Colette Hawthorn: A Modern Sampler

Colette-hawthorn-titlei forgot to mention in my last post a new machine had joined the family and at the time of purchase I went a bit foot crazy and added some useful (according to le internet anyway) ones to my stash. Then followed much procrastination about actually using them, until a project came my way to utilise them all. May I present not just a muslin of Colette Patterns’ Hawthorn but also a modern kind of sampler, a chance to try a few new things without worrying about the outcome.

The Pattern: Colette Patterns Hawthorn

Size + Alterations: 

At least mostly this is the Hawthorn V.1 but sleevless. Except that I started with a self-drafted block I’m working on which went alternatly brilliantly and horrendous so I don’t think I’m ready to share that process here. Bottomline, The peplum, collar and neckline are all from the Hawthorn but bodice front and back are from a custom block and it’s most noticeable where the shoulders of my block are quite a bit narrower than the pattern is designed.

The Fabric: Yup – totally style-stakled Roisin for this one. After seeing her gorgeous BHL Anna dress I snuck along to Goldhawk Road for some of these lovely swimming ladies, and I heard some twitter talk that Classic Textiles might still have some in stock, is that right?


New Skills:  The Footloose Collection


Rolled Hem FootLessons I learned in no particular order: Don’t attempt the rolled hem when you’re tired – getting the initial roll happening will make you a little nuts and a lot frustrated, the bottonhole foot needs a lever pulled down from the top of your machine or it won’t go, lower the feed dogs when you use the button foot and lastly…. I wish I’d got all of these sooner!

Oh and one last toy – Karen and I must have been on the same page because one of these got used as well:

Buttonhole Chisel from Lazy Stitching on Vimeo.

Favourite Features: I do love those ladies in their swimming caps

Changes for Next Time:  Can I be honest? For all the fun I had in making this top (just call me Q) I feel a little meh, about the resulting garment and I don’t know that there will be a next-time. I like it but just not on me, ya know?


First Worn:  To work where I promptly spilled coffee all over it so maybe it’s a sign.

Guilded Colette Lily

Another summer sewing project, this dress was made in a hurry but is still my favourite dress of the season.

From the front

The fabric was a serendipitous find from Walthamstow market at only a pound a meter. I have a sneaking suspicion it may have been a home dec cloth but this dress would not be defeated by such definitions. It has a thick slub like weft thread and a shiny warp and seems slightly mustard and green-gold depending on the light. These photos were taken in the sunny kitchen so they look more yellow.

The back – ignore the black zip – I was in hurry

The pattern is Colette’s Lily, one I overlooked in favour of the clever Hazel when the spring patterns were released. In hindsight, what a silly mistake. This pattern is fantastic, hugging all the right places and with pocket construction reminiscent of the Rooibos to top it off.


I made it in a rush for a work team dinner but I’m determined to find more excuses to wear it now!

Wardrobe Planning: Inspiration, Comfort + Compromise

There has been many a meaningful discussion of late around what we sew and why. Sewaholic’s take on frosting vs. cake and Colette Patterns’ practical wardrobe posts both put into words the thoughts I’d had about Wardrobe Planning the second time around.

For the fall Palette challenge I’d gotten excited and begun collecting images that evoked the mood of melancholy chill in the air (I’d just been to the Dianne Arbus exhibition at the Tate Modern and may have been melodramatic).

Then I found images of clothing I’d like to make and own – on the surface, a dream wardrobe.

Vintage inspired clothes that made me drool – the only problem was that when I really tried to imagine myself wearing these clothes, I couldn’t. Circle skirts that feel costumey, high waisted sweaters that choke and give uni-boob, pencil skirts that cut mid cankle and hobble anyone daring to walk more than two feet – I did not want to wear these clothes.

The reality was that on a scale between comfort and figure flattery my own balancing point falls more on the comfort side than the other.

So with the stars aligning the Spring/Summer Palette Challenge and Me-Made-May I’ve decided to bring a little more reality to the table.

Like Caitlin from the Coletterie, I’m quite a homebody and when I broke down my time into a simple pie-graph it was clear that to make it through MMM I need to plug the lounge-wear shaped hole in my wardrobe.

