Colette Sorbetto Top: Variations

My latest project has been my “real” versions of the Colette Sorbetto Top. My Sorbetto Muslin was good practice for sewing this blouse. I am so happy I made this free download sewing pattern! The Sorbetto top is a cute (and easy!) vintage style blouse. As a beginning sewer, the Sorbetto Top is fun to sew because it was a successful project that also taught me some new sewing skills. Plus its basic design is sort of a blank slate so you can customize the top with fun variations for different looks and styles.

Colette Sorbetto Variation with Bias Tape on the Pleat
Colette Sorbetto Variation with Bias Tape on the Pleat. Sort of like piping?

I think that the Sorbetto top is my first actually wearable, non-embarrassing garment sewing project. I even customized the top with my own variations: one version has buttons and my other version has bias tape on the box pleat. My second version also has the armhole bias tape hidden inside of the blouse, since I didn’t want the top to be too busy. Both tops were made from lightweight cotton lawn or voile for a nice drape.

Colette Sorbetto Top in Grey Swiss Dot with Buttons
Colette Sorbetto Top in Grey Swiss Dot with Buttons
Colette Sorbetto Alternate Version: Bias Tape
Colette Sorbetto Alternate Version: Bias Tape (piping?)

This was also my first time successfully sewing buttons on anything. It was actually really easy using the zig-zag stitch setting and my satin sewing foot. I am definitely not afraid of sewing on buttons anymore. Button holes are a different matter…

Buttons Sewn on to the Colette Sorbetto Top
Variation of the Colette Sorbetto Top: Buttons!

I made my own bias tape with my new bias tape maker to sew on the button Sorbetto top because I wanted a clean, un-fussy look. I used the tutorial on Coletterie to make the custom bias tape, it it worked great! However, I did have a problem with the fabric shifting as I was trying to cut it, leading to sloppy strips of fabric. I solved this problem by making spray stabilizer using Sulky Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer Roll. The solvy spray really helped and I am glad I have it on hand now.

I even serged the inside seams for a clean and durable finish. I still have a lot to learn about serging though. The serger is so much faster than overcasting the edge! But fiddling with the tensions is annoying… I need to finish my Online Beginner Serging Class! After all, I love my exposed zipper bag!

Changes and alterations I made to the Colette Sorbetto Top:

  • I added two inches at the waist to lengthen the top.
  • I used hem tape at the bottom of the top, which also helped to lengthen the top.
  • One Sorbetto top had the bias tape for the arm holes on the inside, not showing on the outside.
  • My Sorbetto Top Variations were adding buttons and adding bias tape on the box pleat as a sort of piping detail.
  • Next time I will consider moving the bust dart down 1 inch as that may make for a better fit, according to pattern review.
  • I serged the inside seams for a clean finish.
Colette Sorbetto Vintage Style Blouse Sewing Pattern.
Colette Sorbetto Vintage Style Blouse Sewing Pattern with My Variations: Buttons and bias tape sort of piping.
colette sorbetto free sewing pattern download piping detail
I used Bias tape as an accent detail on the Colette Sorbetto Top center pleat

Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

Behold, my Colette Sorbetto Top muslin! The Sorbetto top by Colette is a free downloadable sewing pattern for a tank top blouse featuring a box pleat down the center and a bound neckline and arm holes.

OKAY YES I KNOW I sewed this shirt with an odd hodgepodge of fabrics. Struck by sensory overload at the fabric store, I picked a cotton voile that it turns out is actually incredibly ugly. Lavender flowers, bunches of purple grapes and royal blue vines, what was I thinking?? As I was standing at the cutting table I realized that this fabric was a mistake. It was probably only semi-subconsciously that I ruined half of my fabric through sloppy cutting and did not have enough fabric to make this shirt. I found some purple polyester something in my tiny fabric stash and used it to sew the front of the shirt.

Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin
Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin. Sorry about the crazy fabric colors!

CHANGES I MADE to the Sorbetto Top

  • The Sorbetto top is short, in my opinion. I lengthened the shirt two inches. I added the length at the waist, not at the bottom, to avoid a flared out edge near the hips. Make sure you have enough fabric to do this if you lengthen the top.
  • The Sorbetto top seems to run big. I made a size 4, even though that is smaller than my waist measurement indicates that I should make. It seems to me that unless you have a large bust and tiny waist, this top may be a bit too billowy and oversized to be flattering, so consider making a muslin first to test the size.
  • I would like to cut a little extra room in the arm holes next time.
Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin
Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

The Sorbetto sewing pattern requires bias tape binding. I couldn’t find it specified if that meant single fold bias tape or double fold bias tape. I went with single fold, and that worked. I needed a reminder on how to sew single fold bias tape binding, and the tutorial at Nothing New Treasures was very helpful. You can also make your own bias tape using the Colette Patterns tutorial for a perfect match to your fabric. A half inch Bias Tape Maker will help this process go quickly and smoothly.

