Spring blossoms and an Oolong experiment



The experiment

Last week, I had the pleasure of finally (!) meeting Alyson Clair.

Some of you might recognize Alyson’s name from posts she’s written on sewing knits for blog for better sewing, or her knitwear line, Clair Vintage Inspired.

This lady is seriously passionate about knit fabrics. And her enthusiasm is infectious, because the next day I ran out and bought a few yards of this lovely organic cotton jersey to play with.

I’m really in love with this fabric. It’s thick and opaque, soft, and the color of melted vanilla ice cream.

I thought it would be fun to try the Oolong in a knit. Since Oolong is cut on the bias, it’s meant for stretch. I decided I’d try a few tweaks (which I’ll share) and see if I could get it to work.


The changes

First, the lovely slim six-gored skirt had to go. Too many seams for a knit, and I wanted to keep it simple. Instead, I drafted a simple circle skirt. I adore the way the skirt came out. Since I have fabric left, I might even make a separate circle skirt with it.




I also had to add an inset waist piece (that’s the band part around the tummy), since the original pattern has an empire line. This is REALLY easy to do. All I did was tape the skirt pattern pieces together at the seamlines, trace, and cut it off at the waistline (which is marked on the pattern). That’s it.

I then lengthened the back bodice to match, so I now had a waist seam sitting at my natural waist. I removed all darts (just pinched/folded them out) from the back. No need for darts with a stretchy knit like this.

The final thing I had to worry about was finishing the neckline. I opted to add a cut-on facing to the front v-neck, so the fabric basically just folds under at the neck. I made a self-fabric binding for the back neck. I find that finishing necklines is one of the trickiest things about adapting a pattern for knits, but this solution worked pretty well.


What I’d do differently

One thing I’m not entirely happy with is the sleeves. My gathers were off when I first set it. I ended up re-setting the sleeve, which led to making the armhole a little too big and the sleeve fit a bit wonky. But I’m fine with that, and plan to tweak it for the next version.

Finally, I might make it a touch smaller next time, particularly in length. This fabric is really really heavy and really really stretchy and I feel the bodice has stretched out lengthwise a bit too much. You can see the under-bust seam sits pretty low. But that might not happen with a more stable knit than this ultra-stretchy one I used.


Overall, I’m very happy with it. Oolong has always been one of my favorite shapes, so it’s nice to work it into my wardrobe in this more casual (and super comfortable) way.

Plus, oh my gosh you guys… knits are FAST! Even with all my fussing and sleeve re-setting, this thing went from fabric to dress in about 2.5 hours!

My next one will be in a camel and cream stripe, which I’m pretty excited about.

Details: the shoes are Dieppa Restrepo rose gold loafers, lipstick is MAC Vegas Volt (a great coral), pink cardigan is second hand, blossoming tree is a weeping cherry, and the stripey flower is a camelia!

PS: Sorry the images are a bit washed out, the sun was being very fickle when we snapped these before work.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 45


Ooh very romantical :)

Johanna@projects by me

The dress looks fantastic and comfy! I love knit fabric too, so fast to sew!


The Oolong looks great in the jersey fabric! I love comfy knit dresses.

Maddie Flanigan

Knits have a bad reputation, don’t they? But once you get the hang of them-they’re easier to work than wovens. I love all the alterations you made to this dress and the backdrop of your photos match perfectly. Yay for spring!

Paige @ LPD

I wish I could see a bit more detail in the dress, these are showing up really blown out on my screen. I’m sure it’s lovely though, makes me want a white dress for spring!


Yeah, I mentioned that in the post… the sun was really playing peekaboo when we took these!

Paige @ LPD

oh I understand, lighting is so tricky!


It’s not blown out on my monitor. Perhaps yours needs adjusting.


These shots are so dreamy, and your dress is just gorgeous! I actually really love the “washed-out” look of the photos – these images really portray the feeling of spring. I’d call it a happy accident!

I wish I could see the dress in person to feel the fabric. I have been dying to try knits, but I just haven’t had the courage to yet. It’s reassuring to hear it when people say that knits are actually easy, once you get the hang of it. I do most of my fabric shopping online, and I’m just afraid to buy the wrong kind of knit, and then not know what to do with it.

But – comfort is a big thing for me, and I have a feeling I’ll be trying knits sooner than later. Once I get through my current stash I’ll give it a go. :) Thanks for the inspiration!!


Oh Sarai! I’m wondering how could a men to resist you? If I were a men (or a lesbian) I couldn’t !!! You are beautiful and soooooo feminine! The dress is fantastic! Xoxo, Giusy


Why thank you! This has got to be one of the best comments ever.

elizabeth rehmer

love it!! knits are way less intimidating to me. They seem way forgiving and I love working with them. THis dress is adorable as are your shoes! :)

Nicole Morgenthau

Really glad you posted this! I’ve been thinking about using a knit for the Crepe pattern. I have so many lovely summer knits in my shop right now, it’s hard not to dream of a flowy, knit wrap dress… The neckline is what keeps me from actually cutting, but maybe I ought to just forge ahead… :) Thanks for the boost.


