Sunday, April 10, 2011

Miss Posy's Literary Salon: Colette 1002

I love Colette Patterns. Was there ever any doubt? The Chantilly dress was an absolute delight to sew. It's exactly what I hoped for: a light, ethereal dress with super flattering lines.

The construction of this dress was, admittedly, a bit involved. The front bodice is gathered where is meets the waistband and the yoke, while the skirt is gathered all the way around. Such extensive gathering produces the kind of neurotic second guessing typically only seen in bomb-defusing movie scenes. Is this even? Is the back too poofy? One actually has to go through this twice, as the lining is a full replica of the dress, rather than a simpler draft. In the end, it's hard to even care about the extra hours spent on the Chantilly, because it's just so darn cute!

Part of the more-involved process of this dress was due to my own additions, namely overcasting the seams and using flexi-lace hem facing. Up until now, I've alternated between finishing seams with bias tape or - embarrassingly - pinking them. It's a sad side-effect of my sergerless state. However, a light bulb went off in my head, after reading Gertie's post on overcasting. I have an overcasting foot & stitch on my machine, so why wasn't I using them? I decided to fix that with the Chantilly. Even though I went through double the amount of thread as usual, it was worth it. My seams look amazing! I will never pink anything again. For that matter, I no longer get envious pangs passing sergers. Overcasting may not be quite the same, but it's a rather wonderful substitute. The other addition I made was the lace hem facing, which is one of my favorite methods of hemming a dress. Not only does it give an invisible hem, when the lace is catch-stitched to the dress, but it's a lovely detail, if you have a Marilyn moment.

As far as the pattern itself goes, it was a dream to sew up, no matter how long it took. Colette's instructions are one of my favorite aspects of their company - clear, concise, and exceedingly helpful. Every step was clear and easy, just needing a little patience to get it right. Oddly enough, however, despite the instructions being awesome, the diagrams were not. The instructions on joining front & back were at odds with the diagrams - the former insisted you leave the left side open for the invisible zipper, while the diagrams made it seem as if you left the right side. A bit confusing, but easy to get around. I live for a proper diagram, so I inserted my zipper on the right side and followed the diagrams. It worked out well, even if it is on the non-traditional side. I also enjoyed stretching my invisible zipper skills again - the Chantilly is another pattern with the invisible zip/pocket combination. It's a skill I'm quickly becoming an expert at!

In the end, it's the details that really make this dress. The fabric is a favorite of mine, a lovely floral shirting littered with blue petals, and was perfect for the delicate nature of the dress. With the curved yoke and shaped midriff, the Chantilly has visual interest to spare. This is definitely a dress which I'll be making again, especially as it only requires 3 yards of fabric. A cute dress with reasonable requirements? It doesn't get better than that!

Things I Changed:
  • Added flexi-lace hem facing in white.
  • Nothing else! Colette uses standard ready-to-wear sizing drafted for larger bust cups. Since my measurements line up precisely to their size guidelines, no alterations were needed for a sublime fit. I love when that happens!
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • I'm contemplating cutting out the skirt lining, the next time around, in order to cut bulk. I love this as a summer dress, but my theory in that season is the less layers, the better. Though the lining does allow the skirt to move beautifully, it's optional unless your fashion fabric is sheer.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • The invisible zipper/pocket construction, once again. This pattern is classified as "intermediate" and I think it's this step that really pushes it there. Luckily, the Colette guidelines are crystal clear. As long as you remember to sew the zipper to the long side of the pocket (something that seems elementary, but I've made that mistake before!), then you should be good.
  • Keeping the skirt front & back pieces is a little tricky. The skirt is a six-gore full skirt and the pieces are just slightly different sizes, enough to matter but not enough to be glaringly obvious. Once again, this is a pattern where over-marking your pieces really pays off.
  • Make sure your gathering is even, whatever you do! The bodice is especially dependent on the gathering staying even. If it's not even, the girls don't look even either. That's not a good look for anybody.
Fabric Used:
  • White & blue floral shirting from Gorgeous Fabrics.
  • Cotton blend batiste from - very lightweight, amazing lining fabric.
Outfit Details:
  • Shoes: Seychelles In With The New pump in navy. (Which I now realize you cannot see!)
Additional Pictures:
Review on Pattern Review


  1. To me, Colette Patterns are EVIL! Because, even if you still have 3 in your stash that you can sew, you still want to buy the other ones! Especially when you come across great examples of how great it can look on blogs!

    Your rendition is great. I love your fabric choice and it fits perfectly!

    And by the way, I have also just bought what is needed to hem "รก la Gertie"...

  2. Lovely! And thanks for the idea about the lace for the hem, I think I'll have to steal that one, and then just make sure I have some 'Marilyn Moments'...:)


  3. So cute! Too bad I've bought the Crepe, Rooibos and Macaron patterns and not the Chantilly...

  4. Gorgeous!! I love looking at Colette patterns but I am (ughmm) not so well endowed and I think I would end up having to make a bunch of adjustments to the garments...and sadly, I am just not that ambitious right now.

  5. Lovely Chantilly! This is one of my favourite patterns.

    I have several Colette patterns now and love them....they fit well, I do make a few adjustments on mine, usually shortening the waist on the dresses.

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  7. Your dress is gorgeous! I agree with you on full linings and summer dresses. :]

  8. Oh it came out super cute!! I am so behind in my sewing I am just hoping I get an Easter dress made for my daughter and I ~ I have a few patterns but haven't decided yet what to make ~You look lovely enjoy your new dress love Heather

  9. Hey there, I'm so glad I read your post! I'm gearing up to doing Chantilly, and love the ideas re overcasting (particularly as I'm trying to resit buying a serger too!)
    I'm using a soft cotton to make it in, and on your advice think I'll skip the skirt lining.
    Luckily I'll be doing this in sewing classes so my alterations for my less impressive bustline will hopefully involve some good learning points.
    Thanks again!