Palette Challenge: Time for Liberty


I’m easing into the Palette Challenge this week by starting with a dress that is incredibly simple, in a fabric I’ve been meaning to use for ages.

I bought this lawn at Liberty when I was in London over two years ago. For two years, it’s been sitting in my stash calling to me. I thought for sure it would become a Violet blouse, but suddenly it dawned on me that it would make a really lovely little shift. With no darts and very few seams, the print is really given free reign here.

(By the way, did you know the Liberty department store now carries Colette Patterns? Bit of a dream come true!)

I used a really basic pattern from the 1960s for this. It’s gathered at the neck, which is finished with bias binding. I had a little extra, so I added a bow. This dress style is beyond simple and uses so little fabric that I think it would be a great summer stash buster. I am all about comfortable throw-it-on-and-go dresses right now.

I think I’ll be wearing this dress at Cocktail Camp this weekend. If you’re in Portland, you should come! It’s an annual event Kenn organizes (and I help a bit).

Lessons Learned:

  • I should use my pretty fabric. I’m really making an effort here. I’m often so afraid to cut the fabric I really love, but it’s so much better to have something lovely to wear than have it sitting in a box.
  • Simple patterns + statement fabric = win. I really like the way the simple lines make the most of a bold print here.
  • I need more shift dresses in my life. I’ve worn this dress 2 or 3 times already and I love the short length and how comfortable it is.
  • I love my blind hem foot. I did a machine sewn blind hem on this little number, and I must say the Bernina foot made it a total breeze! I always found blind hems a bit fussy before I bought my Bernina, but this hem came out quick and perfectly formed. Love that foot!

So that’s the first project in my palette challenge for this season! I’m working on a couple muslins right now, so I’m not sure what will be up next.

How are your projects coming? Started sewing yet? It might be fun if those of you participating shared your progress in the comments!

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 75


wow, that dress is fab, I bet if I saw that fabric on the bolt I’d think, no it’s too much for an entire dress, but it’s really not, it’s absolutely stunning and looks so easy to wear. I’m going to hunt for a similar pattern right now!

Anna | Mormor hade stil

You were so right to choose that uncomplicated shift pattern for that fabric. It looks great!


So cute. I’ve used Vogue 1236 a few times for a simple dress, just a few simple pleats at the neckline, no fastenings, no zip but it has pockets! I always get lots of compliments. The pattern photo is drab but it makes up quickly into a sweet comfortable sundress.

Stacy G

cute dress! the pattern behind it looks like something I have (a cute shirt dress?)!


The Vogue Paris Original envelope behind it? I believe it’s a Nina Ricci jacket from the 60s. :)


Lovely dress!

My progress so far: I’ve cut out my black-and-white top, and have gotten most of the thread tracing done on my RTW jeans for the pattern-making process. (I’m going through the Craftsy jeans class, which was my plan for this month before the palette challenge came out, and that’s why I built my palette around my dark blue denim.) Work is super-busy this week, though, so that’s all I’ve managed. Hopefully some actual sewing will happen soon!


Ooh, jeans, how fun! I really ought to do that with my favorite pair of jeans. They have the best fit ever but are completely ratty and paint splattered and falling apart at this point.

Emilie LG

Wow, I love this fabric, I ‘ve been glancing at it for a few month now but couldn’t find how to use it….
“Simple patterns + statement fabric = win” is definitely a good motto.
And I’m afraid to cut in fabric I really love too !

Emilie LG

Oh, and by the way, it’s nice to have a sneek peak at your new studio decoration ;-)
That carpet <3


We really need to take some photos of it and do a tour! It just never seems tidy enough. :)


I love everything about this dress!


What a fantastic dress pattern and fabric! You look wonderful in it.

Lisa S.

What a gorgeous fabric! I completely understand about not wanting to cut into the pretty stuff, but it can be so worth it!


Yes, it’s so hard to cut into your favourite fabrics but I also keep reminding myself that they’re wasted if they’re just sitting in my cupboard. I’m really working on using them up. I like to remember, too, that cutting something means scraps for a quilt!


Yes! I saved the scraps from this and I’m using some for pocket lining, but I think the smaller bits would work so well in a quilt!


