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


Dahlia: A Second Chance

Dear Dahlia,

Colette Patterns Dahlia Plaid

It was nearly the end for us. I didn’t think I could live with the imperfections. But after taking advice from people who know better than me, I was encouraged to give you a second chance. You were so close to being binned that I thought I had nothing to lose and might learn something from attempting to alter you.

Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid

When I first set eyes on that tantalising sneak preview email from Colette Patterns I knew I couldn’t live without you. The perfect (or so I thought) fabric was awaiting a perfect pattern. I may be shallow, but I was so easily seduced by your gathers, bound neckline and sleeves. The fact that you were a beginners’ level pattern was a bonus. Similarly, the fabric drew me in with its soft and comforting feel and autumnal palette. But in my haste I didn’t consider its structure or how it might behave. Things didn’t work out well the first time around.

Surgery to remove excess at the waistline having unpicked the internal waist yoke facing

Surgery to remove excess at the waistline

You’re definitely not going to win any beauty contests on the inside after my alterations, but I can live with that. You gave up nearly three inches on your waist without complaint. And two darts on the back neckline meant that no longer would my pants be visible when someone looks over my shoulder!

Dahlia back neckline with darts

Back neckline with added darts

I’ll admit that I had to undergo a bit of a mindshift to give you a second chance. Instead of seeing you for the misshapen rag you had become, I began to imagine that I’d found you in a vintage shop, where tender tweaks would bring you to life again. I would have been immediately drawn to your colours and texture, and wouldn’t have minded re-stitching your entire insides, even by hand, just to make you fit perfectly.

Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid

I can’t say that I take much pride in what we have yet. I’m too much of a perfectionist. But there’s something about you that made me want it to work out. I can’t promise you’ll be the only one, but the next Dahlia I attempt will be at least one size smaller, if not two, and in better quality fabric (and definitely not in plaid).

Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid

With love,

Rachel x

P.S. I used to think it was a bit strange being on first name terms with your clothes, but writing letters to them…I must have lost the plot.


Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid

Dahlia: The One That Got Away!

Zip not inserted, left side pinned

Zip not inserted, left side pinned

My projects start out 100% perfect, but that’s before they’re cut and sewn. It seems that every stage of the process moves the garment further and further away from perfection. From cutting to sewing and the final finishing touches, my dream of a perfect make deteriorates with the accumulation of human involvement. Most of the time the end result is wearable, even something to be proud of. This time, the project defeated me…Let’s just say, the jury’s still out as to whether it’s even worth finishing.

Plaid matching

Plaid matching

I will not be alone in falling hard and fast for the new Colette pattern: the Dahlia. Feeling optimistic, I followed Colette Pattern’s How to Match Plaids & Stripes tutorial and spent a good four hours, yes that’s four hours, cutting out the pieces. Deep down, I think I knew this Dahlia was doomed from the start. The brushed cotton plaid fabric was the perfect colour for a winter dress. In retrospect it would have made a perfect pair of pyjamas: soft, snuggly and yielding. Whilst being my dream colour combo, the fabric has a tendency to pull out of shape. Case in point: it took an awful lot of tugging to straighten it out after the pre-wash, and with plaids there are no shortcuts. So I shouldn’t have been particularly surprised when the bias-cut waist yoke appeared to have stretched out of shape. I decided to go back and add fusible interfacing to stiffen it up before I sewed down the lining yoke.

Major neckline gaping

Major neckline gaping

A similar effect had occurred on the neckline. Despite stay-stitching, the neckline had stretched out so that the binding gapes away from the body. Is it just me, or does stay-stitching itself stretch the fabric out? I do wonder if it’s better just to sort the neckline out for good at the earliest stage possible to avoid all problems. The only solution would be to remove the binding at the back and add neckline darts.


Whether the fabric has stretched beyond belief or I had cut a size too big is up for debate. I did cut a larger size than my last Colette pattern, the Laurel. I also graded out at the waist to be sure that it would fit after studying the size tables! The hastily prepared toile did not hint at the disaster to come. As I write, after the yoke lining has been stitched down, the only way I can take the fullness out of the waistline is to increase the seam allowance down the zip side. Would this result in the dress being noticeably off-centre?

More plaid-matching

More plaid-matching

So, the fit’s not great, the fabric pulls out of shape, and worst of all, the dress seems to be in a ‘Fatal Attraction’ relationship with my tights. I’m really unsure as to whether it’s worth the effort to salvage this, despite the super-human effort it took to get the plaid to line up. I think I will admit defeat and let this one go. It will be The One That Got Away. And it could have been so perfect….