Colette Myrna

Oh Colette. Their patterns are often so cute and just my style, but their fit issues have become legendary in the sewing community. Like many sewers I followed along with Rue-gate and the reorganizing and rebranding that followed. I’ve really liked all 4 patterns Colette has released since the Rue failure, but the samples have been pretty awful. Why don’t they make samples to fit the models? I just don’t get it. It makes it so hard to know if the patterns just don’t fit the models or if the drafting is terrible. Maybe both?

Anyways, I’ve been avoiding Colette patterns because like many others I was a little worried the quality was poor. It’s a real shame because with their increased size range Colette should be a go-to brand for curvy sewers and it’s just…not.


But then Colette released the Myrna dress and I loved it. I loved it so much I was willing to take a chance on Colette again and see if I could get the pattern to work for me. It has a few features that make this an easier pattern to fit.

First off, it features a cut on sleeve. This makes is way easier to fit through the shoulder. I have narrow shoulders and often have a hell of a time getting that part of a pattern to fit, but with this type of sleeve it was less of an issue. I will say the shoulders are pretty straight across on this dress. That works in my favor as I have a pretty flat shoulder line. I also found the sleeve opening to be generous so that I didn’t need to enlarge it. I have 14.5 inch biceps and almost always need to do a full bicep adjustment. Also the bust gathering is generous, so even though I wear a F cup bra I didn’t need to do a full bust adjustment.

However I won’t say the dress was perfect for me as is. I encountered one big issue that is apparent right in the pattern photos, the bodice is too damn long. And because I have a full bust that’s not so perky anymore, I chose not to alter the pattern at the lengthen shorten lines. Instead I took the extra height from the midriff piece in the front, 1 1/2 inches total. I was able to decide how much height to take out by measuring my sloper and comparing the length to the Mryna pattern pieces.

Ultimately the length adjustment was the only thing I changed for this version. I went by the chart and blended sizes as needed for my measurements, 14 for the bust and 16 for the waist and hips.


The dress was super easy to construct and I love the finished dress, but the fit is still not great. The whole bodice is too long still and too big. I put in a side zipper as instructed, but I can throw this dress on without even needing the zipper. I’d guess I could go down a whole size in the bust and waist and take out more length. I’ve been slowing losing a little weight, but not that much! I picked the sizes that correspond to my current measurements and yet…too big.

However I wore this dress to work last week and it still got favorable comments. It’s not a total loss. The fabric is big and bold. I picked it up on a destash from Mary of Idle Fancy fame and the colors are super fun. Plus the pattern was busy enough that I didn’t need to worry about pattern matching. I just tried to avoid getting a obvious spot right on my bust apex. I see I only kind of succeeded. Whoops!

Will I make another Myrna? Yep. I probably will. I think if I go down a size and take out a touch more length this could be a really solid pattern for me. Light and cool for summer, but totally work appropriate. Will I tackle more Colette patterns? Of that I’m not sure. I think I’m still unlikely to try anything with a set in sleeve, but I would be open to using sleeveless or cut on sleeve patterns in the future.


Dartmouth and Fantail Revisited

It rained! There was actual water falling from the sky! I didn’t think it would happen this year and started sewing up some spring clothes, but then dang. Mother Nature is showing me who is boss. Ha! I’d planned to share my thoughts on the Colette Myrna today, but I like to wear my makes before I review them and the weather suddenly stopped cooperating. Hopefully I’ll get be able to test it out soon!

Instead today I’m revisiting a couple patterns I’ve made before, Cashmerette’s Dartmouth Top and Scroop’s Fantail Skirt.


I’ll start with the Fantail Skirt. It is easily my favorite skirt pattern. Both of the skirts I’ve made are in constant rotation! This new version is made in black wool twill purchased from Renaissance Fabrics last fall. It looks like it is no longer in stock, but sometimes they are able to restock popular fabrics. This is a size 42 waist blended to a 44 hip and it went together so smoothly. Since my serger is now set up all the time, I went ahead and serged the seams before sewing the skirt together. It makes it so much easier to wash without all the seams unraveling as often happens with this type of weave. There is only one thing I dislike, the interfacing I used. I went with some left over Pellon I found in my interfacing drawer and I much prefer using silk organza instead. Oh well! I’ll try to remember for next time.


