MBM - Colette Patterns Laurel in Tuscan Print

Want to know how to kickstart a flagging sewing mojo?  Simple. Enrol in a course of non-sewing study, that has a steady stream of assessments. Then watch how irresistible the pull of the sewing machine becomes. Eureka! Sewing mojo found!
This Tuscany dress project has been on the to-do list for quite a while, and uses both pattern and fabric that have been in the stash for even longer. Naturally, given I had two assessments due on the same day last week, I had to make this dress IMMEDIATELY.
The Tuscan border print cotton was purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics in 2009. I love Italian painted pottery, and this print reminds me of that.  
I made 02-2011-101 from Burdastyle in this fabric in pre-blog days. I only wore the dress once, enough time for me to realise I look ridiculous in a dirndl skirt. What was I thinking, seriously! I unpicked it, and scavenged the zip for this dress.
The Colette Patterns Laurel was purchased on its release in 2013. I muslined it at the time, but put aside for other projects that caught my attention.
There are three main pattern pieces, with bust darts in front, contour darts in back, invisible zip and bias binding at the neckline and sleeves: a simple project
I cut out a Size 8 bust, Size 10 waist and Size 12 hip according to my measurements. I then dropped the bust dart in front about 2cm, and made a full bust adjustment of about 1.5cm, my standard adjustment. I also added 15cm to bring it to my knee. The Laurel is short,and no one needs to see my knees.



I originally muslined this in a product called Trace and Toile which I got from Spotlight, which felt a bit like sew-in interfacing (for all I know it probably was sew-in interfacing) which had absolutely no drape. There was quite a bit of ease between bust and hip on the muslin, and the T and T made it stand out from my body in a very unattractive fashion. It was here I lost interest in the project originally.
But the border print Tuscan print had been looking for a home for ages, and the Laurel was the best option in the pattern stash. Despite my lukewarm reaction to the muslin, its simplicity was ideal for the border print.
Before cutting out the fashion fabric, I made one alteration to address a high, tight armhole. I slashed and spread all the pattern pieces by one centimetre. The neckline was also a tad high, so I dropped it at centre front by 1.5 centimetres, but probably could have done with more here.
Pattern placement took a bit of time.  I duplicated the front pattern so I ended up with a full pattern piece, and made another back piece so I could place the two back simultaneously. I’m pretty happy with what I have achieved, although I had to cut out one sleeve again, when I realised I really should have centred the large motif. I had plenty of fabric so that wasn’t a problem.
I underlined the front and back pieces with cotton batiste to deal with the slight transparency of the fabric. This is the first time I’ve underlined anything, and it was pretty straight forward. There are lots of ways to go about it, but I used the method outlined in Barbara Talbert Weiland’s  Sewing Answer Book (as an aside this little sewing book is one of the best sewing references. It is only small, but is comprehensive. It also fits into the sewing cabinet trays, so I don’t need to leave the sewing machine when I need to remind myself how to go about a technique mid-sewing session) . After cutting out both fabric and underlining, I glue basted the two pieces together at the vertical seams and the shoulder seam (didn’t bother with the neckline and armhole), using No More Pins glue. I love that stuff. Then I machine-basted the through the centre of the darts, and I was away.
With only three pattern pieces, this is a simple sew, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t time consuming. I sewed the scavenged zip in first, then after sewing the shoulder seams, I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with how much to take in the side seams. It ended up being quite a bit.  I reckon I could have cut a straight size 8, because I ended up taking in about 2 inches from the waist, and 4 inches from the hip down. So there is quite a lot of ease there, up there with the best the Big 4 have to offer.
Then, unfortunately, taking the dress in so much made it a bit cumbersome to put on/take off the dress, as the scavenged zip wasn’t quite long enough. It would be a deal breaker if I didn’t fix this, so I had to unpick the zip and back seam and start again with a longer zip. I’m glad I did.
Not being much of a dress wearer until I started sewing for myself, this is the first shift dress I’ve had in my wardrobe since the shift dress we wore for sport in Year 7. True. I feel quite comfy in this dress, so I’m confident there will be more.
I still have a bit of sewing to do on this: the hook and eye above the zip. Sewing hooks and eyes always makes my own eyes roll back in my head. I think it’s because they feel so impossibly tiny in my impossibly large hands. I just feel clumsy when I sew them, and I always do a dodgy job, no matter how hard I try. Sigh.
What about you? Do you have a sewing task you love to hate?


