Free pattern alert: Colette Sorbetto review

Since I am not a very confident sewer, I love finding free patterns. That way I can make mistakes and not feel like I wasted my money. There are a few good free patterns out there. You can find many at this forum post on The only one I can vouch for with complete confidence is the Colette Sorbetto. I’ve made it 3 times – each slightly different – and it works every time.


This is one is by far my favorite. I bought this fabric at a local fabric shop – the only independent shop that sells fabric for apparel in my area – for $13.99/yard. I’m not exactly sure what it is. It’s cotton, it has a nice drape with structure, and feels soft. I was so afraid to cut into it. But, this is why you spend more for fabric. It wears well, washes well, and looks great.

So, as usual, I went to Joann’s first and made my first Sorbetto from some cotton lawn. (Picture coming soon.) It came out well. I purchased the dark blue binding you see on this top, and used it on my first top. I had enough leftover to do this binding. I love this top. I made a straight size 8 and it fit to a T. (Just showing you the back of it here so you can see both sides.)


You can find a lot of variations on the Sorbetto on the Collete blog. I inverted the pleat on my most recent one, and my own bias binding using this tutorial and a fat quarter. (The first time I made my own bias binding, I used the Colette tutorial and a Clover binding tool. I didn’t like how it came out at all. The tutorial I linked to is very similar, but my binding tape came out better since I really wanted half-inch double fold, not one-quarter single fold.)


I’m not crazy about how the pleat puffs out at the bottom. (Picture coming soon.) I’m not sure what I would do to fix that so I don’t know if I’d do it again. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share!

My next free pattern will be the Hemlock T from Grainline studios. It’s only available by signing up for their newsletter. I’ll let you know how it goes.


French braid table runner

french braid table runner

When I asked my sister for fabric for Christmas, I really didn’t know to expect. I wanted to try some different patterns and create some easy projects. She gave me two jelly rolls. After opening this one, and seeing how perfect it matched my kitchen, I scoured the internet for a table runner.  I decided on a a variation of a french braid.

Most french braids have pointed ends, and have a diamond in the middle. Here’s a tutorial from Jenny Doan at the Missouri Quilt Company if you want to follow that idea. I wanted a rectangle. And, because I only had jelly rolls, it would be difficult for me to make the large diamond in the middle. I made my own version.

I started sewing pieces together, using the light 2 inch square in the center. If I had followed the tutorial, I probably would have been more efficient with my fabric. As you can see, I ended up with longer and longer pieces. I started using shorter pieces to preserve fabric, but then I was concerned the table runner wouldn’t be wide enough.

IMG_3198Once I measured my table, and a table runner I already had, I settled on my width and length and squared it up. I used the leftovers to make a simple backing, and pieced together enough light pieces to make the binding, which I machine sewed.

IMG_3357On to the quilting. I had taken Crafty’s Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot (This class is my all time favorite so far – Jacquie Gering is an excellent teacher.) One of the more fancy stitches she recommends is the serpentine stitch. At first I thought I would do it both ways, crossing at the middle. But after finishing this table runner, I had enough. Straight line quilting is a bit tedious. And, even though she makes it look easy, believe me, it is not.

IMG_0271While I can see all the mistakes -the stitches are uneven, and a bit wobbly, – I think the overall look of the table runner is very consistent. And I love the contrast between the thread and the fabric.

This table runner is proudly displayed on my kitchen table. How do you like it?

french braid table runnerNext I’ll share what I did with the leftover scraps.

Drafting my own skirts

After making my own skirt sloper following the directions from SoSewEasy,.com, I decided to delve further into pattern making and signed up for the skirt sloper class on Craftsy. It’s a really good class and Suzy Furrer is a careful, thoughtful instructor.  I wanted to experiment with the different varieties of skirts featured in the Craftsy class.

After making my skirt sloper, my first attempt was a wrap skirt. Don’t ask me why. I think it was because I was afraid of zippers and waistbands. That’s a significant concern because beyond the pattern drafting, there are no sewing instructions with this class. You make the pattern and then you are on your own when it comes to constructing the actual skirt. If you’re like me, an eager beginner, you can either wing it or sign up for another class.

wrap skirtI “wung” it and made the wrap skirt. I left off the waistband, but I also didn’t give a lot of thought as to how to close the skirt. I ended up using two snaps on one side and two hook and eyes on the other. But I have nightmares that the skirt will fall off me so I have yet to wear it to work.

Zippers and waistbands

On to skirt two. It was time to face my fear of zippers and waistbands. So I decided to start with the first skirt variation that Suzy teaches and go with the A-line. Back at Craftsy, they had a new class on, lo and behold, zippers and waistbands, offered by Suzy’s colleague, Sara Alm.