The next gap is with the work wardrobe. I began the new job last week (thanks for all the good wishes – I’m loving it so far!) and for the first two weeks I don’t need to worry about it but after that management training starts. I’m looking for a compromise between smart/professional but still comfortable enough to move around in. I think double-knit dresses may be my saviour.

And finally a little frosting for sight-seeing with shirt-dresses, trouser-jeans and pretty prints.

So rather than a concrete plan, this time around I  have a palette of colours and a general idea of where the gaps are which seems as good a starting point as any!

Madeleine Bloomers Variation: The Tap-Pants

Thanks for all the lovely comments on the pjs – it feels good to actually finish something after such a long sewer’s block!

This is actually the second time I’ve made this combo – the first was for little sis’s christmas present. She was heading off to backpack through India and Bali for a couple of months so I didn’t want to get her anything too bulky and this ticked the box and a couple more:

  • Natural fibres – to keep cool in the drive-me-nuts-heat
  • Super light weight – it’s like wearing a feather (good for tight baggage allowance too)
  • Adaptable – the top made from Colette’s Sorbetto pattern can double as a blouse during the day

Meanwhile the pants were an easy variation too. I’ve had my eye on the cute (and free!) Madeleine Bloomers pattern for a while (check out these gorgeous versions) but I wasn’t sure it would work so well on my snow-woman shape being low-waisted and gathered at the thigh.

I wanted something looser but that still kept the quirky-flirty character of the original and here’s what I came up with – the Madeleine Tap-pants variation.

{click to enlarge}

  1. Download the pattern, tape together and cut out the two pieces.
  2. On the back piece, draw a line 4 inches below the waist edge.
  3. Cut along the line and spread by 3 inches. Fill gap with paper and tape in place.
  4. We want the tap-pants cut on the bias so they drape nicely, so re-draw the grainline at a 45° angle.
  5. Repeat on the front piece.
  6. Sew as per instructions using french seams. Finish legs with narrow hem.

Enjoy your new pjs!

Jim-Jam Party!

Hi guys! I’m heeeerree!…

… where is everybody?…

… what do you mean Karen’s Pyjama Party was yesterday?!


And it’s not my fault, I swear!

You see I got sucked in by this book – When You Were Mine – which is a modern re-telling of Romeo & Juliet but from the perspective of Rosaline, the one that was left behind when Romeo took up with that bitch Juliet. I blame Forever Young Adult for their glowing review.

Still better late than never… right? And any excuse for to wear pyjamas all day!

These took about four hours in total and used black silk/cotton blend and everyone’s favourite freebies – Colette Patterns’ Sorbetto and a variation on the Madeleine Bloomers.

Thanks for hosting Karen!

Colette Patterns’ Palette Challenge Spring/Summer 2012

Twice yearly the lovely ladies from Colette Patterns host a seasonal palette challenge. After deciding on a colour palette, the intrepid sewist makes a wardrobe plan to be completed over an 8-12week period.

As always I planned big with last fall’s challenge and finished somewhat mediocre. You would think I’d learn but let’s face it planning is half the fun and I am totally okay with not finishing everything. So this week I’ll share my Spring/Summer sewing plans,  starting with the colour palette.

{all image sources found here}

It began with a pinterest board. In anticipation of a spring challenge I began collecting images of blossoms and daffodils and once it was announced that the challenge would be spread over a longer period I added images of sun soaked summer lakes (who else wanted to vacation at Kellerman’s).

From there here is the resulting palette:

 Soft Black // Ivory // Gold // Dusky Pink // Navy // Sky Blue

Next up – the pattern inspiration.

Colette Fall Palette Challenge Wrap

With the end of the year also came my self-imposed deadline for the Colette Patterns Fall Palette Challenge and whilst I barely completed half of the original plan, I still consider it a big success.

It all kicked off with the collection of inspiration images on a pinterest board. These formed the basis for a fall colour palette. I loved the changing leaves against smokey blue skies.

The colours were quite a departure from my previous wardrobe which was dominated by blues and greys and other muted shades. I was only able to bring 20 kgs of luggage to the UK so it was a fresh start to my wardrobe. You can see the change below – the photos on the left are from Self-Stitched September 2010 and on the right is everything I made in 2011.

In terms of garments I started with a very limited wardrobe so it was expanding on the basics.

It was fun to start experimenting with croquis, which have now developed into my own mini-me version.

