I sew in the same way that I cook. I use a recipe as a guideline, but I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything exactly in the same way that the recipe recommends. Some of my creations are good, and some aren’t. Similarly, with sewing, I like to tinker. I make modifications to fit my aesthetic, my mood, and my body.
Luckily, I love the process of sewing. It gives me the benefits of meditation without the boredom. And, sewing often gives me wearable garments or lovely quilts, but that is generally not my goal. If I try a few pattern modifications, and they aren’t successful, I just move right along without feeling sad about it. I feel free to explore my craft.
When I saw the Colette Laurel, I knew that this was a pattern that would do well with some “Jennifer hacks.”
Pattern name: Colette Laurel. Colette describes the Laurel as being a “chic and simple shift dress or top with bias tape finishing. The semi-loose shape is easy to wear, while back darts keep the look streamlined. This dress gives you free rein with fabric and prints.”
Printed Colette patterns are lovely. The instructions are bound with the pattern pieces in a pocket in the back cover of the “book”. I also love how the pattern instructions have educational sections, including explanations for why you should staystitch and what underlining is. It’s like a course built into the pattern itself. Colette also has downloadable e-booklet for this pattern with variations and tips.
Size Range: 0-18. Bust size ranges from 33” – 46”, waist from 25” – 38”, and hips from 35” – 48”.
Versions: The Laurel has four versions:
- Version One is a lined dress with front and back darts, a full back zip and a boatneck.
- Version Two is an unlined dress with pockets, front and back darts, a full back zipper and the same neckline.
- Version Three is an unlined dress with front and back darts, a full back zipper, the same neckline and poofy sleeve cuffs.
- Version Four is an unlined blouse with front and back darts, a boatneck, and no zipper.
I didn’t make any of those versions; I used them as inspiration.
What is your bra size? 34G
What is your body shape? Hourglass
Adaptation #1. Here’s the deal. I really tried to sew one without any modifications, but I can’t do it. It’s not in my blood. This is Laurel’s Version Two with no pockets, and no back darts. I moved the bust darts quite a bit so that it would actually point towards the apex of my boobs. I sewed up the size 14, but then took in the side seems. I used 2” bias tape (instead of the 1” called for in the pattern), and I moved the front neck down a bit. My fabric here is a fine wale corduroy which has been in my deep stash for a while, so I don’t know any other details about the fabric except that I totally love it. I wore this for Thanksgiving dinner with tall black boots.
Adaptation #2. Again, I did Laurel’s Version Two, with no back darts, no pockets and I moved the bust darts. I shortened the length to a more tunic style. I lengthened the shoulders by extending the shoulder line towards my neck a few inches on both sides. Then, I raised the back neckline and lowered the front neckline so it’s more of a V neck shape. I also put the bias tape on the hemline (because I had extra bias tape). I traced the size 14 in the bust and graded to a size 10 below the bust.
Adaption #3. This one is my favorite. I did Version Two as drafted, but without any of the darts. I cut the back piece on the fold and cut two of the front piece. Basically, this flipped the zipper to the front; I used some purple corduroy and made a coat. This is a size 14 from top to bottom. I added a separating zipper, and attached 2” bias tape to the neck. I hand sewed the sleeve hem and bottom hem with no bias binding.
Size Range: 3 This pattern uses Colette’s original size range, from size 0-18 (up to a 46″ / 117 cm bust and 48″ / 122 cm hips).
Construction Process: 5
Final Fit: 4
Overall Rating: 4.25 (scores averaged). Overall, I think this a great pattern. The pattern book is beautiful; the instructions are thoughtful; and there are many variations given in the pattern book and on Colette’s website. Unfortunately, the size range isn’t super expansive, and there’s no discussion about how to move bust darts.
Note: I’d love to add a “hackability” rating of “5” to this pattern for its versatility!
Would you make this pattern again? Yes, definitely. I already have visions of making Version 1 in an eyelet fabric. I intend to follow the pattern this time. Hold me to it, my sewing friends!