Colette Patterns Sorbetto Top - Full View

The Colette Patterns Sorbetto Top

I finished my Colette Patterns Sorbetto Top! Despite having had some fit issues I really love the pattern, and it was fun to sew, but I’m not entirely convinced by my choice of fabric and trim. I adore this butterfly fabric that I picked up at Doughty’s a while back (I have plenty more in my stash). I thought the pink bias binding would be a cute match and really add to the fresh, ’60s vibe of the top. But I think it turned out not so much swinging ’60s, more ’90s teeny-bopper for my tastes. The fabric is a bit too busy for the style of the top, and the binding is a bit too, well, pink. Saying that, I can see this being a “go-to” pattern this summer as it’s so versatile, and I really want to make some more. Here’s my full review:

The Pattern Description: The Sorbetto Top is a free downloadable pattern from Colette Patterns. Sarai says she “… took the 60s as my inspiration and made this ultra-simple and swingy little top! With its ultra simple construction (just two pattern pieces plus some bias tape, and no closures needed), elegant loose cut shaped with bust darts, and the box pleat detail down the front, this is a pattern you can throw together in a huge range of fabrics for summer… I’m sure you can imagine all the things you can do with a blouse this simple. You could use a patterned bias tape, or just use a contrasting color. Or you could sew just about any embellishment you want down the center. This blouse is a true stash-buster and a great way to use some pretty buttons or trims.”

Did the pattern turn out like the picture or drawing? Yes it did, but only after I resolved some fit issues, described below. The top is also shorter than I was expecting, especially as I am only a measly 5’2.5″, and I think that’s another reason this particular fabric / bias combo feels a bit too young for me.

What level of difficulty is the pattern? Are any particular sewing techniques used? The pattern is easy peasy, and definitely do-able by a beginner. As always Colette Patterns instructions were super clear with good illustrations. The only techniques used are: sewing a straight seam, hemming, two darts, and of course using bias binding. You’ll be a wizz at applying bias binding by the end of this! (As well as the instructions in the pattern, Sarai has published a detailed bias binding tutorial here).

Did you make any alterations or modifications? Yes, I had a bit of difficulty with the fit. Foolishly I had decided to take a shortcut and not make a muslin, but I wish I’d taken the extra time to do so, particularly as I do want to make the top again. After I sewed it up I discovered there was way too much fabric in the back, so I had to open the side seams and take in more fabric at the seams around the bust area, tapering down to the correct size at the hip. This wasn’t enough though so I also had to sew a horizontal wedge in to the back of the top to take out the fabric pooling above my derriere.

I sewed a horizontal wedge across the back to take up the fabric pooling at the lower back

This improved the problem vastly. It’s still not perfect, but it was hard fixing the problem on the top itself rather than at the muslin / flat pattern stage. It’s not really noticeable while wearing and so I’m fine with it.

Colette Patterns Sorbetto Top - side view

There are some other small issues with the fit that I’d like to correct next time I make it:

  • Extend the length a little. Since having a baby I just can’t / don’t want to wear tops this short anymore.
  • Take in the width of the front piece too. I think the top sits a little ‘tent-like’ at the front.
  • Lower the darts slightly.

These are all issues that I no doubt could have resolved pretty easily if I’d bothered to make a muslin! I’ve definitely learnt a lesson about not taking shortcuts. It’s such a shame when you cut in to your gorgeous fabric and then realise the fit is all wrong. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of sewing your own clothes, right?

How long did it take to sew? Colette Patterns estimate that it takes 2 hours from start to finish. Well it took me about 5 hours including assembly of the pattern, but that also includes a lot of faffing with the fit and trying to work out what the problem was and then how to correct it. As I have no real experience of alterations, I spent at least an hour of those five just researching what I needed to do. In the end I just dove in and did what seemed right and felt like it would resolve the problem. It felt great when I had the realisation that it doesn’t matter if it’s the ‘right’ method or not, as long as it works!

