Laurel by the Sea

I’ve been on a roll with Laurel by Colette Patterns, but I think I’ve come to the end of the run for now. It’s become a wardrobe staple: a simple shape, a quick and easy pattern and a perfect way to focus on the fabric.

 This fabric is a geometric print viscose from Spotlight. I only ever go in for a zip and usually come out with at least three different fabrics, plus patterns and notions. It makes for an expensive lunch break!  Looking at these pics, I’m glad I took my time over the pattern alignment. This is one print that would have looked dreadful had I not centred it. As with the tropical Viscose Laurel, I omitted the back zip and used bias binding to finish the neckline.

So here I am dazzling everyone with my Snow White complexion. Some people manage to look effortlessly golden on the beach. I just look hot and bothered!
Have you been reading Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow’s Better Pictures Project? I can’t be alone in not enjoying the photography sessions. I don’t think it’s the highlight of my husband’s week either! Yet I’m still compelled to record my handmade clothes. For this post I thought I’d take up Gillian’s October homework challenge to incorporate movement into photos.

So a small improvement I think. But with this scenery to look at, it was fairly easy to forget about being photographed. Gillian’s definitely inspired me to raise my game! #betterpicturesproject 


Laurel in the Highlands

Chances are, you come here for the sewing. You might even drop by to see what the ‘daft cow’s up to now’, wondering why on earth I choose to put photos of myself on the internet. Either way I thought it was high time I threw in a bit of scenery for good measure.
We’ve just come back from a lovely break in the Cameron Highlands, the land of tea and strawberry plantations. We managed high tea with scones, cream and jam; a roast dinner; and a drinks in front of an open fire in the local pub. It was the perfect opportunity to get some outfits photographed against a backdrop that didn’t include my balcony wall.

So here I am amidst the tea bushes in my latest Laurel by Colette Patterns. I’ve been on a roll with this pattern as it’s a really good fit for me, and the perfect vehicle for interesting and striking fabric. I’ve made five of these babies so far, and can’t imagine there won’t be more. It’s a feminine shape with a gently flared skirt, although it’s a bit crumpled here after a long drive.

I bought this gorgeous Japanese cotton from Malin Textiles in People’s Park, Singapore. I was very taken with the bright bauble colours on a dark background. The lady who sold it to me said that it was a ‘famous’ style print. Knowing nothing about Japanese textiles, I wondered if anyone could shed any light? I’ve photographed the selvedge below for any Japanese speakers. Any information would be gratefully received.

A Laurel for the Tropics

I’m almost always clad in dresses these days. With the daily temperature of 36 degrees celcius anything fussy or complicated feels too cumbersome. I’ve also found a few really lovely pieces of fabric on my travels so was thinking about a simple shape to show them off to their full. My first indie pattern was the Colette Laurel, blogged here in denim and here in Liberty lawn. It’s a really simple shift dress that fits pretty well out of the envelope.IMG_1217

So I thought that the Laurel would be the perfect way to use this fab tropical print viscose. As before, I took a few inches out of the side seams on the skirt to avoid the ‘grown-up wearing a children’s nightie’ look. The viscose drapes beautifully so I thought it was a shame to interrupt it with a zip. I tested my Laurel top and realised that the dress would slip over the head without any trouble. So I omitted the zip and used black bias tape to finish the neckilne. This dress makes me happy. It’s become a firm favourite as it packs easily, looks more statement than simple, and is just so comfortable to wear.

I’m getting my head turned by all of your delicious new makes but trying not to succumb! For the record I’ve mainly been: obsessing a little too much over the Closet Case Files Sallie jumpsuit; getting my pattern pieces ready for the Prima magazine culottes; and deciding between the BHL Anna and Zeena. Progress is extremely slow but I firmly believe that a hobby should be a pleasurable escape not another pressure. Well, I’m trying to convince myself of that! Either way, no new patterns until I source a new printer cartridge!

A Well-Loved Denim Laurel

I find myself drawn back to denim over and over. Is it something in my distant past, I wonder? Too much of my adolescence spent dreaming of Jon Bon Jovi? Either way, I think that you just can’t beat a classic shape in a classic fabric. I made this dress almost exactly a year ago, and at this time of year I find myself wearing it week-in, week-out. The Laurel by Colette Patterns was my first paper indie pattern and was a Christmas gift last year from my craft-loving sister-in-law. I fell in love with the luscious packaging and the detailed instructions, and decided to try my hand at a simple denim dress.

