After Sewing Summit this year and inspiration from Mena Trott of Sew Weekly, I have a wicked craving for garment sewing. Considering my ongoing fear of making clothes, it felt a little like jumping into the deep end when I signed up for a Violet shirt sewing class at one of my LQS.

I have had my eye on Colette patterns for some time – I love the retro look, simple lines and flattering shapes for bustier women. I knew the Violet would teach me a few things: how to put in sleeves, how to put in a collar, how to place and sew button holes.

The class was scheduled over two Thursday nights for two hours apiece. From start to finish, it actually took five and a half hours over those two Thursdays and about 3 hours on a Sunday at the shop. In all, it’s about a 10-hour project for a beginner, when you take into account sewing the buttons on. I am immensely grateful for the endless patience of our instructor, Christina, who stayed with us through it all!

Colette’s patterns are easy to read and follow, and I love the book/bound pamphlet format with a folder in the back for storing your pattern pieces. Though we did follow the pattern, Christina gave us a few tips for ease and time-saving, including an alternative way to put in sleeves, which I will always use from here on out.

So here’s the finished product. I used voile, and I shortened the sleeves. I also took it in a little at the side seams, to give the structure more curves. My complaint about this pattern: as is, it’s a little boxy, even matronly. From the sound of the blogosphere, I’m not the only one who thinks so. I realize that the challenge of pattern designing is that size and shape have to adjust to fit all body types, however, I wish there were more notes on customization with the actual pattern — if I hadn’t been in this class with my wonderful instructor Christina, I wouldn’t have braved straying from the instructed steps. It’s true, I learned a valuable lesson from this: it’s a cardinal rule that most patterns need tweaking to fit your body. My alteration mantra from here on is: Don’t freak out, just alter it.

I want to make another shirt with the same pattern, one size smaller, to see if it feels less boxy when it’s tighter fitting. I admit it, I’m just used to wearing close-fitting shirts! Considering all my UFO’s, at this point I’m not sure when I’ll have time for another 10-hour shirt project… but nevertheless, I’m adding it to the list!

~ Kristina

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