Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Heather: Colette Macaron Summer Spots

Back in May Bridie and I bumped into the lovely Lucy from Sew Essential at The Big Simplicity Blog Meet in Manchester. Sew Essential is a comprehensive and easy to browse fabric and haberdashery site with a huge range of both dressmaking and crafting patterns, from indie brands as well as the big boys; high quality dressmaking fabrics (at prices that don't trigger a call from the bank) and even sewing machines and accessories (basically they have all the things and I want one of everything...).

If you're not a follower of the independent pattern circuit, Colette Patterns produce "Sewing patterns that teach" and have been on my wish list for a while. They have some unusual shapes and styles, and even better they seem to be designed to fit real people- with bums and everything! The pattern packets themselves are rather lovely too. Each package contains a detailed instruction booklet and a multi-sized pattern which is printed onto tissue- much preferred to the heavier paper that is becoming very popular. The pattern is stored in a special pouch in the back of the packet, which is stitched up along the edge to form a booklet to keep everything together. I can just imagine a selection of these sitting on my shelf like tiny books!

Already in love with the pattern, a quick look on Pinterest reassured me that the pattern would lend itself to almost any combination of fabrics, so I was rather excited to find this 100% cotton poplin fun printed spot fabric I could team up with some plain white cotton from my stash. I washed the fabric before using and there was no shrinkage or colour run, though obviously being 100% cotton it did need a good steamy press once it was dry!
Pale Blue multi-spot print cotton poplin fabric from Sew Essential.  
Checking my measurements, I decided to cut the pattern graded from a size 0 at the bust, size 4 at the waist through to a size 8 at the hip. Now before you start worrying for my health, I should point out that the size 0 on these patterns is not in any way indicative of high street dress sizes. The 0 measures B33 W25 H35 which is much more like a size 8-10 from one of the major pattern companies.

Following the instructions (who is this girl?) I created the front and back bodice sections first. The pattern calls for the bodice sections to be turned under 1.5cm along the top edge, positioned over the front and back yoke pieces and then top stitched together. For both the front and back sections I tacked the bodice sections in place and checked for fit before committing my final stitches. The front bodice fitted really nicely, but the back ended up being almost 2 inches too long in the back. Luckily this pattern rather lends itself to alterations- you can just see the stitching line in the picture below showing the final position of the bodice back section. 

The skirt front has two pockets concealed into a slashed dart behind the outer pleats (sounds technical, right?). I used the spot fabric for the pocket back (most likely to be seen) and a polyester lining for the inner half to reduce bulk over the tummy. Whilst I've constructed plenty of pockets before I found the particular instructions for these pockets to be the most clear and easy to follow of any of I've tried previously. The pockets went in perfectly first time with no hassle. 

Once the pockets were constructed, a concealed zip was inserted into the side seam. The sleeves are constructed from two pieces sewn right sides together and pressed to create a smooth sleeve hem. And there we have it; Hey Macaron-a...!

Pleased to have taken the extra time to get the back fitting really nicely!

Here are some tips for you, if you're thinking of having a go at the Macaron dress:

  • Don't be frightened to grade the pattern across several sizes to get a better fit
  • Personally I found the shoulders to be very narrow on the size 0 despite the fit being excellent elsewhere. Check the measurements before you cut!
  • This pattern would totally work without sleeves, or you could lengthen the sleeve to just above the elbow for a more formal look. 
  • I'm only 5'3" and this dress sits well above the knee. You may want a longer version!
Personally, I wouldn't change a thing about my dress! I'm already planning a winter version with some checked wool and denim. In fact, I think I'll have one in every colour!

The fabric and patterns used in this blog were kindly provided by Sew Essential. Browse the site at www.sewessential.co.uk


  1. This dress looks lovely. I am a huge fan of Colette. I always enjoy reading about other peoples experiences so thanks for sharing

  2. It looks great. Lovely colors and the blue shoes are great: A beautiful set.

  3. Thank you! I'm definitely going to use it again.