Will you make it again? Do you recommend it? Yes, definitely! I hope this review doesn’t come across too moan-y because of the fit issues, as it’s actually a really lovely pattern. The genius of it lies in its simplicity: it’s so easy to customise it and add little touches that will make each one uniquely different. For my next one I think I’ll use a plain fabric and add some buttons on the pleat, for interest. I also like the idea of sewing a strip of lace down the front of the pleat. Or ruffles. There are so many options, and each top will look completely different despite having the same basic shape.

Oh and did I mention I’d definitely make a muslin??  It’s a good learning experience that even if a pattern is really simple, you can’t skip the fitting stage. Or at least, I can’t. Not with my body! I’ve not made a muslin before but as this is a pretty simple top it’s probably a good one to practice with.

Conclusion Love the pattern, but not so taken by my first stab at it. Fitting problems aside, I just don’t think the pink bias binding and the fabric work together very well on this top. Which is a shame as the fabric is so gorgeous – when I bought it I envisaged a ’50s style summer dress with a full skirt, and I think I still have enough fabric left. Anyway, I’m going to give the pattern another go. I have noticed that other people have also had problems with the fit of the Sorbetto but I don’t think this is reflective of anything wrong with the pattern itself: more the expectation that as it’s an easy pattern, we think we can get away without adapting the fit for our individual bodies. I’ve learnt the hard way that this isn’t the case; but at least I was able to rescue the top, for which I am immensely grateful!!

Colette Patterns Sorbetto TopTo finish off, here are my favourite Sorbettos around the web…


My Colette Patterns Sorbetto Top is coming together – woohoo! I can’t tell you how pleased I am – it’s the first time I’m completing an adult item of clothing that isn’t a basic A-line skirt, and I even managed to do an alteration or two to make it fit properly.

Not that I am finished yet, as I still have to do the bias binding and the hem. But I sorted out the fitting issues I was having on Day 6 of my 30 minutes for 30 days challenge. I am sure that any sewing gurus will shudder in horror at what I did, as I just kind of made it up really, but the key thing is it worked. And I’m also glad that I did just try and see what worked – I used to be such a perfectionist which is why I rarely completed anything. Any time I came up with a problem, I’d want to know how to fix it the right way, and if I couldn’t do it the right way I was paralysed into indecision and inaction. Cue incomplete project into waste bin. I credit the Flylady for curing my perfectionism (my favourite Flylady quote: “housework done incorrectly still blesses my family”).

Anyway, I digress. I bet you’re dying to find out how my 30 minutes for 30 days challenge is coming on, aren’t you?

Ok, so. Day 6: this is the day I encountered my fitting issues after sewing the side seams. Day 7 was spent unpicking the side seams and taking in more fabric from the back piece, keeping the front piece seam allowance as is, but tapering the back piece seam allowance down so that the size at the hip stayed the same but width was reduced at the top.

This did get rid of some excess width, but if anything it exacerbated the problem of excess fabric pooling in the lower back region. A kindly lady on the Colette Patterns forum suggested it might be due to a swayback, something I’d never heard of. So Day 8 was spent researching what a swayback is, and how to correct it. As a newcomer to pattern adjustments, I have to say some of the diagrams and instructions out there are pretty hard to decipher. This blog has a great little at picture of what a swayback is, and, like the author, my conclusion is that I don’t have a curved spine but a big, curved butt. My butt starts curving out from pretty high up and this causes the same problem as a swayback in that fabric pools up around the lower back. At least, that’s what my amateur investigations led me to conclude! If anyone knows better, please do enlighten me :-)

I am still not sure exactly what the correct thing to do about a swayback is, but this is what worked for me (and now we’re on to Day 9). I basically pinned out a big horizontal wedge of fabric at the point where it was pooling. The wedge spans the whole width of the back. In the centre back I pinned out 2″ but it tapers to nothing at the side seams, so it is like a horizontal dart except it goes the whole width of the back. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos as I was too excited at maybe having worked out how to fix the problem!

