I once had a roommate tell me, very gently, that I might be afraid of color. At the time, I was wearing khaki pants and a white top, so I could see her point. And when I looked in my closet, it was a whole lot of black, white, gray and beige, with unconnected pops of color here and there.
So I kept it in the back of my head, and when Colette Patterns’ excellent Wardrobe Architect series came out, I decided to get methodical about colors. Ever since then, I’ve been looking for fabrics in shades of blue and green and muted teal, nothing too bright, colors I know I’ll wear. That’s my comfort zone.
But THIS fabric …. this fabric is not in my comfort zone.
Friends, this color is not photographing correctly, for reasons I suspect have to do with the color settings on my hand-me-down camera (I’ll have to look into this another time). The real color, as described by Fabric Mart, is “Caribbean green,” and it is a pop-in-the-eye turquoise that reminded me of a floral bathing suit I wore as a kid in the ’80s. I was truly dismayed when it came in the mail.
But I took a deep breath, told myself to stop being such a baby, and sewed it anyway. Now I have an uncomfortably bright dress that’s amazingly comfortable to wear. There’s comfort and then there’s comfort.
This is the now-famous Colette Moneta, with a few modifications, made of a medium-weight ponte. I added three inches to the skirt length (I’m 5’9″) and I swapped out the gathers for inverted box pleats in the front and back, since gathers aren’t my fave.
I was inspired by a trip through Boden’s website — I really like the way ponte falls into swingy pleats. I just did a pleat at each of the notches on the bodice, but next time I might do three smaller pleats instead of two.
Note on fabric usage: I don’t think I’m the only person to find that Colette Patterns has very generous fabric requirements printed on their patterns. For this dress (Version 2), the pattern calls for 2 1/2 yards of 60″ wide fabric. I had a 2-yard piece and fabric left over at the end; I think I could have gotten this dress out of 1.5 yards. It would be worth a shot.
The elbow-length sleeves on the pattern caught my eye from the start, but I wanted something a little more summer-friendly. I had my doubts about the short sleeves, but I really like the look of them now.
I’ve always loved the slight scoop back on this pattern, and I like it even better now that I can wear it:
I finished NO seams (I’m sure it’ll be fine) which made this an incredibly easy dress to sew up. I used the stretch stitch on my sewing machine — the one that looks like a lightning bolt — and it worked great on this very stable knit. I also used the stretch stitch to hem the neck and sleeves, and a straight stitch to hem the skirt, since I doubt it will get stretched out much.
Knit skirts can feel a bit clingy and revealing to me, so I definitely prefer the look and feel of a fuller skirt made from a heavier knit. Even so, I’m not quite as comfortable in this as I would be in a woven skirt. Also, the heavier weight of the fabric is pulling the waistband down — it doesn’t bother me while I’m wearing it, but I think I’ll store this dress folded over a hanger, to keep the skirt from permanently stretching out the bodice.
Things I wish I’d done differently on this dress:
A) I wish I’d cut the right size. My measurements put me in between an XS and S, and I went with an XS based on a quick muslin I’d made back when the pattern first came out. That would have been a great plan, except my muslin had been in a super-stretchy, super-cheap jersey — and it behaves totally differently from the medium-weight ponte I’m using here.
So I traced an XS, panicked when I realized how tight it would be, added about 1/4″ -1/3″ to each of the side seams, and then sneakily tried to stretch it out in the exact way they tell you not to do it in the sewalong. Either it worked, or I didn’t need to worry as much; once the skirt was attached, the only sign it’s too small would be the pulling you see at the sides of the bust. I can live with that, and next time I’ll cut a S like a good seamstress.
You can see in the picture above that there’s a bit of extra fabric at the armhole/shoulder. There’s not much I can do about this at the moment, since I’m not wearing the right size, but I’ve bookmarked the Miss Make tutorial on fixing this.
B) I wish I hadn’t started and stopped my sleeve topstitching at the front of both sleeves. Come on. It jumps out at me every time I look in the mirror.
So, my first knit garment is completed — and my first blog post with myself in the pictures. One of those two things was a fairly unpleasant experience, forcing me to have an impromptu dance party to cheer myself up:
I take comfort in the knowledge that I cannot be the only person who feels like a total dumbshit taking photos of myself. There’s nothing to be done about it — I’m no model, but the photos with a person are the most useful for other seamstresses. This leads to a lot of hands-on-hips, bashfully-looking-away shots, because the options are basically:
1) “Oh! Hello, camera. I didn’t see you there”; or
2) “I’VE JUST SEEN SOMETHING VITALLY INTERESTING OUT THAT WINDOW, AND I BELIEVE IT SHEDS LIGHT ON THE MEANING OF LIFE”
Don’t worry; I haven’t left old Constance on the curb. You can see her in the background, scandalously clad in only a hat and a strip of lace trim.
It seems like no one in the blogosphere has made fewer than three of these Monetas. (The Pringles of sewing patterns — you can’t make just one!) I’m no exception. I’ve already got two more planned for the fall, with those elbow-length sleeves.
Those next ones, though, will be in black-and-white prints.
P.S. Another make for the Summer Stashbush at The Quirky Peach! Read all about it! This runs through Sept. 21 — I’m hoping to squeeze in a couple more makes.