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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Collette Oolong Pattern: Pattern Tips and Bias Sewing

My Pattern Tips
On Sewing Bias Grain Pattern Pieces:
If any of you are considering buying and sewing this pattern, here are some tips I found that aren't listed in the included directions. I learned these tips from a class I took with Master Couture Sewing Teacher Susan Khalje.
Working with bias can be tricky.
 Make sure you lay your pattern on the true bias before you trace and cut.
As soon as you have cut each piece of bias pattern, draw onto the pattern piece or thread trace your seamlines. I use a light pencil or a water soluble marking pen.
Why trace seamlines?
Once you stretch and press your bias pattern pieces as directed to by your instructions, seamlines can shift. A 5/8 seam stretched on the bias can mysteriously turn into a 1/2 inch seam. If you don't mark your lines, and use your machine guide and still sew at 5/8 allowance your skirt will be too small, comprende?
Stretch your pattern pieces out and iron them with steam before you sew them. This helps prevent some but not all of the wierd stretching out that often happens when a bias cut garment hangs for a few days. Also stretch each piece slightly as you sew it and don't forget to press each seam after you sew it. The pattern directions say to hang each pattern BEFORE you sew but that isn't necessary. 
What IS necessary is to hang your finished dress for about 2 days before you hem it because it may stretch a little more and it often stretches more on one side so you dont want to hem it until the fabric has relaxed.
Notes on The Pattern.
When connecting the bodice to the skirt in this pattern, the booklet recommends folding the pattern over and topstitching it, creating a welt seam. I wouldn't recommend this. It looks sort of homemade this way and creates what I thought was a weird looking tuck. I also don't like to see a lot of machine stitching on the outside of a dress I make because I think it can look shoddy. I  sewed the skirt to the bodice in the normal way, right side to right side, and felt it looked better and was less work.
I turned the sleeve pattern into a cap sleeve because the pattern was too tight around my arms. It was a size 4. I just chopped the pattern shorter.
Problem with the back bodice pattern piece:
When you cut out the back skirt pieces and sew them together and then sew it to the back piece you will get a funny gap because the back bodice piece is straight on the bottom and not curved to match the skirt piece. I had to alter the back bodice pattern piece to remove this extra fabric.
Thanks for reading and I will post some photos of this dress on me soon! I like to see dresses on models but I was too lazy to get dolled up today.


  1. Hello!
    I love how this dress is turning out, the fabric you chose is so pretty!

  2. oooh! One of my favourite oolongs! Great tips for sewing with fabric on the bias! Thank you!! Can't wait to see the dress on you! I also really love the flower trim!

  3. i just got my oolong! thanks for the fab tips.... i'm going to wait till cooler weather and do the thread tracing. have you done gertie's bombshell video? she uses susan k's techniques too.

    your oolong is gorgeous!

  4. I love the fabric and can't wait to see the dress on you. Thank you for all the great tips. They are very helpful for newbies like me.

  5. Wow, that looks awesome!! I love the fabric you used.

  6. Too oonanballoona. I have been considering in buying Gerti'e class. I took Susan Khalje's Couture sewing class on patternreview.

  7. OMG You're my hero!!! I'm working on this dress and as an absolute beginner who has never made a dress EVER (so why did I pick an intermediate pattern??) I was absolutely dumbfounded by the instructions to attach the bodice and skirt. I thought I was losing my marbles. I tried it basically the way you described and it at least sort of works. I thought I'd read everything on the Interwebz about this pattern but randomly went searching for your black and white version, b/c it is much easier to show people the "point" in the front that I keep getting stuck on, and I found you!

    Okay, so now that I've found you 2 years too late, how did you go about getting such a nice seam in that point in front? Mine is fine most of the way around but that point is sloppy now matter how you slice it. Is this just a matter of lack of skill?

    Thank you thank you!


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