Thursday, December 22, 2011

Colette Oolong: The Sydney Harbour Dress

Here it is! My second Oolong dress, which I affectionately call the Sydney Harbour Dress, or "Hey Ma, I finally finished it!" Yep, after almost 2 months this dress is ready for the holidays. I've also included this in the Sew Weekly's "Free for All" challenge.

Hereby Proclaimed: The Sydney Harbour Dress
Pattern: Oolong Dress from Colette Patterns
Fabric: Slightly over 3 yards (3 meters) of navy Japanese cotton from Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney, Australia(!)
Pattern Level: Intermediate
Size: 4
Alterations: Raised the waistline 1 1/2"; shortened the hem to above knee length

Oh joy of joys, it's thrilling to have a completed project to share with you on the blog! I have been sewing away, but more so Christmas presents and other projects I can't chat about just yet. So, anyway, if you have been reading along with me this year, you'll know I've already tackled this pattern before in the spring. I loved the style and ease of construction so much that I wanted to make another, so here is my winter version (even though it was warm enough today to go out without long sleeves and tights!).

...A Fabric Story...
The fabric is from Tessuti Fabrics in downtown Sydney, purchased during a trip that my friends and I took to the wonderful land of Australia in April 2010. This was the first vacation I took as a sewing lass so I was really excited about bringing some fabric home with me, the best kind of souvenir in my opinion! Trinkets lead to dust; dust leads to dusting; dusting leads to the dark side (of annoyance).

I named this version the Sydney Harbour Dress not only because I bought it in Sydney, but also because the print reminds me of Sydney Harbour as you fly over the water towards the airport. Such a great view of the city from the plane, how lucky I was to be on the right side of it! As you look down there are tons of sailboats filling the harbor, and the beige flowers amidst the navy blue of my dress fabric recalls that picturesque sight.

Detail of ribbon at neckline

It's beautiful fabric, though I'm not sure it's photographing well here so I've included this detail shot showing the little bits of orange and green on some of the beige flowers. Do you see the raised threads of the fabric? It adds great texture to the dress, especially as it's cut on the bias - I love Japanese cotton!

...A Punch of Color...
In contrast to my first Oolong, I added a little bow at the neckline that brings out the orange from the flowers, which I think looks cuter in person than in the photographs. There's about 1 1/2" of fabric between the neckline and the gathers at the bust, and I felt adding the bow filled that "void" nicely.

I also made the belt from leftover fabric from a failed sunhat (if you try making a hat make sure to measure the crown of your head first, otherwise the hat could be too tight to fit your head and it looks like you're wearing a bonnet, yeah...). I picked up the buckle from G Street Fabrics in northern Virginia, though I'm not sure it really works with this outfit. I love the belt as is though! The belt also picks up the color of the flowers, and from the back it kind of gives the outfit a 1940s Hawaii look, if that makes sense - I was thinking of the 70th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack when I made the belt. Just shows how long I've been working on this!

...Construction and Alterations...
I guess there isn't much more to say in terms of construction that I didn't mention in my Oolong in Strawberry Fields post. For the lining, I used soft muslin that feels nice, but wasn't the best choice as far as allowing the outer fabric to sit nicely. It actually turned out just fine, but I was in a rush (tried to get this done for my cousin's birthday) so I didn't realize the error of my ways until it was too late. It probably could have benefited from the more slippery Bemberg rayon, but, as I said, the dress hangs nicely anyway. Moral of the story: Amanda + rushed sewing = don't!

Ah, and with this version I also raised the waistline about an 1 1/2" on the skirt pieces and found that it gave me a much more comfortable fit than my first Oolong. I also shortened the hem to above knee length, a la Handmade Jane!

Here's one last shot of the dress without the belt. And there you have it! My last sewing project for 2011. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever you may celebrate at this festive time of year! Next week, I'll be back with some Christmas gifts I made :)


  1. This dress really suits you! I love the fabric and shoes!!

  2. This oolong is just perfect! I love the fabric you used and the belt that gives it that pop of colour! Great job!!

  3. Thanks, Charlotte and Debi!

  4. So so cute, it looks great on you.

  5. I think it's beautiful Amanda - in fact I prefer it to your first one! The fabric is to die for and I love the red accents. I also think the shorter length looks great (but then I would, wouldn't I!) It's a gorgeous, gorgeous dress. x

  6. Thanks montanachic!

    Jane, I do love this shorter length better than my first version, much more me, so thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Hi Amanda,

    Thank you for the shout out! A customer has told about seeing your lovely dress via Coletterie. It's absolutely wonderful and I just love your shoes too!!!!

    Would you allow us to blog about it on oSew Tessuti, linking back to you of course and back to the Oolong dress pattern.

    If so could you email me at with some images or can I use some of these?
    I look forward to hearing from you


    1. Hi Colette, of course! That sounds great, thanks so much for leaving a comment. I will email you!


Hey, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!