Even though I’ve made quite a few Seamwork patterns and the Cooper backpack twice, this is the first time I’ve actually sewn with a Colette apparel pattern! I made this Selene skirt all the way back in July, so the construction details are a little bit fuzzy, but I do remember that the instructions were great and I don’t think I encountered any difficulties.
The skirt is made from some lovely raw silk that my grandma gave me. I decided to use some of it for this project, but I knew it would be a bit too lightweight for a structured skirt like this, so I underlined it with Kona cotton. Underlining really made a huge difference – it made the silk feel much more substantial, and it also keeps it from wrinkling too badly! For the lining I used bemberg rayon.
This is definitely one of the best garments I’ve made in terms of finishing. Lining, underlining, lapped zipper, vent, hand-sewn hem… these all make the skirt feel very high-quality. This was my first time doing a lapped zipper, and I think it turned out pretty well! I like that Colette includes vintage-inspired techniques like that. The notched pockets are my favorite feature!
White’s hard to photograph, so unfortunately the construction details don’t show up too well! I lowered the highlights, so hopefully you can make them out okay.
The turtleneck I made toward the end of last winter. The fabric is a lightweight merino wool from The Fabric Store. I used Style Arc’s Alexi pattern and the fit is pretty good, although it’s a bit too big through the shoulders and bust. I also shortened the sleeves and the body by an inch or two.
I actually just made another Alexi turtleneck last weekend from Kaufman Laguna jersey, and the fit is much better and tighter, so I guess it just depends on your stretch percentage. The pattern says it’s “suitable for any stretch knit fabric”, so not a lot of guidance there. It is a great basic though!
I have about two yards of the raw silk left, so if you have any pattern suggestions that it would work well for I’d love to hear them! I think I’ll try dyeing it a darker color for whatever I use it for next.
I’ve been all about summer dresses lately. And when I saw the latest pattern from Seamwork Magazine, the Mesa shift dress, I just couldn’t resist bumping it to the top of my sewing queue. It’s super quick – you can get it cut out and sewn within two hours. And I just so happened to have the perfect bamboo jersey in my stash!
I made an XS, and while my waist measurement is in that column, my bust and hips are about 1.5″ smaller. Funnily enough, I thought the fit was good in the bust and hips, but I had to take it in at the waist. I had a lot of fabric pooling at the low back (a common occurrence with shift dresses I think), so I took in the side seams 3/4″ at the waist on both sides as kind of a quick and dirty fix. It solved the problem pretty well, although I feel like there must be a better way to do it. There’s no center back seam, so a normal swayback adjustment won’t work. Any thoughts?
That’s the only alteration I made to the pattern. The sleeve length and hem length are unchanged, and I’m 5’4″, for reference.
I used this striped bamboo rayon knit from fabric.com and I love it. After my Lady Skater and now this dress, bamboo is quickly becoming my favorite knit fabric. It’s a bit more expensive that normal rayon, but I’ve found that it holds up much better. It’s super soft and the perfect medium-weight thickness that is substantial enough not to cling to every lump and bump, but still light enough to wear for a summer dress. After some recent failures with flimsy lightweight rayon that pills if you look at it the wrong way, I think I may be a permanent bamboo convert.
One quibble I have with Seamwork/Colette is that I wish they would be a bit more economical with their PDF patterns. This pattern took 33 pages, and all the other ones I’ve printed have seemed to take about 10 too many pages as well. The main problem is that their tiles are much too small and leave a lot of wasted space on the page. The pattern piece layouts aren’t the best either. If you’re cutting one of the smaller sizes you can take a look through the PDF before you print and omit pages that only have bits of sizes you don’t need on them – I can usually save at least 5 pages that way.
The instructions are great though! And overall I’m definitely a fan both of this pattern and the magazine in general. It’s really fun opening my e-mail to find two new patterns on the first of every month!
This is the most comfortable dress ever – it seriously just feels like wearing a t-shirt. It’s the perfect easy outfit for hot and humid days. I’ll be wearing this dress a lot this summer, and I’ll definitely be making a couple more as well! With tights and boots, I think this pattern will also transition really well into fall.
Are you a Seamwork subscriber? A shift dress fan? Do you know where I can buy all the bamboo? Let me know!
Hey there! It’s been a while. I’ve been doing some re-decorating and re-organizing both in my sewing room and here on the web. Last weekend I switched my site over from Blogger to WordPress, and I’ve just about got it fixed up how I like it. Hopefully the rss feeds have switched over like they should and this post appeared in your blog reader. If it didn’t or if you notice any other glitches in the site please let me know! EDIT: This post didn’t appear in Bloglovin when I originally posted it two days ago, but it should be there now!
