Saturday 17 December 2011

Dressing for Yourself Colette Style

Like a lot of my blog posts, this one has been copied inspired by first Tasia's, then Karen's response to a section in the Colette Sewing Handbook.

Despite ordering the book 10 seconds (that's no exaggeration) after it was first announced on the blog back in the summer, it only arrived on my doorstep last week.  And, even worse,  it was left whimpering in the cupboard under the stairs for a whole day, after I'd tossed it there, thinking it was yet another Christmas present for my kids.  Anyway I digress, it's a wonderful, wonderful book and I've been trying to read it slowly and savour it ever since, but it's difficult to do!

In one of the chapters, Sarai discusses how we plan both what we wear and what we decide to make for ourselves. She suggests an exercise of picking out five things that you love to wear and why - which in turn, may give you clues on how to build a wardrobe around the qualities that are important to you.  I found both Tasia's and Karen's choices really interesting, but I was also very intrigued to read comments from their readers.  It's amazing how much of your personality and essence readers can glean from your blog:  how you dress and how you write and what it says about you.  So, completely jumping on the bandwagon, here are my five choices.

1. and 2. Beignet Skirt and Hillbilly Blouse
Beignet Skirt
The Beignet was one of the first things I ever made and probably the garment I've worn most.  Before I started sewing my own clothes I wouldn't have gone within 50 miles of a high waistband, but since the Beignet I've realised how flattering a high waistband is for my body shape.
I also like:

The colour (ahem)
The contrast buttons - they make me so happy just to look at them
The secret polka dot facings and pockets
The fact that it goes with most of my handmade tops, which leads me onto....

Hillbilly Blouse
What do I like?
The vintage fit and shape - it's from a 1950's pattern
The buttons
The fabric, I just can't resist gingham

3. Pendrell Blouses

I've made three, two of which I've worn pretty much on a weekly basis since I first made them. The third wasn't so successful as I made the sleeveless version which for me, just didn't work.  I've since added sleeves so hope to get a lot more wear out of it in the warmer weather as the fabric is so lovely.

I especially like:
The flattering princess seams on the pattern
The longer length (interestingly the first one looks better untucked whilst the second one is more flattering tucked in, make of that what you will)
It's a practical blouse but the ruffle sleeves give it slightly more of a dressed up feel.

4. Sailor Trousers
Basically these are the trousers I've been waiting for all my life.  I can't really say much more than that.

5. Parfait Dress
I've only worn this a few times as it's very much a sun dress and I live in the UK (!)  But the Parfait ties together everything I set out to do when I started dressmaking.
It has a flattering fit and a vintage look which I love.  I think that's why I'm drawn to Colette patterns so much, because they help me achieve both these things.  It's also made from the most gorgeous double gauze fabric which is so lovely and cool to wear.  I'm so pleased I matched this particular pattern with this particular fabric.  It's fitted but practical enough for me to run around after the kids and still feel like I'm making an effort.

So there, that's me in a nutshell.  My choice is based on what I've worn the most and what is quintessentially me.  Quite a lot of my handmade garments all work with each other but I like the fact that there are a few wild cards in my wardrobe (not many though!).  I don't think you need to be Einstein to work out the patterns that appear in my handmade clothes, do you?!

That was a great exercise to do, why don't you try it?  Have a great weekend everybody. x


  1. I'm hoping Santa will bring me the book, it;s top of my list. Top of my sewing list for the new year is now a Parfait dress; that's just the most gorgeous thing I have seen in ages!!!

  2. I have just had a serious talk with my daughter to establish whether or not this book is lurking somewhere in the house waiting for santa to scoop it into his sack. She looked really scared - LOL! And admitted that she had not managed to communicate my extreme NEED of this book to FL. So that's it - I'm off to Amazon right now!;)
    You didn't mention redness. I see Jane, I think of red!

  3. This book is also on my Christmas list although am already sulking as my mum said she is finding it hard to get hold of, try harder I say, doesn't she understand the importance of this book??!!
    I adore the trousers and the skirt of which I have the pattern but it say intermediate on the cover so I'm a little scared of giving it ago!!
    PS I do love my mum really ;-)

  4. Tina, thank you!
    Roth, your poor daughter! I had to buy my Colette book myself as there was no hope whatsoever of anybody taking the hint in my family! I think there's been enough talk of red on this blog recently!
    Charlotte, just send your mum the Amazon link, then you can sleep at night. I would give the skirt pattern a go, I made it when I was an absolute beginner and it wasn't too hard. x

  5. I love these top 5 outfit posts I've been reading, very fun exercise! I just got my book as well and am reading from the start. As for the Parfait, could you add a cardigan and tights to compensate for UK weather? I think the color transitions nicely for non-sundressy days!

  6. I caved and bought myself this book! I feel like I too must pick out five outfits. It is just too bad I won't be home for a while to gather pictures of my fav outfits. Thanks for sharing! ~grins~ I also was totally expecting some red here...

  7. This book is on my Xmas wishlist too, Santa better deliver or else! I'm regretting not just buying it myself though, everyone who has it seems to be having so much fun with it!

    I love your top 5 items Jane, they're all just gorgeous!

  8. Great post Jane, love the outfits! the Peony dress is on my dummy at the moment (proving challenging fitting the bodice)- I too hope that the lovely other half has been reading my wish list on Amazon and this book will be beautifully wrapped on Xmas day with my name on it! Maybe he might think there would be no Xmas dinner though if I was too engrossed in a sewing book...:)

  9. Well done for doing the thinking - I've seen Karen's take on this as well, & I feel prepared for #what surely is going to be under the tree for me this year# (I have been rather direct, after hints & Amazon wishlists failing to convince sons of the worthiness of putting aside their apparent squeamishness about buying anything at all to do with sewing that isn't a tool). I think you've got a good representation of what I think of when I think of Jane (even got the polka dots in there!). They are lovely pieces, funny how it's the Colette style that's loved by so many of us, & the Colette book that prompted this exercise ...

  10. I think these say 'you' too, but then so does everything else you post - I think your style is very cohesive!
    I might try this, but limiting it to 5 items sounds tricky!
    I've been thinking lately how my blog doesn't really show my true style - and I think it's got something to do with sewing with old stash!

  11. I'm surprised to see so little red, and that the new Jasmine top and red dress are missing!

    And I had to laugh, because without realizing until I read your post this morning, I just bought that same floral fabric as on your Pendrell blouse to make my second Continental blouse!

  12. I've been resisting buying the book largely because I still haven't made any of the Colette patterns I own (the fabric choices have been made, bought even, yet I still have to get round to sewing them up). But I keep reading so many good reviews of it that I might have to cave in regardless... And just looking at all your Colette outfits is another incentive - they all look so fabulous!

  13. What a free-ing exercise!

    You (and Karen and Sarai) really got me thinking about my fave things to wear....and yes, they are all items I've made since I received my wonderful sewing machine a year ago!

    Just had another rummage through my closet and chucked the last of my "might wear it sometime" only have things that my hand automatically reaches for...and I love wearing.

    Gingham, Scandinavian prints in b+w or neutrals with splashes of orange or red feature prominently...
    As do skirts and simple but stylish tops / blouses...

    Gone are all the business suits (which never felt comfy anyway) ....feels fab to have only things that fit me and my sense of style!

    Ps really love your gingham hill billy blouse

  14. I think if I actually went and rummaged (I should...) I'd come up with several pairs of K. Hepburn pants, mannish shirts and fluffy 50's dresses....

    I loooooove your sailor pants, and that's one of the prettiest parfaits I've ever seen. :)

  15. You've sewn some lovely things. I wear my Pendrell's all the time too!



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