What a lovely dress! You look so lovely in it! When I was in a fabric shop last weekend I almost bought this fabric. But blue tones don’t really suit me ;(


The lovely man who helped me at Liberty convinced me to get the blue and I’m glad I did, but it does come in other colorways! I believe there’s even a pink version?


It does (or has in the past) come in a pink and white version, and I have a couple yards in my stash that’s more teal than this, from a number of years ago. Seeing this does make me want a dress from it!


Gorgeous! A blind hem foot tutorial would be very much appreciated if you are willing – I can’t seem to figure mine out on my own.


I could put that together. I’m working on a pair of pants now and will probably do a blind hem on them next week that I could photograph.


So gorgeous! I love this fabric, and this shape is so sweet! I am not a shift person but this might convert me!

So far, I’ve made one blouse and one skirt, so I’m moving along in my spring sewing plans! My post on them is here:

Rochelle New

Gorgeous dress!!! And congrats on Colette Patterns making a debut at Liberty! That’s so exciting!! I’m not at all surprised though ;)


They seem to be doing very well there too! I only wish I could see them in person, since Liberty is one of my favorite stores in the world.


That dress is stunning! Even though it’s just a simple shift, it looks so flattering on your figure – I don’t blame you for getting lots of wear out of it!

I’m stash busting for your new patterns – I already have a pile of the fabrics I’d like to use, just waiting for the patterns to arrive in the mail. :) It’s weird – the fabrics I pulled out make a perfect spring palette! I love it when my “planning” is unintentional. ;)

Good luck with your event this weekend! Wish I could transport myself there to attend… ;)


That is super cute on you! I have the same pattern, and it’s been near the top of my “to sew” pile, but now it’s definitely been bumped up! I really like the idea of the bow. You have such excellent taste!


Aww, thanks Jeanine. I bought the pattern for the version with the collar (on the right), but haven’t done that one yet. I may work that into my challenge in a few weeks though.

Barb Sheppard

Congratulations for finally using your fabric. The dress is absolutely adorable!


It might sound weird but… The first thought that popped into my mind when I saw the picture was : “Wow her haircut and her dress work great together !” :)

I think it’s a great idea to start with something pretty simple for the challenge to ease into it and that’s what I’ll do to.
I’ll be making a muslin of the Sencha blouse this weekend and hopefully cutting the “real facbric” before sunday night.
I can manage short sessions of sewing during the week but have to wait for the weekend for tracing/cutting which requires more time.


Ha! My haircut is totally inspiring my fashion choices right now, so that’s not weird at all.


Gorgeous dress! I love the gathered neckline, and your little bow is the perfect finishing touch.


This dress is gorgeous on you! Is it the voile? I have some of this fabric (in green) and have been procrastinating using it because I was unsure how it would look in a garment. (Also because it is precious Liberty) Thank you for the inspiration!! You are amazing.


oops I meant “is it the tana lawn?”


Yep, it’s a tana lawn!


Did you line it? You’ve inspired me to finally use the tana lawn wasting away in my stash!


Oh, I’m so jealous – I’m yet to find a shift dress that suits me – I always look dumpy in them, I am so envious of those who suit them (unfortunately I am going to be sort forever lol)

As for Liberty – I went in there a few months back, and I was really excited to see the Colette patterns there, as I’d never seen one ‘in real life’ before! Sadly I hadn’t enough cash on me, but next time I’m in London I may have to get one…

And the palette challenge…well I’ve made one item of the 4 or 5 (Taffy), but it’s not quite in keeping with the colour scheme – mainly because I’m impatient and needed it NOW…. :D Will be holding off doing anymore from the challenge till I get back from holiday, as I have 2 days to finish a skirt and petticoat I need for that (My ‘holiday’ is a goth festival…)

Daughter Fish

This looks totally spokin’ on you! The cut is so flattering and love how the design really shows off the pretty fabric.

jane w.

look at your beautiful smile in that last photo!

Good for you for cutting into your “best” fabric–I can relate to that dilemma.

Sarah J

oh my! I have some lovely Ceasar liberty print in the black/pink/turquoise colour that is crying out to be used in a dress like this – lovely!


