Revisiting the Colette Moneta

The first thing I made a little over four years ago was a Colette Moneta.

It wasn’t the best fabric and it wasn’t the best sewing. This one lasted a little over two years before it came apart. I made a lot more Moneta’s, but most of those were modified in some way. I changed up the skirt almost every time as I’m not a fan of gathers. So I hadn’t made the original Moneta for a long time. In a short period of time three of my earlier Moneta’s came apart, mostly because I had used flimsy fabric. As this pattern is the workhorse of my wardrobe, I wanted to replace them with the best possible version I could make and use quality fabric and quality construction methods.

This year I have mostly been sewing from my stash and try to sew just what I need. I also try to be conscious about the new fabric I get. There’s an imbalance in my fabric stash as there are more wovens in it whereas most clothes I wear are made from jersey. So whenever I need something new because I need to replace something, I might need to buy fabric as my stash doesn’t hold a lot of larger yardages of jersey. One of my favourite new suppliers is Lillestoff. I buy mine at Studio Spatz, who sell all sorts of organic brands. Lillestoff tries to keep the whole line of production as organic and fair as possible. I fell in love with this Lagoon fabric and got two metres of it:

I wanted to make something I could wear during at least three of the Dutch seasons. In winter I might need an extra layer, probably not when working though (my classroom runs on the warm side) and decided to just replace the Moneta’s that were over and done with.

I wanted to go back to the original pattern, knowing that I had worn my first ones a lot despite the gathers. So I followed the pattern and instructions to the letter.

The only things I changed were:

– lengthened the sleeves to 7/8.

– finished the neckline and sleeves with foldover elastic to get a clean finish on the inside and outside.

I really like the result. I had forgotten about the scoop at the back:

And I like the gathers. They are gentle gathers (is that a thing?) so the skirt doesn’t billow and give the illusion of pregnancy. I used the original instructions for the gathering (with clear elastic) for the very first time as clear elastic was hard to come by when I first started sewing. It was a surprisingly easy way to gather the skirt. I did sew very slowly when I did the gathers, which helped keep things under control and I had portioned the elastic so that the gathers were even around the skirt.

What I would change:

– I’m going to add some hooks to the shoulders so I can keep my bra straps in place as they peek out often.

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A tale of three Aldaia dresses

I’ve been working on my fall wardrobe: I worked on a pair of black pants so I can choose between jeans and those, I made a few tops to go with those pants, I made three dresses that are longsleeved and jersey, there’s going to be a jacket and hopefully a coat.

I kept seeing beautiful Aldaia dresses on instagram. This black one, this red one and another black (or charcoal, I’m not sure) one. So obviously I made three in prints 😁

I had my doubts about this pattern. It’s made for women who are a lot shorter than I am and I haven’t really seen it on women with my type of body. But two of the fabrics that I got from Stoff & Still kept popping up in my head as Aldaias and so I got the pattern, had it printed at an online copyshop and went to work.

You can mix and match sleeves, bodices and skirts. For my first version I wanted the faux wrap, the circle skirt and the long sleeves. I ended up needing more fabric than I actually had. It was hard (for me) to calculate the amount of fabric. Based on what the pattern said I thought I had enough, but I came up two skirtpanels short. I added 10 cm to the length of the skirt. I used some leatherlook jersey for the two missing panels and decided to just go with it, see if I liked it and if I didn’t, maybe order another metre of the original fabric. At first I put the leatherlook panels on the sides of the front skirt, but this did not look good, there was no cohesion. I tested it with the sides of the bodice in the same fabric, but this didn’t work either. I turned them to the back and decided to worry about them later on.

I think the pattern itself is pretty good. It was a pleasure to sew, everything lined up perfectly. I do have some doubts about the sizing. I was afraid that I chose a size to small based on the finished measurements, but it ended up being too big. I also loved working with this fabric. The Stoff & Still jerseys I’ve now worked with behaved beautifully, no rolling, puckering or what have you. The fabric is firm, but has excellent drape. I’m definitely looking forward to buying more (these were a gift and thus they reeled me in 😂).

When everything was done I still was not happy with the different panels. I decided to cut out some of the drops and applique these to the leatherlook panels to get more cohesion. I really like how it turned out.

I’m not really happy with where the waist sits. I think I’ll play around with it on a fourth version (these were all cut out as I did some cutting sessions). After making these, I read this post by Jenny from Cashmerette on waistlines. She says that for some people the waistline looks better when you place it above your actual waistline. I notice that I prefer my waist to sit a bit higher and going forward I’ll use that on my projects. I took the dress 5/8 in at the sideseams as it felt pretty huge on me. I think I could take them in some more.

