This, friends, is my sheepish face. Sheepish because I am once again showing you a knit dress (is this the 5th or 6th in a row?). Also sheepish because I admit I kinda love to hate on Colette’s knit patterns (so simple! so much ease! so many damn pages to tape together! strange finishing techniques!) but it turns out: I love this dress!
The fabric is ITY that I bought locally and stashed for a maxi dress – but I’m glad I made it into this instead. It’s an almost perfect work dress. Looks pretty, needs no ironing, will work in all seasons, and matches half the cardigans in my closet! (The only imperfect thing – even though I deliberately made alterations to make the drape higher than, say, a Maria of Denmark Day to Night cowl, I still don’t think I could bend over without flashing my whole bra. And in a classroom, bending over will always happen!)
I took a lot of advice from two friends who had made this pattern before me: Stephanie from LoveTeachSew (edited: she just blogged it here!) and Sara from Hamilton Chicklets, (edited: blogged here) who whipped one up and wore it to our Toronto Meet-up. Based on what they told me about their experiences, I did the following:
- Lined the back bodice as well as the front. I’m not a fan of turning and stitching to finish an armhole, as the pattern suggested.
- Swapped out the skirt for (you guessed it!) Kitschy Koo’s Comino skirt. The myrtle skirt pattern was 3” wider (which would have given me a skirt with 12” extra ease!) I learned from my Oonapalooza dress that i’m not a fan of a gathered skirt with a blousy top. This skirt has the perfect amount of wearing ease for me.
- Use swim elastic at the waist, instead of doing a channel with1” elastic as suggested. No reason, really – just personal preference.
- Shortened the bodice at least 2” (because I wasn’t going to use wide elastic, and because I’m short waisted… and because I fear too much blousing in the bodice!)
- Graded from slightly larger than a medium at the waist to an XS at the shoulders. My measurements would have put me in a M at the shoulders and a L at the hips, but as drafted the pattern seems to have very wide shoulders straps (like, *almost* a cap sleeve, which I think looks odd!)
Once the bodice was put together, I had to:
- Take out an extra 1/2” at the armcye curve from the shoulder seam down.
- Scoop out the underarms a bit. I had used stay tape on the seam, and combined with tracing an XS at the shoulder, I can see why I needed extra room. (I have a 42” bust, so just imagine the ease on someone with a 33” bust as suggested!) **Ack! Wait! I just looked at my pattern again, and I graded from a XS at the shoulders to a medium at the bust. I take it all back! Colette sizing buts me in a L at the bust, and an XL at the hip, so I basically just went down a size at hips and bust, and down 3 sizes at the shoulder.**
- Put elastic across the back neck, between the two layers of fabric. I forgot that Colette patterns are always too wide for me back there.
So basically, Myrtle was a starting point – but not much is left as drafted!
What I can say about the pattern is that it was definitively THE WORST pdf I have ever put together.
It’s 60 pages long, but look at the size of those borders! You loose so much of each page to trimming, and that’s totally unnecessary. On top of that, the 2 plus sizes are nested as a separate unit, so you have to tape together two of every pattern piece. Worse, the pieces are laid out like this: regular size bodice, next to plus size bodice, next to regular sized skirt, next to plus sized skirt. Why not cluster one size grouping together, and put the other size pieces together too? Then it would be so much easier to only tape half the papers. And the kicker – the giant rectangle of taped pattern pieces is something like 12 pages wide! Huge, unwieldy, and so much margin for error. In the end, the two bodice pieces were all I used, and that could have been printed on 15 pages easily. URGH.
Now, in fairness, Colette is going to be reconfiguring the pdf and releasing it in sections so you can print only the size range you want. Thank goodness! I don’t know how it took them this long to decide to do that. It’s not like this is their first PDF pattern.
One comment I’ve heard from people several times about the pattern is that it doesn’t look like the models in Colette’s pictures are actually wearing the size prescribed to them, because they don’t have as much ease! I’d agree with that… but I think part of that comes from how big the change from size to size is in the larger end of the pattern. For example, each size (s, m, l, xl, 2xl, 2xl) covers two dress sizes for a woven (0,2,4,6,8, etc). In the smaller sizes, than means a range of 2” different in bust size (i.e. if you measure 33” or 34”, make an XS) but in the larger sizes it’s a 4” range (if you are a 40, 41, 42, or 43”, make a large.) That’s a big difference in size! If you measure 40” you’ll be swimming in it, but on a 43” bust it might look more fitted. I vaguely remember Colette explaining why they did this in some post, but I can’t find it now. Personally, i think their knit patterns seems to have too much ease to begin with, but the shift in sizing increments does help explain how that ease could get exaggerated or masked, depending on where you fall in the range.
That was a lot of kvetching – sorry! The great thing is though, I have a dress I love, and a pattern I’ll definitely make again.
Have you sewn with any Colette PDF patterns? What do you think of their knitwear?