Gorgeous!!! I have several, similar vintage patterns in my stash, and you’re right–they are perfect for showcasing some really fantastic fabric. I’m sure this one is going to get a lot of wear this spring/summer!

Also: I am having so much fun following your palette challenge posts! I wish I could have joined in, but truth be told: my stash isn’t much to speak of since I moved last year, and it seemed kind of silly to go buy fabric since the point was to use up stash. lol.


SO adorable. I love it. The shoes too!


This is fantastic, it looks like a comfortable, easy, breezy dress for summer. The print is to die for and the color really suits you. That’s very exciting about your patterns being for sale at the Liberty store. Congrats!


I’ve seen this print a few times online and it’s always so hard to judge the scale. I think it works really well with this pattern! It’s always so nerve-wracking to cut into a fabric that you’ve had , especially one that is on the expensive side or one that you only have a small amount of. I had some fabric in my stash that sat there for about 10 years – a navy rayon print with a distinct retro feel. I bought it on impulse but never found a pattern that seemed to fit it. I made it up into my first Colette dress 2 years ago – a Chantilly dress. When I saw the pattern it was like I could hear the fabric calling me from its bin. I was nervous about cutting it out, though, because I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes, since I couldn’t get any more of it. I ended up not really finishing it properly (we had a major power outage) but wore it anyway. It turned out too big, so it’s part of my spring/summer challenge to take it apart and make it fit right.


Oh, I LOVE when a pattern and fabric seem made for each other like that. It’s like fate.

I have so many great vintage fabrics, but I’m particularly afraid to use them because I know I will never get more.


Jen, I’ve bought all my stash of liberty on line – I love the lawn, but I love the poplin and jersey also – fabulous quality – and a really good site to be able to gauge the dimensions is – they usually have a coin on the swatches so you can figure out what the scale is like.

Sarai – gorgeous – I don’t suit straight shift dresses at all, more’s the pity – love it and love it on you… I have a TNT pattern for a shaped and darted shift I use with patterns like that – but I’ve only tried it with the liberty poplin, I’m worried the lawn might be too light for a dress with structure like that. What do you think? Would you cut a Pastille in the lawn?


I think I might underline it, in that case. I think the pastille could use slightly more body than the lawn, but it would be a cinch to underline it.


Thank you! I kind of thought so and it is so nice to have an expert opinion on it.
Congrats on the patterns selling in Liberty! That is so great – and you totally deserve it !


Soo beautiful! I love the fabric and the pretty little bow on the neckline!


Sarai, if that’s the tana lawn, did you line the dress? I have the same print sitting around in a different colorway, but I’ve been hesitant to cut into it since I’m not sure what to do about lining/underlining since that tana lawn is a little sheer.


I decided not to line it, because the color is dark. You definitely can’t see through it. Maybe if the sun was directly behind, you could see the outlines of my legs, but I don’t think it’s a problem.

For a light colored tana lawn, I’d probably underline a dress or skirt.


My first finished garment is a mint and white polka dot dress that I posted in the Sewing Challenges are with the mood boards. I just finished my second garment last night which is a white and pink striped Hazel! I am in love! The Hazel dress is perfectly me, and I bet I am going to make several of them for this summer! I’ll have to post pictures on Monday!

Absolutely gorgeous dress! It looks so great on you and you look happy wearing it!

Alicia C.

Lovely dress! It is almost an identical pattern to a dress I sewed recently for the “Mad Men” premiere. My grandmother had cut it out and then left the pieces still pinned together in her sewing stash. When she passed away two years ago my mother sent it home with me to finish since I was closest to actually fitting into it (and loved the 60s vintage turquoise and fluorescent pink daisy print!). My pattern (dated 1968) has bust and back darts without the gathered neckline (same high neckline), and arm and neck facings which I hate and have been considering replacing with bias binding since sewing up a Sorbetto tank this past weekend. Your dress has convinced me to give it a go! Love the little bow!

Would that I were participating in the Spring/Summer Palette Challenge, but my budget isn’t allowing for new fabric at the moment and my stash is small and quite random. I *will* be stash-busting for summer–with some Colette patterns–but not with a particular palette in mind.


