Seems like it would be obvious, but it took me a while to grasp the importance of good fabric in making a garment look real. I know things you make are ‘real’, like it’s tangible, but I can’t think of any other way to describe a quality, wearable garment. You know, that magic combination of looking polished, professional and elevated (and a lot less home ec project). It’s all in the fabric.
With all the good fabric stores in my city shutting down just as I discovered them, I’ve recently turned myself to online fabric shopping and the world opened up. In one of my online hauls this spring I purchased a large chunk of Lizzy House’s Cat Nap collection. I mean, how could I possibly resist?! Lizzy’s designs are whimsical and fun, but very well designed as to avoid being too twee. Kitty Dreams design is my favourite of the bunch and had to go towards something special. Because cats.
There have been quite a few stunning swing dresses in this print floating around, but my standard 2m order couldn’t quite accommodate the pattern I had in mind. Also, I have yet to decide if swing dresses are ‘me’. I love how they look on other people, but always feel a little off in them. But I digress. I opted to keep it simple (and not break up the awesome print) and make a basic shift.
Perhaps surprisingly, this was my first shift dress! It’s one of those basics I kinda just skipped over to get to making more ‘exciting’ things. I looked through my vintage pattern stash and there wasn’t quite the shapes I wanted there, so I went on an online hunt and after much indecision I landed on the Colette Laurel.
The warm purple of the fabric meant it was going right to the top of my fall sewing list. I am all about warm and cozy colours this time of year. Once the pattern arrived (and I swooned over the brilliant branding) I swiftly cut out all my pieces. Then the autumn days vanished and it sat. It sat for weeks, and to be honest it made me super anxious. I mean, it’s highly uncommon for projects to sit in limbo that long.
Turns out I just needed a good deadline (isn’t that just the key for us procrastinator types?). I had the opportunity to spend my birthday weekend in the mountains and decided I NEEDED to take advantage of the locale to shoot some blog photos. Laurel was waiting: three days later she was up and running.
I didn’t read many pattern reviews before diving in, so I cut size 4 based on an ‘average’ of my measurements. I later realized I should have graded down the bust since it is technically at a size 0 in Colette and read that the patterns run a little pear-shaped. (I also didn’t make a muslin, because who has time for that?!)
When I first tried it on there was quite an excess of fabric in the tummy area. Not so flattering. The physics of pattern-making sometimes boggles me, but I have a feeling it had to do with my lack of bust fitting. It was a bit too late (too lazy) to take out the sleeves and darts to reconstruct everything, so I just compensated by taking in 2cm from each of the side seams and it managed to do the trick. It still sometimes bubbles out when I sit, but you don’t notice too much.
I added 10 cm to the length as per usual, but then decided I wanted a wider and heavier hem. This ate up most of my additional length. For future Laurels I may have to order a few extra cms of fabric, I barely have anything leftover. Suffice to say, it’s on the short side but I don’t mind much. If it does become a problem I can always let down the hem later anyway.
Invisible zippers and I aren’t totally bffs yet, so I just cut the center back edge 0.5 cm back and installed a regular zipper instead. Also, how stoked was I that I found one that matched the orange PERFECTLY?!
The biggest win for me on this project is that this was probably the first time I have 100% correctly installed bias tape. If you look at my early makes you’ll see that the bias technically fulfills it’s purpose but is inserted inside out or backwards. It’s such a simple technique, but it never occurred to me that I was doing it wrong. I guess I needed Sarai’s super detailed and patient instructions to get it to click. +100 XP to me!
I am so excited to wear this dress. Perfect for layering, I am going to have fun playing with different tights, scarves, sweaters and more this season. I love that it’s a statement piece but the colour and shape are going to make it quite versatile. And it’s full of cats! Yay. AND when I looked back at it, this dress checks all the boxes from my wardrobe architect exploration in terms of colour, fit and shape. So double yay.
Now that the technical bit is over with; LOOK AT THE VIEW! Even though I live so close to the mountains, I haven’t been in years. It was so crisp, refreshing and festive and cozy and awesome. We spent two days with an awesome group of people (in a giant rental house) playing board games, hide and seek, hiking, and playing in the snow. We were lucky too, lots of sun and decently warm weather, perfect for snowballs and sliding on the ice. I’m already planning another trip back in a few months.
Of course, what kind of crafter would I be if, sitting in a chalet by a roaring fire in the midst of winter, I didn’t get any knitting done? I haven’t finished my sweater yet (why does it take so long?!) but I’ve been inspired and whipped up a quick knit while I was there. But more on that in a bit.