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.