For my second version I didn’t need to worry about yardage. I had the same amount of fabric, but was left with enough to make a Sointu kimono tee. I think I needed a little over a metre. I made the V-neck bodice, elbow length sleeves and the pencil kneelength skirt. I had some problems with the V-neck, there’s a slight pucker where I didn’t get my fabric flat enough, but it is hardly noticable when I’m wearing the dress. I used the same size, but used a seam allowance of 5/8 all over instead of 3/8. This helped with the fit.

For my third version I used the fabric from the August box of Sew Hayley Jane.

I wanted a more dramatic skirtlength to go with this and so I used a midi skirt pattern I drafted myself. Construction was simple as it was the third time in two weeks that I made this dress.

I really like the pattern and think it will become a TNT for me. I’ll probably play around with different skirts and will try how it looks with a shortened bodice.

Sew over it Penny dress

When the Penny dress from Sew over it appeared on the scene I wasn’t convinced that I should make one. Elasticized waists are tricky for me. But when I got this fabric from my husband all I could think of was a Penny, so a Penny it became.

I printed my pattern before the recent update. As I understand it the bodice has since then been lenghtened by an inch. If I would make it again (and I will) I would lenghten it too. It’s okay for this one, the micropleats hide a ton of things, but for the fabric I got earmarked for my next version I will lenghten the bodice by about 2 centimeters. I took some flare out of the skirt, because it would not have fit the fabric otherwise and I sized down based on the stretch of the fabric, finished measurements and my impression of the fit.

I used a cotton sateen for the collar and the shoulder yoke to provide structure to the micropleats.

I really like the result and have been wearing this dress a lot. It’s light and airy, but also dressy.

It was surprisingly quick and easy to make. I did not use the instructions so I can’t say anything about those. I’m kind of at the point where symbols on the pattern pieces are all the information I use (does not always work out!).

Your body IS a wonderland! Colette Dahlia dress in jersey.

Full disclosure: I only know the title of that song, this post has got nothing to do with that song. Before I move on to the story of my latest Dahlia dress, some photos of a couple of years ago (two Colette peony’s and a Moneta):

That lemon dress is my I-love-myself-and-will-treat-myself-to-something-pretty-dress.

Another example of this:

Those photos were all taken when I was at my heaviest weight, around 230 pounds. As you may know by now: I go up and down in weight a lot and often. The biggest difference in weight was two years ago when I went down nearly 60 pounds in two months. This has to do with extreme water retention and it’s a very quick process. I can gain and lose about two pounds a day for a while. Earlier this year I went up about 25 pounds and at the moment I’m quickly losing again. It’s something that I have come to accept over the past few years as just the way it works for me. Maybe it will go away once my hormones are under control again, but who knows if and when that might happen. The weight mostly gathers under my waist and above my knees. Another reason why I enjoy wearing dresses. Fortunately I’m at a place in my life where I’m happy with who I am, about 16 years ago I most definitely wasn’t. In recent months I shared some of my experience with people who were struggling with themselves and I thought I might share some of the things I learned with anyone who’s reading this as well. This obviously is a very personal experience, if it doesn’t resonate with you then hopefully there will be other stories that do help you. If you just want to read about my jersey Dahlia, scroll down, it’s at the end.

You might as well be kind to yourself

It’s hard to be kind to yourself. I used to use food as a punishment or reward and was pretty close to a eating disorder. I used to think pretty bad thoughts about myself and my place in the world. When I tried to research tips for accepting yourself I came across a lot of articles that told people to focus on their good points, the things you like about yourself or are proud of. These tips do not resonate with me or my experience. I was not proud of anything, I did not like anything about myself. But I came to realise that not liking myself wasn’t going to get me anywhere either. If I wanted to live this life instead of just existing I had to change some things. I decided that I might as well be nicer to myself. Being unkind to myself had not done anything for me, so why not try the opposite. At least I would get more enjoyment out of my life. And so I started treating myself as I would treat a loved one. It did not make me thin. It did not make me fat. It did make me happy. I started eating better, feeling better, sleeping better, living better. Again, it did not make me magically thin, but it did make me healthier as a whole. I have to add that therapy helped me here too, but it was really important that I started to think of myself as someone worth helping and worthy of happiness. You might as well accept yourself the way you are, you have nothing to lose by being kind to yourself. Punishing yourself is not going to make you feel better. Enjoy the cake, enjoy all the food you put in your mouth, feeling bad about eating is not going to do you any good.

