Monday, 4 August 2014

::Sewing::FO::Teal Peony for the Lady?

I wore this dress out for the first time over the weekend and someone asked if I made the dress and whether I had posted it on my blog. It wasn't until I got home that I realised that I haven't posted about this make here. Wha!?
So here she is on le blog.

I did make this dress over a month ago and posted about it on The Monthly Stitch.

 But, I've got a little secret. The dress wasn't completely finished when I posted it on TMS. I still had to hem the sleeves and skirt and hand stitch the bodice lining to the waist seam. Shhh!
I finished it not too long after posting it, so it's not that big a deal :P

My hair is at the at weird length where it looks like there is a koala attached to my head, but I can't really do much with it. So, I popped on a hat for these photos.
Note to self: Sort out the hair situation.

I've been wanting to make this dress for ages.
I've had the pattern printed, pasted and ready to go for awhile now, so when The Monthly Stitch announced that the first challenge for their Indie Pattern Month would be dresses I knew exactly what I was going to make. Thanks TMS for giving me the boot :)
There were quite a few adjustments made to this dress, but I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out in the end.
I was sewing like women possessed trying to get this puppy sewn up before we headed off for a long-weekend vacation. I took the pictures just as the light was fading over the horizon.

~Pattern Adjustments~
Full Bust Adjustment  C cup to D cup (3/8" spread) - I can never remember whether Colette Patterns are drafted for a C cup or D cup, but I've come up with a way to remember C for Colette Patterns!
When I did the FBA the darts ended up a bit wonky
Moved waist bust dart point and reduced the dart intake by 1/2"
Big Butt Adjustment-cut & pivot at the waistline total of  2 inches spread over to vertical cuts
Lengthened skirt 1 inch all over and an extra 1 inch at the back to compensate for Big Butt Adjustment
Shortened sleeves by 6.5 inches

I  didn't follow the instructions on this one. I don't like facings so I lined the bodice with the main fabric.
So because I went  'off piste' here is a quick summary of my construction steps.
-Sewed darts, in the bodice and bodice lining and joined bodice and lining at the shoulders. Clipped, pressed and finished seams on the overlocker.
- Sewed the bodice and lining together at the neckline pressed clipped and turned
- Sewed the side seams of the bodice and lining - separately, pressed
- Basted the armholes of the bodice and lining together so they wouldn't shift when inserting the sleeve
- Sewed bias tape to the sleeve cap to ease it into the arm hole
- Sewed the sleeve seam
- Inserted the sleeve
- Finished the edges of the pocket pieces on the overlocker & attached them to the skirt pieces. Pressed. Finished the skirt side seams on the overlocker.
- Sewed the skirt pieces together at the side seams, sewing around the pockets
- Gathered sections on the front skirt
- Attached the skirt to the bodice
- Inserted the zipper
- Sewed the lining to the zipper and bodice-skirt seam
- Hemmed the sleeves and skirt.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not a big fan of setting in sleeves. This time I used the "bias tape" trick where instead of gathering the sleeve cap with basting stitches you sew a strip of bias tape to the sleeve cap while keeping it pulled taut. I think it worked pretty well here.

Colette Patterns 1017 (Peony) Version 1 with shortened sleeves and no belt.

Teal poly cotton fabric I've had in my stash for ages.
22" invisible zipper

~Changes I made this time~
Heaps! See the pattern adjustments above!

~What I Like~
- I wasn't sure about the colour initially, but now I quite like it. - When I wore the dress out I got a few compliments on the colour. So that's a definite winner.
- I'm pretty pleased about the success of my Big Butt Adjustment
- I like that the waist seam matches at the zipper
- Pockets!

~What I Don't Like~
- The zipper puckering
- The invisible zipper peaking out
- The fabric - after making my Navy S2444 and this dress I've come to the conclusion that I need to move away from this poly cotton. Too bad I've still got some in my stash :(

~Changes for Next Time~
- Definitely different fabric.
- There are a heap more fitting adjustments I want to do on this dress. I think a big one is to raise the lower armscye on the bodice. I'm thinking that will help a bunch with arm movement. Or maybe I'll have to sew in a gusset. Hmmm.
- I also want to lower the centre and shorten the width of the neckline.
- I also want to re-adjust the waist bust dart on the bodice - change it so that the dart centre is vertical and not at an angle.

Colette Patterns 1017 (Peony) view
FabricTeal Poly cotton x 4m - had in stash can't remember cost$-
Notions -Thread - had in stash
-Bias Tape (for sleeve easing) - had in stash
-22" Invisible Zipper
Time2 hours pattern adjustments
11 hours sewing
13 hours (* $16-ish Australian minimum wage)

This is the first time that I've used the Peony pattern so I've included it in the tally.
Also, because it is the first time I've used the pattern there was a lot of time spent making pattern adjustments.

A lot of the sewing time included the muslin making process, so lots of sewing, seam ripping, re-cutting fabric and sewing again.  I also experimented with techniques for setting in the sleeves so that took some time too.

In future I want to break down my sewing time a bit more. While I was making this project I was using a time tracker app on my phone. I think a project based time tracker would be a better option in future because the time tracker app only really broke time down by description and category - although thinking about that now. I guess I could make each project a category. Hmmm, something to ponder.

~Final Comment~
I'm fairly pleased with this make. I did rush it a bit because of the looming deadline and running out of time because we are going away, but I think this will be a good dress for 'everyday' wear. I have to go back and reinsert the zipper again I think….maybe  ;)
Spoiler: I didn't reinsert the zipper :P

You can pop over to the post I did on The Monthly Stitch to see some more (unfinished dress) pics :)

Question Time:
Do you follow instructions when you make something?
What are some the 'standard' things you change when you make something?
Do you ever go back and 'fix' things when you make something? I rarely do.
What are your tips for inserting sleeves?

Until next time,

Let's connect


  1. Have you tried setting sleeves in the flat? It makes it SO MUCH EASIER and I always tell myself off if I forget and sew up the side seams before adding the sleeves.
    Raising the lower armscye will help with movement (I think you should only need a gusset if you've got kimono/cut-on sleeves) but it also looks like the sleeve head might need a bit more room over the bicep?
    I think it looks great! Shame you don't like the fabric (I don't tend to sew with polycotton either) but the colour IS lovely on you

  2. Hi Sophie,
    Thanks for your awesome tips. I'm a big fan :)
    I usually do set sleeves in the flat, but I loath pinning heaps (unavoidable I guess).
    I think you're right about the sleeve adjustments. I think I'll start with adding over the bicep. I definitely need more fabric for my 'guns' (ahem).

  3. Haha I hate the whole gathering sleeve head thing too. Having a much smaller seam allowance (max 10mm) will help too, much less likely to bunch and gather under the needle unevenly. Another trick (if you want more!) is to have the sleeve against the feed dogs and the bodice side on top. You do run the risk of having gathers,but the feed dogs help ease the fabric in (I tend to hold the top (shorter) piece of fabric a bit tauter, so the bottom fabric gets eased even more.

  4. Tips and tricks, yes please. I will take them all. :-)
    Ah. I'd never thought of making the seam allowance smaller. I've gotten gathers from sewing with the sleeve head against the feed dogs. Although, I was a bit apprehensive about stretching the armscye.
    Thanks for your awesome tips Sophie-Lee!


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