Saturday, January 14, 2017

Finished Project: Lemon Laurel

Attempting to document at least some of the backlog of completed sewing projects from the last few months! Today, we have a Collette Patterns Laurel dress in a bold lemon print.

The fabric is the same lightweight cotton sateen by Gertie for Joann's that I used for my Winslow Culottes.  If you follow me on IG, you know I looove this fabric. It's so soft and the colors are great. One thing I really appreciate about it is that what would normally be a very summery/springtimey print can work with more wintry wardrobe items, too, due to the black background! Please, fabric designers of the world, make more fun bright prints on dark backgrounds!!

I ended up deciding to throw my plan to use this remaining yardage to make a crop top to match my culottes (for a little play-set look) out the window, as I came to realie I would not actually wear something like that more than once in real life. I recall having the waistband get a bit stretched out during the construction process for my culottes in this fabric, but I just thought it was a one-off. Silly me. Though this sateen does not contain any stretch fibers, it does tend to stretch out a bit as you handle and work with it -- the more handling, the more stretching. By the time I'd finished sewing the neckline bias facing on this dress, the entire neckline had stretched out quite noticeably, causing it to ripple and not lay flat -- WHY didn't I stay-stitch beforehand?! A word to future Sue: stay-stitch necklines!!!!! Just do it.

Now, if you've read this blog for a while, you'll know how much I like the Laurel dress pattern. I've also sewn it as a dress and a top for friends, over the years, so I'd like to think I'm rather familiar with it! Because it has been a little while since making one of these for myself, I knew I'd need to cut a new, larger size, but I think I over-compensated for my larger measurements. It's hard to say, though, with the fabric stretching issue. Did I cut this out too big, or did it grow? The fit is not quite right.



Talk about a quick, easy project turning into something oddly challenging! [Insert here: fabric joke on making lemonade from lemons - ha, ha, ha] As you can see, I even tried to take things up a notch in photographing it with some new poses!

But, even back to the construction, once I realized the neckline was stretched out and crazy-looking, I knew I needed to try something different. I took a deep breath, cut around the entire neckline to trim the bad part off, and then traced the remaining neckline curve to make my own facing pieces. If you'd asked me in advance if I knew how to do that or thought I ever would, I'd have said "no," but I found that having sewn my fair share of facings in my sewing career, it was not difficult to come up with how to draft my own. I ended up basically tracing the shape of the neckline, adding seam allowances at the shoulders, and extending the whole neckline shape down a couple inches. I used a sturdier black cotton broadcloth for the facing pieces to try to help stabilize things there. It pretty much worked, but I didn't quite make the facings long enough, so they like to flip up a little bit (yes, I under-stitched) even after stitching them down in the shoulder seam ditch. Womp womp.

The verdict is that I love this fabric but not as this dress. The shoulders don't seem to sit right and the adjusted scooped shape of the front and back neckline are a little odd after my re-facing. I'm not sure if the whole thing was able to stretch out enough during construction to make the entire dress too big (apart from the stretched neckline), or if I just need to go down a size. It can be tricky when you change sizes after having determined a TNT pattern at a size different than you are now! I was worried that anything smaller than this would not fit, but I think it ended up being a bit more of a sack -- or pillow case, as a friend noted when I wore it out in real life -- than the casually loose shift I'd envisioned.

I think, to be sure, I have to try it out again in a non-secretly-stretching fabric and see where that takes me!


  1. Have you tried laundering th he dress to see if it returns to original size? Might be worth a try for the fabric you love. My washer seems to shrink a lot of things, particularly at this time of year..or maybe it is just holiday fluff for me. Good luck!

    1. Thanks! I think shrinking in the wash could help certain areas, like the weird sleeve/shoulder situation, but then the dress length would likely become too short!

  2. I don't think it looks like a pillow case at all, but I can understand how the shift-pillowcase line can be a very fine one. Love the print but I think this would be too dark for me personally. I've seen a few similar prints with a light blue that I've been debating over for sometime now. Having said all that, I really, really like this dress!

    1. Thanks, Carlee! Gertie's fabric line has this same print with a light blue background, but just note that the fabric is lawn, not sateen - still a nice lightweight one for garment sewing, though!


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