A wedge like that is too difficult to sew just pinned together, so I basted it, tried it on for fit, and then sewed it up properly and pressed it down like a dart.And now I did remember to take a photo, albeit in pretty poor lighting.

The wedge/dart from the inside

And it’s not too noticeable at all from the outside:

Can you see the horizontal wedge across the lower back?

I can’t show you a picture of me wearing it yet as I’m on my own tonight and haven’t got anyone handy to take a photograph, but it won’t be long before you see a photo of the finished top. Not that much can go wrong now – just sewing bias binding on and doing the hem (famous last words…)

Does anyone know: is what I did the correct way to fix a ‘swayback/curved butt’ type of problem? And is it called a wedge, or a dart? Darts don’t normally span the whole width of a body, do they. But a ‘wedge’ doesn’t sound like the technically correct term either. If you can help enlighten me at all please do add a comment. Thanks!


Today I was talking to a woman in a wonderful little vintage fabric shop I found in Shoreditch (more on that in a future post!), and realised just how much I’d learnt about promoting my business online when I was running Sewbox. It’s been a while since I did a running an online business post, but here are my thoughts on how to market or promote your business online for free. Most of these don’t apply just to online shops, but are equally valid for any business that is trying to drive traffic to their own website or blog. And they do work, or at least they did for me – I built up my business completely organically and without any paid-for advertising, and got up to over 6,000 hits a month in less than 10 months.

1. Build relationships with influential bloggers.

If you can get someone with a very popular blog to write about your blog or website, it’s a brilliant way to drive traffic to your site. But you can’t just approach someone gung-ho and ask them to do a feature on you: they will most likely be very picky about what they write about and wary of transparent attempts to get advertising for free.

First identify any influential blogs with a similar target audience to yours, and then [click to continue…]

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I’ve been making good progress on the Sorbetto top, but have stumbled on some fitting issues.

I decided not to sew a toile as it’s such a simple pattern, and my measurements weren’t far off those for a size 6, so I just went with it – I think I got swept up in the excitement that I was actually finally sewing something!! I shouldn’t admit this, given that I used to make my living selling sewing patterns. But this is the first item of women’s clothing that I am sewing in an incredibly long time. About 5 years, in fact. And my experience before that is limited to simple, simple skirts. So, I guess what I am saying is, I need help! Please!!

This is the problem. The front fits fine: the bust darts a teensy weensy bit high, but not enough to warrant any changes. But the back is waaaaay too big. The first picture is just a normal side shot, but you couldn’t see it very clearly for some reason, so the second picture is an exagerated one where I pinched out the excess fabric so you could see it more clearly. The third picture is a shot from the back.

Side image - not too clear

The same side view with the excess fabric pinched out

View from the back

It looks to me like I have too much fabric in the upper  / middle back. I recall once when I went for a bra fitting, I was told I had a very narrow back for my chest size – so it makes sense if this is the same problem. The question is, how to fix it?!

I have done my 30 minutes for today but I think tomorrow I will unpick the side seams and re-pin them, taking in more fabric from the back piece, and keeping the front piece seam allowance as is. The fit around the hips is perfect, so the amount taken in on the side will have to be tapered.

I have no idea if this will work or not, or if I need some kind of darts in the back? If anyone else has any good pieces of advice or recommendations I’d be really grateful! I’m sure I’ll get there. The good news is I love how easily the pattern has come together – can’t wait to get on to sewing the bias binding on.


I’ve been sewing 30 minutes a day for the last 5 days! Yey! And it’s been fun!

It’s actually worked out really well;  it has taken a bit of getting used to, as I am working in such bite-size chunks and I generally just don’t like to dip in and out of projects like this – I like to sit down and concentrate for a decent amount of time. But I am adapting much better and quicker than I thought I would, which has been great.