Beautiful dress and fabric. I regret not buying yardage of Liberty when I was in London last summer but my budget could only manage a few precursor at the time. Just lovely!


So pretty! How much fabric did the dress take? I have some Liberty that I’ve been holding onto for years and was finally planning to use for a Sencha, but I might just have enough to squeeze out a little shift!


This one was 60″ wide, I believe. I think I used maybe a yard of it?


Sarai, that new dress looks just perfectly lovely on you.
The Liberty print is fantastic – the whole ensemble is just wonderful.
Thanks for the inspiration (and congrats on the Liberty store stock of your patterns!!)


That’s beautiful! Liberty fabrics are such good quality and hopefully this should last for ages. Good job too since it’s now a wardrobe staple! I really like the neckline, I’ve been trying to find a pattern with one like that, albeit slightly lower.


Fabulous…For the last two summers I have been purchasing simple wash and wear dresses and foregoing the shorts. Dresses are cooler and look nice all day, all week. This pattern is wonderful…reminds me of the summer dresses my mom wore in the 1960s and early 70s.


Love your dress! Plus I have that pattern so you’ve inspired me to dig in my stash for a statement fabric to use. LOVE you blog!!


What a gorgeous dress! I love the simplicity of the pattern – very flattering on you – and how it shows off the gorgeous Liberty print. Making something from Liberty fabric is on my wish list.

Brenda Marks

Big news-Collette is mentioned in Australia’s super-hip magazine, Frankie! P. 20 of the current issue. Well done!


That’s awesome!!! I’ll have to check it out, I LOVE Frankie!


What a gorgeous dress choice for this fabric — it looks really lovely on you.

I have purchased three different liberty fabrics from two separate trips to London — my husband insisted that I buy more, but I am so aftraid to cut into it! — I made one breezy pleated skirt — (a bit too big, but I wear it as I am too lazy to pull out the zipper at the moment)

I have hummed and hawed, purchased piping, and two patterns that would fit the Liberty dress 1.6 meter, and 1 meter that I bought. Now, I am inspired to make a simple sheath and enjoy wearing it in summer. I loved sewing with the tana lawn on the first project, and can’t wait to start again. Thank you for the wonderful inspiration to get started on the ‘treasures’ already in my (rather small) fabric stash.

Brenda Marks

I meant Colette. Oops


You always look so chic … I love your style.

You and Caitlin mention using fabric from your stash. As a quilter my stash has 1/4 to 1/2 yard pieces. When purchasing fabric for garment sewing how much to you regularly buy when you don’t have a project in mind? Is 2 yards a good amount? 3 yards?


I buy 3 yards if I think I might want to make a dress. For separates, perhaps 2 yards.


That’s what i do – but after a recent experience when I decided I wanted to turn some black and cream polka dot silk into a dress instead of a blouse and since it’s just two metres i have to go and get more, I’ve decided that from now on, if something is even remotely suitable for a dress, I will get 3m, and then I can always use what’s left for a sorbetto if I make a blouse after all…


Love the shift dress you made and the liberty print! I totally agree with you on using fabric that you love, for the palette challenge i made a Built by Wendy Tea Dress, not loving the weight of the cotton, and so this will be my muslin for a future Tea Dress.


You’re looking good with this dress ! It’s actually my favorite Liberty fabric, and I wear my summer dress made with it all the time. Here it is :

Bettie Stanislao

What a beautiful dress on you! Is there any chance that you will offer your version of the pattern? I like the full gathered neckline and free flowing lines of the shift. I may have the old McCall’s and the Vogue patterns showm in the container, but neither is as pretty as your dress is. Thanks for sharing your innovation.


Oh, I don’t know… maybe something different but equally simple. I’m so wrapped up in designing for Fall right now!


I love the fabric! It is perfect for a dress like that. I’m in desperate need of a few simple dresses, I should try to make something similar.


I agree that less is more when it comes to a bigger print like that Liberty Peacock one. Congrats on your business. It seems to have really taken off in the last year! Your patterns are fun to make!

Donna W.

Just found this post, and this dress. Not only is the fabric lovely, but it looks great on you. I has inspired me to haul out some of my vintage patterns and actually use them. Good design and comfortable clothes should be timeless! Thanks!

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