Here are the successfully completed garments:

The Seasonally Inappropriate Sorbetto // The Colour-blocked Blouse // Double-knit Jenny Skirt // Linen Rooibos Dress // White Lace Tee

And the items that didn’t get made:

The Pants: I’m part way through the fitting process with both the Colette Clovers and the Wide-Leg Pants but as anyone who’s attempted pants knows – it’s a long and frustrating process. So right now, we are on a break.

The knit top: I found it was cheaper and easier to just buy one – I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel 😉

The blazer: This is about 80% done – it just wasn’t inspiring me.

The dresses: Are still on the cards at some point this year but they’re cross seasonal so it doesn’t matter if I put them off.

The biggest thing I realised is that I need to feel motivated in order to sew. I steadfastly refuse to let it become a chore or something I have to force myself into. The result is that the less exciting items got pushed to the back of the list. It’s something I need to think on how to remedy.

Still, the palette worked well which is why I still consider the challenge a success. Most of the garments I sewed that weren’t part of the original plan were still consistent with the palette.

The Toast Tunic // The Christmas Macaroon // The Burda Blouse // The Brumby-blue Dress

I’ll definitely take part in the Spring Challenge when it rolls around.

My new colourful wardrobe.

The Toast Tunic

At what point does a Sorbetto stop being a Sorbetto? I’m not sure of the answer, but I do know Colette’s free tank top pattern hasn’t let me down yet.

One of my favourite discoveries in England has been the phenomenon of the Toast Catalogue.

Toast is clothing/homewares store that stocks simple designs in beautiful quality fabrics. Their campaign shoots are just stunning and have made them their own niche in the world of catalogues.

They are (somewhat humorously) described in the Guardian as

“[being] synonymous with an idyllic, relaxed and creative way of life where people breeze around their Venetian palazzo or Scottish bothy looking beautiful. The catalogues are famous for their photography, shot on location in Lapland, Argentina or Sri Lanka. And Toast customers from Notting Hill to the Outer Hebrides buy into that way of life when they order their Fair Isle wool socks or their faded floral silk dressing-gowns. “

Toast Catalogue

One of my favourite items are their kimono-sleeved tunic dresses which they do in several fabrics, so it was a natural leap from my kimono-sleeved sorbetto to this dress. I widened the neckline, added cuffs and lengthened it straight down.

The problem is that it was so quick and easy to make… now I want more in silk… and wool…  and velvet… sigh.

 ETA: Tutorial for altering the pattern has been added here :)

A Vintage Christmas Colette Macaron

This is my second version of Colette Pattern’s Macaron dress although the first, which you can see here, was really a wearable muslin. For this version I finally got to use this lovely vintage cotton floral twill I found at a cool vintage fabric store just off Brick Lane, simply called The Shop.

Image via

Every Thursday they get new deliveries, and while it’s not as cheap as a charity shop find (they specialise in fabric not clothing) there is plenty to hunt through and it’s still quite reasonable.This was a 3 yard length although very narrow (35in) and it cost £6.50.

I wasn’t sure what t0 do with it but I think the vintage feel of Colette Patterns make a nice fit and I needed something nice but still warm and comfortable for Christmas Day. The red and green of this print don’t shout Christmas but sort of give it a subtle nod, like Joni Mitchell’s River*, not a Christmas song as such but it sure evokes the season.

 I made a number of changes with this version:

  • I kept the FBA in tact (detailed FBA posts here and here) but I shortened the darts under the bust by one inch.
  • Lowered the neckline by 5/8in as I felt a little choked by the high neck.
  • I had a problem of the bodice pieces not matching at the side seams of the last version so I adjusted the edges to make sure they were exactly the same length.
  • I widened the midriff band to 3 1/2in.
  • Made the skirt wider. I love the tulip shape of the original but I wanted something looser and longer for this to be a winter version.
  • Lastly I lengthened the sleeves to elbow length and added a cuff inspired by Adey’s version of Vintage Simplicity 3074 on the Sew Weekly.

And in the end it’s the little things I love most about this dress, the cuffs, the pockets set into the pleats and the sweetheart bodice. I’m so glad I gave it another go and now I have something to wear for my very first English Christmas!

*Any excuse to include a little Joni.