And the Dartmouth Top? It is not my favorite. I feel like I gave it a fair shot. I’ve made 1 short sleeve, 2 long sleeve, and 1 dress. They are all just fine and totally wearable tops, but they just aren’t what I pull out when I want to feel good.

Back when I first reviewed the pattern, Jenny recommended using a lighter fabric and so this fall I went in search of some good choices. I settled on some solid green rayon blend jersey and this sort of brick colored modal blend jersey from Harts Fabrics. Both fabrics were easy to sew up, but neither shirt looks like I’d hoped. It looks okay in the photos, but they seem pretty big in person.


Could be because I’ve lost a few pounds since I first made this pattern. I made a size 14G/16/18, but it looks like I’ve lost just enough weight to need a smaller size. When I made my (awesome favorite) wrap dresses I used a size 12G/14 for the top and that fits a lot better. But aside from the sizing changes I think I will still skip Dartmouth as a top. I really prefer to wear my tops tucked in and having 4 layers of hemmed jersey on my hips is not helpful. Oh well! The pattern is well worth keeping to make more mock wrap front dresses.

Kismet Cowl

My knitting mojo seems to have come back just in time for a warm and dry Southern California winter. My sweaters have been largely sitting unloved and my new umbrella hasn’t been used a single time. Woe! Since October we’ve only had 22 day with a high under 70F and not a single day with a high below 60F. But the biggest challenge has been the lack of rain, only 2 rain days so far and none appearing in the forecast. I like living in a warm and dry climate, but this is a little extreme even for me!

However I’m really enjoying knitting again and I hate to waste motivation. So this year I’ve been mostly making smaller projects like shawls and cowls. I’ve never been an accessory knitter, but only a few weeks into 2018 I’v already finished one shawl, one cowl, and have cast on second shawl. These little bits of warmth have been perfect for those slightly cool mornings when I just want a little something to keep my neck and chest covered while I escort my kids to school.


I’ve named this project the Kismet Cowl mostly because the combination of yarn and pattern seemed meant to be. I bought a mini skein set from Wonderland Dyeworks at Stitches West in 2015 and then I didn’t know what to do with it.


As you can see the set was made of 3 solid colors and one variegated skein. Each mini skein is about 195 yards. There was quite a bit of yardage, but in odd amounts for a lot of shawl patterns. Plus I didn’t know how to incorporate the variegated skein. I suppose I could have used it to stripe a sweater, but the yarn kept saying it wanted to be a shawl. Hopefully it is feeling okay about its fate as a cowl.


When Mary from Lyrical Knits mentioned she was hosting a MKAL (Mystery Knit-a-Long) for a cowl with 4 colors my ears perked up. Then she showed her color choices and she had picked 3 solids and one variegated skein. I was sold. At last I’d found something for my much loved but neglected mini skein set!!!


The construction was interesting. The pattern was written with 3 parts, two were essentially triangle shawls and the middle piece was a sort of a parallelogram shape where you don’t increase or decrease yet maintain the slanted shaping of the first triangle. The clues started coming out right before my trip visiting a friend in Portland making this cowl a perfect travel knitting project. It’s also been a perfect purse project to keep on hand for church, lunch breaks, and general downtime in my days. I’m actually sad to have finished it!


This cowl also maybe gained me some cool points with my coworkers. I was as a going away party and someone asked me what I knit. I was able to pull out this nearly completed cowl and boom! The combination of fingering weight yarn, even stitches, and color combination was a serious win. I’m thrilled to add it to my collection of accessories to help me along through this drought winter.

I finally got around to photographing several sewing projects so next week is back to sewing. Probably with my newest project, The Colette Myrna.

Silverleaf Shawl

Finally all caught up on 2017 projects with this one last thing, a shawl.


This shawl is so full of love for me.

