Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mary's Pattern Fail: Colette Ginger

Readers, I'm heartbroken.

This week, finally finished with finals and deadlines, I dove into my stash of new patterns. For my first official garment of summer, I settled on one of Colette Patterns newest offerings: the Ginger skirt. The design is a simple A-line skirt with some waistband variations. At first I was reticent to shell out $16 on such an easy pattern, but the photos were so cute! The bias-cut striped version especially held divine shades of Kate Spade. Visions of lovely, summery skirts filled my mind and I gave into temptation. After all, my wardrobe is decidedly lacking in A-line skirts.

As it turns out, there's a reason for that. They look dreadful on me. Apparently when one has hips the size of small principalities, a skirt that's all angles just doesn't flatter. It's so unflattering, in fact, that I'm not even bothering to hem the thing and treat it as a laundry day skirt. I'm also not posting pictures of me in it for the internet to save in its infinite memory. The last thing I need is to be Googled by a cute Irish golfer, only to have that monstrosity show up. Suffice it to say: I looked like an ice-cream-cone-shaped twill-covered whale. The part of Mary the Blonde Sewist will today be played by a chair, instead.

(Apologies for the wrinkles. I just couldn't bring myself to iron this!)

The nitty gritty details are as follows:

I chose version 2, with the curved waistband, and made it up in a white cotton twill from JoAnn's. (I can't even tell you how thrilled I am that I didn't waste special fabric!) All in all, construction - without hemming - took about 2 hours. This is one quick pattern! Sarai from Colette Patterns specified that she designed both new patterns, Ginger and Violet, for beginners and it's obvious from the directions. Throughout the envelope, there are more helpful tips and definitions than usually found in Colette patterns. If the fit had worked out, this would have been a go-to pattern, just from the ease of construction itself.

Things I Changed:
  • Nothing! Unless you count not finishing the hem or the inner waistband, after the shock of trying the skirt on.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Everything! Well, everything fit-wise anyway. The major problem was that the skirt waistband hit me above my natural waist, which is not a good look for an hourglass shape. Visually, it rather merged my waist and hips area. Were I trying it again, I may go up a few sizes, so the skirt would sit closer to my hips than The Girls.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • Make a muslin! Or, my preferred option: use fabric you're not attached to for a wearable muslin.
  • When inserting the inner waistband, follow the directions implicitly. Sarai's not lying when she says the instructions are counter-intuitive, but you will be rewarded with a fantastic finish, I promise.
Fabric Used:
  • White cotton twill from JoAnn's, on sale for $5/yard.
This really is a great pattern, even if it didn't work for me. I actually highly recommend it, if only for the instructions on putting in an invisible zipper into a skirt with a waistband. Their technique is one I haven't run across, but that I'll be using from here on out. It makes a much cleaner finish that what I've been doing. Plus, if A-line is your thing, this skirt is lovely - easy to sew, great directions, and endless room for embellishment. Sunni, from A Fashionable Stitch, has already sewn up a delightful version and is hosting a sew-along for beginners using the pattern. I know I'll be looking at the sew-along Flickr group with envy, once people start posting pictures!

For now, I'm tempering my woes with chocolate and - of course - other patterns. Those summer skirts are still haunting me, but this time I'm trying a pattern with a more flattering shape for my body. Friends, what was your last pattern disaster? Did you have vintage dress go awry or a coat pattern that ended up being a sewist's worst nightmare?


  1. The last disaster that I had was when I cut a huge slash into my almost finished dress when opening the zipper with too much gusto. I have yet to even try to fix it. A few weeks ago I did have a vintage reprint Butterick halter dress that didn't turn out how I envisioned it. Luckily, the halter dress was only a muslin cut from a thrifted bed sheet.

    Don't let it get you down. I'm sure you'll make something fabulous next! :]

  2. Oh no! How dreadful. I had high hopes for this pattern as well. I even have a great white-on-white striped twill in my stash that I thought might be flattering cut in the chevron pattern. All the while, though, I had niggling concerns about the A-line shape of this skirt...the supposedly "all-flattering" style makes me look like Humpty Dumpty. I have an hourglass figure much like yours...I'm a size 10-12, with a pair of...shall we say...generous hips.

    I'm still tempted to try it, however. I'm still very much a beginner, having only a Liberty-print tissue box cover (!!!) and a pair of hideous pajama pants under my belt. Since I already have the fabric in my stash, it might at least serve as a good practice run for some more challenging garment I am planning to do next, especially since I am hoping that this will be the summer of the skirts! Fingers crossed...

  3. I feel your pain - I don't like a-line skirts either. They make me feel like a triangle, which isn't what I'm going for!

  4. I just started sewing and my most first (and only) attempt at a dress was a DISASTER! I had even bought nice fabric and had tried to skip the muslin step because I wanted to save money. :-( I'm reassured that even experienced sewers like yourself sometimes have issues with patterns and fit! My dress (an "easy" See&Sew B4957) made me look like a whale!

  5. Don't worry Mary! I didn't buy the Ginger for the same reason. I knew the high a- line wasn't going to suit me. I went for the Violet shirt instead!
    We all end up with things that we don't like. I've been sewing for like 6 years and I think i'm only just coming up with things I consistently like and wear.
    I'm having a sewalong with the market blouse if your interested. Whipping up a quick one for fast sewing gratification. I always find that comforting when I've had something go wrong.
    Keep your chin up! It will all be awesome in the end!

  6. Mary! That's so funny - I did a post last week where I talked a bit about the fallacy of the all-flattering A line! I even posted pics of me in some different skirt styles to illustrate. I'm still going to make up the colette to see what I think, but I really think it's a tricky style. My vote for most flattering? Pencil skirt. As long as it's tailored to the wearer's body shape it's perfect!

