Autumn has definitely arrived. Brrrrr!
So, this is the Colette Peony dress, a new addition to Sarai’s burgeoning collection of patterns. It’s a very, very clever pattern. The shaping of the front bodice is all down to four darts. (More on those later!) The boat neckline is divine, as is the skirt shape. This felt very Jackie O to make.
The fabric was bought from Mood in New York right at the start of the year when Elizabeth from SEWN kindly showed me around some of the Big Apple’s fabric stores. I ordered swathes of this fabric in a jetlagged haze. I have enough left over to make another outfit. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to work with this truly beautiful taffeta, but I’m kind of glad I waited to use it on the Peony. This dress and this fabric were born to be together – the design really suits the slightly structural aspects of the taffeta. Indeed, this has left me with fairly strong opinions on what fabric should be used when making the Peony.
So, the process. The MOST important thing I can tell you when making this dress is that you must, must, must make a toile of the bodice. (You don’t need to worry with the skirt – it’s roomy and forgiving enough to not present problems.)
I am soooo glad I did a toile. First off, the bodice was running a bit small. Plus the bust darts needed lowering a good inch, which affected the placement of the waist darts. Oh, I can’t tell you! I adjusted, tried on, adjusted, tried on, adjusted, tried on… Through trial and error I learnt that IF you are going to adjust the darts – and you may well need to – then the KEY is ensure that the points of each left and right bust and waist darts are still lined up according to the original pattern placement. Anything else, and you’ll have a mess on your hands. I learnt that the hard way, sitting at my sewing machine in bra and pyjama bottoms. There you are, I’m giving you that tip for free!
Once you’ve adjusted your bodice toile, though, you’re rocking! I made this dress in a weekend. If you use a fabric similair to mine, you won’t need to line it. This brings me to my next hot topic on this make – fabric choice. I would really recommend that you don’t go with a crisp cotton. Those four darts – I don’t think you’re ever going to get the dart points to do anything other than point in a pointy way at your breasts if you use cotton other than a lawn. You need a fabric that is going to ease away from a bodice point, something that has a bit of ‘warmth’ and give to the touch. A double gauze would be perfect, as would taffeta. Any other ideas about suitable fabrics?
I added piping at the neckline and at the waist, just in case I ever don’t want to wear the cummerbund:
Making piping is really easy:
Adding the piping does make the seams at the waist and neckline more tricky, but it’s a lovely detail. I would urge you not to skip making the cummerbund. It isn’t onerous and really pulls the outfit together. Plus, check out the gorgeous button detail that can be added to the cummerbund:
Other tips? I added a whole three inches to the length of the skirt. I also added a teeny 1cm extra depth on either side of the boat neckline as I was worried about bra straps showing.
There we are! This dress was an utter delight to make, once I’d got past the challenges of fitting the bodice. The care and intelligence that have gone into this design are staggering. Colette Patterns have rightly earned their place in Sewists’ hearts.
This dress has put me in such a good mood that I thought I’d add a giveaway to this post. Yesterday I stopped by Persephone Books on Lambs Conduit Street. Do check it out if you’re ever in London, it’s just heaven on a plate:
I was buying a present for a friend, but then I couldn’t resist picking something up for my readers, too:
I don’t think I’ll tell you what book is in here – it can be a surprise for someone! All I will tell you is that Persephone bring neglected books back into print and I chose this one because I thought it was an amusing reflection on 21st-century lifestyle blogging and how much things have (or haven’t!) changed since 1949. Their books are published beautifully. This will be a real treasure for someone to own.
To enter the giveaway, all I ask is:
- You send me a photo of you with your book so that we can share with readers.
- You add a comment below answering the following question: what fruit is Persephone associated with, and what is your favourite fruit?
This giveaway is open to readers internationally and closes at midnight GMT on Friday 11 November.