There is currently a “sew-along” happening, where fans of the Colette Sewing Handbook, are “sewing along” with bloggers Rhinestones and Telephones and Miss Crayola Creepy as they sew all the projects from the book, in order. I had never even heard of a sew-along, but when I heard about it, I thought to myself, “I am a fan of the Colette Sewing Handbook and I have already made the first project, the Meringue skirt!”
Unfortunately, when I found out about it, they were already moving on to the third project in the book, the Truffle dress, and I was just starting the second project, the Pastille dress. I do like the idea though, of doing all the projects in order, and was planning on making at least the first three projects for sure (I already have my material for the Truffle dress). So I am still kind of sewing along with them, only they don’t know it and I am a little behind. One nice thing about being one dress behind, is that I get to read about their experiences and see their completed dresses before I make mine!
The first project, the Meringue skirt, covered such topics as following a pattern, cutting out fabric and some basic construction, such as installing a facing and a zipper. The next section of the handbook, goes on to talk about making and adjusting a muslin and then altering your pattern.
One thing I learned from making the Meringue skirt, was that I probably should have graded the pattern, since the waist fit well, but the hips seemed a little wide. I also wanted to try tracing a pattern as opposed to cutting it out. So when I went to trace the pattern, I graded the pattern from a size 6 in the bust, to a size 12 in the waist and down to a size 10 in the hips. I based that on the size chart in the back of the handbook. I guess I am pear shaped and I didn’t know it! The author, Sarai Mitnick, says in the book, not to get too hung up on stuff like that. If figuring out my shape results in a dress that fits me well, than I think it’s worth knowing! Besides, I like pears.
Since I cut out a size 6 bodice, I was worried that the arm holes might be too small, so I tried on the muslin bodice before I sewed it to the skirt. I’m glad I did, because the waist darts on the bodice were not flattering on me. I felt that they weren’t lining up right and they need to be moved inward. I ripped out the waist dart seams on bodice of the muslin and then sewed the darts about an inch more in on each side and it looked better. I then cut out the corresponding darts on my pattern pieces and moved them over an inch, to reflect my adjustment on the muslin. I had to alter the front skirt pattern piece too, by moving those darts in an inch each as well, so that the waist darts would still line up.
Another great resource, for the projects in this book, is the Colette Patterns Forum. I logged on to look at other completed Pastille dresses and there was a post about people having problems with the back of the dress poofing out, so I already knew that was a possibility before I even made my muslin. Low and behold, mine did the same thing. The great thing was, I already knew how to fix it, thanks to those posts.
There are really clear instructions in the handbook on how to make a sway back adjustment to the pattern, which is what people were saying needed to be done to fix it. So I followed the instructions in the book to adjust for that.
Even with grading the hips to a size ten, the muslin still seemed a little big in the hips. Following the directions in the book, I did a pivot adjustment to the hip width of the skirt pieces of the pattern. I’m already loving tracing my pattern over cutting it out, as it seems so easy to make adjustments to the pattern. I’m not afraid to cut it, move pieces around and add to it if I have to, because if I screw up, I can just trace it again and start over!
I have since started working on the actual dress. I have most of the bodice completed and just attached the skirt today (I will post when completed). I haven’t installed the zipper yet, but it is already fitting way better!