Completed Project: The Colette Rooibos dress
Howdy. I want to show you my first make of 2014 today – my Colette Rooibos dress. I first made a Rooibos dress in 2011, and although I wore it quite a lot, the fit was not right at all across my bust. I ended up giving it away to a friend, and ever since I’ve been meaning to have another go at making the dress. Now that I have more sewing experience in general, and more pattern cutting experience, and most importantly, the spare cash to buy the fabric I have been wanting for ages, there was no excuse not to get on with it!
First of all, I traced off a size bigger than last time and made a toile. As I predicted, it was tight across the bust, and the midriff came too high up. I cut it open down the centre to see how much extra I would need to add in, and decided to start with 2 inches (or, 1″ per side). Adding in the extra actually meant that the centre of the bodice lengthened as well, so that sorted out the problem with the midriff quite nicely!
I followed the instructions given on the Coletterie website about making a full bust adjustment to the Rooibos dress, but it was problematic because my adjustment was much larger than the one demonstrated in the tutorial, and also the position of my ‘apex’ seemed quite different from where the pattern thinks it should have been. My darts ended up at crazy angles, so I had to reposition them, which wasn’t too difficult of course, just unexpected!
I made a second toile, and for some reason I was convinced that it wouldn’t work. Why do I not have more faith in myself?! When I tried it on, I was pleasantly surprised – it looked much better. The only further adjustment I wanted to make was to make the side darts shorter.
My proper version of this dress is made with green gabardine from Boyes. I’ve been eyeing up this fabric for AAAAGES. It isn’t majorly expensive at £7.85 per metre, but my usual rule is to try not to spend more than £5 per metre unless it’s a present or I’m using money earned from selling things I’ve made. But every now and then I’ll break the £5 rule for a special type of fabric. Annoyingly, I bought 2.5m of fabric, 1m of cotton lining fabric, 5m of bias binding, 5m of piping cord and a concealed zip, which came to around £30, but I have about a metre of the gabardine leftover! I will have to find a use for it.
The gabardine is really lovely quality. Excuse the pictures – the colour looks different in every single photo! It’s 100% cotton, it is a heavy and quite thick fabric but if feels really soft, and it doesn’t crease too badly. It’s ideal for winter and it feels quite hardwearing. I’m already thinking about using it again for future projects, definitely in mustard yellow and maybe red, and perhaps navy blue (and orange and pink and purple and black hahahaha).
The bias binding for the piping is a floral design, it reminds me of a Liberty print. The flowers are mainly pink and purple and the background is cream. My lining or ‘contrast’ fabric is a simple 100% cream coloured cotton.
I got carried away with the piping. I piped the armholes, the neckline, the midriff bottom, the pockets and the hem. I especially like the piping at the hem because it helps the dress keep its A-line silhouette.
I really enjoyed making this dress. It felt really good to take my time over it, get the fit right, and do all the little details to make it nice. I’ve worn it three times so far and it has felt pretty but practical, and stylishly comfortable. It’s definitely shot right into my top ten of wardrobe staples!
There were a few things wrong with the pattern instructions, I thought. I don’t know if these are actually errors as I have an old copy of the pattern, bought in 2011, but for instance you are instructed to interface the contrast facings?! I thought that was pretty unnecessary, with them being rather large. But on the other hand I did think it was necessary to interface the midriff band (and so I did). Also there were no prompts to finish the raw edges of the facings, which I thought was strange because Colette Patterns usually spell out every last instruction for you (hence why they are so good for beginners). There were a few other things that were missed out or just plain wrong (typically I can’t remember what they were now!) …but hopefully in later prints of the pattern these errata have been addressed.
I do absolutely love, in a complete geek fashion, the instructions for attaching the facings to the main dress though. That whole rolling up thing, turning it back on itself and pulling it all through the shoulder? That is pattern MAGIC. I actually made my husband come to watch so he could witness the wonder of the sewing magic! (He was suitably impressed). It reminded me of making the Colette Negroni shirts, where you do a similar rolling up trick to attach the inner yoke facing. I love those neat little sewing tricks!