Wednesday, 25 January 2012

My version of the Colette Beignet skirt


Some things you eventually accept might never happen and making the finishing belt loops or belt for this skirt may just be one of them. It almost goes without saying that this skirt has been made using the Colette Beignet pattern - I think it may be one of the most instantly recognisable and well-used sewing patterns ever produced - and every single version of it that I've seen fits wonderfully and looks fantastic.


I loved making this skirt - it's made up from about six (or is it eight?) highly shaped panels and seeing them come together is really quite magical; it's pattern-cutting awe in action. If there was ever a pattern that didn't just sing, but shouted, that the female form is not a two-dimensional shape it's this one. Its design is just so incredibly clever and feminine that it was worth making to witness that alone - every pattern piece depicts a nipped in waist and a curvy hip and bottom area.


When I made it last summer I was a little heavier and it was a perfect fit, it's slightly less so now, but still perfectly wearable and it remains the only item in my entire wardrobe that makes me feel a little Joan Holloway when I put it on (no, the resemblance isn't instantly apparent...but it's there in my head, damn it).


The good things: I like the style; it's a sartorial statement of my ability to line twelve buttons up in a row (yes, this does require celebration - I may hang the skirt from a flagpole outside my house despite the fact that only other obsessive stitching types would understand the point of it); it fits wonderfully with room to spare for a chocolate orange, so what's not to love? Mmm, actually quite a lot.


I think that most of my height (or what little there is of it) is in my legs. For someone not much taller than an eleven year old with little torso to speak of, I worry that a high-waisted skirt has the unfortunate effect of accentuating this uneven distribution of height and makes me appear to be a tube of leg with a head stuck on to the top of a couple of inches of body, which has only been added in for connective purposes and to save the inhabitant of the said body from having to carry her heart and other essential organs around in a rucksack. I'm not sure that could ever be a good look. Circumnavigating this by not tucking in one's top, thus lengthening the appearance of the torso and ability to house internal organs, feels like too great a crime to commit. I've tried it and my inner Joan Holloway flows straight out of my body and is replaced by a feeling that can only be described as 'unhappy grapefruit' (visually and mentally). With this in mind, I think it's more of a wearing around the house kind of skirt, but I still feel pleased that I've made it, particularly as I now harbour hopes (having studied the promo photos for the pattern once again just now) that if I had the belt loops and the self-fabric belt in the same colour as the skirt (rather than the brown plait belt in the photos) it would be an altogether more unbroken look and may work...what do you think?

Florence x

40 comments:

  1. I think it looks fabulous on you and I really don't think it makes you look like a head on legs at all! And the lined up buttons are marvellous!

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  2. It looks great! You're right- a very flattering fit. I think sewing all those buttons on would make me break out in cold sweats!

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  3. Goodness me I think you're being unnecessarily harsh on yourself. You look perfectly in proportion, it would be such a waste to relegate this skirt to house wearing opportunities only. Take your inner Joan outside!

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  4. I think the skirt looks excellent on you! I love the length of it too. A few problems I would have with it myself are: The buttons would bunch up and make me look pouchy - every front opening skirt I have had always does, so I have now given up on them. I am a size 8 yes but that doesn't mean I don't have podge. I don't want to emphasise it thank you. The loops and ties look nice but again I would say no because they add bulk where none is needed (for me) but they look nice in the picture so perhaps you could add them if you wanted to. Good either way. I don't like tucking tops in actually (more bulk you see) but I would like the choice. The ties would make it look awful if a top was longer and left out.

    I have a small waist that goes in but that is over-ridden by the fact that my tummy goes out. I have found lower waist-lines better for this reason. Even at a size 6 (not recommended on me) I still have the same issue. I understand the height coming from legs thing too, even though I am taller than you. However, I don't think you need to worry about this at all here. You look well proportioned and lovely wearing this skirt.

    The skirt fits and suits YOU perfectly. I would wear it anywhere with pride if I were you. I am only a bit jealous because I know it wouldn't look half so nice on me! I would have to move the opening to the back and lower the waist. Do not hide your perfect skirt indoors!

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  5. You look amazing in the skirt, you have to wear it out of the house!

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  6. I'm a bit taller than you but it's also mostly legs, and anything high-waisted feels very unflattering. But your skirt looks great! I'm still convinced it wouldn't work on me, but it's totally working on you. Wear it out. Very weird facial expression, though, Florence. [That last sentence is a joke! The rest is serious.]

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  7. I'm so pleased you appreciate the feat of the buttons too...I've always loathed making buttonholes, but by the time I'd finished I was feeling fairly Pollyanna about them! I think the Beignet skirt could be considered Exposure Therapy for them.

    Thank you so much for your very kind comments reassuring me that I am more Joan than grapefruit - that's kind!

    You're so right, Nina! I should have made like Miss Evangeline again and beheaded myself - but now it's out there...do you think anyone would notice if I took it down again? x

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  8. Oh and Anonymous - yes, I am so familiar with that whole pouchy thing and the gaping buttons, but perhaps you should try this pattern as I think something about how well cut the skirt is to accommodate bottom and hips means that it doesn't pull at the front of the skirt as you move.

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  9. I think the skirt looks gorgeous on you (especially with the Breton stripe shirt--oo la la!). I am also short (5'3") with a very short torso so I know that head-on-top-of-legs phenomenon and I don't think you look disproportionate at all.

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  10. No! I really was joking! I only said it because of what you said in the previous post! Leave it up, you look perfectly nice. And I think the full-length photo is necessary to demonstrate that you're wrong about being only legs+head.

