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Design details and inspiration

It’s time to start planning for our dresses!

There are multiple ways to customize the Rooibos. First of all, you can easily combine up to three different coordinating fabrics:

  • the main fabric, which forms most of the dress
  • the contrast fabric, which forms the collar and facing
  • the optional piping, which you can purchase or make yourself

This gives you a lot of opportunities to play with color and scale.You can also add numerous little details that work well with the overall style, like decorative buttons, bows, even embroidery.

This week, we’re going to be talking about design, planning, and choosing fabric. Next week we’ll start working directly with the pattern, so if you haven’t got your Rooibos pattern yet, there is still some time. Remember to enter ROOIBOSAUGUST before August 16, 2011 for your discount.

In a few days, we’ll talk about the nuts and bolts of picking a fabric. For now, let’s focus on the fun part.. getting ideas!

So I thought we’d start by getting some inspiration from what others have done with Rooibos. Get out your sketchpad and let’s brainstorm!

color and texture

Color is a great place to start with Rooibos. I think it lends itself well to very bright colors, but also looks great in quiet colors, especially with a little pop of color in the contrast or piping.

Veganruthie made one in a gorgeous plum color. I think plum is the new black… it goes with pretty much everything.

…or maybe black is the new black. I really love the combination of black with bursts of bright aqua on this version from Strawberry Pancakes by Kim.

I hadn’t thought much about making Rooibos in denim, but this one by ali_ali_ali has me convinced. And of course, denim would work with just about any contrast color too. I like that it gives the dress a more casual look.

Red is a classic choice that will look great with black fall accessories, like this version by rachelbessie.

If you want a subtle look, I’ve always been partial to seeing the Rooibos in grey wool, perhaps with a pop of colored piping, like this version posted by Karen Ball.

…or if you want to go brighter, take inspiration from this pretty number by hokidoki. Doesn’t that color look amazing on her?

Jewel tones like this beautiful wintery green from Dionneleon can look amazing and flattering.


You can really go wild with print on this dress. You could choose to use a print for the main fabric and then a coordinating or contrasting solid for the contrast details. Or use a solid for the main fabric and a print for the contrast. You can make your own piping with either solid or printed fabric too.

If you decide on using print for the details, choose a small to medium scale print so the details will be visible. This would be a perfect chance to use a small amount of expensive Liberty lawn, for example!

This gorgeous print is featured on a Rooibos by Dolly Clackett. Even though Rooibos has a lot of seams, I think the large scale print works really well!

A smaller scale print works beautifully too, as you can see from DollyGW’s version.

Another option is to use a patterned fabric for your contrast fabric, and make some matching piping in the same fabric, like this version from gin soaked roisin. (By the way, I’ve noticed an inordinate number of my customers have handles with references to Tom Waits songs, which makes me happy to no end).

Here’s a variation on a similar theme. Shelly used dots for the contrast, and I just love seeing that peek of pattern lining the armhole! Because the dress is made with an all-in-one facing, you get that pretty look of lining all the way around.

On the other hand, here’s a dotted version with solid details from rachelbessie, which is also quite fetching.

Paisley makes a great contrast fabric on this dress by sazknits, because it has so much small detail.


Even though I love details, I like to keep this dress fairly simple and use the piping and contrast as the main focus. Some small decorative buttons or a matching belt can be a beautiful touch, though. I am thinking about incorporating some very simple embroidery on mine, or maybe some small bows to match the piping.

Melissa added a rhinestone button (or brooch?) to her Rooibos collar. I think the tiny collar would be absolutely perfect for other small rhinestone embellishments as well… buttons or sew-on stones.

Hillary made this gorgeous version with matching belt. Pretty, no? It’s another idea I’m thinking about for mine.

You could also add decorative buttons or bows, like Peggy Sue from Marseilles.

Do you have any color / print / detail ideas for the Rooibos yet?

