Colette Iris

Last year when I was stupider, I commented to a friend of mine that women of our age simply shouldn’t be seen in shorts.  “Oh, they’re fine for gardening,” said I, “in the privacy of a hedgerow of leylandii.  But not out in the open, with heels and handbags and everything…

My friend pointed out that some of our friends look great in shorts, and as for those who don’t but who still enjoy wearing them, does it really matter?

The tolerance and wisdom of her remark helped sow the seeds of my conversion.

In April, Jennifer launched her Make it, Wear It 2012 Summer Holiday challenge and I jumped on board wondering if it wasn’t time to expand my repertoire of sleeveless dresses I’d been making year after year.  Colette Patterns had just released the Iris Shorts pattern to mostly positive reviews and the drawing on the pattern envelope immediately captured my imagination.  It reminded me of Diana Rigg’s sunbathing outfits in Evil Under the Sun; it evoked wooden speedboats, Art Deco beach resorts and a liberated 1920s beach glamour (a nice collection of images, old and new, can be seen here).  Immediately I imagined them in navy, with contrast piping and buttons.  I even dreamed of extending them to full-length sailor trousers, though by this point I was also dreaming of having different, longer legs!

I had a metre of linen left over from making my daughter’s Bubble Dress and encouraged by the many images on Pattern Review, I made a first attempt.  I traced size 6 of the pattern (a generous UK 10).  I couldn’t resist View 2 thereby indulging in the making of Cute Buttons.

Pattern Modifications

a) I made the line from side waist to hip a straight one (and not a curve)

b) Linen frays quite badly, and being without a serger/overlocker, I decided to french seam as much as possible.  So, with the wrong sides together, I sewed a 0.5cm seam on all vertical joins, followed by a 1cm seam with the right sides together (this is 1/4″ and 3/8″ in Colette Speak!)  The result is a very neat finish in places such as the crotch:

But when it came to the zip and the joining of the pocket pieces to the front and side front, I wasn’t able to incorporate the french seam and so the effect is a little half-baked…

One day, I will make these with a neat finish everywhere.  It just might take me a while to work out how to do it!

c) I sewed a hook and eye to the top of the closure, partly to correct the less-than- perfect match at the top of the waistband.  Doing this has the advantage of making the shorts easier to put on: they don’t slide off you as you do up the zip!

The Back View

Far as I’m concerned, finding trousers or jeans with a flattering back view is the Holy Grail and these shorts are as good as it gets.  A big thumbs up there, Colette!

Suggested improvements

If making these again, I’d taper the legs at the side and front seam to eliminate the slight leg flare (not apparent in the pattern drawing on the envelope).

The other slight reservation I have with the pattern is that the pockets are loose (and shaped like the ears of the Indian elephant!).  When putting the shorts on, I have to check that the pockets haven’t flapped to the sides.  However, this might not happen if the shorts were made of a stiffer fabric such as poplin or one of the other recommendations.

Iris Pattern Giveaway

Fancy making your own Iris shorts?  This September, I plan to hold my first giveaway so for a chance to win my almost pristine Colette Iris pattern, check back here after the summer hols!

P.S. I’m wearing shorts again!!