A Blue Peony Dress

I’ve been following along the Sew Colette sew-along but this is the first time I’ve sewn along.  I ended up using a on-sale quilting cotton, not my first choice but limited as I am to mostly quick trips to Spotlight, it was the only thing I could find with a print I liked and didn’t seems like it would crush too badly.  And hey, this dress only cost me less than $10 to make, (not counting pattern).

I have been reading and learning all I can about fitting issues and like many I had to adjust the darts on this pattern.  I also did my usual adjustments, of which I am getting better at as I get to know my own body and its unique characteristics.

My fitting changes were:

Peony bust darts
Peony back view – lapped zipper and no gaping.
  • Moved and lengthened bust darts
  • Moved and reshaped bodice darts using Gerties tutorial as a guide  (and thanks to Sewing Princess who pointed me in right direction – very useful dart shape for smaller busted ladies). 
  • Lengthened back darts
  • Did a slice and pivot adjustment of the back neck dart, to take out excess fabric from the back neck.  It worked like a dream. Basically, I sliced down the back neck dart to the the top of the waist back dart.  Then I sliced up one side of the the back waist dart to open up the waist dart.  Then I rotated the back neck in from the shoulder about the same width as the neck dart.  Taped.  Redrew darts into original position.  To my shock: perfect fit in the back.  It was basically the same as doing a double the width neck dart. My terminology is probably all wrong but hopefully this may help someone.  I was inspired to do this by this post at Bernie and I  I thought I would try it for the back and it did work for me although I did pivot in from the shoulder not from the centre back so that the centre back line remain unchanged.  I usually need to do a narrow shoulder adjustment I think this kinda achieved that as well so perhaps this adjustment might not work for other body types.
  • Did a sloping and forward shoulder adjustment on shoulder seams and sleeve. I also added a smidge to the sleeve cap height.
  • Changed waist gathers to two small pleats.
  • Smoothed out “bottom” curve at centre back skirt as I didn’t need it (not enough booty I guess)
  • Lengthened the skirt (just cut an 18 in length)
  • I cut a 0 in the shoulders and tapered out to a 4 in the waist and cut a 6 in the skirt.  

My changes to construction were:

  • I sewed the front bodice and skirt together, then the back bodice and skirt together, then sewed up the side seams in one long seam.  This is because I am still losing baby weight and I wanted to be able to easily adjust the dress if I need to.  My side seams ended up being 2cm wide (3/4″).
  • Installed a lapped zip (my first) 
  • Set in the sleeves flat before I sewed up the side seams.
Peony pockets
I added some rick rack trim to the sleeve and the hem, it just peeks out.
Colette Patterns Peony Dress

Cool stuff I learnt:

  • That I have a forward shoulder and how to adjust for it.  I now can get rid of those vertical wrinkles I was getting at the back of my sleeve.  My back fits much better after this adjustment.
  • Lapped zippers look really nice.
  • Instead of doing a complicated narrow shoulder adjustment, I just need to cut a smaller size.
  • And as always, the seam ripper remains my best friend.
  • Very cute Peony and your adjustments have given you a beautifully fitting dress.

  • Thank you so much Sharon. It's the best fitting dress I've made for myself so far. I still have lots to learn but this dress I am really pleased with, just would have liked a nicer fabric but I don't have much choice where I am.

  • Such a pretty dress! It fits you great and I really like the lapped zipper.

  • Thank you! I think I'll be doing a few more lapped zips after this.

  • Love this dress – the fit is fabulous. I might try those shaped bust darts next time – thanks for a very helpful post.
    This colour is lovely on you – quilting cotton or not, if it looks good, wear it I say!

  • All the work/changes you did on the dress were so well worth it. It looks stunning on you!

  • Wow. This dress is gorgeous, and you look amazing in it! You achieved such a great fit. I'm so glad my tutorial was useful to you 🙂

  • Thank you! Those shaped bust darts are amazing, it did take me quite a few goes to get the shape just right but I highly recommend! And totally with you on the fabric. I'm finding my 'oh well this will have to do' fabrics are turning out better than my 'good/first choice' fabrics…

  • Awwww, thanks heaps Mela.

  • Thank you! And your tutorial is fabulous! I use it all the time now and it's so nice to not have the dreaded gape.

  • Beautiful dress… I always sew side seams last ..

  • Hi! Thanks. Its great isn't it, makes final fitting tweaks so easy. Plus I've been meaning to tell you I use your "fitting insurance" idea as well when I cut out a pattern, and that works really well also, its brilliant.