Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall Palette Challenge #2 - Peony pattern review

This is my first full scale Colette Pattern.  After many months of ogling and trolling their website whilst pregnant, I finally felt slim enough to make it worthwhile. I found the pattern very well written and drafted. I had no difficulty at all with the instructions or the pattern pieces, though it might have been nice if the waist and hip lines were indicated. And who couldn’t love the beautiful booklets they come in?

The fabric is a very crisp tightly woven cotton from Art Gallery in a pink that coordinated nicely with the colors for my daughter's first birthday. It’s fully lined with Bemberg Rayon, since I found the cotton a tad see through and sticky. Also, a dress this closely fitted seemed to need a lining. It certainly hangs much better for it. This is essentially a wearable muslin, as it took quite a lot of fiddling to get it right. In fact, there are a few spots that still need tweaking, but couldn’t deal with this time around. After measuring the pattern pieces, I cut a straight size 10, even though my measurements indicated a 12-14 for waist and hips. There is room in the waist darts and the tiny gathers in the skirt to adjust the fit at the waist.  In fact, it seems to me that this pattern was thoughtfully designed to allow fit adjustments, rather than for a specific body type as some fashions are.  Each of those darts is a point for adjusting the fit. The more opportunities a pattern offers, the more chance you have to fit the dress nicely to you.

I absolutely love this pattern. The cut is elegant, feminine, timeless and flattering! By George, it’s flattering. Can you tell that I still have 15 lbs of baby weight to loose? I can’t. I would adore this with the ¾ sleeves in some kind of dark autumn-y fabric. And it would be divine in red dupioni as a holiday dress. And I think it would be cute for the spring in a cotton floral and cozy for winter in something warm and definitely chic for the office in suiting.  I could probably go on. Next time, I’d like a more subdued version.

My only quibble is classifying this as a beginner project. You simply can’t fudge the fit here because those darts are so prominent. I’ve had success with a simple FBA in the past, but two sets of darts to adjust make this more complicated to get right. Iterations of my Peony when the darts weren’t right looked sloppy, frumpy, or just plain weird. I tried shortening them so they didn’t get all pointy at my, ahem, apex. I tried making them wider to accommodate the excess loose fabric under the bust. I tired moving them, cursing at them and appealing to St. Anne before I was happy enough to call them finished. I sewed them 12 times in all and cut a second bodice piece. (That’s where my sleeve fabric went.) The pattern itself is good for an advanced beginner, but since grown-up women typically need adjustments, Peony is realistically for the confident, patient or experienced sewist. On the other hand, I learned to sew when I was young, skinny and flat-chested. I didn't need any fit adjustments and could probably have sewn this up much faster.

The only change I made was the obvious lack of sleeves. As I worked on the bodice fit, I came to like how it looked sleeveless.  (I only wish I had read this amazing trickfor lining a sleeveless dress earlier on.) It’s worth noting that there didn’t seem to be much room at the shoulders. I used only a scant ¼” seam allowance to attach the dress to the lining. Perhaps in the future I need to adjust for broad shoulders? Sigh. I’m off to read more of Fit for Real People. More pictures of the Children at Play themed birthday party coming soon. Thursday is the photo shoot of my Princess Royal, including the dress with poofy sleeves!

special thanks to George Aubrey Photography for these great shots!  necklace from Rustic Gem and shoes are Raomna II by Sofft.


  1. Tamara (justsewit)October 27, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Melanie this is fabulous! It suits you perfectly. Such a pretty dress. You look gorgeous.

  2. Very cute! The cut is very flattering and the pink looks great on you!

  3. Wow this is beautiful and SO flattering! I might have to try this pattern next. Thanks for the good review.