Made By Me - Colette Peony dress

We had an important family event over the weekend - my baby brother had an engagement party. (I call him my baby brother because he is 19 years younger than me. And yes, we have the same parents. There are three other brothers in between.)

Exciting times, and finally, an excuse to wear a nice dress. As you may have gathered from my Me Made May postings, my rural working mother lifestyle doesn't lend itself to a lot of dress wearing. Pants are generally the way to go for me.

Anyway. To the dress.

I bought the fabric, a wool crepe, in Sydney at Pitt Trading. Yep, it really is that red. Actually redder. You can't go past wool for saturated colour. My husband maintains I always wear brown. This is not true. I occasionally wear orange. Sometimes. But hey, brown doesn't show the dirt, which I am often shovelling.

After the pleasing results I had with the Colette Truffle dress for my daughter, I thought I'd give the Peony dress a try. It's been in my pattern stash since it came out, so it was about time it got an airing.
Not having made a dress like this before, this was a good pattern to start out on. I muslined it up. I'm glad I did, and I can't imagine too many people who would fit the bodice out of the envelope, the darts being what they are. There was a lot of dart altering action happening here. Both the front bodice darts moved, and the waist dart shortened. There was also an FBA of about 1.5cm.  And I lowered the neckline at centre front 2.5 cm. On the back bodice, I deepened the shoulder dart, and lengthened the waist dart. I also did a 2cm sway back adjustment. And I pinched out about 1 cm at the shoulder to square it off a bit.

The skirt fit fine, after I lengthened it 5cm.

The sleeves...a bit of action happened here too. I knew that this straight, 3/4 length sleeve would be liable to cause me some grief. For some reason, 3/4 sleeves always seem to bunch up uncomfortably around the elbow on me. This is what I did to avoid that scenario:

- I cut one size larger than the bodice, and ran three lines of gathering right round the sleeve (instead of two lines of gathering between the notches, as directed) to help ease it in.
- I altered the sleeve, slashing vertically from sleeve seamline to the hemline, and horizontally from armpit to armpit, in the shape of a t, then spread, to give about 2 cm extra room at the bicep.
- I cut the sleeves on the bias so they felt more comfortable around the elbow. I've done this before, and it works a treat.
- Finally, I allowed 2.5cm seam allowance, just in case, which I didn't need in the end.
I also lengthened the sleeve about 5 cm. I have long arms.

I added piping to the neckline, and was pretty happy with how it looked. For seam finishing, I turned and stitched the seams, except for the waistline and armhole seams. These I bound with satin bias binding. I sewed satin binding to the sleeve hems.

Once I muslined up the dress, putting the dress together was pretty straightforward. This is a great dress for a relative beginner I would say. Nothing head-scratching about it.

I loved working with the wool crepe. It has a lovely feel and slight springiness to it. I hate setting in sleeves, but the wool crepe was a dream to ease in, even with the sleeve being one size larger than the bodice. It went in without one tuck first go, a record for me. The wool crepe also loved being pressed. After the frustrations of pressing polyester, this made me smile, believe me.

Some more photos:

Not a lot else to say about this dress except that the design of  the scarf I am wearing it with just coincidentally happens to be based on a Tiffany lampshade featuring Peonies. True. The little card that I keep with the scarf tells me so. Couldn't be more apt if I tried.
To other sewing news... I'm madly trying to make some t-shirts, and a pair of Anita Ponti Pants, because in 10 days time I am travelling to Italy, and I need some comfy plane clothes, I've decided. Rome. On my own. No children. Too exciting!
Yes, fabric shopping will be occurring, hopefully.


  1. Wow I'm impressed with your perseverance on the muslin. Pretty sure I would have given up... The dress looks good though and you look happy and smart in it!
    Dreadfully jealous about Rome..enjoy!

  2. Beautifully made dress - it looks like it fits perfectly! I would love to be able to make all the alterations to darts etc that you have, my sewing is pretty much limited to lengthening and one ( not super successful) FBA ! Oh well all in good time ...

    1. Thanks! The list of alterations does look daunting, but in practice just needed a bit of time and patience, the last of which sewing is helping me develop :)


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