Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Miss Ruby Draws The Line: Colette Peony

Why hello, lovelies! Despite what one might think from visiting this blog lately, I have been sewing up a storm for my fall palette. One of my latest creations is an initial version of the new Colette pattern, the Peony dress. I say initial, because...I'm not in love with it. The blame for this, I place on the fabric, not the pattern. I used a cotton poplin from Fabric Mart, which I got for $1.99/yard on sale. The price should have been a sign. This is not the best quality poplin. It's a bit thin, doesn't have great body, and clings to every single bump. Despite the perfect fit of the dress, I have to wear Spanx under this, so the skirt doesn't look lumpy. Spanx requirements do not a perfect dress make.

That being said, however, I really do love the Peony pattern. The bodice is absolutely adorable - shapely, great bateau neckline, and endless possibilities for embellishment. Personally, I took my new pintuck presser foot for a test drive on this pattern. I added five corded pintucks to the center front, using Colette's tutorial. Despite the daunting new foot, this ended up being the easiest technique ever. Which is great news. I love a pintuck! They may be on everything I sew from now on.

Pintucks! (Also, there seems to be a theme here in which I'm holding my shoulders at strange angles. I can assure you that those stress lines are not present when I actually stand like a normal person. I really need to get a new pose, kittens.)

Enough about the pintuck revelation, back to the Peony details! So, the bodice? Wonderful. So simple, it could easily be used as a pattern sloper for other designs. The skirt is also pretty basic - an easy, slightly-fitted A-line. If you carry any weight in the middle, or prefer to gloss over that area of the body, I would try this pattern in a sturdier fabric. Because it is a closer fit, one could easily end up with my Spanx problem.

There is one part of the pattern which I can't give any advice one, however. I chose not to make the cummerbund that comes with the dress. I own 23 belts (yeah, I counted), which means I'm never lacking waist-accenting accessories. It seemed like a waste of time to make a cummerbund which I'll rarely wear with the dress. So, I skipped it. If I were making it for a special occasion, I may experiment with a contrast fabric, but for a day dress, I like belts instead. Overall, the Peony is a great basic dress pattern. Currently, my favorite way to wear it is under a blazer, with tights and boots (my adorable new lace-up Clarks, specifically).

Things I Love:
  • The neckline! I love a bateau neck and this one fits the dress proportions very well.
  • The pintucks! Okay, I added them myself, but I still love them. I highly suggest trying a corded pintuck, if you haven't yet.
  • The versatility! This is really a pattern that's begging to be personalized. It would look great with lace accents or contrast bias tape. Personally, I'm thinking of switching out the skirt for a fuller one and making it out of a lovely autumnal pique from my stash.
Things I Changed:
  • 1" FBA - Colette's patterns are based on a C cup, so I needed to alter it for my DD bust.
  • Added pintucks. Which I've gone on about ad nauseum, I know.
  • Finished the neckline with bias tape. Y'all know how I feel about facings. It's become almost standard for me to replace them with bias tape at this point. It's just such a cleaner finish.
Things I Would Change, If I Made It Again:
  • Use a heavier-weight fabric.
  • I'm considering adding a bit more volume to the skirt. I just think it would be a bit more flattering to my hips.
Tricky Steps & Suggestions:
  • Not a one. Kittens, this dress is a breeze. You're not going to find an easier pattern to construct. A few darts, a tiny bit of gathering, and you're done. As with all Colette patterns, the instructions are concise and clear, so there's minimal chance for error.
Fabric & Notions:
  • Scarlet cotton/lycra stretch poplin - $1.99/yd from Fabric Mart
  • Scarlet cotton purl embroidery thread, for corded pintucks
  • Red bias tape


  1. That colour is just stunning on you Mary!

  2. What a pretty dress! I love the pintucks you did and the colour looks great on you!

  3. Ooh I love this. I've actually just ordered this pattern, so I can use the bodice part to practice an FBA, as i struggle so much with them. Glad to see a lady with a larger bust can make the slash neckline work, as i was a bit concerned about it, but it looks fab on you.

  4. I ordered that same fabric! I planned to use it for another dress. I also bought the red-violet poplin from Fabric Mart to use for my Peony. I'm glad I saw your post before I started on it. Do you think this fabric would work better with a lining?

  5. Thanks, Alana! Isn't it a great shade of red? I couldn't pass it up!

    Thanks, Alessa! I'm still amazed by how well those pintucks turned out. Seriously, they were the easiest technique ever.

