A Shiny Shift // Colette Laurel #2

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

We’ve had one heck of a beautiful spring this year. The snow has been long gone for weeks and there have been numerous picnic-worthy afternoons. So my bright idea was to make something heavy and dark! Ha. I’ve had this beautiful metallic fabric staring at me since November and it needed to be dealt with.

During the holidays, I was mildly obsessed with finding shiny, sparkly, metallic fabrics to suit the season and pretty much grabbed any that I saw. I wanted to make this dress around New Years, but with the whirlwind of holiday sewing, then making my dresses for my 60s shoot, it got a little delayed. I felt bad about leaving it behind until next holiday, so I quickly made it up before diving into more flowy, flowery things.

I bought the fabric because of it’s unique texture and metallic finish, but at first wasn’t sure what to do with it. Then at a local fashion event a friend wore this amazing metallic shift dress. What are friends for, if not to copy their cutest clothes? Since I had such success with my cat print Laurel, I knew this would be a great pattern to use and let the fabric shine (har har).

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

The fabric has a chunky knit-like appearance, which included open spacing. To avoid any wardrobe malfunctions it needed to be fully lined, except the sleeves. Luckily View A of the pattern was meant for sheer fabric and a lining, so there was zero guesswork putting it together. Colette recommends attaching the outer and lining pieces together first, and sewing the dress as though they are one. You don’t get the separate overlay effect, but you also don’t see the darts and seams through the sheer fabric (though you’d probably not notice with this fabric anyway). It saved a lot of time (and hassle trying to attach separate layers) and I am rarely picky about what the insides of my projects look like, so it’s likely I will use this method in the future.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

I didn’t want to line the dress in black because I felt like it made the dress too dark. I wanted to keep the warmer essence of the gold and hoped to line it with something in that tonal range. I didn’t have anything in my regular stash (that wasn’t super itchy or bulky) in the right colours, so instead used an old bed sheet from my muslin pile. I am trying to actively avoid buying more fabric when I already have so much, and what better way than to upcycle! The cotton was the right brown and already super soft. It was the perfect choice for this type of project.

I was lucky enough to find a gold zipper in the perfectly matching shade as the fabric, and knew a bold exposed zipper would be the perfect complement to the overall feel of this dress. I had to do a bit of mental math to make sure I accommodated for the width of the zipper since the pattern calls for an invisible zip (approx 0.3 mm on each side), but it went in super smoothly and it’s my favourite detail on this garment.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

Sizewise I cut a 4 in the waist and hips but made sure to grade down to a 0 at the bust to avoid the excess fabric problem I had last time. People have talked about the armscye being a bit small in this pattern, and while I noticed it a bit in the kitty dress, I didn’t make a note of it and definitely noticed it on this one. Most likely attributing it to the thicker fabric + the lining. You can see the fabric pulling from the arms around the neckline in some of the photos. It’s not uncomfortable, but noteworthy for future projects.

I also opted to just stitch down the bias finish on the neckline instead of hand-sewing it with an invisible stitch. It was more a choice made because of time (I want to make more springy thinnngggss) but seeing the images, I like that it gives an extra bit of dimension and moves the light on the fabric. I know some people like the clean finish, (and sometimes the fabric demands it), but for something like this I didn’t feel it affected the outcome.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

For these photos I was lucky enough to work with my friend Myles. After a beautiful and sunny past few weeks, our scheduled day turned out to be a chilly, gloomy, rainy day. I’d like to think it worked out in favour of the moodier, cooler weather design and fabric of the dress and that the cold weather was worth it. So yay for happenstance.

Even though mentally I felt like I grumbled through this project (like, why aren’t you a flirty warm weather garment, you silly thing?!) I am stoked on this dress. It’s gratifying to know it emerged complete from the seemingly endless queue of projects. In all likelihood, it won’t get worn much until next fall/winter when it seems to better suit the mood, but you never know when the right event might just come along.

Metallic Colette Laurel Dress // Boots and Cats

And speaking of spring things, whose gearing up for Me Made May?! I am definitely going to partake again this year, loving how much it reconnected me with my handmade wardrobe last year. This year though, I don’t think I will have the time to properly document my outfit daily.

Taking interesting photos every single day is exhausting and totally drained me creatively last time, so though I will be wearing a Me Made everyday, I will only really post when the inspiration strikes. I’m so looking forward to following along with everyone else, that’s the best part!

Kitty-ful Shift Dress // Colette Laurel

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

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.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & 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.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

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.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

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.

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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?!

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

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.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

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.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

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.