Every year a huge percentage of my knitting friends make the pilgrimage to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival aka Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck is the biggest fiber event in the US, but since it is in New York I’ve never been able to attend. I can’t lie, I am super jealous of those that live close enough to attend annually. The topic of Rhinebeck is brought up in forums all year round, so great is its impact on attendees.

Last fall when the festival came around again I kept myself busy with the event I host each year…Whinebeck. Sob. Sad is the life of those who cannot attend Rhinebeck as we scroll though our Instagram feeds watching our friend spend time together frolicking in the crisp autumn air.


And then in late October I received a surprise in the mail. It contained a single skein of Duck Duck Wool Merino Silk yarn in the color Cover Up. Oh my stars, I thought it might burst from happiness. My friend Stacey conspired with my local friend Erica to purchase a little something from Rhinebeck. I understand many opinions were given in making sure just the right shade was selected and they picked the perfect color.

I immediately started looking for pattern that would be a good fit to both the fiber content and yardage. I settled on Silverleaf by Lisa Hannes. It is a simple pattern that alternates garter stitch with eyelet ridges, then towards the end a lovely section of leaves. After the lace I continued the garter/eyelet combination until I didn’t have enough yarn to complete another repeat.


The finished shawl is a slip of a thing, long and thin in shape, but it is perfect to cover my chest on cool mornings. Plus it makes me feel loved by my knitting friends. It was the perfect project to finish out the year.

I have a couple sewing projects to share soon, but I’ve also finished a lot of knitting recently, so consider yourself warned. More knitting ahead!

Wrap Dress Duo

I have a love/hate relationship with Art Gallery knit fabrics. I really love some of the prints. In the world of quilting cotton companies AGF has done a pretty good job at producing apparel fabrics and designs that are great for adults that don’t have weird repeats and are nice and crisp. So many companies seem to focus heavily on baby or childish prints, so I applaud AGF for their taste. The jersey knit is also easy to work with and feels wonderful to wear, BUT all designs are printed on white fabric. What’s the problem with printing on white fabric? Well the problem comes when you wash your garment and the white fuzz from the wrong side of your dress lands all over your dark clothes.

However, sometimes a fabric design is so pretty I buy it even though I know I probably shouldn’t.


I first saw this plum floral at Michael Levine’s months and months ago. Maybe last summer? I almost bought yardage back then, but I refrained when I saw it was printed on white. Then as the months passed by I kept thinking about this design. Of course by late fall it had disappeared from the shelves of Michael Levine’s and I had to go seek it out! Thankfully I found yardage available at Harts Fabric (and on sale too)!


I’ve been in desperate need of new winter clothing. A lot of my old favorites look really old from weekly wear and washing, so it was definitely time to spruce up my clothing options. I used my pretty new fabric to whip up a hybrid dress that would be suitable for the office. This is a combination of the Cashmerette Dartmouth Top with a half circle skirt.


I’ve come to really love wrap dresses and this mock wrap was really simple and extremely wearable. I find the neckline on the Dartmouth to be reasonably modest for work, no flashing of my bra (yay!). Though I do think it runs large, I’ve made 4 Dartmouth tops prior to this dress and they all had something odd in the sizing. This version is a 12G/H for the bust and a 14 for the waist. When I compared the pattern pieces to my much loved Washington Dress bodice I saw the Dartmouth has more ease.

I think I mostly avoided the dreaded boob flower with the print placement, but I am a little sad the print isn’t more balanced on the front. I had 3 yards which was just barely enough if I wanted long sleeves. I also tried to make sure I didn’t have a big flower right over my um…feminine area, though I did end up with a butt flower. I think it isn’t too noticeable unless you go looking for it.

My biggest issue now is not owning a sweater that matches. Too bad knitting is slower than sewing!

And even though I get a little annoyed with how AGF fabric washes up, it is super easy to sew! When I purchased the plum floral I also tossed in this small scale floral on dark green so I could truly test out both fabric and pattern.