    Law, this is a wonderful pattern to practice an FBA on. Since it has both vertical and horizontal darts on the bodice, it's just straight-forward slash-and-pivot. It should be a breeze! (Though, if you do have trouble with it, shoot me an e-mail. I can send you a picture of what my piece looked like post-FBA.) Also, thanks so much! I was a bit worried about the neckline myself, but I really love how it looks. It's just such a well-designed dress.

    Neemie, I ordered the red-violet poplin, as well! I actually ended up ordering the fabric in six different colors. I may have gone overboard, but they will be great for experimenting with new patterns! As for the fabric's behavior, I do think that a lining would help the cling issue. A sturdy, but light, cotton batiste would probably best subdue the poplin. I would love to see pictures of how it turns out for you!

  6. Please don't take this as a critism, but the bodice seems to be just a little too small. I say that because of the stress marks just above your bust. Perhaps your armsyce is too short or you need a little more wearing ease in the bodice. I think with those changes you'll be happier with your next version of this dress. Even though it has stretch, that 2%stretch should only be active when the body is moving but not at rest.

    I bought the brown and claret poplin from Fabric Mart too! I think the fabric probably should only be used for shirts but I bought mine for Clovers so I will be lining my pants with something silky and stretchy.

  7. Hi, LSA! Thanks so much for the comments. I actually should have mentioned that in my review, but the stress marks are from the way I'm holding my arms/shoulders in the pictures. They are (thankfully) not there at rest, just when my shoulders are "up," as when my hands are on my hips, behind my back, etc. That is a very good tip, however, for anyone having issues with bodice stress lines. And I, no doubt, should stop taking pictures with my hands on my hips. :)

  8. You many not love the fabric, but the color is wonderful on you. I made mine in a very crisp but thin cotton as well, but fully lined it with Bemberg rayon. This way it doesn't stick to my legs when walking and it falls very nicely over lumps. Also, it feels more comfortable to wear than it did without. I still wore my spanx, but it probably wasn't strictly necessary. I just like what they do for me. :)

  9. Thanks so much, Melanie! I do love this color. I'm contemplating not keeping the skirt in its current iteration, but if I don't choose to replace it, a Bemberg lining might be a really great way to go. I may have to follow your lead!

  10. Lovely Peony Mary! Did you put some pintucks on the front by any chance?!!! They are lovely. I may have to buy this pattern now!

  11. Thanks so much, Millie! I'm so glad you like it! And, yeah, I'm kind of in love with the front pintucks. :D They really make the dress for me! This pattern works so well for personalizing; it's definitely worth the price. I know I'm a bit of a Colette groupie, but I can't say enough good about this pattern!

  12. I have to say that I love Colette Patterns too, but my problem is that it has been a year since I last had an opportunity to wear a dress...I am not exaggerating....I wore my Grey spotty Parfait to a friend's wedding last November...hence my reluctance to buy another dress pattern!

  13. The color is fabulous on you! Love your pintucks :)

  14. I love this colour, it really does look gorgeous on you! I've just bought this pattern too and will have to do a FBA, but I've never done this successfully before... do you have any tips? Thanks for a great blog :)

  15. This is adorable. I need to drag mine out and do my FBA I think. I've been stalling because I, too, wasn't sure that neckline would flatter my bustline! If you still have a photo of your completed FBA, I'd love to see it. :)

  16. Oh I love the red, and the pintucks. You did a great job.

  17. Hi Mary,
    This is a wonderful blog! Thank you for sharing your adventures and pictures of your beautiful creations!
    Do you think it would be possible to make a lace version of this dress, unlined, to wear with a slip? A la Taylor Swift? http://www.google.com/imgres?q=taylor+swift+lace+sleeve+white+dress&um=1&hl=en&safe=active&sa=N&biw=1024&bih=540&tbm=isch&tbnid=dOP_fhviOGipFM:&imgrefurl=http://wwtaylorw.com/tag/lace/&docid=mY6-LfPl5C8xaM&imgurl=http://wwtaylorw.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2010-bbc-radio-1s-teen-awards-white-lace-386x580.jpg&w=386&h=580&ei=gb6aT4WEApCN4gSQkbWgDw&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=104&vpy=155&dur=466&hovh=275&hovw=183&tx=107&ty=238&sig=117466009615545272841&page=1&tbnh=166&tbnw=111&start=0&ndsp=11&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0,i:80

    1. ^ Sorry, that link didn't embed, but it's just a photo of the Taylor Swift dress I mentioned.