August 11, 2013

Sew: Colette Peony Dress in Gingham

I'm always a year or two late to the sewing party. The Colette Peony dress has been around for a few years and I've only just gotten around to sewing it. I bought it early in my sewing blogging "career" and it promptly sat in the ever growing sewing pattern stash for a very long time. That was until I needed a pattern to fit in the Fitting Friends class at Tessuti. I was a bit lost as to what pattern to select. I was going to go for a blazer but thought it might be a bit too much to fit in to a class. I then thought I really should fit a dress style that I always wear, a fitted bodice with a fuller skirt. I chose the Peony because I am yet to read a review of it that doesn't require a few adjustments.
I finished sewing the calico late on the Friday night before the class and was really disappointed. The calico fitted!! Or so I thought.... 
Vanessa Lucas was taking the class and ran us through fitting each other. Rachel and I were up first and it was a great learning experience. The basic principle is that you pinch out all the excess fabric. There are rules but that is the basic principle.

It's fascinating seeing the fitted and un-fitted sides. Vanessa fits one side of the dress and then taught Rachel to fit the other side of the dress. 
Here is my fitted front calico.

And the back.

Once you've fitted your calico, you then transfer your alterations to the paper pattern. That is my favourite part. I love the folding, slashing and ruling.
After the class, I went straight home and cut out my test fabric. I bought 5 metres of this black and white gingham at Spotlight for the sole purpose of testing this pattern. It works fine but I think the real fabric needs to be a bit more substantial. This gingham is a bit too light for my liking. 

I'm pretty happy with the fit. I could probably take a bit more out of the back length by doing a slight sway back adjustment. Even though the fabric doesn't bunch up the waist seam is a little lower in the back and it should be straight all the way around.

There is a little excess fabric under my bust and I think this could be minimised by taking the side seams in a smidge more. I had moved and enlarged the bust darts in my alterations and I possibly need to make them a little bigger to remove this excess.  I'm undecided as I think this could possibly lead to an over fitted garment. It's a fine line between perfect fitting and being able to move! The fabric weight also plays a part.

Photo bombed by Mr H & Mr N!

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this dress. I also really enjoyed the fitting class with Vanessa. I've done a few classes with Vanessa at Tessuti and I've always been really impressed.

Project Details
Pattern: Colette Peony, size 16, altered
Fabric: Cotton Gingham from Spotlight
Alterations: Many! See pictures above
Class: Fitting Friends Sew Inn at Tessuti Melbourne

L x


  1. Very cute Peony. The fit looks great. I too am enthralled with the fitting process. I did a fitting class on Craftsy and I am currently attempting to put what I have learned into practice on a fitted outfit I am making for my nephew's wedding next month.

  2. Lol!!I love the photobombed picture!! You can count on the kids to pull such stunts! The memories we'll have when we get older.

    The fitting class sounds fabulous! Glad you have a real fitting expert nearby!

  3. That is a super fitting dress now - and you have the pattern to use again and again (the style really suits you!) Last photo is just priceless...J

  4. Pretty! Well that was certainly a fortuitous choice to take along to a fitting workshop! I had nightmares fitting the Peony, but it was worth it in the end as I now use that bodice to fit any pattern with the four-dart setup. How much difference did all the pinning out make - wow! And barring you wanting that delicious gingham to be a little heavier - the end result is gorgeous :)

  5. I made two Peonies earlier this year, and I learned lots in the fitting process. Man, it was a long process too, but totally worth it mostly because I know more about fitting now.
    Your gingham Peony is very sweet!

  6. Hehe, I am definitely an over-fitting culprit so I totally understand the should I or shouldn't I of your extra bodice fabric :) It sounds like the sort of adjustment that would be easy enough to do on your next version though, just to see what it looks like in a sturdier fabric before altering your pattern?

  7. It turned out perfectly - I am such a good fitter! :-)

  8. This looks fantastic! Epic work!

  9. this is so lovely. And you sure know how to make calico look good... somehow!
    The class looks like fun :-) thanks for sharing!


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