Denim LaurelI diligently traced the pattern,  cut out a muslin and stitched up my first version in a US size 8. I wasn’t entirely convinced that the shift dress style was flattering to the more curvy figure. I mean, it’s kind of synonymous with the 1960s, chic, slender, boyish look. Not something that really springs to mind when I think about defining my style. I decided to have a crack at a simple pattern modification and took a few inches from the side seams from hip to hem. I did the same on my later Laurel, and I wonder in both cases if this made the dress pull a little across the stomach. It works better on this denim version as I foolishly took rather too many inches off the hem when cutting out the pattern to conserve fabric for my Colette Beignet skirt. So I think the rather short length and perkiness of the denim helps this version to sit better than the Liberty Laurel. I made bias binding for the neckline and sleeves from a vintage-y ditsy blue floral cotton bought during my quilting years from a Walmart in Texas!

Denim LaurelNow I’m a bit more confident with trouble-shooting fit issues, I think I’d be tempted to lower the bust darts by an inch. Gosh, even writing that down shows how far my skills have improved in a year. There’s no doubt that the Laurel is a versatile number. I’ve tried out the shirt version, which I also love, and will no doubt return to this dress version when I find some perfect spring-weight printed cotton. Wait……! I think I’ve got just the thing… cerise floral African wax from my last trip to Goldhawk Rd….

Conquering Plaid: A Laurel Blouse

Colette Patterns Laurel in PlaidI admit it: I’m procrastinating! I am supposed to be busy tackling my terrifying party frock (deadline 12 Dec), but something about the Dahlia debacle has left me determined to create a garment in plaid that I’m happy with. I bought this fabric at the same time as the Dahlia plaid. It’s a close relative: brushed cotton, soft and cosy.

I was very taken with Rachel of House of Pinheiro’s recent Laurel in plaid. In a shameless act of plagiarism flattery I decided that this was the perfect pattern for a quick and satisfying make, and I was keen to revisit the alterations I made to the skirt of my last Laurel, which had resulted in it being too snug across the stomach.

On reflection, my wardrobe had become increasingly full of dresses but there’s a gap when it comes to off-duty tops to wear with jeans. So here’s the answer: a really simple blouse from the Colette Laurel pattern, cut as size 8 with no alterations. What better use for this lovely fabric! I love it! If it washes well, I think I might just have to treat myself to a dress version too!

Colette Patterns Lauren Plaid

Laurel in Liberty


Hola Stitchers! While I’m beavering away on my next make, I thought I’d catch up on a couple of makes from earlier in the year. May I introduce….. a Liberty print Laurel! This Colette pattern must be on every novice sewist’s list. It was on mine, and came in my Christmas stocking, courtesy of my fab sister-in-law, Lou. Regular readers might recall that this Liberty Tana Lawn in Mitzi has already made it’s blog debut in the form of a lovely Belcarra. I carefully conserved every shred of this gorgeous fabric, and managed to get a Laurel and a Belcarra out of 2 metres (with enough left over for rag dolly dresses).

Colette Laurel

Being a bit of a chicken with sharp scissors and expensive fabric, I first made a toile of my Laurel, and then a version in denim (to be blogged). I was pleased to find that it was a good fit with no alterations required, but wasn’t entirely happy with the flare of the shift dress. So I wielded my French Curve and narrowed the fit of the skirt slightly from the hips to the hem. I know the point of a shift dress is to have a loose fit, but the original toile make me feel like I was wearing an oversized girl’s nightgown.

Colette Laurel

One of the most useful aspects of writing a blog is having the opportunity to reflect on the garment in question and to have a good look at the photos. Let’s just say I’m less happy with it now. And I loved this dress pre-blog. I was really proud of it when I made it and continue to love the fabric, which I had lined with cotton voile. I am assuming that taking the width out of the dress has resulting in the fabric pulling a little across my stomach, enhancing it rather than flattering it! I’m not sure I like the straight lines of a shift dress, which I know are intended to skim over the waist. Perhaps leaving the extra fabric in might have resulted in a more flattering cut? Am I being too harsh? I guess I’m just learning more about my own body type and understanding how different silhouettes flatter and enhance. Perhaps I’ve met my match in Mlle Emery. She’s definitely a girl’s girl!