Your body is the only body you’ll have in this life

Once I started to be nicer to myself I started to appreciate my body more and more. I realised that it was the only body I’d ever have and that I had to make friends with it. Around this time Eve Ensler, playwright of the Vagina Monologues published her play ‘Good body’. She ends her introduction to the book, a exploration of the relationship women around the world have with their bodies, with this declaration:

‘Tell the image makers and magazine sellers and the plastic surgeons that you are not afraid. That what you fear the most is the death of imagination and originality and metaphor and passion. Then be bold and LOVE YOUR BODY. STOP FIXING IT. It was never broken.’ She ends the play (a series of monologues of women around the world interspersed with Ensler’s own thoughts about her body) with something of a mantra in which she finally accepts her body as the good body, flaws and all: ‘We live in a good body, we live in the good body’.

Having health problems means that sometimes that relationship gets slightly complicated. I can’t always trust my body. But the essence remains: nothing good will come from being unkind to myself or my body. Even if it fails me, being kind to myself will make things easier.

There’s always going to be someone who thinks you look fat

The definitive moment in my own acceptance of my body, the realisation that I was completely at ease with it and didn’t care about the world, came when I was reading about Rihanna on a website. There were a lot of people commenting on her looks and despite Rihanna being, I think objectively – even as beauty is a subjective thing – one of the most beautiful women in the world, there were a lot of people being pretty negative about the way she looked and her body weight. It was really liberating to me because it means that we can stop trying. You are never going to make everyone happy, so don’t bother with that and just try to make yourself happy. There’s always going to be sad sacks of people who need to put other people down. Rihanna does not care about the people who try to shame her and neither should we. People who want to punish you for living while not being the embodiment of their idea of perfection just don’t get it. They don’t know it, but they’re the ones who aren’t with the program and punishing yourself for existing whilst not upholding an arbitrary and unattainable ideal set by people who aren’t worth your time is not going to make you feel better. If people try to use the concept of health as a strawman argument for being allowed to discuss your appearance, don’t buy into that. Health is a deeply personal thing that can not be measured by looking at the outside of a person. Sometimes health and weight are related (it’s true for me at this particular moment in my life), but nobody can assess that properly except for you and your doctor (if they do the right tests and actually check you completely out). This fake health concern has to be nipped in the bud.

The right people won’t care

Obviously I care about my husband’s health and vice versa, so I do care that my husband is really skinny at the moment as it’s a bad sign with regards to his health. But I don’t care about the aestethics and neither does he. People who are the right people in your life won’t care about the aesthetic side of your weight. If they do care, they’re not the right people and you need to get some better people or they need to learn about the right approach to the weight of loved ones. Who we are as people and what matters about our character has nothing to do with how much we weigh. I’m not kinder when I weigh less. I don’t gain patience with pounds. I’m not funnier when I weigh more or less. Your value as a human being does not depend on how much you weigh. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of respect. No number on the scale is going to change your inherent worth as a human being.

When it comes to clothes: wear your size

Wear whatever you want to wear, but please, be kind to yourself and wear your size. It’s liberating and comfortable to not feel your waistband dig in your stomach, to take of your clothes and not see any of those red marks on your body. If you fluctuate a lot, like I do, you can wear all sorts of jersey clothes (which can be dressed up for professional clothes too), there’s a whole world of stretchy fabrics out there for you. Just make sure it fits comfortably when your weight is at it’s peak. Here’s a whole blogpost by Jenny from Cashmerette on sewing for fluctuating weight.

On to the dress

Anyway, this is a longwinding way to say: I need and love stretchy clothes in my life. I make and have made lots of nonstretchy clothes, but usually those won’t fit me part of the year/month/week. So I like jersey a lot because it gives me lots of room on the way up and usually bounces back when I’m on the way down again. I like trying patterns for wovens in jersey and I felt I probably could use jersey for the Colette Dahlia. There aren’t a lot of seams and the midriff works in jersey too as I experienced with my Zoe dress.

So while the friggin Penny was languishing in the corner I continued making every single Colette pattern that I own. I had been wanting to try to make the Dahlia in a jersey for a while now.

It’s a pattern I have made with more or less succes before:

It takes some fiddling with the neckline to get it to sit just right (I think I nailed it with the dress on the right, the other ones have moved on to the charity shop since making them). It’s gather, fit, gather, fit, ungather, fit, gather again etc. I added shoulder darts to the raglan sleeve to get it to lie flat better.

This is a straight size 12 with no alterations other than changing the skirt into a selfdrafted half circle skirt. I might tweak the fit at the back some more as you can see there’s some gape at the neck, but first I’ll check if it isn’t due to weird posture when taking photos (I just don’t know how to stand with my back to my phone…), because I really do have weird posture when taking photos, I’ll pull up my shoulders or do weird things with my hips etc.

