My First Mabel

Recently, I’ve found myself thinking about how much sewing has changed my attitude toward clothes and what I feel good wearing. The most obvious difference has been a major shift in my preference for fewer, higher quality clothes in my closet. Gone are the days when I would wander absently into H & M and want to buy all the things. Now, between the poor fit and flimsy fabrics, most of those things look unwearable.

Equally, it makes a lot less sense to settle for something that’s kind of what you want, when you know you have the skills to make exactly what you want. I credit this sewing perk for my expanding interest in skirts and dresses. When shopping ready to wear I typically find them cut too short for my tastes, or that there’s too many details, weird fabric, not enough pockets, etc. etc. etc. With fewer variables to contend with, I just found jeans easier. But (sewing discovery!) skirts and dresses can be waaay more comfortable than jeans when they’ve been made to order for and my me!

colette-mabel-sewstylist-pic1.jpgWord on the street is Colette’s Mabel skirt  is just as comfortable as pjs, yet it looks a whole lot better walking down the street. (Well, maybe not better looking than these.) The rumors are true. This skirt is super comfy, cozy, and easy to wear.


I started with the pencil skirt version, then added about four more inches to the length so the skirt could be a bit high-waisted and still hit below my knees. Some might find this length a little dowdy, but it’s what’s most comfortable for me. I like the long line it makes.

I’ve wanted to try this pattern since it came out, and when I was able to get it 20% off (applying the awesome discount I get after my Bay Area Sewists Meetup) I jumped at the chance to give it a go. True, it is a pretty simple pattern, but the time I got to spend sewing instead of drafting was worth it. The fit is good and there’s some thoughtful details. I would not have approached the waistband the same way, and the proportions of the center placket on the pencil skirt are so, so flattering.


The fabric I used is a great mid-weight ponte with a sort of space dyed finish to it. Very cool to look at, but also very difficult to photograph! Nevertheless, it was kind of the perfect fabric for this project. It’s sturdy enough that I don’t have to worry about panty lines, but still stretchy enough that this skirt is a breeze to wear and walk in.

You can almost see in the pics above that I played with the direction of the fabric. The lines go up and down on the front side panels and the two back pieces, but I placed them horizontally across the center placket. This creates nice visual interest and is slimming, not that slimming is my first concern but , hey, can’t hurt!


I cut a straight medium, even though the numbers said I was a small at the waist. As a result, in addition to lengthening the skirt I took about four inches off the waistband, and about a three inch wedge out of center back. The wedge helps accommodate my sway back, and I think I needed more off the waistband because I wanted it to ride a little high. These adjustments were easy to make on the fly, and the whole project was quick and fun to put together.

This skirt is such a basic, wearable shape, and the pattern has tons of possibilities. I definitely plan to return to it. Here’s a few images I pinned to inspire my next Mabel.


One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

I love the idea of taking the #invisiblepajamas aspect of this skirt one step further by making it up in fleece. Also, what if you left off the back vent in favor of a slit up the front? Adding a peplum to this skirt would be super easy and create a totally different look. I definitely plan to make a little black Mabel. And what about that contrasting fabric? Nice, right? If you’d have told me in the years before I started sewing that I’d want an entire wardrobe of jersey skirts I probably would have laughed accommodatingly while secretly thinking you were nuts. But look at me now!

So, I’m curious, are there any types of garments that you’re more likely to wear if you’ve sewn them yourself? What makes your me made version better than the RTW offerings?


23 thoughts on “My First Mabel

  1. I was unsure about the Mabel pattern at first, but seeing yours has made me think again. I love that you cut it longer, it gives it an easy elegance and as you say does create a longer line. Looks great on you!

    I’ve noticed that I always pick the archers in my closet over the one RTW shirt that I own. Now I mostly just shop for inspiration purposes, which is cheaper and more fun than buying stuff!

    • Yes, I’m all about inspiration shopping! And it’s interesting what you say about the Archer… I’ve tried (and never loved) button down shirts over the years. Maybe a me made one is the answer.

  2. It’s very stylish! Often the simplest pattern can be one of the most satisfying. What drives me crazy about RTW tee’s and singlets are the side seams that twist because it garment is cut off grain. Even the better quality chain stores seem to have that issue here in Australia. It does my head in! So I get great satisfaction in making simple tee’s that never twist!

  3. I am sold on the comfort of knitwear. I absolutely love your mabel in that length. I was on the fence with this one but now that I has seen yours. I was in the shops yesterday (researching) and saw and loved your look. But yours is better – fabric choice. I love my Renfrew dresses! cowl neck for winter etc…

    • Yes, the comfort of knitwear cannot be beat! I definitely recommend this pattern. It’s a quick and easy make, so you could craft a whole wardrobe of them in no time!

  4. I swear, we’re drinking the same koolaid these days. I whipped up a Mabel this week and am equally in love. Perfect pajama dressing! Love this length on you but you have the height to do it with flats – I can only do below the knee with heels.

    • Yours is a great mind I’m happy to be thinking like anytime. Your ikat Mabel looks great! Perfect for working from home. I’m not sure the long skirt + flats is the best look, but it’s realistic!

  5. I love the longer length! I’m still not completely sold on jersey pencil skirts (maybe because they highlight the one area on me I’m trying to hide) but I really love this one. The length makes it so elegant.

    • I hear you, the jersey skirt is a tough sell! Finding the right fabric was essential for me. This one has enough weight to stand off the body just a bit, instead of draping down every little lady bump.

  6. Love this. I think I am much more likely to wear skirts if I make them. It is so hard to find a good fit in the store. I love being able to walk past clothing stores without even wanting to go inside! If only I could say the same for fabric stores…

  7. this is really cute! I’ve made and loved two of the Victory Patterns Chloe dress, which is a fitted shift dress that I never would have bought in the store. I realize now that it’s because my hips are a size bigger than my waist, so anything in RTW always gave me this awkward pouf of fabric around my middle. but now I can cut the proper size where I need it. high five for sewing power!

  8. Love this! I am slowly coming around to the Mabel pattern…I haven’t been super happy with Colette patterns in the past but I am liking the look of this one. Hmmm…it’s been so long since I have bought anything at the store! I feel like sewing has totally changed my style, the clothes I sew are different than anything I used to buy.

    • This pattern seems to appeal to some of us who were maybe less excited about some of Colette’s other offerings. Their bodice sizing is just too far off from my body type to work, but getting the fit right on this skirt was a breeze!

  9. Your skirt looks ACE! I have the Mabel pattern also but was worried that the skirt might not “stay up” as it doesn’t have an elastic waistband? Maybe I should just bite the bullet and give it a go?

  10. this is gorgeous on you!! fits you like a glove and is super flattering too. i made my first knit pencil skirt when i was pregnant and it was so fun to wear! i’m with another commenter – i reach for my archer shirts whenever they’re clean but never wore storebought button down shirts.

  11. I really like the length and fabric on you! I hope you do a contrasting panel version 🙂 I would never buy fitted tees in a store, mostly because the armpits would be cutting off my circulation!

  12. So cute! I love a good pencil skirt! I am so with you – I really prefer my made me clothes. I find myself reaching for them more and more – especially since my skills are getting better!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s