A salvaged Sorbetto

The dress that never got worn. The shame.

The dress that never got worn. The shame.

It’s confession time. A long, long time ago I bought this dress in Warehouse, mainly because my flatmate had the same dress, it suited her and I loved the fabric. It never suited me as well as it did her and as a result I’m ashamed to say that I never wore it.

The other day we got a charity bag through the door and I took the opportunity to have a good sort out. When I pulled this dress out of the wardrobe I was struck with a Great British Sewing Bee moment. Because of all the gathering and the shirring, I was convinced that there was enough fabric in the skirt to eke out a Colette Sorbetto. So I grabbed my seam ripper and spent quite a tedious and messy hour and a half taking out all the stitching, elastic and overlocking from the skirt/bodice join and the bubble at the bottom. There was just enough usable fabric for a Sorbetto as long as I took about an inch off my normal pattern length which I’d lengthened by two inches anyway as I have a long body and generally find Colette bodices to run a bit short on me.

This would be my fifth Sorbetto and I thought that by the time I had done the third and fourth versions last summer, I had just about nailed the fit working off a size 4. However, when I went back to it and looked a bit more closely I decided that the bust darts were sitting a little bit too high. The only alterations I’ve ever made to a pattern have been length alterations, so I had to do a bit of research. This post on Megan Nielsen’s blog was particularly helpful, but with lowered bust darts and a couple of inches added, my pattern is looking a bit mangled now!

I may have just had my hair done.

I may have just had my hair done.

I also lined my top with some cream polycotton as the patterned fabric is a bit sheer (I think it’s some sort of voile). I’d never done this before but I figured that as long as I took the pleat allowance out of the front pattern piece and sewed up the bust darts I’d just be able to sandwich the fabric pieces together and treat them as one. It worked a charm. I used loads of pins so that it wouldn’t move, but everything fits together pretty nicely. I used French seams throughout, and I managed to get them lying properly, so the insides of my top look pretty fricking neat and professional too.

Finally, I was worried about turning up the hem and therefore removing extra length, so I used bias binding on the inside instead – I think it only took up about an eighth of an inch, which is really very pleasing. With the length taken off the pattern I thought the finished article would turn out shorter than usual, but by a very happy accident Sorbetto number five is EXACTLY the same length as Sorbettos number three and four! What a triumph!

Sorbetto back

It’s nice to revisit an old pattern like the Sorbetto. I remember when I made my first I spent most of the day trying to fathom out how to sew the pleat (I was over complicating it massively) and the bias binding properly. Now it absolutely does not faze me. This top took me an afternoon to put together, but that includes two lots of cutting out and a trip to the fabric shop for supplies. I’m sure I’ll keep on coming back to it every summer, or when I need a new pyjama top, but I think I need to try something new with it, like a collar or some sleeves.

8 thoughts on “A salvaged Sorbetto

  1. Caroline Joynson says:

    You have worked really hard on this and it has really paid off. I love the print – such a summery colour and pattern and the fact you lined it is pretty darn impresive (is it called under-lining? I’m not sure Jane did a post about it here: http://www.handmadejane.co.uk/2014/05/the-joy-of-underlining.html)
    I know what you mean about the sorbetto bust darts the original placing was way too high for me too and I have hacked my paper pattern to death as well – I really ought to trace the new version onto new paper but when there are other fun things to make…

  2. Debbie says:

    Hi your Sorbettos look lovely! I am currently attempting this top, my first ever project. I really can’t fathom out how to make and stitch the pleat, please can you help? You are the only person who appears to have initially had the same problem and I can’t find any advice online.

    • Jo Laycock says:

      Hi Debbie, have you marked the pleat lines on your fabric as per the pattern? The pleat sits in the centre of the top, so all you need to do is fold it in half lengthways, and the pleat lines should match up on either side of the fold. I find that pinning down the pleat line helps me check that I’ve got it right – i.e. My pins hit the pleat line on either side. You can then stitch down the pleat line and press the pleat flat. I hope that all makes sense… If you’re still stuck there is a video here http://yammeringmuse.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/sorbetto-dress-sew-along-stitching-your.html?m=0 that might help. Let me know how you get on – would love to see your finished Sorbetto!

      • Debbie says:

        Thank you for you reply Jo, I have managed to sort out the pleat now – not sure how I managed to make it so complicated! A novice’s nerves I think. If it turns out looking vaguely like a Sorbetto when it’s finished I will try and send a picture. Thanks again and happy stitching x

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