We all have days where we just can’t be bothered to get up, get dressed and go out into the world pretending to be an adult. You just want to stay at home in your stretchy clothes and unicorn slippers, not brush your hair or wash, and watch re-runs of The Crystal Maze. The thought of having to not only be within twenty feet of other living beings that are not your cat/dog but also be expected to take part in sensible mature conversations with them is enough to bring on the sweats.
It’s on those days that fussy or uncomfortable clothing is a definite no-no. No restrictive fabric, no muffin-top inducing waistbands, no zips, no tiny buttons, no tight shirts that you have to safety-pin to avoid button gape, no tops that you have to keep tucking in, or trousers you have to keep pulling up. I want a one-piece, roomy-so-we-don’t-have-to-worry-about-eating-too-much, over-the-head-and-we’re-done outfit. The Catarina ticks all those boxes.
The pattern is produced by Seamwork, and it’s the first one of their patterns I’ve made. If you’re not familiar with Seamwork it’s a subscription-based online magazine from the same people who run Colette Patterns. As a non-member you can buy the patterns outright off the website for $10-$12 each, or for $6 per month you can get a subscription where you get two free patterns of your choice every month plus you receive an online magazine. I had a referral link for my first month at $3, so I chose the subscription offer and picked out my Catarina pattern and one other. I figured you can’t really complain at $1.50 for a pattern, given how much they usually cost in the UK – those of you over the pond in the US get absolute BARGAINS on patterns sometimes! I mean, $1.99 sales?! YES PLEASE! We sometimes have to give up a month’s salary here just to buy patterns, and I don’t even understand why. It’s not like they are printed on gold or anything.
The only downside for me on the Seamwork patterns is that they are pdfs rather than old-school printed patterns.
I’m not usually a fan of pdf patterns… I prefer ready printed ones that I can just trace and get going with. Which you can interpret as ‘I really can’t be bothered to stick four million pieces of paper together EXACTLY STRAIGHT’. Recently though I’ve seen some amazing patterns that I just have to have in my life which are only available as downloads, so I’ve been (grudgingly) joining the cut-and-stick brigade. And not whinging about it at all while those little matchy-matchy symbols drain my life force page by page.
Now I might be a bad person for doing this, but I actually use my rotary cutter and metal ruler to slice off those edges of the paper. Yes I (sometimes) have to replace the blade afterwards, but It gets done much quicker than with scissors and I’m not so reliant on holding together a few sheets of paper perfectly in line. They always, *always* fan out as I approach the other side of the paper with scissors and then I have to go along and trim these little slivers while contemplating my quality of life. And no matter how well I think I line all the pages up when I’m sticking them together, they always fall out of line somewhere. I swear they don’t actually print them straight and therefore it’s actually impossible to get a perfect grid.
I (obviously) survived the mental trauma of joining up all these pages with sticky tape – which somehow managed to get at least one strand of dog hair stuck on each piece, my thanks go to the furkids for their apparent inability to keep their hair attached to their skin – and brought the Catarina to life with some aztec viscose I got from eBay.
The Catarina is made up of a fully lined bodice, adjustable straps, and a midi length elasticated gathered skirt with a tie belt. If you’re short on fabric you can line the bodice with a different fabric – mine is lined in a black cotton as I didn’t really see the point of using the good stuff on the inside. The skirt isn’t lined though, so bear this in mind if you’re thinking about a nice light summer fabric. However it is super easy to add a lining – just cut the skirt pieces out again from your lining fabric of choice and treat the main fabric and lining fabric as one. You’ve got no zips or anything to work around, just an extra hem to do.
This version of the dress was actually my practice run – I bought some uber-special silk that was shipped over from the US that I wanted to make this dress from, but having never used this pattern before I wasn’t sure on the fit/look and definitely did NOT want to steam straight in and waste my silk on something that was going to look like a maternity dress. I needn’t have worried – the fit is good and I’m pretty sure that I’ve dodged the pregnancy look. No one has (yet) offered me their seat on the train while I’ve been wearing it and that’s my benchmark. Winning.
Yep, the pattern matching on the side seams of the skirt is pretty shocking. I only had two metres of fabric – the pattern requirements state over 3 yards for all sizes (I like to live dangerously) – so something had to be sacrifced and this was it. I’m only a couple of inches out though – if I had thought about it, I could have shortened the skirt by a little bit to get both pieces on at the same level, but, meh. I’ve seen worse pattern matching in actual stores (Primark, I’m looking at you) so I’m not going to cry over it.
One thing I haven’t quite figured out yet is why there is a centre back seam on the skirt. There’s no vent, and it’s cut on a straight line. There isn’t (at least to me anyway) an obvious need to have this there. I am, quite honestly, well confused over the whole thing. I’ll be cutting the back piece as a whole on future versions unless the reason behind it suddenly becomes clear to me. (Kudos to me for getting the pattern matching considerably better on the back than on the side seam. I’ve even impressed myself with this one ??????).
The waist is fitted by way of 1/2 inch elastic sewn with a zig-zag stitch onto the seam allowance of the bodice-skirt join. Use the absolute widest zig zag your machine will do for this (mine was 5mm by 5mm) and stretch the elastic as you sew – otherwise, your elastic won’t stretch, and that kind of defeats the whole point of it.
You also get to make a skinny waist tie for the dress, just to finish it off with that little something. The print of this fabric is just so loud and crazy though that you can’t hardly see my belt through the chaos – but it definitely helps with a bit of waist definition and avoids the ‘shapeless bin liner’ look. Don’t forget – if unexpected large-scale eating happens, you can always loosen that belt a little. Or, just remove it completely if you really hit bad times.
Words of wisdom: If you’ve got a loop turner for the straps and belt it will make your life a whole lot easier.
The pattern instructions are very thorough and clear, and the dress is a pretty quick easy sew. I would definitely be willing to try another Seamwork/Colette pattern based on this experience, and I’ve also got my eye on the new Penny shirtdress from Colette – it’s the perfect pattern for some silk that I picked up for the absolutely scandalous price of £2 per metre recently at the Cloth House warehouse sale. I’ll be buying the printed pattern though, not the pdf ?
You could totally make the Catarina out of a whole range of fabrics to get different looks – my viscose print makes for a casual summer day dress, but you could make a light floaty silk one for a wedding or even a velvet one for a posh evening do or night out. So long as you don’t choose anything that’s too heavy for the gathers at the waist you could pretty much go for whatever you wanted, and you could alter the length of the skirt too.
I’m totally happy with how my first attempt has come out, and I didn’t even make any adjustments to the pattern. I can now cut into the silk with the confidence that I am not heading towards a very expensive balls-up.
If you’re interested in joining Seamwork, you can do what I did and get your first month for just $3 by going here 🙂
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… my Deer and Doe Datura blouse in a burgundy cotton lawn ?
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