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    1. I knew exactly what you were referring to, dear Nina and had known that you meant it as a joke! I love that you had to come back and worry over your joke though...that's what I would have done too! So pleased that a full head photo has confirmed partial normality rather than the need for a rucksack. x

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    2. Nina...tell me you're not tempted to open comments on your blog now that Blogger has provided the ability to use threaded comments...or is it just me that's enjoying them?

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  11. YOu look totally balanced. Dressmaking makes body issue nightmares but for the maker not the onlooker- I try and remind myself of that too and often fail!

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    1. Yes, you're quite right, Kerry! I must try to remember that while in my head I'm only ever two steps away from masquerading as a grapefruit, to the outside world I may be verging on looking quite normal!

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  12. I would never have said you were the height of an eleven year old from those photos, The skirt looks great, and you look enviously tall and slim, even though you claim not to be (tall at least), so I would say definitely wear it out.

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    1. Thank you! I'm actually only 5ft1", but I'm very happy for you to go away thinking that a spectacularly tall person writes this blog, so feel free to erase that detail from your memory! (although I should also say that I've never minded being small at all, so it's more for the sake of novelty that I shall enjoy being momentarily thought of as tall).

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  13. It is so lovely, Florence, I really am tempted to buy this pattern. Skirts are always tricky for me because I have a small(ish) waist but wide hips, but the fit of this sounds perfect. I can even get over the fact that there are half a gazillion buttonholes!

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    1. Apparently if you have a 10" or more difference between hip and waist measurements it makes you officially an hourglass...I can confirm that it's the perfect pattern for just such a shape!

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  14. I love your version! Very wearable!
    I have made this skirt too, but have yet to wear it...my problem is that my waist and hips are almost the same size! With a top tucked in, I look top heavy, and with it out...well it's just all wrong! I would rather this skirt on me, with a different coloured belt, it at least gives me the illusion of a waist. I also made it the most difficult colour in the world to match (Chartreuse wool), and then stuck contrasting buttons (Teal) on it! I may need to rethink the whole skirt, because I love it, I just can't seem to wear it! http://www.flickr.com/photos/37335850@N03/4883465462/in/set-72157625873121839

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    1. It's gorgeous - I've just gone over to Flickr and seen it. I would definitely wear that and you may just have inspired me into belt loop production. x

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  15. Now, see, I think that looks just fine! And your body is a perfectly normal length too. Alas, I'm 5'7", have the leg length of my 5'10" dad, and the body length of my 5' mum... Oh, and I have a 32G chest and a size 12-14 waist, which adds to the horribleness of top-bottom ratio as the very small distance chest-waist tries to narrow down. I have to wear tops untucked, or I look like a blob on a skewer :o/

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    1. Gosh, we all have our funnyosities to work around don't we! I love the blog on a skewer analogy and am sure you loook nothing like one.x

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  16. Please please please wear it out of the house Florence! Your version is really beautiful. I agree that the cut of the pattern accentuates every woman's best bits - it's very flattering. I would persevere with the belt and belt loops, it definitely gave me last Beignet a nice, unbroken look. x

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    1. Thank you - I saw a photo of some completed belt loops and am now inspired to do so - I'm not looking forward to making them though - they look insanely fiddly!

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  17. It looks lovely on you and would be a waste to only wear it around the house.
    Unless you have an endless stream of visitors who can admire it!

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    1. Perhaps I shall start by wearing it around the house and inviting people in as they pass then...some garments you need to build up to wearing out slowly...

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  18. I don't think it makes your torso look short at all - when you were talking about it in your post i actually had to scroll up to look at your photos again as i didn't know what you were talking about (and still don't really, your torso definitely doesn't look short. I think the skirt looks fabulous just as it is!

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    1. Thank you - that's so kind of you to stop and leave torso reassurance! x

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  19. You're silly. It's a well-known fact that legs can NEVER look too long in proportion to the torso. Having said that, some wide belt loops (think 70s jeans...) would look great on that skirt.

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    1. Oooh, yes, I like that idea. They may have the advantage of being less fiddly to make too. Thanks, Dawn. x

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  20. Why are you so hard on yourself in regards to your body-shape? Time and time again. Can't you see how lovely you are?

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    1. Gosh, I don't really think that I am hard on myself, although I can see that it may have come across like that. However, I don't think I was really critisising my own body shape. I actually like my height, but I'm also very aware that, like any body shape - particularly those that veer toward one extreme or the other - I need to think about what's most flattering to it when dressing or dressmaking. However, thank you so much for your comment and sweetness in saying that I'm lovely. X

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  21. It's lovely! I don't understand why you wouldn't wear it out though - it really does look great on you. And no, you look nothing like a tube of leg with a head stuck on top. I think you just need to get used to seeing yourself in high-waisted stuff and then you'll realise you actually look awesome.

    Love your red fireplace/alcove, by the way!

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    1. Yes, I agree, sometimes it's about getting used to something - it took me about a year to get used to skinny jeans, so perhaps I'll get there with a high-waisted skirt eventually!

      Thank you re: the fireplace - I still can't decide whether I love it or not, but it's definitely growing on me. x

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  22. I think the high waist actually gives you height and makes ou look longer. Not knowing how tall you are in comparison to another person you look lovely and long. Perhaps the belt in the same fabric would help. I am sure tinny and Susanna would know.

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    1. Thanks, Bec - yes, I wonder what they would say about that. I may have a look online.

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  23. I think it is a great skirt, not just for round the house either!
    : )

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  24. I love the skirt, I think it looks wonderful! But I REALLY liked this post because your comments about body type made me laugh--they could be me :) 5ft1in and very little torso!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x