Days 3 and 4 (Friday and Saturday) I actually did some hand sewing. We’ve been doing some pretty serious springcleaning, and on Friday I found a box with a few clothes in it that I’d put aside until I got a chance to mend them. Naturally I’d completely forgetten about it! So when I rediscovered it on Friday, I thought I would use the opportunity of this challenge to fix some things. I mended the hems on two pairs of trousers for my husband, and fixed a hole in one of his T-shirts. Cue nice fuzzy feeling for being such a good wife :)

Yesterday I couldn’t put off working on Sorbetto any longer so I started on that. I’ve now staystitched the neckline and sewn both darts. Today I’m going to press the darts, hopefully sew the pleat down the middle, and you never know, I might even manage a side seam (or two)!

How about you – did you do any sewing this weekend?



I was at Ikea on Friday buying a new kitchen table. We have an IKEA high chair so I thought it would be an easy matter to find an IKEA table under which the high chair will fit. Silly me! The high chair is just a smidgen too high for all of their kitchen tables – not particularly joined-up thinking for a design expert like IKEA. Never mind, I found a solution by buying a small office desk with adjustable legs, and pretty reasonable at around £60 including two chairs.

Anyway, I am one of those people that cannot go to IKEA without walking around the whole store following their chosen route, helpfully painted on the floor to guide you on your way. I felt a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, following the yellow brick road. And I am glad I did, because I stumbled across a gem. Have any of you ever been to IKEA’s fabric department??

I swear last time I was there (the Croydon store) the was only a tiny selection of fabric. This time, they have a whole section devoted to it. Gorgeous. And yes, sorry, I forgot to take a picture!! I was too enthralled.

Of course I have a huge stash and for once I was good and didn’t buy anything to add to it. But I did find (and buy) the most ridiculously cheap unbleached cotton, which is perfect to use for making a toile. It is only £1.62 a metre, and I bought 5 metres. It’s incredible value – I couldn’t even get it from my wholesale supplier at that price when I was running my online shop!

It’s nice and soft, and I would describe it as light to medium weight; I think it will makes a good approximation for a dressmaking weight poplin. The fabric is called Bomull and you can find it on the IKEA website here, though it’s not available to buy online.


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Today I spent 45 minutes on the Sorbetto top. Still no sewing though, I’m afraid – but that’ll definitely change tomorrow!

I worked out my size (didn’t make any alterations – the bust was 1″ out and the hips 0.5″, and I hope that’ll be ok because of the ease), cut out both pieces, transferred markings, and now I’m totally ready to sew. Yes, actually sew. So exciting!!! First I’ll have to clear a space on the dining table for the sewing machine, but I won’t count that as part of my 30 minutes.

Are you wondering what fabric I am using? It’s a particularly lovely print from Doughty’s Online, from my stash.


So I spent my 30 minutes ‘sewing’ today, but I don’t feel like I got very far!! In that I didn’t actually get to sew.

My first pattern is the Colette Patterns Sorbetto top, a new free download.

Colette Patterns Sorbetto Top

I’ve never sewn using a downloaded pattern before, and it took me the whole half hour to cut out the pattern pieces and stick them together.

I started by following the instructions included in the pattern, which suggest cutting out each rectangle completely and then sticking them together. But I found it really difficult to line up the pieces this way, and after a quick google I found these instructions on Burdastyle which were much easier – they suggested keeping the margin on one of the pages for each rectangle, and this made the whole process much quicker as well as more accurate.

So that’s as far as I’ve got, I’m afraid! I also measured myself and was quite shocked at how different my post-baby measurements are. Smaller hips (yey), much bigger tummy (boo), same size boobs (quite surprising).

I haven’t decided yet whether to go with the size closest to my measurements, or whether to do it ‘correctly’ and alter my size – in the interests of time (I do actually want to start sewing at some point, and I can already see that only 30 minutes a day is going to be painfully slow progress!) I am tempted to wing it with the closest size, but I have a feeling I might regret it – more haste less speed, and all that.

