The Peony Dress…

There have been so many great versions of the Peony Dress by Colette Patterns appearing in blogworld, that despite my aversion to buying patterns, I thought I’d give it a go (the reason I don’t generally buy patterns is that I feel guilty I should draft them myself plus I HATE working from things with the seam allowance already added, it’s not the way I cut patterns and I also HATE flimsy pattern paper when I’m used to working in brown paper).  I also had my ‘big day out’ in London looming and wanted something special to wear that would take me through the day without feeling over dressed. I my stash, I had some cotton corduroy bought ages ago from Dragonfly fabrics (they have nice things, don’t blame me if you spend all your pennies when you hop over to the site 😉 ) in an ‘Aubergine’ shade that I’d planned to make into a skirt so figured I’d use this.  It costs quite a bit more than my usual ebay cotton corduroy but the colour is really nice; I must say here, though, that when I pre-washed the fabric before making up the dress it pilled really badly and faded a bit.  After making it up all the loose fibers had brushed off and actually the final colour is really nice, so I’m happy, it’s also had a couple of washes since and has settled down nicely in colour and fiber loss, so goes into the ‘winner’ list.

This is my final dress, shown with one of my pairs of Chia Mihara shoes and a brooch that I also wore.  I attempted to pop it on my Stockman dummy but since buying it, many years ago, I have *ahem* put on a few pounds so it’s not a great fit.  On me, as I made a toile in calico first to get the bodice right, it fits perfectly and is very flattering.  I struggled to get the pattern version in my size to work.  As mentioned, I did cut a calico version (toile as we called it at college) and started the process of pinning out the excess fabric but in the end, rather than mess about too much I drafted my own pattern to my measurements then out of interest compared the two.  Mine was a lot narrower in the back, by about 2 inches and the waist was lower (I have a long body), it was also much tighter directly under the bust to give a more fitted look and the arm holes were smaller.

I also need to confess that I didn’t follow the making instructions, but made up the dress as I would have from my own experience.  I did take some time today to read through the whole pattern and I actually think it’s great, really well laid out and easy to understand.  I can imagine it being quite straight forward for someone who is quite new to sewing.

I also took a dart out of the sleeves as they were a bit ‘baggy’ in the original version and as suggested added some piping cord, also in the corduroy around the neck and waistline.  Instead of doing the gathers as shown in the pattern when attaching the skirt, I opted for inverted pleats, as they sit flatter and so hide my belly without exaggerating it.  Bonus.

I lined the body and skirt of the dress in some Liberty Tana Lawn, again from my stash (I didn’t line the sleeves).  It’s seconds, and was quite cheap as the background colour has a yellow tint that would have made the fabric unusable for my shop products but perfect for this project.  I bound the sleeves and lining together at the shoulder joint using bias binding, which I also used it to bind the raw seam at the sleeve edge.  The rest of the seams were tidied using my overlocker.  I’m really glad I did line the frock as it looks very neat and tidy and somehow very ‘finished’ and it much nicer to wear.  The only down side of the whole thing, is that I hope to be at least a dress size smaller by next winter so I am wearing it as often as I can before it get’s too warm.

As I’m blogging dress making, I have become addicted to cruising the many vintage pattern re-prints out there, especially Vogue Vintage and I’m rather looking forward to making the above at some point (all bought from Jaycotts where they often run half price pattern sales). For loads of info and inspiration in vintage style dress making, and much better info on the making up experiences of  Colette patterns, you must go and read Jane’s blog Handmade Jane , I am always inspired to sew for myself when I visit, and Jane’s recent dress for a brilliant Mad Men challenge frock is one that I’m especially in love with.

24 thoughts on “The Peony Dress…

  1. What an elegant dress Beth. It’s good that you were also able to adapt the pattern to your own body shape, I agree that’s often the problem with bought patterns. I do love the matching accessories too you must look and feel terrific when wearing the outfit. As for those Vogue Vintage patterns…I drooled over them, what gorgeousness! Have a very Happy Easter and eat lots of chocolate ;0) well it’s only Easter once a year!
    Jane x

  2. Gosh Beth that’s just lovely. I love reading about all the detail of fitting and piping and lining and such that you did. The end result is certainly worth it. Encourages me to be more patient with my sewing 🙂

  3. Beth it is gorgeous, you are so talented. I am debating trying to make myself a simple top and this worries me I can’t imagine having the skills to make a dress like yours!
    It looks so stylish and I imagine the lining makes it a dream to where.
    Hope your enjoying Easter.
    Jenny x

    • I am not so much talented as well taught by my Mum, Gran and the tutors at college. We have a dream of a lady called Iris that taught us to sew and a great tutor who taught me to pattern cut. It’s good to try and keep the skills alive, use them or loose them, as they say.

      I hope you do make the top, I’m sure it’ll work out fine and the more you do the easier it gets, you tend to learn quickly from sewing mistakes (I think!).


  4. What can I say!. love it. And the shoes. I just want to be inside your wardrobe and see all your beautiful cloths and shoes. Perhaps one day you can do a post about your Chie Mihara shoes? only because I am a bit nosy. Have a good Easter. Lola x

    • I read this comment when we were away in Yorkshire and laughed myself silly as I might just be planning a post that has a photo of my Chie Mihara collection! I need to answer some questions about myself for a lovely blog award I received (a long time ago now – shame on me!) and my shoe collection definitely needs to appear. Hope you wont be disappointed 😉 Bx

  5. Oh wow Beth, thanks so much for the mention, I’m very flattered!

    And as for your Peony – it’s absolutely beautiful and the finish (as with all your work) is flawless. I love the lining and pleated waistline – as you say, much neater looking and more flattering than the original gathers. I’ll definitely have to copy this for my next version. I’m also totally in love with the idea of a cord version. Too late to make one now, but this idea will go straight to the top of my list for autumn sewing. xx

    • You are more than welcome, I love reading about all the things you make, I probably wouldn’t have heard of Colette patterns if it weren’t for your blog as I generally don’t look at dress sewing patterns, daft now I know how good they are these days!

      I knew as soon as I saw the pattern it had to be in cord, I will also be making a wool one next year, can’t wait to see your next one.


    • Yes, I can’t imagine the gathers would have sat very well, I would have had sticky-out bits right where my tummy already sticks out – not good! Glad you like the dress. Bx

  6. Wow what a gorgeous dress Beth. I wish I had a) the skill and b) the patience to make my own clothes. Your work is always so exceptionaly neat and well finished, you’re an absolute perfectionist.
    Vivienne x

    • I’m afraid to say, I do lack patience to make my own clothes, I often rush bits and then make mistakes. I am trying very hard to treat things I’m making at the moment as I would a costume I were making for someone else, when I wouldn’t dream of taking short cuts. Glad you like the dress. Beth 🙂

  7. Hi Beth 🙂
    this dress is so beautiful, I love reading about how you’ve made it – your choice of colours is really gorgeous! I am envoius, I wish I could make things like this! Also love the little flower broach with it, perfect together 🙂 Very inspiring! Hope you had a lovely Easter break, love safxxx

    • Thanks Saf, really glad you like the dress and reading the process of making it, I’m never sure if these things are interesting or not. Hope you had a lovely Easter. Bethx

  8. Really impressed with your dress! Lovely idea of the flowers as well. It inspired me to re-vamp an old dress by putting some small crochet flowers that I made as a brooch on it.

  9. Pingback: Crochet Fun | beth butcher

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