The green dress is made just the exact same way as the plum dress. I even remembered to sew the wrap to disguise the fact that my breasts are two different sizes. I think the prints are different enough that more people wouldn’t notice that style is the same.


Oh and both dresses were made with my long neglected serger. When I cleaned the house over the holidays I made a decision to put my serger next to my sewing machine on the kitchen table. It looks ridiculous having so much sewing machine taking up half the space, but it’s been working well. It is so much easier to just move back and forth as needed and the serged seams look so great. One of my friend declared my clothes looked professionally made!


While the color might not look perfect for long, I am thrilled to have two new dresses to keep my warm on chilly mornings and looking chic in the office.


Mourning Dress

One of my biggest projects of 2017 was tackling a mourning outfit. Every year Heritage Square holds an event that explores Victorian mourning customs including a mock funeral procession. I really needed something I could wear to the event each year, however I’m never actually in the mock funeral. I prefer a station in one of the other areas of the museum, especially since I bring my older daughter along. So as I was researching mourning wear I had a generous time frame to pull from (1870-1920). I also wasn’t restricted to the deep mourning of the recently deceased. It was freeing and yet felt pretty overwhelming.

Since I knew I’d be tackling this project for the fall I kept a look out for fabrics and hoped that eventually the right thing would come along and help narrow down my choices. Luckily I was able to get some black cotton lace yardage in a destash for a reasonable price. Shortly afterwards I found lavender cotton sateen (no longer available) at Renaissance Fabrics and the two paired together so nicely. A half mourning dress would be perfect for our annual event!


I spent a whole lot of time looking at pictures of extant gowns to see if anything had used black lace and lavender. I found…not many options. Information about mourning clothes seems to be a little harder to find in the Edwardian-1920s period. I probably could (and should) have done more research, but I needed to get sewing. So I found a pattern that was very similar to the gowns I liked from 1910-1912 and ran with my vision.


I think I did pretty well. The wrap front bodice with guimpe underneath is completely period appropriate. So was the lace overlay on the skirt and a belt (with bonus heirloom buckle from my MIL!). Not an exact match to my examples, but the basic elements are the same. The one detail that might have been nice to include is the contrast trim at the neckline, but I got a little fatigued during the process. The cotton sateen also turned out a little thicker than I remembered and so I started cutting elements to decrease the bulk.


For such a time consuming project I don’t really remember many of the details. October was kind of a whirlwind between making this dress and planning my younger daughter’s 3rd birthday party.

I decided not to line the dress because the sateen was pretty bulky. The front neck edge has a bias binding hand sewn on. The pattern (Butterick 6093) called for a side zipper and I swapped that for hook and eye. I thought about having the lace overlap in the front, but now I can’t remember why I decided against it. Maybe not enough lace fabric? Lazy? Too tired? Maybe all of the above. Butterick patterns fit me decently well so the fitting process was not too bad. I compared the shoulders to my recently completed Jennifer Lauren Laneway dress and otherwise blended sizes. I’m getting better and faster at mock ups so the process moves a little more quickly. I need to trust my gut instinct more frequently.

The guimpe was made with Wearing History’s Edwardian Era pattern. I bought it because it was one of the only patterns I could find for a guimpe and I didn’t have the brain power to figure it out for myself. I could have drafted my own and it probably would have fit better, but I was balancing too many things in my life.

Because nothing could go smoothly, the original fabric I ordered for the guimpe ended up sold out. The seller more than made up for the inconvenience, but I had hoped for something slightly more transparent. This is black wool gauze. One thing I totally didn’t see coming was how badly the gauze would combine with the underside of the sateen. The fabrics LOVE each other. So now every time I wear this ensemble I have to have my husband yank my under sleeves for me. Whoops! Thankfully once they’ve been pulled down everything fits nicely and stays put.


And then after wearing my new dress to the museum, it got a second life as my Halloween costume. For my daughter birthday I dressed as a witch and my adorable mom dressed as a gnome. Getting to wear the dress two days in a row was fun, and adding a witch hat was super simple. I purchased one from a halloween store and covered it with lace scraps from the dress. Whew! Thank goodness I didn’t need to make a mourning dress and a costume for the same weekend!