The construction of this shirt actually went just fine. Even sewing on the bias tape binding went okay. The only real problem for me was hemming the bottom of the shirt. Its still hard for me to fold a small amount of fabric (a quarter of an inch) evenly. When I make the real version of this shirt, I am going to use some of the vintage hem tape I found in my grandmother’s sewing box. Stitch in my Side has a tutorial that explains how to use hem tape perfectly.

Hmm… the more I look at my mismatched shirt, the more I like it. I know that it is just a false sense of pride from having actually sewn a garment that will not immediately fall apart. I am going to make a real version of this shirt using less hideous materials.

There are some lovely examples of the Sorbetto Top that other Colette Pattern fans have made. Inspiring!

Colette Sewing Handbook: Meringue Skirt

Tinkerbell Chic

The Meringue Skirt (in the Colette Sewing Handbook) is a zip-up A-line skirt with a twist:  it features a cute scalloped hem. I was excited to make this skirt because in my opinion it is closer to a real world, actually wearable design. I learned a lot sewing this skirt!

Meringue Skirt Colette Patterns
Meringue Skirt from the Colette Sewing Handbook

One note:  I saved yardage by cutting out the facings next to the main parts of the skirt, not below them.  The fabric on the facings is cut the wrong way but I don’t see how it matters this time around.

The fabric I selected to sew with was a fake silk dupioni from the upholstery clearance section of my fabric store. This particular fabric is much too shiny to wear, at least during daylight hours.  I knew that ahead of time going into this sewing project, which took the pressure off.  I looked at this project as a learning experience, and planned to never wear this version of this skirt.

Of course, I had some challenges with the Meringue Skirt.  First and foremost was sewing the invisible zipper in.  Initially sewing in the zipper on either side of the side waist slit (using the invisible zipper foot) took a couple of tries, but was ultimately straightforward.  The difficult part came when trying to complete the installation. Since the lower part of the zipper can’t be sewn in initially, it is not fully attached to the skirt.  You have to switch to a regular zipper foot to complete the invisible zipper.  I found the Coletterie invisible zipper tutorial to be helpful.  The instructions in the Sew Everything Workshop were also good, as was this YouTube video.

Meringue Skirt from Colette Patterns Invisible Zipper
Nearly Invisible Zipper

Overall, I am horrified that the invisible zipper is considered the easiest zipper to install.  It was very hard!

Problems I had:

  1. The scallops do not hold their shape well.  I thought I had selected a crisp enough fabric, but I guess not!  A different fabric (or spray starch?) would be the way to go next time.
  2. The zipper placement was challenging. The top of the zipper was aligned with the top of the fabric, which meant that when I sewed the waist facing to the waist, the top of the zipper was very close to the top edge of the skirt.  There is no room for a hook and eye.  I think next time I need to place the zipper a little bit below the edge of the fabric.
  3. I shortened the skirt by quite a lot so it would hit at the knees.  Since I removed quite a bit of length, the skirt hem facing did not properly fit the skirt hem.  I solved this by recutting the skirt hem facing by cutting an identical outline of the skirt hem (and including seam allowances).
  4. The skirt as I made it is too short, and is inappropriately reminiscent of Tinkerbell, if she had  a corporate job.  I think with tights this length would be more appropriate. Obviously I need to develop my adjusting patterns/hem length skills. The actual pattern is longer, so this is my fault.
  5. My scallops are uneven.  Again, my fault.

Very Purple Person made this skirt and paired it with the Taffy top (also in The Colette Sewing Handbook).  This combination is suggested by Colette Patterns themselves.  Her outfit looks great: its both cute and comfortable… hmm, maybe one day…  I also loved the meringue skirt made by Motivation is Overrated.

With the right (crisp and structured) fabric, this skirt can be either casual or more work appropriate. I think I will make this skirt one day in a fun wool fabric, like LLadybird’s lovely version.  She also followed the tutorial on Coletterie for how to attach a wasitband to the Meringue Skirt. I think a waistband looks great and I hope when I am ready to make a real version of this skirt I will be able to do this.


New Sewing Book: The Colette Sewing Handbook

Colette Sewing Handbook
Colette Sewing Handbook

For Christmas I was lucky to get a gift certificate to a book store.   This was perfect since I had my eye on a new sewing book: The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress.

This book, by Colette Patterns, is designed to progressively provide an overall introduction to  garment sewing.  It starts with a cute scalloped skirt and culminates in a vintage-inspired dress.

The Colette Sewing Handbook looks great because it seems to provide a good introduction to basic techniques for altering sewing patterns. I am trying not to develop too many bad habits right from the start, so learning more about sewing and fitting techniques is the way to go. Once I have a few more simple projects under my belt, I will start off with the first clothing project in the book, the meringue skirt.

I noticed that Colette Patterns has a great blog at The blog has a lot of tutorials that look very promising, including guides to sewing some of their patterns.  The blog also has guides for customizing the Colette patterns (such as adding a waistband to the Meringue Skirt). I am going to check the Colette Blog for tips before beginning their sewing projects.