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.

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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.

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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.

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Out of Time Out

Let’s talk about Colette. Their pattern block is somewhat less than desirable for a large portion of the sewing crowd, but several years ago there weren’t as many competitors on the indie scene. Like many others I purchased a few Colette patterns. I loved their vintage inspired esthetic.

Then I made these patterns and they were pretty much flops. I blamed myself. As a largely self-taught sewer I figured I just didn’t have the skill. Now I know that I am not alone!  Colette patterns are notorious for their wide shoulders, odd sleeves, and flat butts. Ahhhhhhhh. It all makes sense now.

I am by no means an expert, but I think I do okay at getting things to fit. I like to experiment, but last year I got really fed up. You see, I attempted to make Colette’s Dahlia. Gosh I love the way the pattern looks on the original model. I’m linking the sew-a-long because Colette has changed the pictures on their site.

But making the pattern proved to be very frustrating. I’d searched pattern reviews and only found nice versions! But when I put on my finished dress the shoulders were so big they stood up and touched my ears. I was dismayed. I was upset. I knew someone who had made the dress and her’s turned out great, but mine was unwearable.

So I gathered the neckline, turned the binding under, and then stitched it all smaller. I still hated the dress. Pissed off and disappointed I threw Dahlia in a corner and forgot about it…until today.

I pulled it back out because I was going to use the skirt fabric along with my leftover yardage to makes a blouse! But I thought I should try on the dress one more time and photograph it. I put the dress on and well, it looks pretty good!

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I mean sure, it’s not perfect. The neckline looks pretty crappy, but a cardigan is going to hide all those sins. Still a little wrinkled in these photos, but not bad over all. I remembered I really liked the skirt and waistband!

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I have zero memory about what size I made or what alterations I made to the pattern. None. Oh well. I’m unlikely to try this pattern again anyways.

I do remember this fabric.

I’d bought it at Michael Levine’s for maybe $5/yard. It was labeled 100% cotton, but it probably a cotton/poly blend. I really need to throw a slip on underneath so the fabric glides more freely! But another reason this fabric stands out in my mind is because as I was watching Modern Family I saw Cam wearing a shirt from the same fabric!

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Hilarious, right?

For now I’m just happy to come to peace with my version of Dahlia. It’s not what I originally wanted, but far from the wreck I saw in the mirror last year.

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Houndstooth and Distraction

I have a new dress to add to my stack of Washington dress hacks! This time a mash up of the Washington Dress from Cashmerette for the bodice and sleeves, the Moneta from Colette for the neckline, and a self drafted half circle skirt.

My husband was out of town, so I had my enthusiastic four year old take photos for me. It’s something she loves to do. “Do a pose mommy!”

The dress overall turned out pretty great. I love the fit, but oh that pattern placement. As I was cutting the fabric the dog was walking back and forth over it and the four year old was standing over my shoulder asking me for snacks. I did great at placing the pattern for the sleeves and top, but the skirt is off. Dang! I totally forgot to make sure the center fronts lined up.

Hello photo bomber!

The fabric is Ann Kelle Remix Knit from Robert Kaufman. It is a 100% cotton interlock. I’ve used this fabric a few times before and this is the most success I’ve had. Why? Well I took a step away from my serger and made the entire dress on my regular machine using something like a baseball stitch. It has become my go-to stitch for knits since I don’t have the lightning bolt option.

I really wish I could fix the pattern placement. I suppose I could, but the fabric doesn’t take to seam ripping very well. I’d ended up having to cut all the pieces apart and deal with having the lengths of the skirt and bodice be too short. So I think I’ll just leave it and try to take the misplacement as a reminder to slow down when I’m cutting. At least the fabric only cost me about $9 at M & L Fabrics and about 2 hours of my time.

And here is what it looks like at the end of the day. Stretched out for sure, but a run through the dryer will tighten the fabric back up for the next outing. And I at least have one more nice heavy weight knit dress for winter!

Goldilocks and the 3 Monetas

Colette’s Moneta is an incredible popular knit dress pattern. It has a wide size range (33-54 inch bust), is simple to make, and a nice easy silhouette to wear. But I seem to be the one person in the blogiverse that was an utter failure at making this pattern.

Exhibit 1 – This dress is too big!

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Here I am in all my weekend mom glory. Comfy dress, Anna stickers from Frozen, and slippers because I was spending the afternoon sewing.

This was my first attempt at making Moneta and at first I really liked it. It is super comfy! But with time it has gotten saggy and frumpy looking. Based on the pattern envelope recommendations I made a L in the shoulders and graded out to an XL from the underarm down. Mistake! The sleeves have huge bags of extra fabric. The neckline is huge! The only part that worked was the waist.

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Oh my gosh, the back is just as bad. Look at how low the waist sits! The whole thing is huge. Thank goodness for cardigans to hide most of this when I wear it. Did I mention this was the length for 3/4 sleeves? WTF is that about? I do not understand patterns that mark elbow sleeves as 3/4 sleeves. Not the same pattern companies!

The fabric is a lovely interlock from Robert Kaufman that my friend gave to me, so I am sad this dress was such an utter failure.

Exhibit 2 – This dress is too small!

So then I regrouped and made another version in some Art Gallery jersey I had on hand.

Moneta 2 Front

This time I cut a large for the shoulders then graded to an XL at the waist. I also narrowed the neckline and swapped the sleeve for the pattern from Cashmerette’s Appleton Dress pattern.

Actually the dress looks okay from the front. Sleeves look a tiny bit tight, but not too bad. So let’s look at the back.

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Eek! What the heck? Still too long in the back length of the bodice, but the worst part is my arms look like they are eating my sleeves. Sob! Another dress that looks okay with a cardigan, but I feel awkward wearing it on its own.

At this point I put the pattern in time out. Bad pattern! Bad sewist for not thinking the fit through!

Exhibit 3 – Goldilocks gets it right!

Well then last week while I was coming off the high of finishing a few well fitted dresses  I thought I’d pull out Moneta and see if I could hack it into something better. Plus I’d stocked up on some $3/yard bargain fabric so if the dress failed, I’d only wasted about $10 including tax.

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Bam! Success! The elusive 3/4 sleeve didn’t quite happen, but that’s a very easy fix next time. Beyond the sleeves I love everything about the fit.

So, how did I make it happen? Well I did it by drafting the Moneta neckline onto Cashmerette’s Washington Dress bodice. Then I used the Moneta skirt as is. The drafting took a little time, but now that its done I could make this pattern again in a snap. Plus doing a little math can be fun!

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The back turned out pretty perfectly too. It’s meant to be clingy, especially in this Robert Kaufman jersey, so I don’t mind the closer fit. At least its a dress I can wear without a cardigan and feel comfortable which seems like a huge achievement in getting used to my post two kids body.

In the end, I am starting to think that even with the extended sizing Colette’s patterns just don’t suit my shape. I’ve made 3 or 4 now and they have all been terrible flops even with careful measurement and fit tweaks. The problem is that most indie pattern companies design super casual clothes. So, anyone know of a pattern company designing slightly more professional dresses that go up to a size 16 or 18? Otherwise I fear I might be headed towards drafting my own, but I’ve always been better at modifying than drafting from scratch. Hmmmm, something to ponder.