Floral Laurel

colette patterns floral laurel

The intro of this post was going to be different. It was going to be about how this is dress is not a timely make. It’s midsummer where I live and floral dresses—especially ones with sleeves—belong in early spring. It’d go on to talk about how I’ve struggled with managing my sewing queue and keeping up a good pace the past few months—why, I’m not sure yet. An active summer social life? Watching more movies and cooking more dinners and doing more YouTube yoga? Maybe.

But instead of delving into possibly existential topics, I’m going to talk about how I only just realized that Fabric.com shipped me the wrong fabric for this Colette Laurel dress. And I made the thing without even realizing it. I’ve never been the most observant person, but I don’t think I’m completely oblivious. (I hope.) Here, you be the judge:

kaffe fasset floral fabric

Months ago, after going back and forth about which Kaffe Fasset floral to buy, I finally settled on this one. What I got was this one. I mean, a floral’s a floral, right? They all look alike?! She says with a crazed look in her eye. Luckily, I really love the mistake fabric. Just like my parents love my little brother. (Just kidding, mom. We know you wanted three kids all along. Wink wink.)

Fabric-confusion aside, this dress was really fun to sew.

colette patterns laurel dress

The size 8 muslin I sewed was pretty roomy, so I sewed a straight 6 this time around. I could get the muslin on and off easily without unzipping it, so I decided to omit the zipper on this dress. I also ended up interlining the fashion fabric with cotton batiste to eliminate any transparency. This was my first time interlining, and it went relatively smoothly save for a little bit of fabric pooling in the front.

colette patterns floral laurel dress

Here’s the laundry list of changes I made to the pattern and during construction:

  • Slashed the pattern at the neck to fix a slightly gaping neckline using a Fashion Sewing Blog tutorial (Colleen G. Lea you are a goddess)
  • Lowered the bust darts by 1/2″
  • Lowered the back darts by 1″
  • Added 2″ at the lengthen/shorten lines
  • Widened the seam allowance a bit at the natural waist for more definition
  • Sewed a 1.5″ hem instead of 2″
  • Eliminated the back zipper
  • Sewed a keyhole back using a tutorial from the free Laurel extras PDF download

colette patterns floral laurel

The pattern calls for more hand sewing than I’m used to, with slipstitches to secure the bias tape at the sleeves and a catch-stitched hem. I’m slowly but surely coming around to appreciate hand stitching. It’ll be a slow burn, I’m sure. My favorite detail on the whole shebang is the keyhole back, which serves the dual purpose of looking cute and making it slightly easier to get in and out of the dress since I made it sans zipper. Form and function wins out!

I love my little mistake dress, but I know I should’ve gotten around to making it earlier. Has anyone else been sewing seasonally inappropriate stuff? Tell me all your dirty sewing secrets.

P.S. I’m still going to wear the hell out of this dress on summer days below 80º F. B-)

Floral Linen Shirtdress

handmade shirtdress

Living in Chicago, I’m all for changing with the seasons. In the spring and summer, that means walking everywhere, eating on patios, and drinking a lot less bourbon and lot more gin. It also means ditching boots and sweaters for—finally—all the skirts and dresses.

handmade floral linen shirtdress

But when I flipped through my closet recently, I realized that there’s a particularly large hole in my wardrobe in the form of shirtdresses. And I love me a good shirtdress, since all you need is a belt and a pair of sandals and you can go anywhere from work to a family party to a metal-blasting burger bar. (I speak from experience).

Salme Patterns 149 shirtdress pattern

Enter my first foray into sewing up a PDF pattern (also part of my summer sewing goal).  This one is Salme Pattern’s Buttonless Shirt Dress (#149), which calls for cotton, a cotton/poly blend, etc. Linen wasn’t a suggested fabric, but I couldn’t resist this abstract floral print. Plus, if there’s any fabric that begs to be worn on a hot, sticky summer day, it’s linen. Or mesh, but that ain’t happening. (Not for a shirtdress at least.)

handmade floral linen shirtdress

I took the better part of a weeknight to cut out the pattern, tape it together, cut out my size, and finally cut the fabric pieces. My next step was fusing interfacing to the collar pieces and the inner front, from the bottom of the slit to the neckline. After that I got to work sewing the whole thing up. Other than a few hitches here and there with fit, it was pretty straightforward. I’d definitely recommend this to a beginner/intermediate seamster.

back of the shirtdress

A few things I’ll keep in mind for next time:

  • The sizing runs large. Even if your measurements match a particular size, I’d suggest going down one. I’m usually a US 6/8 in dresses, and my measurements matched up to a US 10/UK 12. It was definitely too big, and I had to compensate by taking it in after I’d sewn the side seams.
  • The collar directions are a little confusing. My collar turned out slightly unfinished at the very edges, and I’m still not sure why. Next time I’ll do some more research about attaching standup collars, and hopefully I’ll have a more polished end product.
  • I have a long torso, so  I added about 1 inch to the pattern at the waist before cutting out the fabric. It didn’t seem entirely necessary, but I think it helps if you’re going to pair this with a belt (which I always do).
  • Since I added length at the waist, I figured that meant I should place the belt loops an inch lower. WRONG. For whatever reason, the PDF directions that place the belt loops at 7 7/8″ below the armhole are pretty spot on.
  • I opted for a brown leather/elastic belt, worn over the belt loops. The matching fabric belt works, too, but I like the edge of this darker color to balance the pretty floral.

handmade shirtdress on the rooftop

Luckily, Monday’s storm held off long enough to snap some photos from the top of my building. There’s nothing like an 80º day on the roof to drink in that ridiculous Chicago skyline. (Even with a few trees in the way).

Anywho, have any of you sewn a Salme Pattern before? I’d love some suggestions for great PDF patterns—leave a comment if you’ve found any gems!