Lovely! Are you feeling inspired to design some patterns for knits?!


I second Karen’s question…any knit patterns in the future? I would love some!!

Gorgeous dress…I have Oolong and just bought a load of knits for spring/summer dresses. Definitely heading for this pattern straight away :)


Who knows? :) It would be fun to do a sub-line or pattern series, but definitely not this year!

Kate Kilgus

A beautiful dress. I, too, enjoy sewing with knits. Clothes made from knits are easy to care for and sew up without much fuss once you get the hang of it. I would love to see a Colette pattern for knits – maybe something in the loungewear category? (Hint, hint).


I love this! Oolong is one of the few Colette Patterns I have stayed away from – mostly because I thought the shape would not be so flattering to me. Seeing this circle skirt version has me wanting to give it a shot!


It’s beautiful! Love seeing Oolong in a knit. I love your shoes, too!


I adore this! Knits are awesome… I love the two Taffy blouses I made in knits. And I’ll echo the above — the thought of some Colette patterns especially-for-knits has me a bit giddy… :)


Oh my god, I LOVE this!! I’ll confess – I’ve always thought this Oolong was pretty, but the fabric yardage was a bit off-putting (all that bias, plus the lining. I say this as I’m currently cutting a dang Chantilly, but I digress, ha). I’ve never considered using a knit to make it up, but that is soo brilliant. And knits are right up my alley :) I may have to try this out myself! Thank you for all your tips on how to make the swap. Question: Is your drafted circle skirt a full circle or just a portion of one?


It’s a full circle. My fabric was 60″ wide, so it was super easy.


Oh, this is so pretty! I love this as a knit dress– it’s so soft and feminine!


I love that dress! I’d love to try sewing with knitted fabrics but I’m a bit scared to! The Parfait pattern would also look lovely in a knit fabric….. Peg xx


I think its an absolutely wonderful variation of oolong in knit fabric. I am totally inspired to create one exactly like this. Very elegant and pretty. You look fab!!


Oolong looks pretty fantastic in a knit! I’m wary of how clingy knit dresses can be, but this is lovely!


That’s true, especially in light colors like this, they can show every bump. That’s one reason I opted for the circle skirt. I don’t mind the clinginess in darker colors though.


I agree, that dress is lovely! I love the drape of the skirt. I’m usually wary of trying to sew a woven pattern with a knit or vice versa, but your notes on this are very inspiring!


I’ve been planning on making Oolong in jersey since seeing this post:
I still haven’t gotten around to it, but yours is fresh inspiration!


Love this knit version! Thanks for the tips and things you’d do differently. The dress and photos are gorgeous!


I love Oolong’s original silhouette, but something about this circle skirt is so elegantly casual — and the knit pushes it way more into everyday wearable, which is fantastic! I’ve been thinking about using Oolong as the base pattern for my wedding dress (it won’t be a super formal occasion), and now I’m definitely considering your skirt swap! (These pictures are totally inspiring, btw.)

Xenia Katie

I love the Oolong, such a flattering dress. I saw the jersey version on Pleasantview Schoolhouse, and yours is so inspiring and pretty, too! I certainly have plenty of knit yardage to use up… maybe I’ll fire up the serger and give it a go!

Rochelle New

Sarai that is so beautiful! I love mixing and matching patterns to come up with a brand new look. Pretty genius to use a knit fabric. I don’t really sew with knits often but I feel like I need to now! :)

Reana Louise

Vanilla ice cream is the perfect description for that colour, and what kind of Garden of Eden are you in?! How does one become surrounded by cherry blossoms?!


Ha! The weeping cherry is in my front yard! Portland is basically a giant flower garden from March until summer.


Anna over at Pleasant View Schoolhouse made an Oolong in knit too (
I had intended to follow her example and just got my pattern. Now, after seeing yours, I am definately going to make it with a circle skirt L-O-V-E it!


This is so pretty and feminine. I love this pattern :)


I have always loved Oolong, even before I saw the dress, only the name makes me love it. I’m not a huge fan of tea, but I am a taiwanese in my heart and Oolong (烏龍) is everywhere here. You’ll see when you get here. ;)
Now I just need to make me an Oolong dress, maybe then I’ll head up the mountains to the tea plantations and have myself a cuppa. :)



Since you’re in Portland and I’m in Portland, I must ask: where do you buy your knits? Do you buy online? I haven’t been impressed with Joann or Fabric Depot, but I’m wondering where all the cute knits are hiding out, now that I want to try to sew with them!


Mill End has a great selection.


Great, thank you! I’ve never been there, so I guess it’s time to make a visit.

susan deane

I enjoy your newsletters. I don’t make clothes but I do make window treatments and slipcovers. I discovered a nifty tool on one of the sewing forums that I want to share with you. It’s the Pilot Frixion pen. It’s erasable and you can iron the ink out too. I love it.
Keep up the good work Sarai!

Alyson Clair

YAY! Knits are so much fun. The dress turned out fantastic!


Lovely, I think I might try it, I’m just too much of a beginner …maybe. I love that you give credit to the camelia and the weeping cherry, it is deserved after all :)


Love it! :)

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