And yes, the eagle eyed among you will notice that I was using my baby’s playmat as a worksurface. Sssh, she won’t know :-)

I don’t think I’ll blog about my progress each day, purely as I could spend that time doing a bit of extra sewing. But I’ll check back at least weekly, or more if I’ve done something super exciting that I can’t wait to share. Like, actually sew. Watch this space!


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Well you can’t get much better timing than that. No sooner than I decide to set myself a challenge (to sew for thirty minutes a day for thirty days), I stumble across the perfect sew-along to give my sewing that little bit of much needed focus.

I’m going to take part in the Second Annual Summer Essentials Sew-Along (henceforth known as SESA), hosted by Ali over at Wardrobe, Re-Imagined. If you haven’t come across her blog before I highly recommend checking it out – it’s a great read.

The goal of SESA is to…

“make five-ish things that you’d rather not live without this summer”

I’m going to cheat a little and include things for my daughter in that count. Well actually, it’s not really cheating as she’s my must-have accessory, so clothing her is styling me :-)

I’ve never really ‘planned’ sewing before, but here goes… my intended makes for the SESA. Disclaimer: I reserve the right to add to, amend or delete items from this list as the summer wears on!

categories as suggested by Ali

Clam Diggers & Co.: Here I am going to attempt the Hot Patterns Marrakesh Drawstring Pants – I am in dire need of some summery, casual trousers that are not jeans. For little E, I am going to make the shorts from Mccalls M6059 : they are just sooo cute and I’ve been dying to make them for ages.

The Sundress: I really want to tackle a Colette Patterns dress – probably the Parfait, but I may well change my mind. Anyone got a view as to which of the CP dresses are easiest? With only half an hour a day, I don’t want to overstretch myself! For little E, I want to make the Lil Blue Boo Paper Doll Dress pattern, which I have totally fallen in love with.

Tees, Tunics & Blouses: Before finding out about this challenge I’d already decided to try Colette Patterns’ new free download, the Sorbetto top. This is going to be my first item. For little E, I want to make this gorgeous kimono top. Oh, and this summer tunic for the beach.


Finding the time to sew in between the playtime, baby activities, cooking, feeding baby, cleaning up after baby, cleaning the house, and not to mention spending a bit of time with hubby, has been a real challenge. When I sold my business I thought I’d have so much more free time to sew, but as it happens instead my extra time has been filled with just being more relaxed about things (no longer running around frantically like a crazy lady), finally getting my house in order after months of neglect, and most of all, spending more quality time with little E.

But I so want to find a little time in every week for being creative. I find sewing so relaxing and therapeutic, and it would be so nice to have just that little bit of ‘me’ time. Plus I have a hee-uge fabric stash that is crying out to be sewn!!

I was really inspired when Tabatha over at Thread Carefully began (and completed) an April Challenge to sew at least two hours every day in April. She’s in a similar position to me, with a young child to look after, and so I figured I really don’t have any excuses not to get my rear into gear anymore.

I decided that setting myself a similar challenge will really help me get in to a regular habit of sewing. But I know already there is absolutely NO WAY I will be able to manage two hours of sewing a day. I am so in awe of Tabatha for doing that, but I know I won’t manage it and I don’t want to set myself up to fail before I even begin. So, I’m going to be gentle and start with a much more manageable thirty minutes a day.

My June Challenge is to sew for at least thirty minutes a day for the next thirty days.

My main concern is that it normally takes about half an hour to get going whenever I sew – you know, taking the materials out, working out what needs to be done next, and then… woops, time’s up! I don’t have a permanent sewing area so I have to take the machine and materials out, and then tidy them away again, every day. Hopefully throughout this month I will get faster and faster with practice, and better at letting go of my perfectionism, which often paralyses me into inaction.

Have any of you got experience of sewing in short bursts? Do you have any tips to share? If so please leave a comment as all advice gratefully received. And if anyone wants to join me, the more the merrier! I’d love to have some challenge companions :)

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