Comments

  1. Lovely dress. Hooks and eyes are my kryptonite too. I can never seem to get them in place or work a needle around them. Perhaps it is a big-handed-person problem!

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    1. Yes! getting them to stay in place while you maneuvre the needle and thread is close to impossible. Even writing about it is irritating me :)

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    2. Not an issue for me. I have small hands. Would a drop of white school glue (it washes out) help?

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    3. Yes I've been think a bit of the No More Pins stuff might do the trick, so long as I dont use too much and gum up the holes

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  2. Gorgeous dress Paola. This is the perfect pattern to showcase that beautiful fabric. I can so relate to how you feel about sewing hooks and eyes. I have the exact same issues and I tend to not add them if I can get away with it.

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    1. I try to avoid them too - but on this one, I think I'll at least have to give it a go.

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  3. Very pretty dress and you certainly put a lot of work into it to get the fit you wanted and how to showcase this amazing fabric. Hems is my love to hate, so much fun I the rest of the construction and then the hem, so careful sewing when the garment looks finished.

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    1. Hems..I have to admit that I always try and go for a machine option here, whether it is using the narrow hem foot, blind hem foot, or just a turn and stitch. This one though, has a hand sewn hem. Not my favourite thing to do, but not so bad if I have something interesting to watch - currently watching Season 7 Part 1 of Mad Men on DVD.

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  4. Looks great Paola, thanks for sharing :)

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  5. Firstly your dress is beautiful - worth all the effort and you have the matched the pattern/ fabric well. Weirdly I am meant to be preparing for an educational presentation in a couple of weeks but here I am procrastinating reading blogs. I am sorry if I missed/ can't remember but what are you studying?

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    1. I'm in good company in the procrastination stakes! My degrees are in education, but my current employer in the disability sector insists everyone have at least a cerificate in disability services, so I am doing that. Nothing too onerous!

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    2. Well it's always good to exercise one's brain no matter what.

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  6. Fabulous dress. I'm sure making it will make your assignments go so much smoother! I hate hooks and eyes too.

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    1. Well, I got those assessments in on time, so yes, the sewing definitely helped!

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  7. Great dress - it looks like it fits well and the fabric is gorgeous! I avoid hooks and eyes too, where possible - my other pet peeve is buttonholes. I don't know why, my machine does a really nice job of them and they're not hard to do, I just have a mental block about them. Lol, good old procrastination - nothing like an imminent deadline to focus the mind ... On something else! Glad you've recovered your sewjo, still looking for mine :)

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    1. Yes, I can understand how buttonholes could make you baulk. I always have issues placing buttonholes too close to the front edge. Haven't cracked perfect placement yet!

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  8. I love this dress, it looks fantastic on you. I particularly like the stripe placement on the sleeves. I've made a sleeveless laurel, but this makes me really keen to try one with sleeves.

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    1. That's funny because I've been thinking of a sleeveless Laurel !

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  9. Hello Paola,
    You always get such a nice fit on your makes! Which FBA method do you use?
    Cheers, Sarah

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    1. Thanks Sarah - I use the "pop" technique Sandra Betzina outlines in her book "Fast Fit" to make FBAs. What I like about this technique is that you don't end up with darts in dartless tops. I also use this technique on darted bodices, so I don't really use conventional techniques to make FBAs at all.
      Thanks for commenting!

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    2. Oh, I've just borrowed that book from the library! I thought that technique looked useful, but being a new sewer I was hesitant to try it out - you have encouraged me to give it a go :-)

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