Ever since it arrived on the Colette website, I’ve wanted to try the Peony. I instantly fell in love with the simple sweet shape, the boat neck, the 3/4 length sleeves. So I’m happy to say I’ve finished my first (but definitely not my last) attempt. (Excuse bemused expression at husband antics with camera in first photo)
I decided to add piping at the waist, as the pattern notes suggest, and I’m really happy with the result. It makes it seem even more vintage-y for some reason. I’ve not done the belt that came with the piping – I’ve used my bow belt from the Betty Blue Beignet instead as the colours work so well together.
For fabric, I used a vintage bed sheet which I bought from a fair for £4. Yep. This dress cost £4 to make. If you count the pattern and notions then it was still less than £20!
Making it up was a wee bit more complicated than I thought it would be – but to be absolutely honest with you – it was all my own fault. Yet again I failed to make a muslin to check the fit. I picked out a size 2 on the pattern as it most closely fitted my bust and hip measurements (although the waist was a little on the small side for my liking) and cut away with gay abandon. I always justify this to myself by saying it’s a ’wearable muslin’ but who am I kidding? I still get surprised/frustrated/feel bad when it inevitably doesn’t fit perfectly. I should just do the groundwork first, make a muslin (even if it’s just the tricky bits like the bodice and waist) and make sure it’s right. But here it is: I am a sewing slattern.
It was only after I put in the zip and tried it on that I realised it was too big. The waist was at least an inch too big, which was really weird since my waist is not, I repeat not, 26 inches. No way. I’d already put my piping in around the waist so I thought I’d try another method of reducing the size without undoing all my work. Sewing purists – you may want to look away now…
Have they gone? Right. I unpicked the zip and cut the seam allowance off both sides at the centre back. I know – that can’t be the right way to do it can it? It must be breaking all sorts of sewing rules and I’ll be going to sewing hell where I just have to sew darts all day for eternity. But I did it and it helped a bit. So what if my side pockets are just a centimetre or two closer to my bottom? That’s fine – I’ll just reach further backwards to put my hands in. It’s exercise. Eliminates bingo wings. Fact.
Ah but it wasn’t enough. The waist still stood out a bit, making me look like a small child wearing her sister’s cast offs a year too early.It was time to unpick and redo the darts. Unpicking the piping was just a tiny a bit soul-destroying. I’m not saying there were tears dropping on Mrs Seam Ripper but there may have been a sniff or two. At this point I should also mention that Karen of Did You Make That stepped in after a plaintive comment from me on this site and gave me some great advice and tips on adjusting a toile and pattern. Plus, just talking to someone else about fitting issues seemed to lift the cloud and make it seem less stressful – cheers Karen!
Once unpicked, I increased the waist darts on the bodice, gathered the skirt a little more and put it all back together again. Amazingly – it seemed to work although there are some issues with the darts and the bust which I need to address. I also still think the neckline is a little too wide for my shape so I will definitely be making use both of Karen’s tutorial and Tilly’s tips next time. There will be a next time! This is such a cute little pattern. It’s really open to little personal touches and embellishments. I highly recommend it. Just be sure to measure up first…