, I just couldn’t see the corduroy doing that maneuver on the belt loops so I cut them along a selvedge, folded them in thirds and stitched them closed. I also cut the loops 1/4″ longer to allow for the thicker turn of fabric when attaching to the skirt. Another change I made was to move the pockets up by about an inch. They felt too low on the muslin.

I’m very pleased with this make, and will definitely sew another one. I used a soft pinwale corduroy and I love the color. The contrasting lining, also used for the pocket bags, makes me happy. I purchased it on my last trip to New York while wandering around the garment district.

The funny thing is that although the muslin fit perfectly after altering the waist I had a lot of extra overlap on the final skirt when it came time to sew on the buttons. I’m not sure if I was having a ‘fluffy’ day when I made the muslin, if the corduroy had more give, or if I’ve continued to lose some size around my waist. At any rate, the next version I’ll adjust the waist down a bit again. I don’t want so much overlap of the front band that the buttons aren’t centered. I don’t think it’s that noticeable here, but it would be obvious if I used contrasting buttons.

Beignet lining

Contrasting lining. See how far the buttons ended up being from center front? I think I can take the waist back in on the next version.

Catching Up and a Blank Canvas

Laurel Flannel TopI’ve been knitting throughout the winter. Just a few more scarves/shawlettes to keep myself busy in front of the woodstove. Now that the sky is finally turning blue, my thoughts are turning to sewing again. I never realized how seasonal my activities were.

Colette released its latest pattern last week, Laurel. The ‘shift’ dress is something I remember my grandmother always wearing. Hers were handmade, always with a v-neck, and always with a brooch pinned right at the bottom of that ‘v’.

I love Colette’s patterns, but I’m not as curvy as who they design for. Let’s face it—I’m columnar, blocky, rectangular. Some of those sweet designs call for an hourglass figure to show them off. But a shift—hey, I can rock a shift! It seems like a simple pattern to purchase, but I like supporting indie pattern designers, and this seems to be the perfect blank canvas for playing around with. Colette has a free downloadable booklet with ideas for personalization, and is hosting a contest that is sure to have the creative sewing community popping out great ideas.

Colette Beignet Pattern

Working on the Beignet skirt as well. The tuna cans are my pattern weights.

I love Sarai’s attention to detail, and if you are frustrated with the usual sewing pattern foldout instruction sheets, you would enjoy Colette’s thoughtfully crafted instruction booklets. Inviting, clear instructions, room for notes, and a pocket in the back to hold the pattern pieces. Sarai’s a smart woman!Laurel Flannel

This time I purchased a PDF pattern instead of the booklet. No booklet, but instant gratification. It’s nice that there are options!

I used some gorgeous flannel I’ve had kicking around for a while. I made DH some pjs out of this years ago and still had enough to make a blouse. I used these fabric cutting tips to match up the plaid.

I made a size 8 with a few minor alterations. I shortened the darts in front by 1/2″ and lengthened the sleeves to a cool weather length. The muslin was gaping at the neck in the back, so I did a square shoulder/erect back/short neck adjustment by taking a wedge from center back above the armscye narrowing to nothing at the shoulder seam. Then I trued the seam along center back. I got the idea for the alteration from this post by New Vintage Lady and the lovely images from her vintage sewing books.

I was using the square shoulder adjustment from Fit For Real People, but it wasn’t quite perfect. I think this “move” works a little better for me.

I also added more room to the biceps. I’ve recently lost 20 pounds, but my arms didn’t get the memo.

I used some Kaffe Fassett shot cotton from this summer blouse to make the bias binding. I used Colette’s tutorial on hand sewing the binding. I found it a very relaxing way to finish this up and I had more control over keeping the binding even. I used French seams inside and serge finished the armscye.

It’s a comfortable, flattering top, and I’m looking forward to making my next version. It’s a great stash buster. I think the only tweak I’ll make to the fit of the next one is to narrow the shoulders a bit.

Laurel Alterations