the this-was-once-a-licorice dress


My latest make: a heavily modified Colette Licorice in very lightweight denim, with a little lace yoke.

“Dude, that is not a Licorice,” you might be saying. Right. I can explain.

Let me start with a mea culpa. I’ve always known Colette Patterns drafts for a C cup; I have never been a C cup; I never will be a C cup; I knew I should have done a small-bust adjustment on this pattern; I didn’t do one anyway. That’s the basis of our problem here.

The thing is, I think the Licorice is at its core a great basic shift pattern: No waist seam, no princess seams to match, fabric-frugal, lovely wide neckline. (Others agree with me!) I wanted to make more, and I wanted them now.

I’ve hacked the Licorice pattern into a number of blouses that fit great. I have a lightly modified Licorice dress (to be featured in a forthcoming OWOP post) that I love to death. And that Licorice dress, and a Colette Pastille dress that I also love, don’t really look that big in the bust — mainly because they’re both made in very drapey fabrics. So I kind of figured ….. eh! It won’t be so bad!

It was bad.


I knew that I wouldn’t make the collar, and that I would go with cap sleeves, and that I’d scoop out the back the way I did on my “black tie requested” dress.

What I did not anticipate was the massive puddling of denim underneath my bust, as if my boobs had shrunk in the wash and my dress had not. (Wouldn’t THAT be a friggin’ nightmare.)

But! As I stood in front of the mirror, pinching out the excess fabric under my bust and trying to figure out how to fix it without ripping apart the halfway-finished dress, I realized something: Hey! This looks kind of like an Anna dress.


So I turned the upper half of the diamond-shaped front darts into tucks. It feels odd, like the tucks are drawing attention to my boobs, but I kind of like it.


Much as I’ve done with other Colette patterns, I added 3″ to the skirt length (I’m 5’9″) and used 1″ of that for the hem. I scooped out that back neckline and moved the zipper over to the side seam. I drafted cap sleeves based on this tutorial — I was very conservative in taking out sleeve cap ease, but next time I’ll be bolder about taking out ease and more cautious about taking out length.

I sewed up a size 2 in the bust and waist, grading out to a 6 in the hips — then I added a scanty half-inch to the side seams. I could have added more room; I really was going for more of a shift silhouette that stands away from the body a bit. But the back of the dress fits so well that I can’t complain.


Yes, the test picture I snapped while putting on my shoes was the best pic I had of the back.

There is a bit of wrinkling around the back of the shoulders, but I think that’s because I undermined the structural integrity of the bodice by removing, like, half of the back. The shoulders have a slight tendency to shift around, probably for the same reason, which sometimes leads to the illusion of a gaping front neckline. The whole thing would probably benefit from a well-interfaced neck facing.

I had this soft ivory lace left over from my wedding dress, and I thought I could come with a cute way to incorporate it with this denim, which I bought online in my early days of sewing, thinking it was chambray. (It’s not.) I wanted to overlay the back bodice with lace, as seen here on Sew Caroline, but that went out the window when I realized that a) my dress doesn’t have a separate bodice piece and b) maybe I don’t have as many scraps as I thought. So a lace yoke was the way to go, with the selvage trimmed away from the pretty scallops.


I just want to point out that this is as close as I get to twee. I am a longstanding conscientious abstainer from Peter Pan collars, so this is literally the only thing I own that might overlap with Carey Mulligan’s closet.

I finished the armholes and neckline with store-bought bias tape. I know it can be a bit stiff, but the stiffness wasn’t a problem with this medium-weight fabric. Everything else inside is pinked, since this fabric is pretty stable (I’m sure it’ll be fine).

This is just the thing for the transition to the fall. In D.C., the weather is swinging from highs in the 90s to highs in the 70s, and it’ll probably keep going for some time. This is good for up to 82 degrees or so, and with layers and tights, I can wear it well into the winter. LIKE THIS:


Also: One more item for Summer Stashbust 2014! Guys, how many more makes can I make before Sept. 21?

Pattern: Heavily, heavily modified Colette Licorice.
Fabric: Less than 1.5 yards of 60″ wide, lightweight denim from Fashion Fabrics Club, about $8. A scrap of cotton-nylon lace from


6 thoughts on “the this-was-once-a-licorice dress

  1. Pingback: one week, one pattern, mostly | root branch bole

  2. Pingback: summer stashbust 2014 | root branch bole

  3. Pingback: me-mades in the wild (year-end roundup) | root branch bole

  4. Pingback: me made may: part 1 | root branch bole

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