  7. Oh, I'm so sorry that it didn't work out! I've made many things only to realize afterwards "oh, that's why I don't wear full skirts/calf-length skirts/short shirts/etc." What a bummer!

  8. Oh Mary! I hate when that happens. I still have a horrible Sencha experiment in my closet hanging up in the hopes one day I'll figure it out, bt knowing I never will. If you'd like to visit my Sencha gone wrong it is on my blog. I still look at that thing and wish it had gone differently!

  9. Awww, sorry about your skirt. I am also not an a-line skirt person. For some reason, though, a-line dresses usually are ok. Pencil and gathered skirts tend to work best for me.

    Most of my disaster revolve around using the wrong type of fabric for a project or using fabric that is way too slippery and stretchy and then all my seams get messed up.

  10. I've learned that lesson myself. A line skirts are often touted by fashion mags as universally flattering, but it's simply not true. Think about it - an a line starts at the widest part of your body and then *keeps going out!* thus making those of us with hips look even bigger. I've found that a line tunics do the same thing. I stick to pencil skirts or flowy ones that can accentuate my shape. Empire waist is also a good one because it hits at the narrowest part of my body and skims over my baby belly and hips. Moral of the story, know which shapes flatter your figure before sewing. What about Colettes other skirt? I plan to do that the minute the baby weight is gone.

  11. It's particularly bad when the disaster comes from a fairly expensive pattern.

    I bought a copy of Cinnamon, hoping to make lots and lots of silky camisoles and night gowns, only to find out that the design makes my boobs look really droopy. I like my chest very much and could not believe how unflattering that design was (on me and on other people, it turns out). Fortunately I made a "muslin" out of some cheap lining and did not waste any of the actual silk. However, the experience has made me quite reluctant to buy another pattern from the company...

  12. Rebecca, oh no! I've over-zealously slashed a few buttonholes in my day, which was pretty traumatic, but a slash in a dress would be even worse. Ugh! I wouldn't be able to face fixing it yet either. And don't you hate when patterns don't turn out? Wearable muslins are definitely the way to go, I've *finally* learned. Bedsheets are a fabulous idea!

    Thanks for the reassurances!

    Ma Vie En Rose, don't you get so tired of hearing the A-line touted as "all-flattering?" I feel like us hourglass figures need to set the record straight!

    Maybe this pattern will work better for you, though! It is a seriously great pattern for a beginner - Colette has THE best instructions, hands down. It would be an ideal first skirt, despite my own fit issues with it. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you! :D

    StitchyWitch, I'm so glad not to be alone in the A-line dislike. A triangle is *exactly* what this made me feel like. So not a cute look!

  13. Dawn, oh no! Have a disastrous first project is the absolute WORST! The fit is probably the hardest part of sewing from patterns, I swear. My first dress went off what my measurements said on the back of the envelope, but it was definitely a size or two too big. It looked cute belted, but not on its own. So, basically...I totally sympathize! I'll keep my fingers crossed that your next project goes better!

    Stevie, you were so much smarter than I to nix the Ginger right off the bat. I also bought the Violet and just finished my first version last night - it's a fabulous pattern. I can't wait to see your version! And you can definitely count me in for your Market sew-a-long. I've been meaning to make a few more iterations of this shirt.

    Patty, I read your post literally RIGHT after I'd tried on this skirt. It was perfect timing! You're exactly right - it's a very tricky style, especially for anyone with hips. You know, I haven't made any pencil skirts yet, but your pictures have inspired me to try a few. They're so much more flattering than A-lines, no matter what the style gurus say!

  14. Carolyn, thanks for the reassurance. It's good to know I'm not alone in having some skirt failures! Before I was sewing, I would have sworn I knew what looked good my body, but I obviously missed some important lessons!

    Stacie, your Sencha Gone Wrong blog is exactly how I feel about the Ginger! Not going to lie, the Sencha isn't my favorite pattern ever either. I liked it when I sewed it up, but it's not the most flattering (or comfortable!) shirt in my wardrobe. I totally feel you pain on that one!

    Dixie, I've noticed the exact same thing about A-line skirts v. dresses. There's a Lisette dress I adore that's a very traditional A-line, but for skirts it's all wrong. Gathered and pencil skirts may be my safety pieces from now on, as well.

  15. Melanie, we really do see A-line skirts recommended everywhere! Next time I read one those articles, I may just roll my eyes and flip the page. You're exactly right - it's a totally counter-intuitive shape to wear, if you have curvy hips! As for the Beignet, I haven't actually tried it yet, but I have very high hopes for it. The pencil/straight shape has to be better than the A of the Ginger! If you make one up yourself, I would love to see picture of it! When I whip up my version this summer, I'll be sure to do a review!

    Gauss, you're exactly right. Were this a cheaper pattern, it wouldn't be so bad, but that $16 is just killing me! I've had really great experience with other Colette Patterns (Chantilly, Macaron, and Violet specifically), but I totally understand not trusting a pattern company after an unmitigated disaster. Were Ginger my first Colette pattern, I may not have tried the others at all.

  16. I hate flubs like that. I still have a dress in the closet that I made and looks so bad. One day I may alter it. Or just use the fabric for something else.

  17. Mwahahaha "googled by a cute Irish golfer"!! That is brilliant. Don't even get me started on how much I adore the Irish. They make me weak at the knees.

  18. Times like these I miss my mom, she could look at a pattern and say, Not on your body, or try this one and was always right. I had the perfect wedding gown thanks to her.

    Liza the Blogless