Monday, February 21, 2011

Miss Sadie is Sen(cha)sational: Colette 1007

Hello, lovelies! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. It was a glorious 75 and sunny all weekend here in Austin - the perfect weather to wear sunny yellow flowers. Conveniently, it was also the perfect weekend to sew up my Sencha blouse, the second piece for my Spring Palette Challenge.

I didn't do the best job getting pictures of it, so I may have to update in the next few days, but it's adorable. The fabric is a cotton shirting I bought from Gorgeous Fabrics last month and, as one would expect from the name, it really is gorgeous. Little coral, orange, and yellow flowers twine around the white background, making it the perfect fabric for the first few weeks of spring.

Even better than the fabric, if you can believe it, was sewing the pattern itself. Colette Patterns certainly live up to the hype. The instructions were simply worded and well-explained, the diagrams crystal clear, and the pattern pieces themselves well-designed. It's going to be so hard sewing from the Big 4 pattern companies, after this experience.

But let's get down to business, shall we? The nitty, gritty little details of how Sencha became Sadie. Luckily, this blouse was an absolute dream to construct, especially when compared to last week's Alma dress. I did waffle a bit about whether to do a few alterations, but decided to see how the straight size blouse fit first. That's actually my favorite aspect of Colette patterns - they're based on a D-cup bust size, so there's no reason to do an FBA, if you're more well-endowed.

As far as pattern pieces, there were blessedly few. Just the bodice front, two bodice back pieces, and the front and back facings. A scant six pieces of fabric compared to last week's twenty. It's no doubt a sign that I've sewn too many dresses, when my mind is relieved at the pattern inventory staying in the single digits. Even better for the girl in search of a quick and easy sew, there were only tucks to deal with - four on the neckline, four on the front waist, two on the back waist. I'd actually never done a tuck before, just darts and pleats, but they, like their brethren, are very easy to construct.

The only truly tricky part about the Sencha blouse is the back column of buttons. Honestly, however, that's not even terribly tricky. This was my first time sewing buttonholes, but marking them well ensured success. With the Sencha, marking the buttons initially actually does no good, since the wrong side of the fabric is hidden by the time you're ready to button-hole. So, keep the back bodice pieces handy and instead mark the back fold line well.

When it comes to the final product, I love my version of Sencha. It's just the sort of blouse I love - interesting construction details, lovely fabric, and made of gloriously comfortable cotton. Fit-wise, I do have a few picky things that didn't work so well on me. Mainly: the sleeves. They look absolutely adorable in other reviews, but they're a bit of an awkward length for me. The way they attach to the bodice on the inside makes them a bit constricting - I think they'd both be more comfortable and more flattering if they were a couple of inches longer and perhaps not sewn to the bodice. The only other part that bothered me were the neckline facings. In the back, they have a tendency to come up and look uneven. I will probably end up tacking them down to the button fold, since I can pull the blouse over my head anyway.

If you're also new to the Sencha, I've made a list of my tips and tricks learned along the way.

Things I Changed:
  • For once, absolutely nothing. With how simple this pattern is, it wouldn't be hard to make up a muslin if you are worried about fit issues, but I didn't see the need after reading other reviews. It helps that there was no FBA to worry about.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Lengthen the bodice by about an inch. When wearing the blouse today, I did find myself wishing it were a bit longer. When tucked in, it rides up a bit more than I'd like. When not tucked in, it makes my torso look a little short, which I was initially worried about, after seeing other reviewer pictures.
  • Lengthen the sleeves by two inches and don't attach them to the bodice. The sleeve shape looks excellent on other reviewers, but hits me in a weird place. I found it not only a bit unflattering, but constricting to movement, as well. Every time I raise my arms too high, the whole blouse follows, because of how the sleeves are constructed.
  • Tack the neckline facings down in the back. Actually, this is something I still plan to do. It's a common complaint with facings that they don't stay put and it's true in this case also. In the back, it seems to be especially bad, so tomorrow I'm going to tack them down to the button placket. The blouse is easy to slip over my head anyway, so it's an easy solution.
Tricky Steps and Suggestions:
  • Mark the buttonholes carefully. That's common sense, I know, but it's especially important in this case, because of easy it would be to have the back bodice end up misaligned. Like I said, the facings already make the back a bit hard to control, but the button placement really helps in keeping it tidy.
  • Attaching the sleeves to the bodice is a very counter-intuitive step and not something I've encountered on another pattern. Luckily, the diagram for this step is very well drawn and instructive. The only mistake I made (in the whole construction process, actually) was sewing the sleeves in a complete circle right before this step, instead of leaving the seam free. Since the sleeves do attach to the bodice, the seam needs to be free, in order to fold inward.


  1. Great job! Your fabric and buttons are too cute!
    I haven't made a Colette pattern yet, but I'm excited about hopefully not needing an FBA. :)

  2. This is your fabric choice!

  3. Hi Mary, I really love your blog and your style! I just finished a Sencha in silk polka dot but I really like your yellow floral one! I think next I will make one out of some yellow Liberty tana lawn! Thanks for the inspiration!