Completed project: Colette Peony

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)

Peony 1

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.

Peony 2

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!

Peony 3

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.

Peony 4

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…

Lovely label from Bridie

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38 thoughts on “Completed project: Colette Peony

  1. ha! did you make this between fireworks and posting? 😉
    and look at the labels…..all very professional.
    love the dress though – very pretty indeed.
    and hub’s photographic and pinning skills are coming along nicely too.

  2. Hey, it looks great! Very clever to adjust waist darts and the gathering. Nay worries, I have totally adjusted dresses at the zip insertion more times than I can count. If you hadn’t admitted to fitting issues, no one would be able to tell. I love your label. Great minds think alike – I was photographed by a tree, too! (Though sans cat.)

    • I love your Peony so much Karen – it’s gorgeous! In fact I am about to go over to your blog and say just that! I totally agree about not using crisp cotton. My darts are too stiff plus I’ll have to wear a slip with this every time to stop tights creep. But a good ‘learning’ muslin nonetheless!

  3. Joanne, this looks fab! I’m working on mine this weekend, and I’m having similar issues with the bodice – it gapes a lot at the back. I’ve had to take the dress apart – no piping trauma, but it was my best ever invisible zipper! I’m going to increase the darts at the waist in the back and in the top, and gather a bit more in the skirt. Hopefully that’ll do it 🙂

    • That sounds good Roisin – it’s a bit of a mare with fitting. Just read Karen’s Peony experience and she had the same thing! Looking forward to seeing yours A LOT!

  4. LOVE this version! The bow belt compliments the fabric perfectly which compliments the pattern! Tres chic!!! I giggle out loud at the ‘going to sewing hell…’ hehehehehe. I must be slated for that as well 😉

  5. I’ve got away with not making a muslin too many times for my good luck to last – talk about skin of your teeth! And i’m sure I’ll be sent to sewing hell too with all my slatternly shortcuts – but in my hell I’d be made to sew on hooks and eyes….!
    As for your dress it’s lovely: very stylish and chic, the skirt length and sleeve length suit you perfectly. May have to add the Peony to my bulging shelf of Colette patterns. x

  6. i completely fell in love with this pattern the second i saw it too. it looks gorgeous made up on you. you are not alone in your “slatternly” sewing ways… i am guilty of similar also. can i ask what colour shoes you wore with this? i have worn a lot of black most of my adult life and am starting to branch out more into colour. have made a couple of blue dresses recently (navy and white gingham and a paler blue and white small check) and wondering what to wear on my feet with them…. black shoes (which is all i currently own) just don’t fit the bill. anyway, back to you… you look fab in this, it really suits you, and love the idea you made is from a $4 bed sheet! have just come across your blog recently, and really like what you make 🙂

    • Thank you so much Rhonda and it’s great to know it’as not just me who’s a sewing slattern! I wore silvery grey pumps with this dress (pretty much the same shade as the tights) but i agree it’s difficult to find quite the right shoe with a dress like this!

  7. Between you and Karen, it seems like It’s the day of the Peony! And what beautiful dresses you have both made! Whatever woes you had, you overcame them brilliantly as this fits a treat now! I must say though, the fact that both you and Karen had some serious fitting issues is putting me off this beautiful pattern a bit!

    • Oh no please, honestly try it out. My fitting issues were purely to do with my own sewing sluttishness and nothing to do with the pattern! The rest of it is such a breeze youd be mad not to try it – really!

  8. So pretty! Adore the fabric, and it looks great with the bow belt. If you’ve got the will, you should make the adjustments to the pattern pieces now while you remember what needs to be done ready for next time.

  9. I saw this in real life today and it looks even better than the pictures – and Joanne is just being really picky about the fit – as she looks great in it. I particularly think the bow belt works with this.

  10. This dress is just too cute! I love the fabric, hard to beleive it started life as a bed sheet, and the fit looks great despite your issues. I am definitely tempted to give this pattern a go now after seeing this and also Karen’s version, although I am a little bit scared about the bodice darts now!!

  11. aw, i like it! i know what you mean about being picky about fit, though – if the fit of my garment is even slightly off, i won’t wear it! at all – i take it to goodwill haha.

    anyway, it looks good in the pictures. love the fabric you chose, love that it was a bedsheet in a past life! and is that a kitty i see lurking in your pictures? looks like a tiny/fluffy tiger haha

  12. The dress is beautiful – both the fabric and fit, and your photos are so lovely. I’ve just finished a black Peony (spurred on by you and Karen!) and now want to make more.

    • Oh Clare I’ve just checked yours out and it’s lovely! So flexible with the different belts and I think it will go beautifully with those tomato tights (when you find ’em!)

  13. ooooo I love this! I have a vintage bed sheet that is the same colours as yours (might even be the same exact one just can’t remember as it is in my stash :S) and didn’t really know which pattern to use but you have inspired me know! It looks really cute with sleeves which I hadn’t really considered before.

  14. This is gorgeously lovely 🙂 Uber-cute fabric too. I should be receiving my peony pattern in the mail shortly – I’m itching to get stitching after seeing yours 🙂

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  16. Despite your little headaches (and your possible one way ticket to sewing hell – hehe!) this dress turned out so beautiful. I stumbled over here from the Colette blog – I love that you tapped into the sixties influence of the design and mirrored that in the fabric. It works so beautifully! And I LOVE your little bow belt. Perfect compliment.

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  20. I am going to try this pattern soon and it’s great to hear your thoughts on the sizing, I always forget that the body measurements are different cause in sewing there is around 2″ of give added to the pattern, so you always try to add on a couple inches to what the measurements say and that’ll be your outcome with the dress. I will definitely have to remember this because my waist is teeny, yet have huge hips. 🙂 Thanks!

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