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?


imagining the future: Colette Patterns’ Albion

One of my favorite clothing items is a black wool duffel coat I bought at The Gap five years ago. It’s one of a few pieces in my closet that I reach for time after time, and always feel comfortable and stylish in. At least, I used to feel stylish in it before it started wearing through at the seams from all the use it’s seen! I toyed with the idea of making a pattern from my perfect coat  in order to sew up a new one, but seeing as I’ve never sewn any outerwear, the idea of drafting my own pattern was overwhelming.

Lucky for me, Sarai and her team of lovelies over at Colette Patterns came out with their rad new Albion pattern & saved me! This pattern looks like the perfect starting place for my new duffle coat. Plus, there’s a sewalong launching January 24th! I spent some time this past weekend scoping out fabrics and sketching up some initial plans, which I thought I’d share with you.

Sew U cover

Since this is one of the most ambitious sewing projects I’ve undertaken to date, bringing some order to it has helped me feel more confident and excited about the steps involved. To help with my planning, I used the template from Built by Wendy’s Sew U.

Sew U blank templateI like how Wendy indicates some of the key things to think about when planning a sewing project: trims & finishing, pattern alterations, and any changes to the construction plans in light of the alterations and finishing plans. In the upper right hand corner of the template, there’s a place to add fabric swatches and trim samples. And below that she’s got an area where you can sketch in your design ideas.

Sew U template filled

Here’s an example of a completed template from the book.

My Albion templateAnd here’s a version of the template I drew up in my notebook (along with a rather sad sketch of my imagined Albion)!

photo 3I guess the main thing is that I’ve captured my ideas, right?! And I can be pretty damn sure that no matter how my new coat turns out it will look better than this sketch!

photo 2The blue sticky note is my shopping list. I wanted to make sure I could stick it in my wallet or otherwise carry it around in the likely possibility that I’ll want to shop without dragging the whole notebook with. And on the back of this note I’ve started tracking what I spend on the project. This is something I’ve never done before…not the planning, and certainly not the tracking of project related costs, but I think it could be a good habit to try getting into.

So, have you seen the new Albion pattern? What do you think of it? Will any of you be joining the sewalong later this month?