It’s good, but again, not all the instruction you need if you don’t have the experience. I started with my muslin, got the invisible zipper in, but then it came time to the waistband. As you can see, I had a problem. I sewed my waistband on upside down. I didn’t know what was wrong till I posted this photo on a sewing enthusiast facebook page and they gave me the bad news. No worries. I ripped it off, flipped it around, sewed it on again and it came out okay.

bad muslin

So it was on to the actual skirt. I bought a quilting cotton at Joann’s because it was on sale, I wanted a pattern, but I didn’t want a pattern that would jam me up – something that had to be matched or anything crazy like that. Here’s where I’m at. The pink is elastic on my dress form to mark the waist. This is a drop waist skirt so I’ll be adding the waistband soon. Wish me luck!   a line

I finished the skirt. I added the waistband, made a button hole, and even sewed on the button using my machine. I’ve never done that before! But it’s no good. Because I didn’t line the skirt, it is see through. I need a slip. And it has a funny poof going on in the back. I asked the Craftsy instructor, and she told me to fix the center seam where it  met the zipper. We’ll see how that goes.

It’s not bad. I definitely need to learn more about adding waist bands and zippers. But it’s not good enough to wear to work.

Back to the sewing machine to try again

Pattern review: Simplicity 1355 Romper

I follow waaaayyy too many sewing bloggers, who really know what they are doing. They make sewing look so darn easy. Trouble is, when you’re a beginner, things that are intuitive to others, are downright confusing. Still, I like a challenge.

When I first saw MimiGstyle modeling this gorgeous jumpsuit, I put it on my to do list. Then SewCaroline showed up wearing the shorts romper that I really had my eye on. That did it. The pattern, Simplicity 1355, says it’s easy to sew, so therefore it must be!

simplicity 1355

I figured I’d start with the shorts. While I can imagine how good it would look in a rayon challis, something in me said, buy chambray! I imagined a romper in a really soft, lightweight denim that would be fun to, well, romp around in all summer. I did not realize, until I read ImagineGnats post on chambray, that it comes in different weight. I could barely read the fabric requirements on the back of the package, so thought I’d be safe buying 2.5 yards of this chambray from Hawthorne Threads. It’s the color I had in mind, but it’s heavier than I wanted. Hopefully it’ll work. And hopefully I have enough.

Chambray in blue by Andover House

First, I had to make a muslin. I have cut into, sewed, and ruined good (expensive) fabric enough times to know that a new pattern demands a muslin. I had some white cheap muslin, so I traced my patterns, and went to work.

I am terrible about sizing. All the reviews I read on pattern review for this romper showed people wearing mediums. They didn’t look much smaller than me, but whenever I make a medium, I end up sorry. So I figured I’d trace the pieces as larges, do my muslin, and go down a size if that was necessary. I wouldn’t waste my swedish sewing paper, and I’d be erring on the safe side.

Here’s my muslin. It was absolutely huge. Note how I just used some wrapping ribbon for the ties!

muslin jumper - first attempt
muslin jumper – first attempt

All right, down a size to medium. Now to use my soft chambray. I had some challis left over from another failed attempt, so I figured I’d make the ties out of it. I wanted the sleeves to be in that trim too, but you can’t really see it. It was better, but my family thought it was still way too big. And the material just didn’t have the drape I was looking for. I look frumpy.



I had to try again. Down another size to small. This time I went to Joann’s and got some cheap rayon. I wanted something relatively cheap that had good drape. I figured, how bad could this fabric be. When my husband first saw it, he thought it was that bad. However, the end result is actually okay! I had some trouble with the neckline because it has this funky key hole look that you can’t see at all. And, the ties were too long. You really have to keep it tied tight or else everything is let loose and the whole thing falls down. I also screwed up the elastic waist on this version but you can’t really tell.


I wore this more than once. I might just make it again. Third time is the charm!

Draft your own skirt

When I started sewing, I got on a kick to draft my own skirt. It looked easy. The key is to create a skirt sloper. It’s created by taking key measurements, carefully drawing some squares and rectangles on a piece of paper, make a pattern from that, and ta da! You have a custom skirt!

custom skirt from sloper

So, no, it’s not quite that easy, even if you are led to believe it is. I used’s tutorial to draft my skirt. While it appears my waist is too large for my body (yes, that’s something I’m going to have to work on by doing less sewing and move moving), I did eventually make myself a skirt I was very proud of. Deby, who writes the Soseweasy blog, has very good, clear instructions on the whole project.

I bought a cotton weave with spandex and black broadcloth at Joanns. I don’t usually like what they have there, but this fabric caught my eye and I think it is actually pretty nice.

skirt preparation

The instructions teach you to add a lining, an invisible zipper, and a hem. I think I did a pretty darn good job!

custom skirt from sloper2I am so impressed with my sewing machine. It’s a Brother. Every time I need something, a new foot, or new accessory, I look in the little bag of goodies that came with the machine and I find it. It amazes me because when I purchased the machine, I never expected to use all these bells and whistles. Thank goodness I bought up. Otherwise, I’d be in a position where I’d have to buy a new one.

Now, to torture myself, I bought this book which is supposed to help me draft 28 varieties of skirts. The first I’ll do is the wrap skirt. Have a few projects to finish first, but once I do, I’ll let you know how it turns out!

skirt a day