Today I've got a make to share with you which I briefly mentioned in my round up of Me-Made-May. I finished this project at the start of the final week and it's such a success that I wore it twice before the end of the month and it's been on at least once again since then!
It's the blouse variation of Colette's Laurel shift pattern which my wonderful Dad treated me to for Christmas last year. I nudged him in that direction as I loved the style of it despite the reservations I had about how it might work on me as I've tried on many an unflattering shift dress in the past. However, despite the lack of waist darts I don't at all feel like I'm wearing a sack and I am absolutely delighted with the result!
The only other Colette pattern I have made up for myself is their free Sorbetto Blouse which I had some real fit issues with. For this make I cut the size 2 and overall was pretty delighted with it straight out of the envelope. It's very slightly tight above the bust when I move about so I might adjust this on my next version but apart from that it's a real winner and has definitely made me want to try out some more Colette patterns. The only other thing I have to say about the fit is that I feel this is a perfect length on me at 5ft3" so if you are taller I would consider whether you need to lengthen the bodice and/or sleeves.
I love the chic figure skimming fit of the blouse, which is largely created by a pair of double ended darts in the back. It was my first time sewing this type of dart but it was very straightforward, not much different to a normal one! I think this is a great pattern for a beginner seamstress as it's not too involved and includes a couple of different techniques like these darts and the bias tape finishings which are well explained and illustrated in the instructions.
The only change I made in terms of construction was the finishing of the neckline. The instructions call for you to use bias tape on the edges which worked perfectly on the cuffs (I did cheat and machine stitch it down rather than slipstitch by hand as it barely shows on the dark crepe). However when it came to the lovely shape of that neckline I could not get the bias tape to sit nice and flat for the life of me. I think to finish it that way I would have needed very narrow bias tape and I was unsure about how neat I would be able to make it. I know opinions about facings vary quite widely but I personally love them so I decided to unpick my binding and draft my own for Laurel. This is very easy to do and Colette actually have a fab tutorial on it here (using another of their patterns to show it but it's exactly the same thing!).
This worked out so much better than the binding but despite clipping seam allowances and under stitching (which also stops the facing flipping out to the right side) still the neckline was not quite flat! I felt with this style of neckline and shape of top this was really important so just bit the bullet and topstitched it very close to the edge. You can actually hardly see the stitching and it 100% solved the problem so I'm happy with that solution. I think it would have been less of an issue in a fabric which doesn't have as much body.
All of the seams and the edge of the facing I finished on the overlocker which worked fantastically with the weight of the fabric; I'm super proud of my professional looking insides!
It's exactly the kind of garment that I need to be making as it's something I will get a huge amount of wear out of: I feel comfortable yet pulled together in it whether it's paired with jeans for work or with a pencil skirt for dinner/drinks. I'm really looking forward to making up one of the dress variations too so expect to see a lot of this little pattern around here!