I've been following along the Sew Colette sew-along but this is the first time I've sewn a...

A Blue Peony Dress

2:41:00 p.m. Sew Hopeful 12 Comments

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.


  1. Very cute Peony and your adjustments have given you a beautifully fitting dress.

    1. 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.

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

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

  3. 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!

    1. 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...

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

  5. 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 :)

    1. 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.

  6. Beautiful dress... I always sew side seams last ..

    1. 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.


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