And now on to the backpack! This is the Cooper Bag by Colette Patterns. I first used this pattern over a year ago to make a backpack for my husband. He’s used it almost every day since and it was starting to look pretty rough. The side seams of the lining had blown out and one of the straps was starting to fall out at the top. It was time for some repairs and since I hate mending things I decided a good motivator would be to make myself a new backpack at the same time that I was fixing his! Note: I really like the idea of mending things and prolonging their usefulness. Those kinds of projects just always tend to sit on the backburner while I make something new and exciting – even if it’s the kind of thing that would only take me 10 minutes to fix.
I’ve been a fan of the Nani Iro “water window” design since I first spotted it at Miss Matatabi and when I saw this canvas version in person at Form & Fabric I knew it would be perfect for a backpack! The lining is also from Form & Fabric – a quilting cotton that I picked up for super cheap at their going-out-of-business sale.
The canvas isn’t terribly thick, so I used heavyweight interfacing on the body and flap pieces to give the bag a bit more structure.
It took me a really long time to cut out the pattern pieces just because there were so many options for pattern placement. I wanted to make sure I got a good mix of light and dark areas. I’m really happy with how it ended up looking. It was a happy coincidence that the printing on the selvedge was the exact width of the body strap – I think it’s a nice touch.
This is a pretty easy pattern to put together, unfortunately I made two stupid mistakes that prolonged my construction time. First I cut the slits for the magnetic snaps on the outside flap instead of the inside flap. Ugh. Luckily I had enough fabric left that I was able to cut out a new flap piece with the exact same pattern placement. I’d already put the straps on it, so I had to take my seam ripper to those and re-attach them to the new flap. Then I somehow managed to put the lining in inside out. Double ugh. Those time-consuming little mistakes are so frustrating.
Another mishap occurred before I even started sewing. For the first time ever USPS lost one of my packages. I’d ordered cotton webbing and magnetic snaps from this Etsy shop and though the tracking number said it had been delivered there was no package to be found. USPS was no help, but when I contacted the shop owner to let her know what had happened she surprised me by really going above and beyond to help me out. Even though it was no fault of hers she re-sent me my order for free and was so nice about the whole situation. The webbing and snaps ended up being really high quality as well, so I definitely recommend her shop if you’re looking for bag-making supplies!
The double loop sliders are kind of hard to find – I ordered mine from Buckle Guy where they’re reasonably priced and come in a few different finishes. I didn’t bother adding rivets to the flap.
After seeing where my husband’s backpack got the most wear and tear, I knew of a few improvements I wanted to make. The lining definitely needs some “action pleats” if you’re planning on carrying around heavy things like laptops and textbooks. For my husband’s new lining I used a heavy-duty ripstop and added side panels that are pleated at the top so the lining can still be sewn to the bag opening as usual. For my lining I just sewed the side seams at 1/4″ instead of 5/8″ and made mini pleats with the excess fabric at the top. I’m not planning on carrying a lot of heavy stuff so hopefully that’ll work well enough.
My husband’s old straps were made from self-fabric because I couldn’t find any webbing that matched. They were starting to come apart from the bag where they attached at the top, so I replaced them with cotton webbing straps – which he reports are much more comfortable. The instructions only call for one line of stitching where the straps meet the bag. Again, if you’re planning on carrying heavier things you’re going to want some extra reinforcement here. I fed the webbing in an extra inch or so and made a rectangle of stitching with an X through it where each strap attaches to the body of the bag.
I think it ended up looking really cool! And it’s going to be super useful for weekend trips and other traveling. Have you made a backpack or other travel gear? I may have to make the Portside Duffle next…
I’ve known about Colette Patterns since I first started sewing about 1 1/2 years ago. I’d considered buying some of their patterns before because I knew they were supposed to be both pretty and user-friendly, but there was never anything that I just had to have. Style-wise I’m more of a Deer & Doe girl.
However, I’m really excited about Walden, their new line of menswear and unisex patterns. When I saw the Cooper Backpack I knew my husband would love it. My first ever sewing project was making a backpack for him by sewing overall straps to an old ’50s boy scout bag. Said bag is in pretty bad shape after everyday use and a backpacking trip through Europe, so I thought a new backpack would be a great Christmas present!
The green canvas and webbing were repurposed from an old army duffel bag we acquired somewhere. The tan canvas and blue ripstop lining came from the fabric store. And the hardware came from Colette’s Gifts for Crafters store. Unfortunately one of the metal slides for the straps was the wrong size, but I was quickly sent a replacement when I alerted them to the problem.
I made self-fabric straps because I couldn’t find any webbing I liked locally and I didn’t want to wait for an online order. However, I really like the way the ended up looking, and I think I prefer the canvas straps to the webbing.
I’d definitely recommend this pattern. It comes with three variations – backpack, messenger bag, and pannier. The instructions are excellent and have tons of illustrations, plus there are photo tutorials online. There are 8(!) roomy pockets, which my husband loves.
I may have to make a version for myself sometime soon…