Summer Dress Season

The simple classic dress

Blog / 10 July 2015

Happy Friday! Thank you so much to everyone who left me lovely comments about last Fridays Big Swooshy Betty Dress! I’m really looking forward to seeing your versions of it too! Use #SummerDressSeason or tag me @guthrieghani so I don't miss any of them :)

For this weeks Summer Dress Season post I’m featuring the…….


Having a base pattern that you can customise and add your own design details and ideas too is a great thing to have. As far a dresses go, I think the Colette Patterns Laurel Dress is one of the most versatile ones out there.

There are so many ways to change and modify this classic shift dress pattern meaning you can make it again and again and have a totally different dress each time.

I’ve made two completely different versions to show you how the same pattern can be easily transformed.

It’s also a really easy make so if you haven’t made a dress before it’s a good place to start! Yay!

The base design is a simple shift with bust darts and two waistline darts at the back. The pattern, as it comes, has 4 variations that include a pullover top, cuff variation and an option for lining it.

The sleeves stop just above the elbow crease so if you like you’re upper arms covered it’s perfect. You could also easily shorten them or leave it sleeveless as another variation, like I did.

Also included are the details for downloading a free e-booklet with another 9 ideas, but just Google image Colette laurel or loose some time on Pinterest to get endless amounts of inspiration! When this pattern first came out Colette ran a big competition where you had to make the Laurel your own so there are endless gorgeous versions out there!

For my contrast yoke section I followed the same process that I did for my Simple Sleeveless Top variation (check out the tutorial here).

Instead of drawing a straight line across the bodice I marked a point 3.5 inches from the centre front neckline and 3 inches down from the bottom of the armhole and connected the points with a curve. I just kinda went free hand and smoothed it out.

To make sure that the new yoke sections meet at the side seam I marked the back bodice in the same place.

Then just remember to add on your 1.5cm seam allowance to the bottom of the new yoke piece and the top of the new main bodice piece!

For my bold navy print one I just left off the sleeves and finished them with bias binding in the same way it is used at the neckline.

The long waist darts at the back give it really nice shaping too.

  • I love how versatile it is and see it almost like a blank canvas that I can put my own mark on.
  • The front of the dress is fairly plain in terms of construction as there are just the two bust darts, so it’s great for using larger scale prints and designs. It means with the right fabric choice you could make a really striking dress very easily.
  • It is really quick and easy to make - always a bonus when you just want to get out into the sun!

This is all going to come down to your interpretation of the pattern and what fabric you use.

If you want more definition and shaping around the waist it looks great with a little belt too.

Imagine a sunny afternoon walk in the park with a pair of sandals and an ice cream for this one….

…or a fancy evening out with high heels on for this one.

For my versions I used this funky abstract zig zag digital navy print - I think it’s really cool!

For my candy-stripe style one I used this soft pink seersucker fabric for the main sections and a pretty embroidered cotton for the yoke section and sleeves. I've already sold out of the exact one I used but I've got two just as lovely alternatives. One with embroidered flower circles and one with smaller embroidered flowers.

I also think it would look gorgeous in this Emmy Grace Budquette Nightfall Cotton Fabric - the colours in the print are amazing! Or how about a chic gold tinted linen one? This Linen and viscose mix fabric has a subtle gold sheen to it that catches the light beautifully!

All these fabrics have 15% off for the next week along with the Laurel Pattern too! (expires midnight Thursday 16th July) The discount has already been applied - just click on the highlighted text above to see the listing for each fabric.

The fabric amounts needed all vary depending on what variation and size you want to make - the full table is on the listing for the pattern but just give us a ring if you are stuck.

For my yoke version with the shorter sleeve (I just chopped a section off from the pattern piece) I used half a meter of the embroidered cotton fabric.

  • Choose your size carefully by looking at the finished garment measurements as well as the main size chart. As a guide you need at least 2 inches of ease (so the finished size should be at least 2 inches bigger that you are).
  • I made the size 2 and found that it had a lot of excess fabric at the top of the centre back, which meant I had to use a much bigger seam allowance when putting the zip in.
  • I also took it in over the hips for a more fitted look – which is easy to do as the zip is really long anyway. Just try the dress on inside out and pin the side seams in equally at each side. Just check you can still walk and sit down before sewing in the seams!
  • If you are making a yoke version just make sure the seam comes above the bust and waist darts and below the arm hole.

Next week I'm going to show you my Super Comfy Dress! I've already made two versions with more in the pipeline - it's just so comfy and easy to throw on! So tune in to find out what pattern I choose...

Do you have a simple classic dress or pattern that you always go back to?