How’s everyone settling into 2018? I’m really trying to keep a positive attitude and in a couple weeks I’m going to follow along with the Orange Theory Fitness Transformation Challenge. I’m not officially signing up because I cannot physically make it to 3 classes a week, but will aim to work out 3 days a week and to OTF 1-2 a week. I’ve been attending classes for 6 month now and have made a ton of progress on my fitness. Plus the 8 week challenge sounds fun to way to kick a few bad habits.


Christmas 2017

All year I was looking forward to making the girls their Christmas dresses. Lu will be turning 6 this coming spring and she’s getting more and more into big girl clothes. She still loves dresses, but not with the same intensity as her younger years. I felt like time was running out to make pinafore dresses and this Christmas was the perfect opportunity! It was a dream project for me. They were so so so darling.


Oh my stars! Such cuteness from my silly girls. Thankfully they both just loved their Christmas dresses. Whew!

The under dresses and pinafores were both drafted from the same pattern in Liesl Gisbon’s Building Block Dress book. The book comes with a pattern for a basic dress and the chapters are instructions on how to use that basic pattern to produce tons of different styles. It goes all the was from 6 month size to a child size 12 and I can tell I’m going to get a lot of use out of the book.

For this first try I used the basic dress which has a bodice, collar, long or short sleeves, and an a-line skirt. Charlie’s is a size 18-24 months with 2T length and Lu’s is a 3T lengthened to 5 in the bodice and 6 in the skirt. Both fit pretty well right away, but could have used a smidge more sleeve length. However I also added an elastic casing to the sleeves, so perhaps the length would have been fine with a plain hem.

I tried looking for more Christmas-y fabric online, but I never did find something that seemed right. So I went stash diving and found a remnant of the blue floral and a 4 yard cut of the green floral. It would have been nice to use the same fabric for both, but the scale of the green floral was too big for Charlie’s tiny bodice piece and I didn’t have enough of the blue for both. Oh well, similar is close enough for me! Lu wasn’t super thrilled with a dark green dress, but I sold her on the little pink and red flowers in the print.

I originally bought both prints to make myself dresses. It is from the Floratopia collection from Elizabeth Olwen for Cloud 9. I did make a dress from the blue floral, but I hated the dress and got rid of it. Now with the girl’s dresses complete I think I have enough to make myself a skirt from the green floral.

The pinafores are using the same pattern, but I split the bodice into 3 pieces and added width to the middle piece to achieve the gathered look I love many Victorian and Edwardian girls dresses. I have one saved that seems to have disappeared from the original site, but trust me that the seaming is pretty spot on. The drafting and sewing process was really tedious, but the finished pinafores were totally worth it.

The fabric was the same plain white lawn from Renaissance Fabrics that I used for my Lamplight outfit and it was just the perfect weight to float over the corduroy dresses. Sadly it looks like the fabric is sold out, but they usually get in more of it. Each pinafore is trimmed with candy cane embroidered cotton lace. I’d wanted to gather it to add fullness to the hem, but I’d only bought 4 yards last summer when I went shopping at Costume College and it wasn’t enough to gather and trim two skirts. So I used the little bit I had left over to add a shoulder flounce to each pinafore. I think it worked out just right!


And while I still have a couple things to share from 2017, my crafting was mostly cleaned up by the end of the year. The beauty of staying home for the holidays with no house guests is we’ve had ample time to sort and clean our house. A few more areas to manage, but still it feels good to start 2018 better organized. Frankly I’m happy to see 2017 gone from our lives. We had some really good times and my husband had more steady work than he’d had in a while, but on the other side we had a lot of anxiety over a potential medical issue for our older daughter. It turned out in the end, but that was a 6 month process of appointments and missing work and stress. Both girls moved up to new schools and that has been really good, but my work has become more and more stressful with each passing year. I still enjoy it, but gosh I miss the glory days when I didn’t have to say “no” so frequently. Most of all the holidays have brought a much needed break to refresh. Happy New Year.