Colette Crepe: Ice Cream Social Dress

Since my last post, I quickly found myself basically spinning my wheels on both of my fit muslins.  It seemed I would get *so* close to doing the one more thing that would make it perfect, doing that, and then realizing that didn’t solve the problem, or it did, but it drew attention to a new issue.  I was getting pretty fed up with the process, and the fact that I hadn’t made anything wearable since February, so I decided to take a break to recharge.

I decided to try the Crepe pattern by Colette Patterns.  I figured the wrap style dress would be easy to minimize fit issues, and I’ve been wanting to try it for a while anyway.  Since I feel pretty comfortable working with muslin at this point, I decided to do a quick one just to make sure it would all go well.  The muslin seemed to fit OK, but something still felt a little off- the shoulders made me look like a linebacker, and there was some excess fabric in the armpit area- not a good look.  Lady Katza suggested I try a sloped shoulder adjustment in one of my previous muslin fitting posts, and I pulled out my visual figure evaluation report from the sewing expo class, which also confirmed my shoulders are not square- they are sloped, so I decided to give it a try, and was very happy with the results.  I know my before/after pic might be hard to see, but after my adjustment, the sleeves looked to be much more in proportion.  There was still a little bit of extra fabric under the arms, but I decided it was minimal enough that it didn’t bother me.

adjusted pattern on top of original to show effect of 3/4″ sloped shoulder adjustment

I have to say, of all the bodice patterns to try your first sloped shoulder adjustment, I do not really recommend this one.  The adjustment for sloped shoulders is fairly straight forward- assuming you have a standard looking shoulder and armhole shape to your pattern AND you have a little bit of an idea about what you’re doing.  I spent a good deal of time consulting all my fitting books, tutorials on the web, and you tube videos trying to figure it out.  I think it’s the type of adjustment that’s probably easy peasy once you’ve done it once or twice, but the books and internet just didn’t have as much hand holding and tutorials as I would have liked (pssst, Lady Katza- you would be making the internet a better place if you posted one!).  Sometimes it’s good to see it done on different sleeve configurations, or even a standard looking one, but with more step by step photos, or maybe just a different “voice” telling you what to do can make all the difference.  Whatever it is, I would have liked to have had more tutorials and videos about this one!

The green line is my reference armscye

I think my main issue with this adjustment, was the shape of the sleeve, and trying to figure out what parts of my pattern corresponded to the vanilla sleeves that were adjusted in all the materials I was referring to.  I decided to trace the shoulder and armscye from my fitting muslin pattern to use as a reference when doing this adjustment.  That worked very well for me, and after I did that, it was easy to see exactly what needed to be done, which lines to move, and how to redraw the sleeves (which I did fudge a little bit, but it turned out OK in the end.  The only other pattern alterations I did was to curve the darts, and I really love how that turned out!  Now I want to curve all the darts!  All the time!  I’m not sure why it’s not standard to print them curved- they aren’t any more difficult to sew, and it makes the garment follow the body’s curves much more naturally than straight darts.

I started sewing this in my real fabric about 2 weeks ago, but could not quite get it complete before I left for a vacation to Washington, DC.  Finishing it up was one of the first things I did on coming back home, and it will be nice to wear a new dress when I go back to work after a week off.

This dress turned out so sweet- when I tried it on before hemming, the first thing that came to mind was “I should be wearing this to an ice cream social at a church”.  Being a lapsed Jew, I have never been to one, but this is how I imagine you’re supposed to dress at them.  At any rate, I needed a name for the dress, and that seemed to fit.

I made this in the pink toile I picked up in New Orleans, and lined/underlined it in a creme colored Bemberg Rayon.  I couldn’t decide if I should line it or underline it- I wanted to avoid doing the neck and arm facings (line it), but the toile was so sheer, I thought the darts would work better if it were underlined.  So I kind of did a mash up of both.  I sewed and understitched the neck and arm areas first, like a lining, then I flipped it right sides out, and basted the edges as if it were underlining.  It worked out pretty well, although there were a couple of places I had to pick out those basting stitches because it restricted the give of the fabric enough that the pieces weren’t lining up correctly.

The Bemberg is a new fabric for me to work with.  I still haven’t mastered the art of pressing it, and it tends to get kind of ripply looking, which you can kind of see in the center front seam.  I think it’s a combination of heat level and steam level that is doing that…  it’s easy to turn down the heat, but I have a very hard time laying off the steam button (or maybe I need more of it?).

More pics!

The back has some extra fabric in the overlap, but not enough to really bug me. I think I can work some of it out with how I wrap it.

I like pockets!

Inside view

I french seamed wherever I reasonably could.  I never would have thought about doing a french seam to attach the bodice to the skirt, but the pattern instructions suggested it.  There was a minimal amount of hand sewing in this dress- just the top of the hem, which was easy since I just stitched it to the underlining.

Also, I am almost sure I read somewhere that Bemberg is great for breathability, but after 10 minutes outside taking pictures, I was feeling pretty sticky.  It does have a nice feel inside, in the air conditioning, but I think if I had a do-over with this dress, I’d line it in something 100% cotton instead.

Overall, I like this dress.  It was my first time making a Colette, and I thought the instructions were clear, and the dress came together easily.  The one thing I did not like about the pattern was there were so many sizes included it was sometimes difficult to find my size line.  Maybe I got on “off” print because there were parts where the size indicators were really hard to make out, and there were a few times where I just counted from the smallest size inward to get to my line.  All that aside, it turned out OK in the end!  The final dress took 8-10 hours.  The muslin process was maybe 6 if you don’t count the time I spent researching the shoulder adjustment.

It’s a pretty design, and I think I’d like to make it again in a fabric that isn’t so sweet since I think the dress is sweet enough on it’s own.

8 thoughts on “Colette Crepe: Ice Cream Social Dress

  1. Oh, it IS a sweet dress! It turned out really nicely – way to stick with it! (I still have a few dresses I need to finish up myself. Sometimes it’s hard to get through a project when the motivation cools a little.) And I love those shoes with it!

    I always end up curving darts too. They don’t print them standard like that because they are always a different curve on everyone. A good seamstress just knows to fix them. =)

    • That’s interesting about the darts. I’m going to have to play around with different levels of curviness because all I did was line up my French curve at the point where it met the top and bottom of the dart, and it seems like that would give a fairly standard curve.

      • I usually pinch and draw right on my mockup and then transfer to the pattern and then clean up the curve with a French curve. You can easily pick your level of ease that way. Plus, it’s just fun to draw on a mockup, hehe.

  2. Your dress came out just lovely!! That’s good advice for the shoulder sloping tutorial. I read that most patterns are based on the square shouldered model but that most “real” folks have a varying slope to their shoulders, so this would be a popular fix, I should think. And, in my sewing class, we always sewed the darts curved. We didn’t measure to fit or anything, but wherever there was a dart, it was just assumed that you sewed it on a curve since your body is curved.

    • Thank you!
      I think someone with more experience with that adjustment would probably do just fine without the reference, but since it was my first one, I’m not sure I could have done it without it!

  3. I love it! Great job, and good job on the sloped shoulders. Though I do “rounded upper back” adjustments on most of mine, I think I need to add “forward shoulders” too. It took me three muslins to get my raglan dress to fit right for that reason. Because it was a two piece raglan in a woven (which creates a dart like effect in the shoulder) NO ONE had anything for that specifically.

    I really do want to do more tutorials. Its just the motivation to do them evaporated. Soon, though.

    • Thank you!
      Writing up tutorials seems like kind of a chore. I really tried to find one for this dress specifically, but everything google found referred to crepe fabric, not dress pattern.

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