Sunday, April 15, 2012

Successful sewing: The Cod Afrique Hazel dress

So, hands up folks. Who among you (sewing) people did a little squeal of joy when Sarai from Colette Patterns announced their SS12 range would soon be available? And then did a big squeal of joy when you saw how adorable they were? YES I DID TOO. I immediately fell in love with both of the dresses, Lily and Hazel. The timing was fortuitous because, having seen So Zo's fabulous African cotton dress, I'd been inspired to dig out the beautiful African cotton that had been languishing in my stash since 2010.

According to the selvedge, the designer/design is Veritable Top Finale, but I can't find anything useful on the internet about it. I bought this from Dreyfus in the Marche St Pierre in Paris when Nic and I were there on holiday in June 2010. I was drawn to the table of waxed cotton when I saw all of these beautiful African ladies in beautiful clothes shopping there, and Nic spotted this print. It was very cheap - I think about two euros a metre, but when I got it home I wasn't sure what to do with it. I think I also misremembered it - in my head it was really heavily waxed, Barbour jacket style, but of course it's nothing like that at all!

I bought and downloaded the Hazel pattern on Thursday morning and, as Nic was away from Thursday to Saturday I knew I'd have a clear run at sewing this without being antisocial. While my fabric was washing on Thursday night I assembled the pattern. I drank rather too much wine on Friday night to think about sewing so I sat down to this on Saturday morning. It was all done bar the shouting, so to speak, when Nic got back at 5 o'clock, and I'd gone out for a dander in town partway through the day. This pattern is so sweet and easy to sew from, and the African cotton is a delight to sew with as well. It doesn't get all creased, but it does hold a fold really well. It's quite crisp, so probably wouldn't work with a more drapey style pattern, but it was perfect for this. The only main adjustment I made to the pattern was to line the bodice, rather than fart around with facings:

This decision was partly because, as I said, I don't like farting around with facings. Also, I was a tiny little bit concerned that the bodice might be a bit see-through because the base colour is white. It isn't see-through, but I'm glad I lined the bodice anyway because it meant that the gathering at the waist seam was all neatly tucked away behind the lining. I lined this using a cotton pillowcase I'd dyed turquoise a while back so everything required from this pattern was already in my stash - win! The only other, tiny change I made was to cut the skirt pieces to the length for the largest size because I wanted this to sit on my knee.

And here it is! In honour of the African fabric, and of some of my lovely musician friends, I've named this my Cod Afrique Hazel dress. I'm really happy with the fit, and the finish of this dress. The last few finished objects I blogged about weren't finished to the best standard I can do, but that was fine because both of those - particularly my yellow vintage dress - were more about getting me enthusiastic about sewing again, and that worked. This lady, though, she really deserved to be made up with care! Pleasingly, even with me taking my time, this frock was really quick and easy to sew up. I'll definitely sew from this pattern again (and, probably, again and again and again!)

And yes, POCKETS! So obviously that makes the dress even more adorable. I loved the instructions for inserting the pockets, as well - so easy, and the pockets are the best I've ever done. Sarai is a drafting genius. I really like the placement of the straps, as well. If you look very closely you can see a tiny bit of my bra peeping out, but the placement covers bra straps really well. The other adorable detail is the sides of the bodice being cut on the bias:

This detail works really well with this fabric. I love how dramatic the print looks on the bias.

I really like the way the bodice seams come down to a point. It's sort of lost in this busy print, but I know it's there and that's all that matters.

I still have about a metre of this fabric left and I'm thinking it might look good as the top half of a Macaron, what do you think?

So, basically, Hazel is a sold-gold winner. So much so that I'm very seriously considering buying and downloading Lily. I have all sorts of ideas for both of these patterns, and I can see me wearing this version a lot in the summer. It's ever so comfortable. I'm really delighted to have found the perfect pattern for this beautiful fabric, and to have a dress so filled with happy memories from our holiday in Paris.

So, that's it for now but I will be back in the week with another finished sewing project. What can I say, I'm on fire at the moment! Happy rest of the weekend to you all, my dears.