I wanted a polkadot navy dress for a while now and used my store credit to get this one from Stoff&Stil. I think it’s sold out now. It’s a cotton jersey that’s easy to work with, not too flimsy, but good drape. I usually use the triple straight stitch on midriff pieces and skirts for stability and added some clear elastic for extra stability. I haven’t had any dresses stretch out vertically, so I think it works.

I’m very happy with this dress, I think it looks casual enough and professional enough to wear in all sorts of situations and I have been wearing it a lot since making it. On to the next Colette pattern. I might just re-visit the Moneta next, but am also contemplating an eyelet Macaron, a lace Laurel and a linnen Anise.

Colette Penny

Ah, the Penny! I had such high expectations and ended up slightly disappointed. This is the second pattern I made in my attempt to make every single Colette pattern I own.

I wasn’t sure when the pattern was released if the silhouette would suit me and my preferences. I am firmly in team ‘no-gathered skirts allowed’ and the puffy sleeves didn’t feel very me either. I did see a lot of versions I really liked popping up over the past few months and those made me decide to go for it. And there’s this vintage dress that I own and love and have wanted to replicate for a while now.

I chose a shibori inspired fabric that I got in one of my SewHayleyJane boxes. I felt the fabric might balance the dress so it wouldn’t become sugary sweet.

I made a straight size 12 based on the finished measurements. The one thing that I changed were the sleeves. At first I wanted to make a sleeveless dress, but after fitting I decided that the dress did need sleeves for balance and didn’t want to make the gathered sleeves. I was considering pleating the skirt and I think I should have just gone for it. I always end up disliking gathered skirts and usually change them to pleated skirts. I probably will change this skirt too. Maybe do some symmetrical pleats at both sides of the front like the vintage dress above has.

After the first, disappointing fitting of the dress as a whole, I stalled on finishing the dress. It did not make me feel good in my body. I felt everything was out of proportion. It just languished in a corner, waiting to be hemmed and provided with buttons. Then I lost some weight and tried it on again. The bodice is slightly roomier, but I liked the dress better on me. I didn’t feel as gigantic as I had felt after the first fitting. I’m now committed to alter it to my liking: pleat the skirt and shorten it to kneelength.

Now for the positives:

I really enjoyed the process of making this dress. The instructions are clear and concise and helped me to finally master the burrito method of attaching a yoke. The fabric was lovely to work with and overall I think it’s good to try things even if you’re unsure about the outcome. Making this dress has provided me with confidence in my own opinions on my style. I’m pretty sure that there will be no more gathered skirts ever for me.

Sew House 7 Tea House dress

I have been intrigued by this dress ever since seeing Devin Iott’s version, but it didn’t feel like a pattern that would look good on me. Because it kept popping up in my imagination I decided to wait for a sale and then get the pattern to get it out of my head.

I decided on making this first in a fabric that I didn’t really like:

At first I made the midi version, but that did not work on me (sadly no photo to demonstrate this). I think I like the shape on me? I’m still not sure! I did know I wouldn’t wear it as was, because it reminded me of a hospital gown. So I dyed the dress tulip red (as it says on the package).

I like it a lot now! Construction wise this was a breeze. I lowered the pockets to create less bulk around the hips, but otherwise this is as the pattern was intended. If I would make this again (which I might), I would use either a heavier fabric than this cotton lawn or a more drapey fabric.

Simple Sew Annabelle dress

You all probably are familiar with this fabric:

It’s the Rifle paper co. Les fleurs print of Cotton + Steel in navy and I love, love, love it. I bought it in three colours and made things with the red and periwinkle, but I want the dress I’ll make with the navy fabric to be the best dress in the universe ever. There’s a couple of contenders for the pattern I’ll use and I want to test out these patterns first before cutting into the preciousssss….

First up is this one:

It’s the Annabelle dress from Simple Sew. It came free with Love Sewing mag and has been a contender for the Les Fleurs from the start.

I made it in a viscose from Weaverdee. It’s still available at the moment.

It was surprisingly easy to sew. In my head I am very much a beginner, but I guess I’m not and should be finding projects to level up with. I did not use the instructions and looking through them now, I realise that I had a very different order of construction. I sewed up the front first, then the back, added the sleeves, then the neckband and facing. Oh well, it turned out well I think. I reinforced all seams with hemtape. The viscose frays just by looking at it, so it needed something to hang on to. All pieces went together without any problems and sewed up great. Only thing I would change on a second version is taking in the neck a bit. I have small shoulders apparently, because that’s something I have to deal with often. Definitely a contender!