{top image: detail of a Rooibos by Amélie}

The Rooibos Sewalong

  1. Announcing the Rooibos Sewalong! (42 Comments)
  2. Design details and inspiration (17 Comments)
  3. Choosing Fabric and Interfacing (20 Comments)
  4. My fabric choice (15 Comments)
  5. Making Your Muslin (19 Comments)
  6. Rooibos Full Bust Adjustment (17 Comments)
  7. Rooibos Small Bust Adjustment (11 Comments)
  8. Grading for larger hips (5 Comments)
  9. Curved seams and finishes (21 Comments)
  10. All-in-one facing and piping (15 Comments)
  11. Sewing the pockets (9 Comments)
  12. Finishing and Hemming (5 Comments)
  13. My completed dress! (29 Comments)
  14. Your Rooibos projects (5 Comments)


Great job everyone! I especially love Peggy Sue’s little red bow & buttons.

Isn’t it adorable? For some reason, I really like the combination of red and blue with this dress.

great post! i actually *just* finished my first rooibos (pictures to come soon) in a summery cotton/rayon print, but i have a piece of bright red fine-wale corduroy that i want to make a winter version with. maybe i’ll start early & join the sew-along! still trying to decide on what kind of contrast to use – i’m thinking maybe a red plaid, for the neckline & pocket piping, and then maybe making a matching plaid belt as well.

Ooh, that sounds awesome! I was thinking about doing a plaid contrast with mine too, but decided on a floral instead. Just have to prewash my fabric so I can share it here!

Gail Ann Thompson

Another thing I appreciate about Colette patterns is the variety of ways it can be styled by home seamstresses.
All of them are lovely!

Aww, thanks Gail. It helps to have such creative and stylish folks buying the patterns.


I’m so pleased that you are doing this sew-a-long! Thank you. I wondered if you could please address how to do a small bust adjustment for the Rooibos? I reviewed it for the Parfait; but am unsure how to apply it to the Rooibos.

Marie, we’re going to cover that when we get to fitting, so you’re in luck.


Thank you Sarai!


I think I’m going to be doing mine in a basic poplin–I made the dress before and didn’t love the results, so I’m reserving the fancy fabric for after I’ve conquered my fitting issues. Navy with little red piped pockets and buttons just sounds so cute, I think that’s what I’ll have to go with.

My rooibus pattern arrived yesterday, and I am so excited to get started on this. If I have time, I’m going to cut out my muslin today. I am between sizes and want to make sure this fits! I love the first dress you posted with the small polka dots. I am torn whether I should make something bold and patterned, or tread lightly. My friend kim just gifted me with the most beautiful hot pink velvet, and I am thinking I will use this for my cording…


Wow, thanks for including my denim version in this round-up — so flattering! Thanks, Colette Patterns, but more importantly, thanks for this great pattern.

I seriously have to stop myself from making a whole army of these. The beauty of the pattern, I think, is its versatility. I made my first one in plain denim but there’s so many fabrics and details I can include to make it a different dress. And I could play with the length for an office-friendly dress … And I’ve been thinking about making it in a double-knit (since the bodice is fitted enough) for a fall , travel-easy dress. I just really love that wide neckline, the waist inset, and the pockets. Can’t wait to oogle these new Rooibosi to get more ideas!

I’m so excited to be doing this sewalong, but I have to use something from my stash since I’ve been breakin’ the bank on fabric this summer. I have some coral-colored linen, which definitely isn’t what I had imagined for this, but I’m wondering if that would be appropriate. Do you think linen is too lightweight? I’ve never used it before and I’m unsure about the drape (I was originally thinking of twill or something else pretty sturdy)…

I think it depends a bit on the weave, since some linen is sturdier than others. Linen tends to be soft, but I think it could work.

Another thing to remember about linen is that it tends to get softer with washing. So perhaps wash it once or twice before you decide.

Caitlin will do a post tomorrow about fabric choice too!

Ahh, thanks! I’ll give it a wash or two and see how it feels. I’m really not sold on the linen, so I’ll probably end up picking up something new. Looking forward to the fabric post! Thanks again!

Laura Wilson

Eek so excited to see my version on there, (Dolly GW) Im inspired to make another Rooibos, i’ve made 3 so far and love the fit so much.

I love the tripple dart on the bust!