Colette Peony – the misery continues

Well I am nothing if not determined and after the misery of my previous attempt with this pattern I was determined to get it right this time. I actually drafted the pattern for the top myself and used the existing peony skirt pattern – does this make it a peony – probably but not as we know it. I spent ages on this dress – literally ages. I handpicked the zip, put the lining in by hand, added my signature lace to the hem of the lining and then looked at it and thought to myself  “what a boring, frumpy looking dress”


As Steve said – if you saw this on a hanger in John Lewis would you bother taking it into the changing room? Probably not. I played around with a few ideas – added a belt, tried it on with my new Kurt Geiger shoes but nothing seemed to me to make much of a difference. It was still boring!

In a flash of inspiration I decided to drop the neckline and before you could say ‘Edward Scissorhand’ it was done – what a bloody stupid thing to do! My beautifully stabilised neckline became a gaping hole that looked AWFUL! It may have been boring before but now it was practically unwearable unless I covered it with a big scarf. I even managed to get 2 shoulders with different widths.

Okay, deep breath, I had put my life into this dress and I wasn’t going to give up now. So I added a band at the sides, put a pleat across the front and tried out a few things

Capture3 Capture2

So by now I am totally fed up with this dress – I am contemplating just ripping off the top and having a skirt instead. What would you do fellow bloggers? Persevere, cut your losses and make a skirt or put it away until the Autumn for a revisit?

When I have a disaster such as this I am inclined to throw my pattern and fabric stash on eBay. Is it worth treading on pins in your bare feet, trailing cotton all over the house, turning your spare bedroom into a cluttered mess, having the ironing board as a permanent fixture in your living room? Is it? Is it really?

Colette Peony Part 2 – the Miserable Muslin

Well the first thing I noticed when I pulled this pattern out of the envelope was the quality of the pattern. This is a multi-size pattern which covers 10 sizes. This is supposedly a beginner pattern and trying to find the marks for your size was very difficult at times – especially with the darts. I wondered if it would have been better if Colette had offered 2 multi size patterns. The other thing is that there are no seam allowances.
As I am a typical pear shape having very narrow back and shoulders and hips that are 6” bigger than my bust I cut out a size 10 top and a size 12 bottom and then adjusted the pattern to make sure the two would match up at the waist. I also lengthened the skirt by 2.5cm. I usually have to adjust the shoulder seams as I have very narrow shoulders but was not sure where to make the change on this pattern. In retrospect I should have measured from shoulder to shoulder and compared to the pattern.


I then cut out my muslin with extra allowances for adjustments and then used my waxed paper for marking out the seam allowances, darts and notches. I came across this waxed paper when doing the Susan Khalje Couture Dress course with Craftsy – which is an excellent course and well worth the money. I could not find a source in the UK so purchased from Richard III in the States. The trouble was that the minimum order value meant I had to buy quite a lot as there was nothing else on their site I wanted and then I got stung by Customs so this must be the most expensive waxed paper in the world. On the plus side I now have a lifetime supply of waxed paper. It is excellent for muslins but I don’t think I would use it on fashion fabric.
I then thread traced round the parts and then put the muslin together. My intention is to use the muslin as my pattern when I get to the fabric itself.


This is my first fit of my muslin – ignore the hemline I think Steve took the photo from a peculiar angle because it is quite straight.


The first thing I noticed was the waist darts were not in the right place.


The marks on the muslin are my bust points – I think my bra must be a bit lopsided! The waist darts need to point towards the bust point which they certainly do not here! Plus it felt a bit tight across the bust – I think just adding to the side seam a bit will help here.
The neckline is hopeless as it is falling off my shoulders and my bra straps are showing – do you know that looking at these photos I think I have a lopsided stance – my left shoulder is definitely higher than my right.


I need to take the shoulder up and in and to lengthen the shoulder seam a bit. Measuring from my shoulder knob to the end of my bra strap is 6cms while the shoulder seam on the pattern is 3 cms. I think I might lose some of the design element of the bateau neck but I can live with that.

The back is terrible!


I am definitely lop sided!!!!
I think on this I will try pulling in from the centre back seam to start with.

As you can see there are some major issues with fitting this pattern for me. It goes to prove that a muslin is certainly worth doing. Oh well back to the drawing board.

One of the other things I decided after doing this muslin is that my fabric is wrong for this design. The skirt is quite full and I think my fabric choice would suit a straighter skirt than this design. I have picked out a black floral for this instead and if I am happy with the finished product then I will do another one with a straight skirt in my original fabric. After all this trouble I am definitely going to get at least 2 dresses out of this pattern. I did think about abandoning it all together but I like a challenge!

By the way does anyone know how to do a muslin without having to put a zip in? I wondered in retrospect if it was better to sew up the back and leave the side open?

Colette Peony Part 1

I was in two minds about my next project. Part of me wanted to establish a really good skirt pattern. As my weight has significantly increased over the last 12 months my original sloper patterns no longer fit. Now you could say let’s get on and lose the weight and I am trying (and failing miserably) but I have some really nice dress lengths in my stash and fancied putting together a dress pattern that I could then start to adapt and change.

I considered several ideas from patterns in my stash:



The first is a vintage pattern – Vogue 9781 and the second a retro Butterick pattern 5707 although this image did put me off the Butterick pattern as it just looks a bit frumpy:


I do also like the Colette Peony and it does seem to be a bit of a favourite with the sewing bloggers.


I liked the clean lines of the dresses I have seen on other blogs. Handmade Jane  who surely deserves the title of ‘Peony Queen’ has made 4 of these and they all look different:

HandmadebyJane1 HandmadebyJaneHandmadebyJane4 HandmadeJane2

I think this will make a great, staple dress for the office. This is the fabric I have selected for this dress. I think it will look good with a black cummerbund which I intend to make from black leatherette.